Exclusive Interview with Zenescope’s Ralph Tedesco!

Grimm Fairy Tales #31 (Pinnochio)A young boy named Adam climbs a tree, falling from its branches and snapping his neck.  As the years go by, the tree’s root grow evil as livestock dies around it and countless tales of evil are whispered … this is one place where man is not meant to go.  A strong man is able to chop down the tree, and the remains of the evil tree are left in the hands of a woodcarver – a man named Geppetto.  He takes the wood and carves himself a son, a boy named Pinnochio.  Unfortunately, the evil of his wood makes Pinnochio a naughty boy, and a liar who covers up his evil deeds with tall tales that make his nose grow.  In an attempt to redeem his son, Geppetto is literally killed by his son’s lies.

A young woman is injured and nursed to health by a hideous beast.  This beast, once a brutish prince, has been cursed.  He must find true love by the time the petals of a magical rose fall, or else he will remain a beast forever.  The woman begins to have feelings for the beast, but when her fiance comes to rescue her, he is horribly murdered by the beast.  The beauty, so distraught by the death of her fiance, ends her own life, sealing the beast’s fate for all eternity.

Not quite the way you remember the tales?  Well, its the way Zenescope remembers them.  By taking the original darkness of our favorite tales and injecting even more horror, Zenescope has been publishing the successful Grimm Fairy Tales since 2005.

Zenescope may be primarily known for their excellent ongoing series Grimm Fairy Tales, but with licensed comics based on the Seven and Final Destination movies under their belt, a successful dark spin on the Alice in Wonderland tale, a unique take on the voyages of Sinbad, and some exciting original properties later this year, that’s all about to change.

We spoke to Ralph Tedesco, Vice President of Zenescope Studios and one of the writers of Grimm Fairy Tales about the publisher’s plans for 2009, and even have an exciting announcement about a new Grimm Fairy Tales spin-off later this year!  Read our exclusive interview after the jump!

Grimm Fairy Tales #24Before we get into the meat of the interview, a quick preface – the first 20+ issues of Grimm Fairy Tales featured a “crypt keeper” character in the way that only Zenescope can present one – a beautiful, dark haired woman named Sela.  Eventually, Sela began to get more and more involved in the tales she was telling until, ultimately, they were about her.  Though her tales were intended to help people learn the error of their ways, too common the tales ended tragically.  Part of that was due to her nemesis Belinda, a long-legged red head with much grimmer intentions for the tales of old – she intentionally used her powers to ruin lives and gather an army of dark forces under her command.  In issue #24 of Grimm Fairy Tales, Sela and Belinda finally battled, but the ending shocked regular readers – Belinda ran a blade through Sela’s heart, killing her and leaving her body frozen in ice.

We all want to know…when’s Sela coming back?
Hmmm.  Well depends on when this interview runs…  Maybe she isn’t ever coming back.  Who am I kidding, we all saw John Locke come back from the dead on LOST so who are we not to resurrect SELA!?

Grimm Fairy Tales #35: The Portrait of Dorian GrayWhat’s coming up for Grimm Fairy Tales in the coming year?  I’ve noticed some branching out from the “fairy tales” of the series into some more classic tales, like The Portrait of Dorian Gray.
Well we never envisioned the series to encompass only fairy tales and fables.  We always knew we would need to delve into other classic stories.  The main thing was they are all going to be public domain and always include some element of fantasy.

With The Piper and the Wonderland series, we’ve seen some stories branch out from the Grimm Fairy Tales title proper.  Are there any plans for similar tales, or a return to some of the fan-favorite storylines from the series past?
I guess I have to announce this here since it sort of follows up from your last question as well.   We’re releasing a spin-off mini-series later this summer entitled Grimm Fairy Tales’ DANTE’S INFERNO.  We’re putting the Grimm Fairy Tales twist on Dante Alighieri’s Poem the Divine Comedy.   Talk about FUN to write!  We’re really going to mess with people’s heads in this one.

Definitely excited about Dante’s Inferno!  I know I’m getting greedy….any word you might be able to give us on the creative team?
Honestly no word yet.  All I can say is Joe [Brusha], Raven [Gregory] and myself will be writing.

Grimm Fairy Tales Oversided Hardcover, Volume 1Any plans for another oversized hardcover?  I know, from reading the Zenescope boards, there were some logistical issues with getting the first one out?
Oh most definitely.  We’re coming out with an oversized hardcover collecting GRIMM volumes 3 and 4 later this year.

