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Moonstone publisher and comics writer Joe Gentile talks books

Comics and novel writer Joe Gentile talks about starting Moonstone publishing, and Night Stalker comics...

READERSVOICE.COM: What made you decide to start Moonstone and when did it start? How did you meet up with art director, writer and co-publisher Dave Ulanski?

JOE GENTILE: Dave and I (and our friend/writer Rafael Nieves) were part of a Chicago publisher that never quite got off the ground, but we had all of these books done. One thing lead to another, and I got dragged kicking and screaming, but here we are!

RV: Were you working at the same time to finance Moonstone, and how many people were involved at first?

JG: Oh yes, always working to help finance Moonstone! Basically, it was a bunch of Chicago creators working for free on a lot of books seeing if we could make anything stick!

RV: What were the first books and comic books you published and can you remember roughly what the print runs were?

JG: Our first books, all creator-owned: Mr. Nightmare’s Wonderful World, Cambion, Sherlock Holmes, Arianne, and Evil Man. Print runs were not great, but we were doing new ideas that were ours, for fun, and we learned a lot!

RV: How did you organise distribution?

JG: Simple. Even back then, you just have to deal with Diamond.

RV: Can you give a bit of history of Moonstone since then and some of the titles you’ve published, both comics and prose?

JG: WOW! We’ve been around for 12 years, and have published HUNDREDS of books…So besides the above: The Phantom, Buckaroo Banzai, Captain Action, Zorro, The Avenger, The Spider, Mummy, Moonstone Monsters, Mr Keen, Mr Moto, Wyatt Earp, The Cisco Kid, Boston Blackie, Revisionary, Robin Hood, Vampire the Masquerade, Werewolf the Apocalypse, Etc-!

RV: When did you acquire the comics and prose rights to Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and what was the process you went through to get these rights?

JG: We got the rights about seven years ago now, I think…All it took was a little detective work, phone calls, emails, and a LOT of persistence…there’s no real formula for it.

RV: You and Dave Ulanski seemed a bit disappointed with the newer tv series of The Night Stalker, which had the near impossible task of following the brilliant original tv series. What would be the chances of another tv series being made based on your comics, or maybe a movie?

JG: There’s always talk, so you never know!

RV: It’s hard to imagine anyone playing Kolchak other than Darren McGavin. Would the actor have to reinvent the character to suit themselves, the way different actors have played James Bond in different ways, or are Kolchak and McGavin inseparable?

JG: Tough call. I think part of what made Kolchak Kolchak is his personality. When different actors play Sherlock Holmes, while they all have their spin, there is a grounding similarity needed and I think Kolchak calls for that as well.

RV: The Night Stalker graphic novels are supposed to be more like the movies, and the comics Tales more like the tv series. Which do you prefer writing?

JG: I’m a fan of the TV movies while Dave actually liked the TV episodes better. I lean towards the “Noir” side of things, while Dave like the more light approach.

RV: Could you talk a bit about how you structure a Kolchak story? I read where you started one story [in Bare Bones] with a character in mind, a Minotaur in a maze, and then placed that in an urban setting. But what about structuring the story? Where do you go from the initial idea?

JG: Again, a tough question…each story is different. Sometimes an image comes that you cant shake…or an exchange of dialogue…or a cool situation…it’s never the same.

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