Do you like Evil Dead or Kill Bill? How about a a nunchuck-slinging werewolf? Or the main character being a training swordswoman tricked into killing her undead ex-boyfriend by a manipulative witch? Then follow Viva on her adventures for vengeance and blood-hungry madness in VIVA THE HUNTER!
GenderTerror was able to interview filmmaker and scriptwriter, Forrest DePoy, about his adventure in comics and with Viva and co.
GenderTerror: Kill Bill meets Evil Dead. Where did the inspiration for VIVA THE HUNTER come from?
Forrest DePoy: It all started with a bathtub! Before VIVA THE HUNTER there was Some Place Safe, which is my 2018 student short film that served as my senior capstone project. That short film’s script was then adapted into the first issue of VIVA THE HUNTER, and from there the project expanded into a series! I first began writing the short film’s script in July of 2018 based off the idea of something I saw – the blood-filled tub in Joji’s “Will He” music video. A lot of what I create comes from visuals or cool phrases. I loved the blood bath look in the music video and just kind of ran with it, developing characters and a location based around it. I really wanted to work on a horror film at the time, and since I was planning to keep the main action in one location for budgetary reasons, I think the Evil Dead inspiration came naturally as most of that film took place in the infamous cabin. During the development of this short film, I used the script as an exercise for my character development skills at the time. As a student, one of my weakest skills were (and maybe still are) well-written protagonists. I wanted Viva, the lead character, to be entirely different from anything I have tried before. I wanted her to be a badass in the making, so I really took notes from Beatrix in Kill Bill, so much so that Viva even took up kung-fu and sword training. In the end she kind of ended up being a huge nerd, which was awesome! This made the film really become a horror-action flick with a big grindhouse aesthetic, especially so once Panos Cosmatos’ 2018 film Mandy came out later that year. That seriously had a huge impact on the final script for Some Place Safe. The character dialogue was compartmentalized and redesigned in a way that the actors could really define them as they saw fit, something of which I really admired in Mandy. Each of these serve as key elements in the way I approach the expanded comic series now!
GT: Introduce us to the characters! Where did their inspiration come from?
FD: So our two main protagonists for this series are Viva and Yasin! Viva is this young hispanic swordswoman-in-training with a huge affinity for movies and video games that was directly inspired by Kill Bill’s Beatrix Kiddo. In issue #1 she’s found leaving an abusive relationship with a guy named Lanis for a mysterious woman she met online named Sven, whose prior interactions in their relationship are hinted at in Lanis’ first line of dialogue. There is history there. Viva is bad with maintaining interpersonal relationships, so she tries to find in Sven what she feels like she is missing from Lanis. Sven (whose name and permeating connection to Viva was inspired by Svengali in Trilby) turns out to be this nasty witch intent on killing Viva for some ritual of unknown purpose, but Viva quickly makes mince meat of her. One spoiler-y monster battle later, Viva gets arrested. This is where Yasin comes in during the beginning of issue #2, who is this mysterious, blonde-furred werewolf martial artist with some clearly overt issues with alcohol. Sticking to themes of action schlock, Yasin was directly influenced by Bruce Lee and they will prove to be an interesting counterpart with Viva’s own issues. Viva seeks to dive deeper into this dark world as she grows into this angry, vengeful character while readers will soon learn that Yasin insists on distancing themselves as far from it as possible. As a fun final note, almost every single minor character in VIVA THE HUNTER is a character from another project I’ve worked on or is a reference to a real life person!
GT: Let’s go behind the mask now, who is Forrest?
FD: I promise there’s no mask here. So my name is Forrest DePoy and I am Indiana-based filmmaker, scriptwriter, graphic designer and photographer just trying to make cool stuff. While my pronouns are he/him, I like to consider myself genderfluid and gender noncomforming. Identity is weird! I’m a huge film nerd, video game enthusiast, fox lover, and I am always striving to make weird things. Currently my fiance and I are planning to move to the west coast this year to try and chase opportunities that are closer aligned to our interests.
