Ben Roman on 'I Luv Halloween' Twisted Edition and More

Halloween comes early for fans of writer Keith Giffen and artist Ben Roman this year. And it’s presented in the form of I Luv Halloween: Ultimate Twisted Edition, a full-color collection of the previously published volumes of the creative team’s global or original English language (OEL) manga from TokyoPop.

With the release of the collection this week, we sat down with Roman to briefly chat about his experience in sharing the joys of trick-or-treating with fans again.

Newsarama: Hi, Ben. I Luv Halloween: The Ultimate Twisted Edition is coming out at a time when the effects of the company-wide restructuring exercise are still being felt across the industry with some, if not most, of the OEL creators having gotten their projects either cancelled, postponed or moved to the web. How would you sum up your own experience with Keith Giffen and TokyoPop on I Luv Halloween?

Ben Roman: I was fortunate enough that the release of my book wasn't compromised, but I know fellow creators who had to go through those issues. The creative collaboration with Keith was great. He's such a significant creator in the industry, so having him on board for my first professional book was a definitely an honor and an invaluable learning experience.

NRAMA: For a creator like yourself, why does a project like I Luv Halloween appeal to you?

BR: That opportunity came along at an appropriate time for me, in terms of where I wanted to go creatively. I wanted to do something that was offbeat and a little gory, but with a kind of humor and playfulness. Doing something that excessive and obscene was great because I could almost say, "Okay, now that I've finished something so over-the-top, I can afford to reign myself in a little and do something different and a little more sober." But it was great and a lot of fun. I would definitely work on something as unusual like that again, especially with Keith.

NRAMA: However, comics and its Japanese cousin, manga, have increasingly been target of mounting public criticism for their content and their potentially harmful effects on children. Was this a factor in the creation of Finch and gang?

BR: No, we didn't really take into account any public responsibility with the I Luv Halloween books. In fact, I think that we were seeing how irresponsible we could go with that story and still get away with it. We were just trying to let loose with the characters, however violent that mentality my have turned at some points. I don't personally read manga, so I'm a little unaware of what is considered so corruptive about other books comparatively to ours, but a little supernatural-themed violence can't be too morally reckless or damning to anyone, I figure.

NRAMA: Over the course of the three volumes, the trick-or-treating buddies found themselves encountering not only bad hats in their neighborhood but also zombies and aliens. What went into your mind at that time when you were designing the various characters? What're some of your influences?

BR: I didn't draw on any specific influences when I was creating the Halloween books, but I grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes and all the Marvel books. I also take a lot of inspiration from old horror and sci-fi movies, and I think that some of that same kitsch finds itself in I Luv Halloween.

NRAMA: Obviously, publishing the entire story in full color provides a totally new reading experience but looking back now, were there things that could have been presented differently the first time around?

BR: Because Volume I was my first professional release, there are definitely certain aspects of the book that now, having had a lot more experience, I look back on and wish I could fix. But having the book coming out in full color will be a great new visual experience because I think it will correct some of the things that I am unhappy with, like the coloring in Volume I.

NRAMA: Other than the printed edition, there were at least four animated shorts on I Luv Halloween released on MySpace TV, right? Are there more in the works?

BR: There might be, however I am unaware at this point.

NRAMA: You've also got the trade paperback edition of The Cryptics coming out this month and I'm sure that you've got some other projects in the works as well. Can you spill the beans on some of them?

BR: I have a book coming out through Image Comics in Nov called, Douglas Fredericks and the House of They written by Joe Kelly. I am also working on a few new concepts, but I can't go into any details quite yet. I can, however, say that they take a different direction than my previous books. I really knew that I wanted to pursue a more "serious" project, so to speak, after The Cryptics and I Luv Halloween. The books that I am currently working on are more realistic, both in the narrative and artistically, and though they don't deal in the supernatural, that same sort of macabre tone from my other work is still present. I am definitely drawn to projects that have a darker feel to them, and right now I am interested in working on more suspense stories. I have a few projects lined up and none of them are anything like what I have done before, so I am excited.

Check back this weekend for a preview of the full-color version of I Luv Halloween

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