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Dan Fogler Goes [Heavy] Metal With Moon Lake

Interview conducted by James Ferguson

This month sees the release of Moon Lake, now from Heavy Metal. The publisher has scooped up the anthology helmed by Dan Fogler, with more on the way. The comic is a creepy, yet hilarious collection of tales all surrounding this mysterious town. I had a chance to speak with Fogler about the project.

A mysterious portal into the bizarre and demented.  Zombie dinosaurs, a mass-murdering high school cheerleader, and an interdimensional sasquatch trying to save his species from extinction.  All created by the lunar radiation in the small town of Moon Lake.

James Ferguson: Horror and comedy are very close, like two sides of one coin. How do you approach something like Moon Lake where you blend them together?

Dan Fogler: I use something like Army of Darkness as a barometer. As gory or as frightening as it can be, that's how far you can go on the comedy spectrum. My favorite villain is the Joker. I find that the best Jokers also have moments of clarity. Hysterical Psycho was a movie I directed that takes place at Moon Lake. I did it as an experiment with my theater troupe. Everything was created out of this film as a black and white homage to Psycho. It's got Mel Brooks-ian comedy in it. It's very Corman.

A lot of the best horror films have some great comedy lines, like “You're gonna need a bigger boat” in Jaws. It grounds everything. That's what happens in life. Some people laugh in sad situations. Some people say funny stuff when they're shitting their pants.

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JF: When you're looking at a particular story, how do you decide what medium to pursue it in?

DF: I feel that everything can work multilaterally. I'm in a world where all the comics I read growing up are now gigantic blockbuster movies. If I'm writing a TV show, I'm also wondering how this could be a movie or a comic book too.

JF: So you're not necessarily confined to one medium. You see how it can work in multiple.

DF: Yeah, always. Those are the three mediums I work in, comics, TV, and film. We're putting together a Moon Lake animated show and it came out of the live-action film mixed with some animation. It's also an homage to Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt as much as it's an homage to Heavy Metal the movie.

Brooklyn Gladiator is another one I'm working on, my sci-fi book that we're going to turn into a film.

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Moon Lake is like a mothership. Each one of those characters is their own little rabbit hole. You can focus on one of them and make a separate series. I'm trying to create my own self-contained dark universe.

JF: The Fogler-verse! Moon Lake has an impressive array of creators involved. How did you assemble the team for this anthology?

DF: I went to Archaia for the first one in 2010 with a large script of what I wanted the book to look like. They gathered some artists and filtered some of the ideas through some great artists. They put together a menagerie of people to work with. I wrote some stories completely. Others I just handed an idea over to a writer and they brought their own thing to it. I was focusing a lot on the Man on the Moon, the narrator. He's the throughline.

I thought if I really want to take control of the universe here, I decided on the second book I would take what I learned on the first one, so I called on to some of them to come onboard. I went out and searched for my own artists. I wrote a lot of it with Andrew Harrison. The second book has my full stamp on it which is coming out in August.

I'm just amazed. It's really hard to make one of these books. It's very eclectic. When you open up Heavy Metal magazine, some stories are freaky and surreal. Others are over-the-top, R-rated, hysterical comedies, all next to horror and gore.

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JF: Although Moon Lake started at Archaia, it sounds like it found its real home at Heavy Metal.

DF: It's beautiful. The first comic book I ever picked up was Heavy Metal. I was ten, way too young and it was on my brother's shelf. Heavy Metal was sticking out because it was over-sized. I was very interested in the pictures. It made such an impression on me. Heavy Metal the movie was playing over and over again on HBO, so I watched that so many times. I loved it. When I was with Archaia, it was great, but it was on Black Label and then got swallowed up by BOOM! Studios. A lot of that Black Label stuff got put on the back burner so I was floating around.

What was really cool was the first convention, I think it was San Diego, and I was there signing my Moon Lake: Volume 1 for the first time. I went over to the Heavy Metal booth and give them a free copy and say thank you. In the foreword I mention them and say it's a big homage. They took the book and said “Holy shit, you're Dan Fogler” which helped of course. They were really flattered and invited me over. That was 2010 and whenever I was at a con, whether it was for a movie or anything, they would just let me chill there because I loved Heavy Metal so much. The fact that now I'm finally being published by them, it's just perfect. It makes so much sense.

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JF: The version of Moon Lake that's coming out through Heavy Metal is an extended edition. Can you talk about what is being added to that version?

DF: The volume one trade is going to have some extra material that's never been seen before. Volume two is going to be at least half of new material and Volume three is all new. It will culminate around Halloween.

Horror DNA would like to thank Dan Fogler for speaking with us. Moon Lake: Volume 1 – Midnight Munchies is due out on June 15th, 2021. Volume 2 – Tales of Lunacy will follow on August 17th, 2021 and Volume 3 – Guide to the Dark Side wraps it up on October 12th, 2021.

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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