LA-based singer, actor and illustrator Terrance Zdunich gained a cult following co-writing and starring in director Darren Lynn Bousman’s body parts rock opera Repo! The Genetic Opera. Based on the little cabaret Zdunich co-created with partner Darren Smith, Repo! cast Zdunich as GraveRobber, the Greek chorus for the subsequent film’s organ stealing antics. A substantial, Rocky Horror-style cult has sprung up around Repo!, with “shadow casts” springing up in multiple cities across North America.
Zdunich’s latest venture is The Molting, a 12-part comic book series about The Pryzkinds, a highly dysfunctional Anaheim-based family with many secrets. Zdunich is promoting the completely indie effort with an online video series called The Tutor and a live event happening in LA this October.
What is the genesis of The Molting?
The story of The Molting is inspired partly by true events. I grew up in Southern California, in a city neighboring Anaheim, which is where The Molting takes place. Anaheim is famous for being home to Disneyland, “The Happiest Place on Earth”. What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that Anaheim is also a suburban slum. Growing up, I remember thinking it odd that the world’s “Happiest” kingdom was rooted in such a crime-ridden barrio. It was this paradox that inspired the story and setting of The Molting — a world where the real American horrors are hidden in plain sight.
Cockroaches are recurring characters in each issue. What is their significance to the narrative?
The title The Molting is actually in reference to a cockroach’s ability to molt. When roaches get too big for their shells, they gulp in air, expand ‘til they crack open their exoskeletons, and make way for bigger, stronger cockroach coats. The concept of shedding old skin is a central theme of The Molting and its characters. Since The Molting’s cast is made up of the poor and downtrodden, I thought it appropriate to draw parallels between them and the dreaded roaches lurking within the neighborhood’s walls. This is meant as a compliment. Cockroaches are strong, misunderstood creatures that I personally identify with. HISSSSSSSSSS!
What interest will The Molting have to horror fans?
What, molting cockroaches and scary ‘hoods aren’t enough for you? Well, The Molting also has dysfunctional families, screaming banshee-like moms and dark secrets hidden away in spooky attics. The true horror of The Molting, however, is in the seemingly mundane existence of one very frightening family, The Pryzkinds.
You’ve been promoting The Molting through a series of online videos featuring a character called The Tutor. Who is The Tutor and how does he connect to The Molting?
The Tutor is a cross between The Ripper and Rembrandt, Dahmer and Dürer, Bundy and Botticelli. In other words, The Tutor teaches one “killer” art class. The subject of The Tutor’s 14-part series is none other than The Molting’s central character, Guilty Susie. Online students can watch me and my six-legged teaching aids (again with the cockroaches!) paint Susie at www.TheMoltingComic.com/blog.
You have a live event called The Tutor’s Gallery coming up in Los Angeles on Oct. 23. Tell us about it.
Fans of The Tutor inspire this event. When director Shem Andre Byron and I began the online series last June, we set out to make a creepy yet informative art tutorial that would hopefully be entertaining to both artists and non-artists alike. We didn’t expect that the series would inspire viewers to become students, students who picked up their own crayons, paintbrushes and chainsaws and begin creating. As “homework” began pouring in, we knew we needed to devise a way to honour and display this dedication by our fans. As such, The Tutor’s Gallery was born. The night will feature a bloody exhibition of artwork, a scary schoolgirl costume contest, and a live demonstration by me as The Tutor. All are welcome, so come party with us in October. Tickets are available at http://www.showclix.com/event/13433/.
To what extent has the cult success of REPO! created an audience for your subsequent work?
REPO! has put me on the map as a writer, artist, and performer. Its cult success has definitely given my subsequent works credibility within the horror genre. That said, Hollywood remains virtually unaware of REPO! and its rabid fanbase, so finding work within the industry remains a struggle. Due to grassroots support from fans of REPO! and horror, however, I’m able to keep alive an ambitious indie comic book series like The Molting… so thank you all for your continued support.
For those of you who are only now learning about the series — even if you hated REPO! (there’s no singing or Paris Hilton in The Molting, by the way!) – but love dark storytelling, cool artwork and creepy crawlies, I invite you to check out The Molting at www.TheMoltingComic.com.
Your GraveRobber character has become somewhat iconic. Is there any chance we might see him in one form or another again?
I’m happy to say that my most frequently-asked question is in regards to the possibility of a REPO! sequel. At the moment, sadly, there are no official plans for a part II. Movies like REPO! cost a lot of money to produce, and, as I said earlier, Hollywood is still largely unaware of REPO!’s growing cult phenomenon. That said, REPO!’s creative team and I have tossed around ideas for how we could expand the established world of GeneCo, opera, and organ upgrades… and what would that world be without a crooning, pale-faced grave-robber?