Interview: Brandon Perlow – Founder of New Paradigm Studios Behind the Werewoofs Horror Comic!

Today we chat with Brandon Perlow, the founder of New Paradigm Studios and who has worked in the visual effects industry since 1996. Brandon has worked on movies such as “X-Men”, “X-Men2“, “2Fast and 2Furious”, “Apocolypto”, Zodiac” and“Enter Whitespace”. Brandon has also worked on many commercials, including the bronze clio winner for “Amp” energy drink. Brandon also worked for companies such as Digital Domain, Asylum FX, Buck, Jim Henson Creature Shop, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Saatchi and Saatchi, Filmworks Fx, and Encore VFX(“Flash”,”Supergirl”,”Titans” and “Doom Patrol”}. Brandon’s true passion has been comics so when the opportunity and timing presented itself, Brandon created New Paradigm Studios. Brandon worked on “Cthulhu Is Hard To Spell” and “Cthulhu Is Harder To Spell -The Terrible Twos” comic anthologies with Paul Mendoza. Brandon and Paul have worked together to develop the comic projects at New Paradigm Studios.

Q.1 Brandon, please tell the readers about yourself and your work. What is something about you which everyone needs to know?

Brandon:- Been a huge fan of comics since I was 12. Transformers and G.I.Joe were my “gateway” comics I went to SVA for college to study comics and illustration. I was taught by Walter Simonson, Joe Orlando, and Carmine Infantino among other great teachers. I graduated out of college as the comics industry was going thru an implosion, so I decided to learn computer graphics after seeing T2. Took some more courses in various places, and moved to California to do visual fx work. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years.

Q.2 How did your publishing journey begin?

Brandon: 2011 when I decided to move east as I was tired of the FX business in LA. I had some ideas I wanted to develop into properties, that I decided to make as comics. Within a year our team developed and delivered our first issue of Watson and Holmes. We finished the first 4 issues within a year, and got our books into shops. After getting 2 Eisner nominations and 4 Glyph awards in 2014, I decided I wanted to go back to Los Angeles, as the east coast weather and work was not compatible for me. We were developing “Werewoofs” the whole time I was in east and when I returned, but it never quite gelled until around 2018 into a coherent direction and story.

Q.3 What are some of the most memorable moments and the challenges faced by you during your career?

Brandon: 2014 Eisner nominations for our first book. Winning 4 Glyphs the same year. Just getting some validation of the work. I’ve worked on Clio winning spots for Digital Domain Commercials in 2006. One shot on a winning spot, I worked till 4am at the shop to complete my work so the next artist could complete the shot. I slept on the couch till the place opened and went home. Then went back around 11am.. I don’t think I can pull that off again. I worked with Moebius on his animated film briefly and got to meet him. He remembered me years after we worked which was nice. RIP Moebius. Working on “Enter Whitespace” was great , as I had the opportunity to design creatures and tech while making them for shots. It was great to see the movie at a premiere with the cast. I did a great short animated “Tell Tale Heart” with Raul Garcia ( a well know ex-Disney animator and now Animation Director). It was really cool to see that classic Poe horror story done in a illustrated style about 20 years ago,

Q.4 Who or what inspires you?

Brandon: I have lots of inspirations. My board would be huge. I think in illustration Frazzetta, Bernie Wrightson, NC Wyeth, FR Gruger, are tip of the iceberg, Old Masters in fine art, the great sculptors. Industrial Designers like Luigi Colani. I think seeing great modern photography especially folks covering real time stuff. Those images get stuck in your mind. Nature. I try to find inspiration whenever I can. Ideally write, type or draw it down.

Q.5 Which past projects are your favorites and why?

Brandon: “Enter Whitespace” for the aforementioned reasons. But it was also great to work with Ken Locsmandi, a fellow CG artist who was the director/producer ,who I knew since 1997 from school. We’ve worked many times together, so it was great to work on his film. Its nice to work with someone who “gets” the trials and tribulations of VFX production and is willing to make the decisions to get shots done with the budget available. Many directors/producers think “Lets fix it in post” when they do live action that has problems vs shooting it properly for fx. Ive done a bunch of commercials at Digital Domain I liked, as well as some from shops like Buck. Commercials/TV are great because you can see your work quickly, vs waiting over a year to see it to show it to other people. I think Watson and Holmes was a favorite, even though its my first book to publish. I’m really proud how “Werewoofs” came out, and hope to do more.

Q.6 Please tell us about your opinion and passion for the horror genre? Do you like any other genres as well?

Brandon: I liked “Nightmare on Elm Street” as a kid and really like the classics from Steven King and Edgar Allen Poe. Horror hits the gamut of things, cause many “horror” stories can be realistic. Id say in real life there are more horrific things than in the genre at times. I think the brilliance with horror is that it can mix with other genres well. I think horror works great with science fiction. I mean “Alien” is a perfect example of that. I would say I’m a huge science fiction fan and that’s where my highest passions lie. But I would say some of the best science fiction has a strong horror element to it. Its like Peanut butter and chocolate!

Q.7 How was your experience while working on this horror comic as a publisher?

Brandon: It was better the “second go round”. Its not like we were making the same mistakes, and work was on a more consistent schedule this time. Working with just the same writer and artist made things easier. Volume 2 of Watson and Holmes was challenging due to the fact we had 5 writers and multiple art teams working concurrently or following each other. So schedules got hectic. Having the time to iron out the story at one go, made it much easier too. We did have slight changes in the final book, but it wasn’t anything derailing. We saw something going one way in the art, and the writing needed some adjusting in the follow up. Sometimes it was small as a change of dialogue. Steenz was a great editor with their experience in a variety of things in comics, and has a great grasp of what works in YA and middle-grade stories. Steenz used to be a librarian, so they had great insight from that too. I don’t think we could have done the book properly without them.

