Coming this December from Mad Cave Studios is the newest splatter-fest from the dynamic duo that brought METALSHARK BRO and DUST PIRATES, Kevin Cuffe and Bob Frantz, Skeeters, featuring art by beloved horror illustrator Kelly Williams!
Mad Cave Studios’ marketing manager, Maya Lopez, sat down with Bob Frantz, Kevin Cuffe, and Kelly Williams, the creative team behind our newest, schlock-y splatter-fest, Skeeters!
Read on to find out about their inspirations, their creative process, the making of Skeeters, and more!
Q: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions! Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Bob: My name is Bob Frantz. I’m a writer residing in Cincinnati, Ohio with my lovely wife and two amazing sons.
Kevin: I’ve been writing comics since about 2014, I met Bob Frantz at a convention in 2015– we started working together at the end of 2015 until now— we’ve written several things together the one you may know us from is the Metalshark Bro books.
Kelly: I am Kelly Williams. Creator of comics, slinger of bad jokes and drawer of monsters. I’ve worked on a bazillion comics but maybe you’ve heard of THE DARK, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF CAPTAIN SUAVE,BOUNTIFUL GARDEN, THE CABINET and many more!
Q: What is your biggest inspiration when it comes to writing comics?
Bob: I want to tell fun and interesting stories regardless of themes and genre.
Kevin: Collectively— they vary between the two of us as writers— but Remender, Gaiman, Fraction, Starks and Ram V all are in line with how we try to write comics.
Kelly: I didn’t write this comic.
Q: In Skeeters, we follow two oddball exterminators and a frustrated sheriff as they try to save their small town from a swarm of bloodthirsty pests! What was the inspiration behind this story?
Bob: Kevin and I were asked to write a story for a KAIJU anthology. We figured there
would be a lot of stories about big ol monsters destroying cities and whatnot. So,
we decided to go another way, leaning into more of the old creature features of
the late 50’s. You know the ones, science accidentally creating a killer giant bug
kinda thing. We had a blast writing the short story. The anthology never happened but so we expanded our idea and voila, Skeeters was born.
Kevin: We were asked to do a Kaiju anthology and we wanted to do something that was more Them! than Godzilla.
Kelly: For my part I just re-watched a lot of schlocky movies. MOSQUITO, THEM, THE FLY, and more but I can’t remember at the moment. I also live in Arkansas and worked on this through the spring and summer. So I was able to go outside and be attacked by mosquitos to help keep it authentic
Q: What got you into creating comics?
Bob: I love collaborative storytelling. The idea of creating something with a group of
people is fun and exciting to me. I tried writing novels but that jank was hard and
very lonely. With comics, you have a team of talented and creative people working in concert to create something awesome!
Kevin: Having too many ideas in my brain keeping me awake at night.
Kelly: I think I made my first photocopied comic when I was 15. I’ve just kinda been doing it ever since (I’m 47 now). For me the biggest thing that pulled me in was when I read Swamp Thing #1 as a kid and suddenly realized there were people behind these rad stories. I often say it’s Wrightson’s fault I make comics.
Q: Which character in Skeeters do you personally connect with the most?
Bob: Luis. I don’t use drugs or drink but I dig his mellow vibes and his cool, calm
demeanor in the face of uncertain danger. And I’m sure he listens to Coast to Coast AM. I love that show. So we could chat about that.
Kevin: Carla is my spirit animal.
Kelly: I love Carla but I think my favorite is Luis. Stoner metalhead with a healthy (or unhealthy..depending how you see it) obsession for the weird.
Q: What do you hope for people to take away from reading Skeeters?
Bob: I hope people enjoy the characters we created.
Kevin: I just hope they read it and it gives them some hope, some horror and some laughs.
Kelly: I hope people get past the surface and connect with what the book is really saying. That monster mosquitos are bad.
Q: Okay, we have to ask: What’s the one must-try item at the Kankanee Seafood Festival?
Bob: The blackened gator tail. It served like those big ol turkey legs at Renfaire.
Kevin: I hear the crawdads are killer.
Kelly: I’m willing to bet someone makes a gnarly fish chilli.
Q: Any advice on surviving a swarm of bloodthirsty mutant mosquitoes?
