When I first set eyes on Gyula Nemeth’s portfolio during New York Comic Con 2015, I knew he was a talent to watch. So when he announced on his social media page he was teaming up with Steve Niles on a project, I knew it was going to be something special. This sparked me to reach out to Gyula and Steve to ask them a few questions about themselves and their comic book, ‘Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out’.
Most comic book readers know of you, Steve. You’ve touched all aspects of the comic book industry from your work with Hellspawn to Cthulu Tales to Star Wars and the ever so popular 30 Days of Night series. And my personal favorite, Freaks of the Heartland…but for those that may not be familiar, please tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s YOUR origin story?
Steve: I was born in New Jersey but left at a young age. I was actually scared of horror as a young child and then around the fourth grade, I fell in love with everything that scared me. I read comics my whole life but it never occurred to me to try and make my own until my late teens. Before that, I just made these little Super 8 horror films. I wound up spending most of my childhood and teenage years in Washington DC which had a major effect on me. I was part of the local music scene in DC which had a very DIY attitude and I think a lot of that rubbed off on me. In the scene, we put out our own records, booked our own shows and tours, and pretty much did everything ourselves without relying on the big corporate music companies. So that influenced me to start publishing my own comics and it all went from there…Same questions to you, Gyula. What’s YOUR origin story? I’ve had the unique pleasure to have met you via a group of Creative Designer friends in New York City during my visit for New York Comic Con 2015. Once the world has completely healed and people feel comfortable walking convention floors again, it would be nice to see you on panels and doing signings with Steve.
Gyula: I was born and raised in communist Hungary. I have always loved and drawn monsters, even when I was afraid of watching horror -similar to Steve. I remember asking my older brother to draw them, just because it really interested me. Maybe drawing them helped me to overcome and control my vivid imagination as a kid, who knows. As for comics, that exact 2015 NYCC was a huge dealbreaker to me. I was showing around my portfolio, and although some smaller publishers liked it, I really felt that to make an impression, I will have to have a finished product in my hand. Right there in NYC, I started to sketch my version of The Island of Doctor Moreau that I showed to Steve later.
Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out #1 (of 4) Synopsis
Supernatural detective Cal McDonald, found wandering the streets as a disheveled vagrant, is ripped from his self-imposed retirement to resume his monster-killing career.
But Cal is reluctant to return to the fray. What has the hard-bitten investigator so shaken? It’s a long story that begins with a beautiful woman who happens to be a vampire . . . and ends with a bang.
From the unique beauty and layered storyline of Criminal Macabre, it is shown that you two do have some creative chemistry. How did you two meet to collaborate on this project? What brought you two together?
Steve: I met Gyula in London at a comic con, his table was next to mine. He had self-published “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, and I got to really look at his creatures and his style. He shows such an amazing use of stroke and detail, high contrast and expression. Meeting Gyula triggered a story, so it all fell right into place.
Gyula: I’m really thankful for Steve for the opportunity. I love horror and I love noir. Especially noir based in L.A. So I appreciated every bit of this project. And while it was my first mini-series, I tried to pack everything I could in there visually.
Give us a short synopsis of the origin of the Criminal Macabre arch. How did it come about? And without spoilers, how does the newly released Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out fit into the series?
Steve: I started writing Cal stories when I was around 20… Cal is like going home for me. I can always slide into his shoes and look at the world through his cynical eyes, and it just flows. The Big Bleed Out tells two stories. One we follow Mo’Lock, Cal’s ghoul sidekick, and the other we follow Cal McDonald as he embarks on a new dreaded adventure … falling in love.
What does the future hold for Criminal Macabre? What else can we expect to see in the future from either of you? More collaborations? A film/series adaption of Freaks of the Heartland would be sweet!
Steve: Always plans in the works, but we’ll see if anything happens. I’d love to see a Cal McDonald TV series.
Gyula: Of course, I would love to work on more Criminal Macabre stories, but meanwhile we will have another story coming out this year. It is called The Possessed. A revenge horror story set during the Holocaust in Eastern-Europe.
Lastly, we are a pop-culture fandom site. Can you tell us about any of your favorite fandoms? Favorite movie, tv-show, cartoon. Favorite celebrity encounter. Whether classic, retro, or modern fandoms. We love it all!
Steve: Some of the latest films I loved where Hereditary and Midsomer. I found them to be very creepy and fun. For TV I watch a lot of vintage stuff from the ’70s like Mannix and some stuff from the ’60s like Dragnet. Love those shows.
Gyula: I was always a big Star Wars fan, but I was never really into spaceships or lightsabers, more like the cantina and Jabba’s palace creatures and their stories. “Hidden” stuff. As I have mentioned I love all things noir, from Chandler to Grim Fandango and I consume a lot of horror and classic movies.
Thanks again for your time Steve and Gyula! Cal McDonald truly reads like one of the coolest characters in comics today. And I’m ready to read The Possessed. Steve, I’m a big fan, my Twitter handle (@28savagedays) was influenced by a combination of the comic 30 Days of Night and a favorite horror movie, 28 Days Later. Gyula, looking forward to seeing more of your illustrations and projects.
Start Criminal Macabre from the beginning by picking up the series at your local comic book store or in digital format. The Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out paperback version is available for pre-order
at Dark Horse for a November 18, 2020 release date. The Possessed paperback version is available for pre-order at Clover Press for a September 2020 shipping date.