“Dark Delights” and Horror Talk with Decapitated Dan
Decapitated Dan is the … well, the Mother Theresa of Indie Horror (his favorite sports team is the “Saints” afterall). I’m sure he’d prefer the moniker “Crypt Keeper” or “Grim Reaper” but truth be told, D2 doesn’t bury people, he resurrects them. How you ask? He unselfishly gives up his time spreading the Good Word about his favorite indie horror creators who often go unnoticed in overcrowded comic book bins and are bypassed at trade shows in lieu of autograph-hawking (albeit aging) Eerie/Creepy/Tales of the Crypt rock stars.
By day, Dan Royer is a Graphic Designer; by night his alter ego – “Decapitated Dan”, AKA Horror Comic Journalist – emerges to help raise the unknowns from the Dead, give them a voice in his columns, podcasts and websites, and do everything he can to bring their talents to the masses.
Decapitated Dan’s most recent venture – an indie horror road show/online shopping mall aplty named “Dark Delights” – is designed to help paycheck-to-paycheck indie creators gain exposure at comic cons. Recently, he took some time out of his busy schedule to fill me in, and so I “pay it forward” by sharing the good news with all of you.
1) You’ve got many balls up in the air — by day you are a design firm and by night you become “Decapitated Dan”. Tell our readers how this alter-ego-persona came into being.
(DD:) Oh man, the answer is way to long, so here is an easy way to sum it up.
Saw – emailed editor – helped launch FTT website – started doing reviews under the FTT name – contacted other comic sites about sharing reviews (comicmonsters.com, comicrelated.com, comicattack.net, horrornews.net, drivethrucomics.com) – started to do email interviews – began comicmonsters.com podcast – got tired of typing articles – started Discussions with Decapitated Dan podcast – and here we are today.
Simply I wanted to do what I could to promote all things horror comics. So I have teamed up with numerous websites to publish my reviews, host my podcasts and well … share everything that needs to be shared. It’s been fun so far; I mean you learn as you go. If you told me three years ago what I would be doing now, I wouldn’t have believed you. Yet here we are.
2) “From the Tomb”is a nifty indie horror magazine. How did you become involved with the publication?
(DD:) Actually I have done very little work on From the Tomb. I just do some of the behind-the-scenes stuff for Peter Normanton. It’s his entire baby. FtB Magazine is, and yes, I will just use Peter’s words here:
“… the amateur comics magazine celebrating the last seventy years of comic book terror, crime and science fiction from across the globe. Contents include reprints of pre-code horror comics, new unpublished horror comic stories, interviews with past comic book masters of terror and the very new along with articles covering virtually every horror comics publisher, title and artist stretching back over seven decades with full colour cover galleries. If you enjoy your comic book terror you are going to want to read this magazine! “
As of right now From the Tomb is on hold again. Like I said I don’t do anything other than ask Peter what’s going on. We go back and forth with emails but that is the extent of it. Like all my other promotional work, it’s really just me promoting the magazine.
3) You co-host a nifty little podcast with Rob Caprilozzi of ComicMonsters.com. How did you two connect on the show? What’s the format and what have been some of your favorite shows to date?
(DD:) Well the ComicMonsters podcast is only one of the three podcasts that I host. I also host my main show, Discussions with Decapitated Dan and Tales from the Water Cooler. The ComicMonsters podcast started when Rob and I were looking for ways to promote the site. I wanted to start podcasting and we dove in together. The idea behind the CM show is: Bi-Weekly and we talk horror comic topics. By topics I mean we choose a genre of horror comics and talk about as many books that fall under that as we can think of. Some of my favorites so far? Well that’s hard to pinpoint, but I guess I’d have to say the Zombie episodes and the Mummy Episode.
My other podcasts are Discussions with Decapitated Dan and Tales from the Water Cooler. The Discussions show is me talking to horror comic creators. Last but not least is Tales from the Water Cooler where I am joined by two other guys and we review our picks of the week.
You can find all the podcasts on iTunes – just search for the show name in the store, and they are all free and can be subscribed to.
4) OK, let’s get down to Dark Delights. Enlighten us on this rather unique idea.
(DD:) The idea is really me finding another way to help promote my love of horror comics. I was talking to some creator friends and they were telling me how hard it is to come up with money to get into a bigger show. Tables cost $200 – $300, and then you have travel expenses. So I said well why don’t I run a table for you at a larger show, and showcase off other creators as well? You can all split table costs, and the price will go down. So the idea was born and I sent out feelers to see who would want in. The thing is that I am going to these shows anyways, so why not try to pimp some of my friends’ works? I love it and I think you should too.
The thing to remember is that Small Press and Indie creators don’t have the budget and don’t get paid like the big boys. So they can’t just hop on a plane and pay to hit up these shows. They can maybe do one or two in their area. Now I’m not rich by any means, but if I am going to go to a show anyways, why not try this out, to help them out?
5) Dark Delights is part indie horror comic con road show and part online horror shopping mall. What is your current lineup of indie horror creators and what cons will you be stalking in 2011?
(DD:) 2011 is when we test the waters, as I am going to do this at two shows. Detroit Fanfare is where the Dark Delights will start and that is Sept. 24 and 25. The second show I will be doing is Kokomo Con in Kokomo, IN. (Note: The website still needs to be updated for 2011.)
