TROMA-TIZED: Talking "The Toxic Avenger and Other Tromatic Tales"

Wed, June 6th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

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Dave Richards, Staff Writer

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This article contains nudity.

"The Toxic Avenger and Other Tromatic Tales"

For over three decades, one film production company has been able to consistently repulse, titillate, and make moviegoers laugh all at the same time. That company is Troma Entertainment, and this July Troma is joining forces with Devil's Due Publishing to bring their unique blend of gore, guffaws, and naked girls to the four-color world with the release of the 160 page original graphic novel anthology, "Lloyd Kaufman Presents the Toxic Avenger and Other Tromatic Tales." CBR News spoke with artist Tim Seeley, who also edited the project, and with his fellow creators Sean McKeever, Jeremy Haun, and Emily Stone.

The seeds for "Tromatic Tales" were planted many years ago when Tim Seeley was still just a boy. "The first Troma film I remember was 'Class of Nuke 'em High,'" Seely told CBR News. "My dad was watching it, and I happened to see what was going on, on the screen. I was nine years old, so I'd say I was less an immediate fan as I was disturbed and fascinated. I would watch the 'Toxic Avenger' with buddies at sleepovers. The one that totally got me all wrapped up was 'Tromeo and Juliet,' which I rented at 18, the perfect age to see that movie. From that movie on I was officially a Tro-man.

"Troma endures because no one else can be Troma," Seeley continued. "The combination of making unrepentantly low- budget stuff with tons of heart and even more gore in a world of soulless corporate entertainment has really made them stand out, especially as time has gone on."

Art from "Tromatic Tales"
Seeley came to enjoy Troma's combination of heart, humor and gore so much that he eventually worked on one of the company's actual films, the currently in production "Poultrygeist." "I did some of the designs for the fast food restaurant in the

Movie--American Chicken Bunker (ACB!!)," Seeley said. "The mascot chicken guy? That was me."

He may have worked with Troma Entertainment only recently, but Seeley has had the desire to bring the characters and concepts of Troma's films to the comic page for a number of years. "I had the idea right about the time I started working at Devil's Due five years ago," Seeley explained. "At the time, I thought about doing a Toxic Avenger miniseries. But I got sidetracked with 'Hack/Slash' and girls. Eventually, about two years ago, I decided I'd do it as an OGN anthology. Now, two years, a toxic ulcer, and 160 pages later, we're due out in July!"

Once he got "Tromatic Tales" set up, Seeley went about recruiting creators for the anthology. "I first contacted all my buddies who I knew I could get free shit out of," Seeley confessed. "Fortunately for me, some of these rubes… er... I mean friends are guys like Jeremy Haun, Sean McKeever and B. Clay Moore. Once I had the stories I started hunting down artists. It took awhile to put this all together. But damn it, it'll be worth it."

Pages from "Redneck Zombies"

As one would expect, the creators Seeley recruited for the Troma book are largely all Troma fans. "I had to pick guys that I felt comfortable asking about Troma movies," Seeley stated. "That's not a conversation you can have with a stranger, you know? But yeah, you'd be surprised how many of the guys that are writing your [DC Comics and Marvel Comics] stuff secretly love the feces-throwing, exploding tit action of Troma."

The writers and artists of "Tromatic Tales" will be lending their takes on or adding to the stories and characters of Troma films from throughout the company's more than 30 years of existence. "They're all sequels , prequels or remakes of films from the Troma library," Seeley explained. "So not only do you get the sick superhero stuff like Toxie and Kabukiman, you also get the sex comedies like 'Squeeze Play', the sci-fi gems like 'Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell', and the animated series 'Toxic Crusaders.'

The 160 page "Tromatic Tales" features an introduction by Troma Entertainment co-founder Lloyd Kaufman, as well as "Redneck Zombies" by Jason Hurley with art by Jeremy Haan, which Seeley summed up as, "More moonshine equals more flesh-eating hicks!"

There's also "Toxic Avenger Vs. Rectum" by Rob Mattison and Andrew Ritchie ("Pieces of Mom"). "A typical day for Toxie as he takes on a feces-firing villain," Seeley explained.

Page from "The Masturbator"
"'Class of Nuke 'em High' is an all-new class and an all new dose of radiation. Written by Brendan Hay ('Toy Fare magazine', 'Daily Show'). Art by rock poster artist Bill Hauser.

"'Toxic Crusaders.' The Crusaders are offered a cure for their mutations! By Sam Wells ('G.I.Joe: Special Missions'). Art by rock poster artist Andrew Barr.

"'The Masturbator.' The secret origin of the hero who gave his life for Tromaville in 'Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger 4'. Written by Trent Haaga (writer of 'Toxie 4!') Art by Greg Titus ('Super-Skrull').

"'Troma Lesbians' is a scientific examination of why there are so many lesbians in Troma films. Written by Andrew Dabb ('Forgotten Realms'). Art by Emily Stone ('Hack/Slash').

"'Cannibal! The Musical the Play.' Children recreate 'Cannibal! the Musical.' Written by Sketch comedian Liz McArthur. Art by Hatuey Diaz.

"'Teenage Catgirls in Heat.' The catgirls are back! Hide your men! Written by Tim Seeley ('G.I.Joe'). Art by Becky Laff.

Page from "Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD"
"'Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD.' Kabukiman takes a noodle break. Written by B. Clay Moore art by Kalman Andrasofszky ('Satana')."

"'Squeeze Play' is the heartwarming tale of a boy and his exposure to dirty movies. Written by Sean McKeever ('Teen Titans') with art by Fernando Pinto ('Ninja Turtles').

"'Tromeo and Juliet' is the mostly true story of an intern on the set of the legendary film. Written by Daniel Robert Epstein with art by Szymon Kudranski.