Tell us a little bit about the upcoming non-Grimm related series coming from Zenescope, Stingers and Salem’s Daughter.
I’ll try to make this answer brief because I always seem to get long-winded when I explain these new series.  I’m passionate about them what can I say?

StingersSALEM’S DAUGHTER is sort of X-FILES meets BUFFY set in 19th century America.  It’s about a young woman who comes from a lineage of witches and a gunslinger looking for redemption and revenge.  We’re stoked about this series and we just got in a badass Greg Horn cover for issue 3 which I’m in awe of as we speak.

STINGERS is our ALIENS, it’s our PREDATOR… What I mean is Joe (my biz and writing partner) and I absolutely love those types of films and we wanted to do this mini-series that was in the same vein as the movies we grew up watching.  It’s a mini-series about a bounty hunter that hates humanity but ironically gets caught up in having to help save Earth from an alien colonization.

So when can we look for the first issues?
Salem’s Daughter
is starting out with issue #0 to be released in April and Stingers #1 hits stands March 11th to be exact.

Salem's Daughter
Salem's Daughter

The Chronicles of Dr. Herbert West #1How many issues are planned for The Chronicles of Dr. Herbert West?  Is that an ongoing?
Herbert West is 6 issues.  The first 3 have already been released.  What many people don’t realize is that this is actually a re-telling of an HP LOVECRAFT story.  It was actually Lovecraft’s zombie story and it was so incredibly creepy and it still holds up to this day.  We just stayed true to his version and updated it to be set in present day.

You guys have had some excellent covers from Talent Caldwell (Superman, Fathom).  Any chance of some interior work for Zenescope in his future?
It would be so great to put Talent on a book… or twenty.  But he’s tough to grab for interiors because of his other commitments, however we do keep our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to use him down the road.

Seven #2Any plans for more licensed properties in the future, along the lines of the earlier Final Destination and Seven series?
We have a couple licensed properties that we’re really into and in talks about but the cards need to fall into place for those to work.  Licensed properties can be tricky so they really need to make sense to do as comics.

Any plans for Zenescope to attend some of the upcoming cons this year?
We’re definitely going to be at Wizard World Philly, our hometown show, June 19-21st; we’ll be in San Diego for Comic Con July 22nd-26th; and we’re at Wizard World Chicago August 6-9th.  We might be doing a couple others but I’m not sure just yet.

You’ve got a pretty great website, where fans can get some of the variant covers/hardcovers that may be harder to find in comic shops.  Do you find that having that type of web store is beneficial for Zenescope in general.  I notice many comic companies may have websites, but don’t sell the actual comics through the site.
Honestly as a smaller publisher we need to have an online store.  We have a lot of support from many retailers but some retailers in certain areas just don’t carry our stuff yet or might just carry a few of our books and we need to be able to reach all of our fans and potential fans in order to keep growing as a business.

We take pride in our online store and we have a great shipping department.   We certainly encourage fans to always support their local retailers first but anyone who can’t get some of our books for whatever reason should definitely check out our store.

Are there any talks of moving some of Zenescope’s properties to some form of digital media distribution, in addition to the paper edition?  Like the iVerse Media comics for iPhones?
Yes, we’re actually working out a deal with a mobile content company right now so within a few months fans we’ll be able to download Zenescope images and even full comics right to their mobile phones using their phone’s apps.

Beyond Wonderland T-ShirtWith the upcomics skins and T-shirts for Beyond Wonderland, are there plans for similar merchandising with any of Zenescope’s other titles?
Glad you asked this one.  The answer is absolutely.  We’ve been getting so much feedback, the past year especially, about how our content easily crosses over into mainstream.  For people who might not necessarily read our comics they still might see a sexy version of Alice or Red Riding Hood or a horror-filled version of Wonderland and they immediately get it.  It’s sort of like Disney for adults.

But besides the T-shirt line and custom skins we‘re releasing some glassware soon and a few other things I can’t comment on just yet.

Any branching out into other media?  I keep hearing rumors about TV series, movies, etc.  I know you probably can’t announce anything yet…but are there things in the works?
Honestly, the TV, movie, video game thing is so difficult to predict.  We have some real interest in a few of our properties but you really never know until something gets made.  We know that many of our properties can make great films or TV series or video games but we let our agent take care of that side of things.  In the meantime we just keep pluggin’ away trying to make books that people like to read.

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Issue #36 of Grimm Fairy Tales is out in comic shops this week!  You can pick up any of the back issues (pick up the trade paperbacks – they usually have some great bonuses) at the official Zenescope site!

Thanks to Ralph Tedesco and the staff at Zenescope Comics for spending a little time with us!

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