AMBER LOVE 26-NOV-2013 I can’t even remember which convention it was where I finally met James Kuhoric in person for the first time but it was that one particular Baltimore Comic Con (2006, I think) that changed my life forever; Stacy Korn from Comic Fusion introduced me to the staff of Dynamite Entertainment which lead me to being turned on to their books. One such book was DEAD IRONS so I reviewed it on YouTube in 2009 and voilà, the creator Jim reached out to me. Like most of the comic book connections in my life, we started off in the same social media circles and happily bumped into each other a couple times at east coast shows.
Why DEAD IRONS, you ask the non-horror chick? There’s some blood and murdering but it’s masked with the veil of supernatural creatures who aren’t making decisions for themselves and extremely fundamental Christian-based rituals for raising the dead. A typical Saturday night, right? When you consider the broad scope of horror, I can handle certain gore way better on a comic book page than attempting to sit through a movie. You really don’t want to witness me sitting through a horror movie. I almost threw up at the screening for one of Jonathan Tiersten’s films. However, I like monsters. I love things like HELLBOY, UNDERWORLD and CONSTANTINE. A story where one mightier than thou golden boy feels the need to hunt down his demonically cursed siblings and go after dear ol’ dad too is just the sort of thing that I’m willing to try. Never did I think that I’d end up officially modeling as Annie Belle with recruited cosplayer Bryan Treakle to be Silas.
It all began when it came time for New York Comic Con this year and I was invited by editor Joe Rybandt of Dynamite to join the party benefiting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. It was on a Thursday night and This Girl has a new day job so I generally don’t go out during the week. I was very fortunate that the party was in a bar two blocks from NY Penn Station. I found my way there and met up with Jim and Joe and scads of other folks from Avatar, Dynamite, Titan and blog sites. Since I know myself pretty well and had just been “lost” in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor trying to find my hotel two blocks away, I begged Jim to walk to me to Penn Station so I didn’t miss the last train out to Morristown. I really am that terrible about being lost even with maps on my phone. Then came time for the actual days of NYCC and I only decided to attended Saturday (and just from that got the month-long plague). Stopping by Avatar to see Jim and then Titan Comics to meet that crew were the only reasons I specifically went to the “big” room of the show because I spend 90% of my time in Artists’ Alley in the segregated north wing. When Jim asked if I’d have any interest in being his character Annie Belle from DEAD IRONS, it took all of a millisecond for me to say yes. As long as my calendar was clear, I would be there in Virginia Comic Con for the first time to work at my first horror role (I don’t count one really bad zombie walk) and it would involve a lot more work as far as makeup and photos than anything I’d done.
Brody Williams was recruited to do special effects makeup on me and Bryan. This was another first. I had been given effects appliances before and have my own elf ears now but I applied those things myself (badly). Brody’s wife Brittany even ventured out of the con to get saline for the contacts and his creative partner and brother Trevor took a lot of the photos. My makeup and wardrobe took three hours. Naturally all the gorgeous sculpting Brody put into the two wrist slice wounds were destroyed when I got myself dressed. He recreated one of them from more soft wax right before the photoshoot so I would be less likely to wreck it. I think Bryan’s Silas makeup and effects took around 2 hours. He had some larger wounds made from latex appliances that were exceptionally gross up close.
Brody thanked me a million times for being a good model capable of staying still for long periods of time. I’ve been at this for a few years now. Most people would never consider that a skill but until you’ve tried it, I’ll say it is actually a lot harder than it looks. And fortunately, not moving for makeup application is not as hard as not moving when posing where I try not to shift weight at all. Unfortunately, Sci-Fi Guys photographer Jay had to tell me a dozen times per shot not move my elbow, not to laugh, not to blink, shift the weight more, etc. Regardless, Jim and the crew seemed to like a few of the best pictures that will be processed with backgrounds and (hopefully) used in the promotions of DEAD IRONS volume 2 due out in 2014.
What I want to explain to people about the suicide slits is that it is part of Annie Belle’s character and back story. I went off on several tirades during DC Comic’s HARLEY QUINN #0 contest where they mocked suicide by having Harley interact with the creators through the fourth wall. I don’t care what excuses they have. They didn’t do it well. It was poor judgment. It was supposed to be funny in what they described as a Looney Tunes way and it missed the mark by miles. Annie Belle is part of an extremely disturbed family and cursed. There’s nothing anywhere that degrades the seriousness of the violence. It’s horrific because it’s supposed to be horrific. You’re supposed to feel bad about her situation not laugh at it. Jim knows me personally well enough that if he ever asked me to do something as off the mark as DC’s contest, I would’ve politely declined; however, I know him well enough to know he would never even think to use such personal violence as a gimmick.
The hardcover of DEAD IRONS volume one is available now. Volume two will be coming in 2014. You can follow Jim for announcements on Twitter @jameskuhoric or on the DEAD IRONS Facebook. I also highly recommend looking for his other original trade paperback of LEGENDARY TALESPINNERS which I loved. And in current comics, he’s very busy writing the new season of Dynamite’s SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN.
SCOOP took some great shots of the photoshoot. The shots from my camera below were snapped by whoever I could pass the camera to like Trevor Williams and Bryan’s brothers.