On board for the initial run I have, Asylum Press, Crypt Logic Comics, Dap Show, Doris Danger, From the Tomb Magazine, Harbor Moon, Heske Horror, King Tractor Press, Legion Studios, Moon Comics and Super Real Graphics, You can check it all out at and what I should have on hand at my Dark Delights website.
6) What is your ultimate goal with Dark Delights? Will you merge your web column, podcasts and perhaps even make available an iPhone app? In other words, make this a multi-media deal? Or perhaps even do a joint venture with other sites as Jay Katz has done with InvestComics?
(DD:) Oh goodness your already 10 steps ahead of me. LOL. For now, it’s just staying as me doing something at shows I am already going to attend. I have too much on my plate to really take this further at the moment, but seriously you never know. Hell I put on Dan Con in only six months.
The problem is that I still need to cover the shows for press reasons;, you know tons of photos, meeting new creators, etc. So I need to see how it goes first since I don’t have a staff to help me out with this. I see it going very well in my head, but maybe it’s just a Detroit thing since I have an “in” there. I have to wonder what will C2E2 or Wizard World say if I sent this idea to them, because they might not give me the creator table rates.
7) We first hooked up when you were gracious enough to interview me in one of your Decapitated columns and later invited me on your podcast called “Deep Discussions with Decapitated Dan”. I thought you were one of the best interviewers I’d dealt with. Do you consider yourself more of a “web columnist/interviewer” or a “podcast host” kind-of-guy?
(DD:) Haha, well this is a good one to answer. Okay real deal: I’m busy. I work 45 hours a week, I have the side design job and then I do all this comic stuff. Hell I think if anything I neglect the wife too much. The problem is that it seems there is not a single thing I won’t do to help promote a horror comic in anyway I can. Nowadays I do rely more on the podcasting side of things though. It does save more time, and I can cover more in one episode.
Is that fair to everyone I am helping? Maybe not to it’s fullest, but people need to know that this is something you do for the love of it, because there is no money to be made. That was a bad answer, huh? So when you ask for a title, I make it as simple as I can: Horror Comic Journalist.
8) Is Decapitated Dan a closet indie horror creator or are you just a connoiseur of dark matter? Ever thought about publishing your own indie horror comic book?
(DD:) LOL … I can’t talk about it right now. What I can say is that Decapitated Dan will be coming at you in numerous comics in the next few years.
9) As a certified horror junkie, you most have some favorites. What artists in the horror genre raise the cackles on the back of your neck?
(DD:) Oh see now that’s not fair. There are WAY too many people in this business whose work I enjoy. I think the easiest way to do this is just share the two covers that made an impact on me, because the list would almost never end.
1. Gore Shriek #1 – When I saw this cover by Bruce Spaulding Fuller I fell in love. I really think this was the turning point into getting me into taking a good look at horror comics. Hell this cover has been my cell phone wallpaper for 3 or 4 years now. I can not get enough of it.
2. Deadworld #5 – Now I know there are WAY too many GORE-Geous Deadworld covers, but this one started my love affair with the series. There is no better zombie series than Deadworld and Vince Locke Killed it on this cover. I could stare at it for hours. The runner up to this one is Deadworld 26 (also shown below – bottom right).
10) Wrapping up, is there anything else we should be on the lookout for – either from Dark Delights, Decapitated Dan or the indie horror field in general? And do you think the Saints have a shot at making it back to the Super Bowl in 2012 if the football lockout is settled? After all, the world does end that year …
(DD:) Haha, a loaded question. So first of all WHO DAT!!!! Your damn right my Saints will be back in the Superbowl this year. If there is a lockout I will go try out! Be a long drive from Chicago, but worth it.
The future is a mystery, really. As my great friend and comic writer Rafael Nieves knows, I never run out of ideas. Trying to get them all into working out is another story, but I never run out of promotional ideas.
The main thing to announce is that I will be doing Dan Con again. Anyone in the Chicago area, please come out and support local creators and sellers. Dan Con, for those who don’t know, is my comic convention that takes place in Orland Park, IL. It’s a smaller, community-based show. I had 21 creators and 15 Vendors on hand for the first year and they are all coming back next year. You can expect it to always be before C2E2. You can find out more on Dan Con 2012 at http://danconcomic.blogspot.com/ and on Facebook. I update Facebook all the time!
As for promotions, you can catch me wandering around at C2E2, I will be hosting a horror comic writers panel this year. I will also be on hand at Chicago Comic Con and Flashback Weekend. Then you can find me and the Dark Delights at the Detroit and Kokomo cons.
Other than that you can find the podcasts on iTunes and you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a horror book I want to know about it! The review pile might be large, and it can take me a little bit to get to it, but I will get to it. Email me at email@example.com and let’s set something up!
Thanks Dan, and keep up the good work. We need more guys like you to keep Horror dream (or nightmare) alive.
An award-winning indie comic creator and screenwriter, Bob Heske is currently writing/producing a micro-budget horror film called UNREST. Bob wrote The Night Projectionist, a vampire horror series to be published by Studio 407 with film rights optioned by Myriad Pictures. Through his Heske Horror shingle, Bob self-published his critically acclaimed horror series Cold Blooded Chillers. Bob’s trade paperback Bone Chiller (a “best of” CBC anthology) won a Bronze medal in the horror category at the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards. His “end times” anthology 2012: Final Prayer was also released in late 2009. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.