THE GRAPHIC HEADSTONE: ETHAN & RACHEL MONGIN, TILL DEATH WE MAKE ART!

graphicheadstonebanner copy                  ETHAN & RACHEL MONGIN, Independent Comic Creators

Deadwest: Howdy there, Scream Freaks! If you’re wondering why you’ve caught me standing outside this here house at the edge of the cemetery, I can tell ya it’s for no good reason!

Woose: Mr. scary skull cowboy, how do you smile?zwoot

Death Elf: Silence, least you get us in more trouble!

DW: Both of you pipe down, already! As you Scream Freaks can see, I’m escorting these two troublemaking yahoos home after they wreaked havoc at the Howl-Inn Grub and Spirits earlier.

Death Elf: He consumed my warrior’s feast!

Woose: Courage never tasted so good.

DW:  You’re lucky I don’t kick yer butts fer trash’n my favorite bar! Now, let’s meet your wranglers that set you lose on the Crosslands. Anybody home?!

Ethan Mongin: Can we help you?Death-Elf-And-Woose-Dailies_Cover

Rachel Mongin: Woose! Where have you two been?

W: I’ll go play in my room now! Come on, Death Elf.

RM: Thank you so much for bringing them home.

DW: Let’s just not make this a habit, Mr. and Mrs . . .

EM: I’m Ethan Mongin, and this is my wife, Rachel. No worries there. We’re just temporarily renting this place for a creative getaway. It has a pretty inspiring view of the cemetery next door.

DW: The Crosslands is a pretty inspiring place. What are you working on?

EM: Comics. Here, check them out.

DW: Whoa! Creepy Cat, Skull Gun Bunny, Churchology, The Adventures of Death Elf and Woose . . . Hold yer horses! Those two are comic book creations of yours? What cosmic powers brought that about?

EM: Rachel and I came up with Death Elf and Woose at the same time over numerous conversations at Waffle House.

DW: The most largely uncredited breeding ground for ideas.

EM: Especially during our first two years of marriage. We were long distance, and spent most of our time brainstorming and drawing our ideas over the Waffle House table. Woose is the brain child of Rachel’s sense of humor and my Cartoon Network inspired doodling. Rachel has a rather notorious history of imaginary friends with idiotic tendencies which gives us an audience we feel starts with 12 year olds, continues to college students, and then immature adults.

DW: Notorious history?

RM: I was an Army brat and moved too frequently to make permanent friends. I was pretty lonely, so I often played with my stuffed animals, lived in books, and created a slew of imaginary friends. I was an odd kid and lived in my head.

DW: I see. So, you two work pretty in tangent, huh?Skull-Gun-Bunny-Alt-Cov001

EM: We work as a team on everything.

RM: When Ethan and I met, our artistic visions gelled instantly. You could honestly say our stories are the entire premise of our marriage.

EM: Rachel’s the brains behind Death Elf and Woose. She designed the characters and writes the scripts, while I handle the sequential artwork.

RM: That’s not to say I don’t do sequential art. I just tend to take longer in the process, and Ethan’s style really applied itself to the world we imagined for Death Elf and Woose.

EM: And I write the Churchology and Skull Gun Bunny comics myself, but Rachel gives me advice, editorial comments, and helps me polish the artwork. We are actually working on getting more collaborative on our art projects where we color and ink each other’s work.

RM: Yeah, we have some future comics in the oven that will feature both of our art styles. The most recent one is just a sketch book, Here There Be Monsters, and a redneck vampire space pirates comic called Blood Poachers vs. Dracula will feature both of our art and is expected out soon.

DW: Speaking of the art, your comics definitely have a unique style that’s easily recognizable. Any specific influence this can be traced back to?

EM: I owe my current art style to watching one of my college professors work. His drawing style looked like a little kid’s drawing, and I thought to myself, “Why am I killing myself trying to draw realistically when others seem to enjoy making comics with a more cartoony style?” So, I watched a bunch of Cartoon Network shows (Chowder and Flap Jack) and they ended up influencing my current way of working. I also really like Dough Tenapell’s art and love Genndy Tartakovsky’s work.zart

RM: I was introduced to fantasy art with John Howe’s Lord of the Rings concept art, the Zelda gaming guides, Final Fantasy, and Magic the Gathering. That influence strengthened my desire to make good art featuring my story lines and ideas.

DW: I’m digging all the vibrant colors making the stories pop off the page and in your face! Very effective.

EM: Thanks! You know, for years, I was too freaked out to color my work, so all I ever did was black and white drawings. At one point, I decided to draw a bunch of my old action figures as a way to polish my artwork and psych myself up to working on our full length comic projects. I drew some early 90’s G.I. Joe and Ninja Turtles art and used the original toy lines’ vibrant color schemes for reference. I fell in love with those color combinations and now use them in all of our comics and posters.

RM: Coloring is my current challenge, but I’m learning a lot from watching Ethan. His method using blocked color patterns, the 90’s color schemes, and keeping similar values together have all been huge influences on my recent illustrations. His work has even encouraged me to look back at Lisa Frank’s use of color (laughing)!

DW: Am I mistaken, or does it look like some of your art is colored by hand rather than on the computer?DEATH-elf-and-Woose-Poster

RM: Almost all my work is done in marker which has presented its own problems. Just about every print I’ve made had to be lightened up in Photoshop before sending to print.

EM: I ink by hand, but coloring with markers reads a little muddy when scanning traditional artwork into the computer. So, most of our comics are colored in Photoshop.

DW: I can’t even decide which one to read first! Which would you recommend?

EM: Well, Skull Gun Bunny is specifically my warped idea of what happened to all the anthropomorphic cartoon characters from the 80’s and early 90’s. It’s about these 2 college-bound bunnies who are forced to become zombie-hunting minions of Death.

RM: Creepy Cat is a humorous web comic based on our actual cat, hockey mask and all! Her real name is Mephistopheles, and we had the choice of taking her in or letting her devour our souls!

EM: Churchology is an autobiographical comic that describes my experiences in various churches and institutions growing up that impacted my understanding of Christianity.

RM: And then there’s our love child who we’d love to see go all the way, Woose! He’s an idiotic Wootinian destined to be his world’s bargain-bin messiah with the help his stoic partner, Death Elf.

DW: Not everyone is as lucky as I am to get an armful of these books, so where would you recommend I tell Scream Freaks to read your stuff?12120091_10153272364618719_6691181766581612443_o

EM: All of our comics can be found at our website prettyweirdart.blogspot.com. We publish new art and comic strips every week, so there’s always something new to come back for. We also post our work on our Facebook page and have an online store for purchasing our comics and posters.

DW: I also see a lot of stuff you’ve drawn that’s not all original properties. Can people hire you for commission jobs?

RM: Yes. We can be reached at prettyweirdart@gmail.com or through our Facebook page if anyone is interested in commissioning a piece of art.

DW: Woowee! This trip certainly turned out better than expected! Maybe I’ll see you around after reading these and chew the fat again.

EM: If we miss each other, you can find us at comic book conventions on the other side of the grave throughout North and South Carolina.

DW: I’ll keep that in mind. Well, I best be hitt’n the trail back to the Howl-Inn, and hope you Scream Freaks take the time to check out these fine talented people. I’ll see ya later, Scream Freaks!

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