Bob: Don’t Panic.
Kevin: Cardio. The secret is cardio.
Kelly: You… you know this isn’t, like, real… right?
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
Bob: Kevin and I have these three giant spinning wheels (think Wheel of Fortune) with
all kinds of wacky crap written on them, be it characters, settings, genres. ect. We
spin the wheels and whatever the wheels land on is the story we tell! Some of the
wheel ideas don’t work out but the wheel got it just right for Skeeters.
Kevin: it’s a bunch of spitballing— then writing an outline and then rewriting everything multiple times until it feels right.
Kelly: On something like this I generally do the thumbnail/layout digitally, at full size. Then I flip it and print it on the back of 300lb. Watercolor paper. If there’s anything I think I need to tighten up before inking, I’ll put it on the light box and do super quick, rough pencils. Then I’ll ink (or paint depending on what’s on the page) and throw down the watercolor. Scan and clean up and then it’s off to the letterer (after approvals of course.)
Q: Who/what are your biggest influences as a creator?
Bob: Kevin Cuffe. Oh and the three giant wheels with wacky crap.
Kevin: Bob Frantz.
Q: What are some of your favorite creature features?
Bob: The Thing is a classic. And I love Predator. Then there are all of the ones I’ve
seen on Svengoolie or MST3K like The Deadly Mantis, Gorgo, The Crawling Eye, and Attack of the 50ft Woman. So much fun.
Kevin: Them! It’s cheesy but it’s fun! The Blob, Slither, 8 Legged Freaks— I’m sure there’s more but I’m blanking.
Kelly: All I watch are horror movies. So the idea that my brain just shut down is ridiculous. I’ll just play it safe and say THE THING for something older and THE VOID for something newer. MONSTER IN THE CLOSET and THEM are in there too.
Q: Any upcoming projects we should know about?
Bob: We are always working on something.
Kevin: fingers crossed that we will be doing more books with Chas, Kelly or Mad cave— we really liked the energy over there.
Kelly: I just wrapped the kickstarter for THE DEAD AND THE DAMNED, a fantasy horror story with, like, a bajillion skeletons with writer Sebastian Girner, letterer/designer Jeff Powell and coming from Sebastian’s newly formed publisher GOATS FLYING PRESS. I’m still drawing the continuing story (written by Michael Conrad) in the BORIS KARLOFF GOLD KEY MYSTERIES. First issue just came out and I’m about to start the next issue. Also would love to work with everyone on this book and Mad Cave again. I like you guys.
Q: Any cons you’ll be attending soon?
Bob: We are always somewhere hawking our fine wares! Hopefully Heroes in Charlotte or Nashville Comic Con in June.
Kevin: If they invite us ( and give us rooms & tables), we will go.
Kelly: I’ll be heading “across the pond” for Thought Bubble in about a week. Then there’s the reset for the year. I’ll likely be at C2E2, Heroes, NYCC and some smaller ones over the next year.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
Bob: Don’t steal our wheel idea.
Kevin: Big shout outs to all the MC marketing team— they were so professional and so great to work with! Thank you to each and every one of you!
Kelly: Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to tell your stories. Make them comics! Make ‘em for you and the rest will come.
MEET THE CREATORS!
Writer, Co-Creator Bob Frantz
Bob Frantz is a Ringo Award-winning writer who resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with his amazing wife and two wisecracking pre-teen kids. When he isn’t writing funny books or preparing a snack for his kids who haven’t touched their dinner, Bob enjoys coffee, fancy neckwear, and swearing at the TV during Manchester City matches or New York Mets games.
Writer, Co-Creator Kevin Cuffe
Kevin Cuffe is a Ringo award winning writer who lives with his family of five that doesn’t respect his award winning status. He drinks bourbon, plays too much DND and has too many dogs. He has co-created several comics including MYSTIC MELON, DUST PIRATES, NINJA NUNS and METALSHARK BRO.
Illustrator, Kelly Williams
Kelly Williams lives in a house where he’s never been nominated for an award. Is fairly unheard of. Sort of a needle in a haystack. He draws and writes comic books. Some of those comics are BOUNTIFUL GARDEN, A LETTER TO JO, THE DARK and tons more. You can use the internet to find them.
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