CCI: Spotlight on Roman Dirge

Fri, July 27th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Travis Fischer, Contributing Writer

NOTE: The following article contains adult language.

Roman Dirge celebrated the tenth anniversary of his comic, "Lenore," at Comic-Con International in San Diego with a panel discussing anything and everything that came to his mind.

"What we're celebrating this year is the tenth anniversary of 'Lenore'," Dirge said, explaining the character was originally created in 1992. "So actually, it's the fifteenth anniversary of the character."

The topic tried to stay focused on Lenore and her origins in publishing but Dirge's cute little dead girl soon became overshadowed by stories of Dirge himself.

"We did a really fun practical joke on Roman that I love sharing with everybody," his friend Christopher said.

Christopher told the audience that one day when Dirge went out to pick up a girl who was coming in from out of town. So Christopher and their other roommate went out and bought posters and magazines marketed towards teenage girls.

"We redecorated his room so basically it looked like a fourteen year old girl's room."

"It took me like 10 minutes to notice. That was the funny part," Dirge laughed.

The two friends told audience members of how they once tried selling "Lenore" as a movie in Los Angeles.

"We had nothing prepared," Dirge said, comparing themselves to two school kids trying to write a book report the night before it was due.

Adding to the pressure, their Los Angeles host, good friend Jhonen Vasquez, had purchased night vision goggles and spent the entire night laughing at them in the dark.

Christopher and Dirge said they went in to pitch their movie and it went perfectly.

"I was already planning what kind of private jet I was going to buy, who I was going to have killed," Dirge joked.

When Dirge got the script, he said he poured himself a glass of wine and went to read it. After telling the audience how he didn't want "Lenore" to be a musical he revealed that he only got to page three before Lenore broke out into song.

"About halfway through the script, I'd gone through the wine really quickly," Dirge said. "It was bad. It was just so bad."

Afterward, Dirge said he had to attend a meeting where the people who had written the script he had hated asked him what he thought of it. After proclaiming how he hated it, they informed him that they were going to go ahead and make it anyway. However, Sony picked up the rights to the movie and agreed with Dirge.

Dirge said he's just finished writing his own feature script for "Lenore" that he will be pitching to studios.

As for the comic version of the story, Dirge says that he will be upping his production to two issues a year.

"I really have no excuse to put out one a year. The warlock's level 70 now. I've got the good armor. I've got the epic mounts," Dirge said, referring to his World of Warcraft character.

Other projects cutting into Dirge's game time "Bear and Bellylint."

"I've been working on that for a while," Dirge said. "If you want to use the word 'epic' for the front ... 'amazing' will work ... 'godlike'."

Dirge says he's about eight pages from finishing the book.

Books aren't the only thing keeping Dirge away from his video games.

"I am working on a short film. I've been working on it forever and you'll probably never see it and it'll probably never be finished."

The film tells the story of Santa Claus, who becomes so eccentric about making toys that he forgets to take care of himself until the Grim Reaper comes up to take his soul.

"You know, it's a kid's film."

The Grim Reaper is about to take Santa when he sees a toy so amazing that he changes his mind and tells Santa that he needs to make an even more amazing toy every year to stay alive.

"And then it gets like weird after that."

Along with the screenplay, the comics, and the short film, Dirge is also working on a novel.

Called "Turtle Boy", a name inspired by a sign on the Los Angeles freeway that greatly disturbs Dirge, the novel is about a man who has completely given up on love, then meets the perfect woman, only to have her catch a disease that makes her head inflate.

If Dirge's stories are strange and bizarre, his real life seems to follow suit.

Dirge told a story about a strange encounter in the men's room at the Associate Press Expo.

"I love these experiences. They really make life worth living," Dirge said. As he was using the urinal in the men's room, a strange man walked up to him, tapped him on the shoulder, and proclaimed that he had something to show him.

As the audience was on the edge of their seat, Dirge's story was interrupted when Dirge shocked himself on his microphone, sidetracking the story as he tended his wounded mouth.

"Only at my panel would I be electrocuted on the lips while talking about holding my penis." Dirge said. "Where do you go from there?"

Dirge finished his story, saying the man who approached Dirge at the urinal had a comic he wanted Dirge to look at. According to Dirge, the man said he was too embarrassed to approach him in the line earlier that day.

With all the work, all the madness, and even a scar or two, Dirge was asked if his career was worth it all.

"Oh yeah, no. No. I would totally do something different if I could go back in time ... I'm lying. I draw comics and play video games all the time!" Dirge said. "Don't feel bad for me. It's all good."

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