Exclusive Q&A with Rob Harrell on Halloween
Writer and artist Rob Harrell talks to us about why he loves Halloween and transitioning from comic strips to graphic novels.
Rob Harrell: I love a good scare. I’m sort of a horror movie/novel junkie. Even the bad ones. So Halloween is one of my favorite times of year, because everybody sort of gets in that mode for a while. I love a good haunted house, too, and here in Austin we have a few really good ones. And having a time of year when ‘ghoulish’ is cool and you randomly run into zombie, vampire and skeleton decorations just makes me feel like a kid again.
What were your favorite monsters as a kid?
RH: King Kong and Godzilla, for sure. I still love them. Can’t wait for the new Godzilla movie! I remember when I was about nine I saw the ’76 King Kong in the theater, and it was the greatest thing I had ever seen. I know that version catches a lot of flack at times, but to me it was by far the coolest thing that had ever been put on film. I still love it.
And back when I was in grade school, there was a local channel that ran old monster movies in the afternoons. I’d sit down with my Cheetos in the beanbag and watch them every chance I had. While maybe not the best Godzilla movie, I loved Destroy All Monsters because it was kind of a monster smorgasbord. Monsters as far as the eye could see.
What's the most fun thing about drawing monsters now?
RH: I love the fact that there are no rules. You can literally do anything you want with a monster drawing. Sometimes I’ll just make some random lines and squiggles on a piece of paper and then start piecing them together to see what evolves. It’s really kind of therapeutic. You don’t have to worry about scale or symmetry or physics. You can just sort of let your mind wander and see what happens. That’s how Rayburn and Tentaculor, the main characters in Monster on the Hill, came about. They were sketches that turned into finished drawings that eventually led me to a story.
You come from the world of comic strips. What was it like making the transition to graphic novels?
RH: As far as the writing, it felt really natural. While I wasn’t writing set-ups and punchlines for the book, my goals in both were to tell fun stories, write interesting characters, and make people laugh. In both the comics and the book, I try to write things that will appeal to kids and adults alike. So I feel like I was well prepared for that part of it.
The drawing was more of a change. I knew how I wanted the book to look, so I just went for it with the color and detail. Not surprisingly, it took longer than I expected, but it was a lot of fun to do. I’m thrilled with how it turned out.
Can we expect more monsters from you in the future?
RH: Absolutely. I have folders and sketchbooks full. Scary, goofy, you name it. The hard part will be deciding which ones make the cut!