Hot off his run of officially licensed prints for Godzilla with Toho and Mondo Gallery, which sold out within seconds. Attack Peter is quickly growing as an artist and establishing himself as a brand. He's made art for many kaiju-filled movies, Marvel, worked with Sideshow Collectibles, and is now joining Skybound (ya know, the company behind The Walking Dead comics).
While all locked up in quarantine, FANGORIA chatted with him about where it began, his influences, and what to expect in the future from him. Oh, and there's a pretty crazy Guillermo Del Toro story he has.
FANGORIA: First. Congratulations on your Godzilla pieces in the latest batch of releases. Every piece sold out within seconds of them dropping. Is this the first time you have done anything with Mondo?
Attack Peter: Thank you! Yeah, this was the first time and hopefully not the last. I've been a huge admirer of what they've put out in the past, and it's a huge honor to be counted among the incredible artists that work with Mondo!
FANGORIA: I imagine it has to be pretty awesome to be working in an official capacity on Toho's Godzilla. How excited were you when you got that call?
Well, it's a dream come true, to say the least. I feel like it was something that was bound to happen as I was putting the energy out into the universe as an artist that likes to go all out and work on making monster-themed art!
I spent all of San Diego Comic-Con asking anyone who came to my booth wanting to work on a project whether or not they had the Toho license. I literally asked ten different potential partners until finally, when speaking to the folks at Mondo, they said, "We have the Toho License." That was a wild moment where the universe appeared to align in my favor!
FANGORIA: How long ago was that? I imagine the process of them choosing artists, submitting proposals, and getting Toho's sign-off isn't a quick turnaround.
That was last July! I had sent a care package to Mondo of my work previously to get their attention through one of their employees named Matt, who followed me on IG, so he's partially responsible for the whole thing happening! By the time SDCC came along, they knew my work and were excited to talk!
Great gang, super knowledgeable, and most importantly, they were happy to let me run wild with the designs!
FANGORIA: So before all of this, what led you to focus on monsters, kaiju, and horror?
Man, that's all I've ever cared about and wanted to work on since I first started drawing as a kid: Dinosaurs, aliens, monsters, Godzilla, Gremlins, etc. That's my earliest memories of drawing. All of my favorite influences have ties to that subject matter. When I study art history from other cultures, it leads there as well.
FANGORIA: Who are your influences?
My earliest influences were my toys. The toys I loved were plastic dinosaurs and bootleg Godzilla toys, then things like Boglins, Madballs, My Pet Monster, Dino Riders, Masters of the Universe, etc. Then I watched movies like King Kong, lots of Showa Godzilla films, Harryhausen films, Star Wars, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, and TMNT on VHS repeatedly.
But it wasn't until I discovered Mike Mignola and his art on Hellboy that I wanted to pursue art full-time. That was a game-changer for me. I remember seeing a t-shirt hanging in a Coliseum of Comics store in Orlando (while waiting in line to meet Bruce Campbell, no less). This must have been 2001 or 2002. It had a red design of Hellboy with his horns grown out, and aside from thinking he was awesome, I had never seen a drawing style like that, and I went on a quest to learn everything I could about Hellboy, Mignola and find any book he had ever published. Until that point, I had stopped reading comics for years, trying instead to pursue a career in music.
FANGORIA: Have you tried to track down that shirt now?
I bought it that day!! Before I read a single comic! It was like a charged totem. [laughs] I found an issue of the Comic Book Artist or something like that that had his whole bibliography, every book he had ever drawn, in a checklist. I would go into every comic shop across Florida and at Cons. I tracked every comic down for the next few years to analyze his work and try to imitate it foolishly, thinking that that was all it would take to be like him!! 18 years ago now. Wow.
FANGORIA: Did you have any background in art/illustration when you decided to make this career change? Self-taught, school, or both?
Nope. I had a very sparse artistic education. From K-8, I maybe had art 3x, and in high school, I had some excellent classes but not nearly enough, and I was consumed with being in a band back then, so I didn't focus on it. But I get obsessed when I have a goal.
So I started studying it in college. Again, the internet was not full of access like it is now. Back then, I would even order DVDs with lessons on them to catch up more quickly.
FANGORIA: During all of this, when did you stumble on woodblock and linocut art?
I dabbled a bit in college, but I didn't major in printmaking like some of my peers. It wasn't until I started teaching and realized that it was the preferred method of working for so many of my students that I began to pay more attention to it!
FANGORIA: What was your first print?
Hmmm...I think it was a Squid. [laughs] Just a small one.
FANGORIA: And now you're doing full-size movie posters. For Godzilla!
FANGORIA: So from start to finish, how long does it take to plan and carve out the block before you even go to print?
Well, for the big ones like the Godzilla prints (18' x 24"), that's like a 2-3 week turnaround. The sketches and drawing of the design on linoleum is usually done in a day or so, but the carving takes the most time.
FANGORIA: And once that's done, you are doing all the printing on your own, right? By hand?