"'Rabid Grannies vs. Children at Play' is written by Chris Crank art by Josh Medors ('Chucky').

"'DeCampitated' is the Troma camping slasher film revisited. Written by playwright Andy Grigg with art by Ben Glendenning.

"'Toxic Avenger.' Toxie finds out why he never goes to New York City. Written by Ivan Brandon ('NYC Mech', 'Cross Bronx') with art by Andy MacDonald ('NYC Mech').

"'Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell.' Hey, I edited the book. I should get to draw the story with babes and dinosaurs. Written and drawn by Tim Seeley."

Pages from "Squeeze Play"
Seeley didn't have to do much to get artist Jeremy Haun to illustrate a story for the Troma anthology. "Tim mentioned to me that he was doing this thing with Troma and he pretty much had me at 'hello,'" Jeremy Haun told CBR News. "I hadn't really done anything for an anthology before, but this was an opportunity to do a fun story full of gory, naked-filled craziness, all of the things that make Troma movies great."

Haun' first exposure to Troma was the film starring the company's flagship character. "Like most people, I think my first exposure to Troma was the original 'Toxic Avenger' movie," Haun said. "'Toxie' came out in what, 1985? I caught it a couple years later on cable and remember being really shocked and intrigued by it. In high school, my brother and I really got into Troma thanks to free reign at the local video store and too much time on our hands during the summer.

"I saw 'Redneck Zombies' on DVD a few years ago after picking it up from the Troma booth at the San Diego Comic Con. It's a crazy movie with a crazy premise. I've always loved the zombie genre and wanted to do a zombie story, but with the flood of that kind of story over the past few years I'd almost given up on doing one. When Tim asked me which story I wanted to do, I thought that doing 'Redneck Zombies' would allow me to scratch my zombie itch in a fun way using the insanity the movie set up."

Haun's "Redneck Zombies" story isn't a retelling of the film. "This story probably takes place during or shortly after the movie," Haun explained. "It's got all of the trappings of a Troma story: a couple of punk college students on a cross country drive, stop to make out in a deserted barn somewhere in the back woods and meet up with zombified flesh craving rednecks."

Haun had a great time working on the tale of human-hungry rednecks and one of the reasons why was his collaborator, writer Jason Hurley. "He's the creator of this hilarious mini comic called 'The Adventures of Honest Abe and the Original G-Dub' and a fellow lover of 'bad' horror," Haun said. I asked Jason if he'd be interested in doing a 'Redneck Zombies' short with me and he was up for it. We spent an evening watching Troma movies and ironing out the plot. The next day, Jason shot back the script and I got started on the art. It was one of the fastest, easiest projects I've ever done. Jason is a really talented, funny writer I think you'll be seeing more work from him very soon."

While Haun and Hurley were already fans of Troma when they were offered work on the anthology, artist Emily Stone was not -- but she would become one very soon. "I had never heard of Troma before this project, as I live a sheltered life," Emily Stone said. "After hearing about the project from Tim, I proceeded to rent five Troma films to further my education. The first one I watched was 'The Toxic Avenger,' followed closely by 'Redneck Zombies' (personal fave), 'Tromeo & Juliet,' 'Sgt. Kabukiman: NYPD,' and

'Blood Sisters of Lesbian Sin.'"

When Seeley first approached Stone to work on the Troma anthology, he wasn't actually looking for her to draw a story. "Tim contacted me about doing some inking for the book, because I had inked a story of his in the past," Stone explained. "Wanting to draw a paid story for the first time, and finding the campy, low-budget nature of Troma highly appealing, I pounced on the opportunity and showed Tim some of my original work, consisting mainly of hot ladies. This persuasive technique worked well and I was offered a story."

After seeing Stone's illustrations, Seeley quickly put her to work on a story where hot ladies would play a prominent role. "The story I drew is an extremely scientific explanation of lesbians," Stone explained. "It has charts and diagrams and everything. And nudity. Seriously, drawing this story was an awesome experience and prepped me for my subsequent work in comics. Andrew Dabb's script was lots of fun. It was set up like a 1950s instructional video, a staid format that contrasts well with the visuals, which get more outrageous as the story progresses. The most fun aspect? The nudity. Definitely the nudity."

While Stone's drawings of naked girls landed her a story in "Tromatic Tales," it was Sean McKeever's friendship with Tin Seeley that lead to his work on the anthology. "Tim and I have been pals for a while now-- we're both Wisconsin survivors-- and he simply asked me to write something," McKeever told CBR News. "I told him it sounded like a cool project, but as far as I could recall, I had only ever seen 'Toxic Avenger' (sorry to say). Which was strange and campy film but it was also really late at night, so my memories are kind of hazy, but I remember appreciating it for its seemingly intentional B-movie feel. But maybe if Tim came up with a movie for me to work from, I'd be able to Netflix it and get some ideas.

"Tim came back with the suggestion that I do a riff on 'Squeeze Play,'" McKeever continued. "That blew my mind! I had no idea 'SP' was a Troma flick. See, I'd seen that movie several times on Cinemax or something as a kid and just enjoyed the heck out of it back then. That right there felt like destiny. I had to write this."

For his riff on "Squeeze Play," McKeever decided not to create a sequel, prequel or retelling of the film. "Instead of telling a story within the 'SP' world, I decided it would be great to do a period piece about a middle-schooler who's a bit of a late bloomer, and how the experience of watching 'SP' has, um... a profound effect on his life, let's just say," McKeever said.

Tim Seeley hopes "Lloyd Kaufman Presents the Toxic Avenger and other Tromatic Tales" has a profound effect on readers because he'd love to put together another Troma based anthology. "I already have some guys lined up for a sequel," Seeley revealed. "So buy this goddamned thing, because you know you want to support independent art!"

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