Q.8 What are your thoughts on the 2020 situation and its effects on book publishing and the movie industry? Are things looking better now or worse?

Brandon: Until the IATSE situation clears up, it can be very uncertain. FWIW they need to get the deal they want. They work hard, and are not remunerated or given the working conditions they need. The big studios and streamers have done well on the old deal, and they can afford now to do this. Streaming in my view will overtake the big budget projects from movies for a while. Until the COVID situation is under stronger control and containment, I don’t see theatres fully recovering. In fact I think all the movies now entering post-production for ‘22 and ‘23 releases will be the last of the super-budget movies for a while. Movies making 1 billion to 2 billion grosses will not happen for at 3-4 years again. I can see more 150-250 Million dollar streaming season shows at Disney, Netflix, and HBOMax happening. I think they will find a better model to charge for “day and date” streaming, and will always find ways to merchandise their properties.

In terms of book publishing the biggest issue right now is supply chains. I’m wondering when more people will switch or buy more books digitally. I think price is a big issue. I don’t think you can charge the same price for a digital vs printed book. I think we are in a period of flux at least in comics, now due to multiple distributors for the big 2 comics. Amazon is still the best (maybe only) for an independent self publisher, as its difficult to get distribution or a fair deal with one. I do think there is a good opportunity now for independent publishers to build an audience and develop unique properties that bigger ones aren’t.

Q.9 What advice would you like to give to anyone who wants to be a publisher and also to those willing to work in the movie industry?

Brandon: For a publisher – wear lots of hats and put out lots of fires! Also money. Prepare to spend money. You want it done, spend the money. If you can wait or hope it gets done, maybe the folks doing things for good will and future repayment could work. But I wouldn’t trust that. Save the money, do the extra jobs, put off things you want to buy, and put “skin in the game”. You can then afford to hire more reliable talent. Folks will do good work and give you attention knowing they are paid on time. Getting things done that aren’t part of the book’s art or writing require expenditures. Services like netgalley cost money. If you can write and/or do the art, sweat equity will go a long way for the major expenditures of the book. I would still say HIRE AN EDITOR. You cannot write or draw a book properly without one. As a creator you have tunnel vision and blind spots. The editor can see outside that and help you stay on point or sharpen your point of your book. Its the best and primary expenditure you should never skimp on. There are plenty of freelance ones with a variety of comic experience and rates you can hire. The other thing is not to skimp on is lettering. Unless you are a professional letterer, it will look substandard. Lettering when done well is an art form and enhances the storytelling. A good editor will also make sure that the art done right so there is proper space for it. I think crowdfunders are good jump in the pool to get books made. I would never recommend using one to actually pay for the production costs. You have to be a really well-known creator with a fan base to do that. Folks also underestimate the time to promote and market before a crowdfunder. There are folks like Russell Nohelty and .Tyler James Vogel who can give better educational material on how to do this well.

For movie/tv/industry, in VFX, is really get your demo reel and portfolio at a high quality and try to get in to any place doing the work. Many times you might work at a place where the work isnt “cool” but you develop professionalism and how you work in teams. Many of those folks you work aside or work under, end up in better jobs in the future. Having a good work relationship means ,you get recommended for better jobs. You being a good reliable team-mate, making the client happy are the most important things you can do. You don’t have to be a “superstar”. If you are competent or better, you generally will have a long and decent paying career. I have seen many “superstars” who burn bridges at companies and burn themselves out early. I think the question is: are you fine working in a team, as a fairly anonymous creator with potential of consistent work(not all of it “cool stuff”) -,or do you want more “creatively rewarding” work in this industry that is far more competitive to get.(with potentially more stressful hours and deadlines, sometimes with the pay to match). For me being able to do what I want creatively means doing it self-publishing, even if it’s not in my own hands for art or writing. I want the best people I can hire to take my idea to final creation. I’m willing to pay for that. I’m ok with doing CG work that isn’t always show-offy but is consistent employment. I’m happy when my supervisors and clients are happy with the work, especially when its delivered on time.

Q. 10 What according to you makes this horror comic a must read? What makes you glad of being the publisher for it?

Brandon: I think if you like Werewolves, a story with some levity in it, being an “underdog”, while making your own “family”, this story is for you. I think its for pretty much almost everyone, and I think teens will really like it. I think if you grew up with 80’s horror/adventure/comedy with films like Ghostbusters, Goonies, Monster Squad, and Lost Boys, you might get kick out of this book too. This story could have been done very cheesy vs one with a balance of drama and humor that we made. I think this book hits a certain mood that we succeeded at.

Thank you so much for your precious time and all the answers, Brandon! We wish you all the best for all of your endeavors!

About the Werewoofs Comic-

Synopsis:

In the small Midwestern town of Howlett, navigating high school is tough enough. But when a group of friends are inexplicably turned into weredogs, adapting to their new powers proves to be even tougher. This leads to an unlikely friendship with loner Mara, a werewolf whose father has mysteriously vanished. As the high schoolers team up to solve the disappearance, friendships are tested, and secrets are revealed as the Werewoofs prove themselves in an explosive showdown against a dangerous wolfpack and their vicious alpha.

Team behind the comic:

Writer: Joelle Sellner. 

Art: Val Wise 

Letters: Ed Dukeshire . 

Edited: Steenz

Format: Softcover,

full color 160 pages 

Genre: Drama, Mystery

Read our Review Here!

Releasing in December 2021- Official website Page

Follow the creators on social media to know more about the release updates-

New Paradigm Studios- WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebook

Sample page (More at the official website page above)-

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