Yeah. One at a time. That takes some time too. If I'm grinding it out, I can do about 20-25 a day.
FANGORIA: Do you want to start messing around with multiple color prints?
I've done it in the past. But I've noticed that the black and white helps me stand out in the crowd.
FANGORIA: What are some of the favorite properties you have tackled? And are there any that you have an itch to explore?
Well, I've had a chance to work on Marvel, DC, and now Toho, among others. That's so crazy, considering I'm just getting my feet wet! Before it's all said and done, I would love to work on more kaiju stuff like Gamera and Ultraman as well as Hellboy, of course!
FANGORIA: You just recently signed on with Skybound. What is all happening with that? Are you allowed to talk about any projects?
Well, amazingly, the brand ATTACK PETER is now a part of Skybound! So I am currently developing new original designs and products with the team taking advantage of all the different aspects of the entertainment industry that the company has a foothold in! I can't say exactly what we will be doing just yet nut suffice to say that It'll be an organic step forward but with a much larger platform!
People who have been following my growth so far will be excited to see where we go next!
FANGORIA: Going through your Instagram feed, there's a picture of you with Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman. What's up with that?!
HA! That right there is the result of what happens when you have no fear of rejection and a little creativity...
I used to be a member of the Hellboy movie message board that was created in anticipation of the first film way back in 2002 or 2003. GDT used to post there from time to time, and even though he wasn't the name he is now, he was well known and loved by fans of foreign and genre films alike (Devil's Backbone, Cronos). So I decided to message him on the board and ask if I could interview him for a magazine I claimed to work for.
Of course, they said yes, and GDT answered like ten questions for me very thoroughly via email! A few weeks later, his assistant emailed me to see if I would be interested in seeing the film at a local premiere for Latin American press, being that we were in Miami. Of course, I went and was thrilled by the opportunity! As if that wasn't enough, the following day, I received a call at my house, and it was none other than Guillermo himself!
He was so gracious that I went and wanted to know what I thought about the film and as I began to tell him he asked if I would save it to discuss over dinner!! I think I was speechless long enough for him to inject, "Is it ok if I bring a friend?
I said of course, and on the way to the restaurant (AZUL in Miami), I was discussing with my then girlfriend that this was going to be awesome, but we were sure it would be some press event, and we would maybe have a minute to say "Hello" to him at best. But when we arrived, there was no event. It was just GDT himself waiting at the hostess booth! He welcomed us and said, "My friend should be here any minute," and then Ron Perlman showed up.
It was like a real-life version of "If you could have dinner with any two people..." They were so great to us and hung on every word we had to say about the film. I was like 20. A total nobody. But he really cared to hear what I had to say.
FANGORIA: That's pretty amazing. So you went from being inspired by Mignola's Hellboy to meeting Guillermo Del Toro and meeting Hellboy in real life.
Yeah, man. And GDT was another one of my biggest influences as a filmmaker before, but AFTER THAT, he became even more important as a role model. This guy exuded gratitude at every turn, not only to his audience but to the craft and creators before him.
FANGORIA: And then you ended up going out to Spain during Pan's Labyrinth, right?
Yeah! Proof that he was just kind, open, generous! At that point, I wasn't even a member of any press. I just asked him if I could visit the set if I got myself out there, and he said sure without hesitation. This is THE way to be. Grateful. All of this is fleeting, and now during the virus, that is more evident than ever. I am so thankful to be a tiny part of the creative industry. There are people with power and access who do what they can to help. Guillermo is well known for bringing up the next guy and giving them a shot! I have always wanted to be able to do the same. Part of my motivation in being as successful as possible is that I want to lend a hand to those who are grinding to come up. I am so grateful for people like him who were generous with me, especially when they didn't have to be! I try to pay it forward whenever I possibly can and will continue to do so as a way of saying "thank you."
FANGORIA: It's pretty incredible that, with social media, I can pull up your Instagram feed and see kind of a progression of your art and technique. Any big things on the horizon that people should keep an eye on?
Yeah, that's another reason I don't curate my feed. It's important that others see the LONG-ASS JOURNEY that I've been on with all the twists and turns it's taken. I see some artists deleting all of their posts save like 2 or 3, and I feel like it's a waste of a story that can help others. If I only could say 1/10th of what we have planned, it would knock people's socks off.
BUT I can say this:
Everything I set out to achieve comes from me sitting on my couch, talking to my wife Gaby, and saying, "What would be the coolest thing we could do?" or "Who would be the coolest people to work with?" and then we go 1000% towards the goal until we get it! And NOW, with Skybound behind me, it's going to be a force multiplier. I'm not letting anything get in my way. I plan on ticking every box I've had my whole life, and the most crucial box is impressing and exciting the folks that are joining me for the ride!
FANGORIA: Are there any plans to do more work with Mondo?
I can't say anything for sure at this time, but I would jump at the chance to partner with them again!
Jason Kauzlarich is the Creative Director at FANGORIA.
Designer, Poster collector, and Pokémon Trainer. Follow him at @JasonKauz on Twitter.