GT: References! or at least, a lot of inspiration! Kill Bill, Evil Dead, even something from a music video. What is a fun, maybe minor, reference or inspiration in the comic?
FD: Oh I’m sure there’s plenty of little minor references and even easter eggs hidden throughout this comic series! Off the top of my head, there’s several cult kung-fu movie posters in all of Viva’s rooms throughout issues #0 and #1. At least of these had a big part in building Viva’s interests. In issue #1, the line artist Dood threw in several cult horror references to things like Silent Hill and the Blair Witch which I think helped really elevate the original script. My favorite little addition is a poster in Sven’s bedroom that rocks the logo of VAULT, a music collective that helped compose a number of my early film works. When you’ve got full control over something cool like this, it’s fun to enjoy a bit of self-indulgence!
GT: How is it working with different artists and seeing their different interpretations of your script?
FD: Having a new artist come in to work on a part of the comic, be it lines, colors or cover art, is always a thrilling experience. If you have ever commissioned an artist to complete something for you, then you will know what the feeling is like. I would compare it to being a kid opening presents on a holiday, doubly so when you as the producer are so intrinsically involved in the development. No one artist is alike. Each one that has worked on VIVA THE HUNTER has proven to have their own methods of work. Some are much more reserved and strictly professional, only communicating when they have new progress to report, while others I have found are constantly messaging me with rough concepts of new ideas they thought of overnight for an improved character design or an interesting new reasoning as to why so-and-so character’s cloak needs to be green instead of maroon, for example. Both the artist’s work method and visual style entirely define the tone of the individual issue they’re tasked with interpreting, so it is always a treat to see it all come together.
GT: What niche are you seeking to explore/fill with the comic?
FD: So I wouldn’t call myself the most knowledgeable person on the comics industry, but I do believe it to be heavily saturated with big name brands like Marvel and Dark Horse. Online platforms like Webtoons and Tapas seem to share this issue too with heavy focuses on teen manga. I like to think VIVA THE HUNTER sits in this little void in the middle of nowhere, only accessible to those really searching. It is an entirely independent product for mature readers that thrives on grindhouse-lite thrills, odd characters and a rich lore for those willing to hunt. To me, I feel as though VIVA THE HUNTER currently fills the same niche that midnight movies used to.
GT: Do you identify the comic as a queer comic, why or why not?
FD: Is VIVA THE HUNTER a queer comic? Yes and no. While the comic is all about spooky monsters, demons and evil witches, our two lead characters Viva and Yasin are both rich in queer characteristics that will slowly blossom over the story and act as catalysts for some of the harder decisions they will have to make. For example, Viva is written as a gender-blind character, which we will see more of as she develops more interpersonal relationships. As for Yasin, you might have noticed that I strictly use they/them pronouns when referring to them! Keep an eye out for this in issue #3 and later entries, as it becomes a big topic later on.
GT: How did you get into making comics, let alone films, writing, literally everything! Is this something you find hard to juggle?
FD: To be completely honest, I feel like I’m still “getting into” making comics and films. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I decided I wanted to get into writing in general. Writing weird stories is something that’s always been on my mind. Keeping myself disciplined by trying to write a certain amount every week is a different story, haha! But professionally, I guess I first started writing for films way back in 2015 when I decided to create my own short film while in college. Looking at the film now, it’s kind of cringey and edgy, but I’m still pretty proud of it and it pushes me now to constantly improve myself. Since then I kind of chased the high of making short films up until I graduated college in December of 2018. Without access to the same equipment I had in school, I’ve kind of moved on to making comics. The medium is far cheaper to produce and there’s so much more you can pull off! If I tried to make a VIVA THE HUNTER movie today, I would need some kind of actor in a full-on monster suit with some additional CGI just to get Yasin’s look down (which if I ever got the chance, I’d totally go for the werewolf look achieved in Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers). Being a creator in general, be in art, writing or whatever, is always a difficult task to juggle. Even more so when everything is coming out of your own pocket!
Issue #3 is coming out this fill! Make sure to check out the first two issues. Follow Forrest and all of his other works through his website.