Saturday, February 5, 2011

Interview with Hart D. Fisher - "The Scariest Man in America" - Part 2

T. Reed interviews Hart D. Fisher “The Scariest Man in America” - Part 2.   
Hart D. Fisher is the darkly creative Horror entrepreneur behind the comic publishing company {Boneyard Press}. He is also a writer, filmmaker, an avid Martial Artist and currently the Host of "American Horrors". You can catch Part 1 of this interview at  

Part Two of this interview includes more discussion about Boneyard Press, Hart’s work with Verotik and Glenn Danzig, the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer comic, and his time spent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
While not everyone knows it, it is fairly common knowledge that between Wisconsin and Illinois there is a sort of “Bermuda Triangle” of three of the most notorious serial killers of all time!  Ed Gien, the real life inspiration for Wisconsin author Robert Bloch’s “Psycho” (as made famous by Hitchcock and Anthony Perkins), “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Deranged” and others), Jeffery Dahmer (who tried to make “real” zombies out of his victims through back room lobotomy), and (just to the South) in Chicago, the infamous John Wayne Gacy for whom killing was just a matter of “clowning around”.
TR: As a Milwaukee native I am of course interested in how you came to the creation of the controversial “Jeffrey Dahmer”comic biography and what your interactions in Milwaukee were like. You also “did time” at Milwaukee’s Metal Fest and had a legal conflict with Miller Brewing Company. Could you tell us briefly about your experiences (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin?

HDF One of my old childhood friends, Dan Madsen, had just recently sold off his comic book company, Northstar (the original home of splatter classic Faust), but he still had the publishing itch. Since Dan knew I had just started up Boneyard Press, and we’d known each other since grade school, he called me up and suggested that I do something similar to the Nancy Reagan/Kitty Kelly bio book, only with serial killers and in comic book format. It was Dan who suggested I check out Jeffrey Dahmer.

By this point in my life, I was pretty bored with serial killers. I’d been reading about them, researching them since I was a tween. Hell, I even took some abnormal psyche classes in school, both my parents had degrees in psyche so I grew up around psycho babble, doing a piece on just another serial killer didn’t really appeal to me. So when I did get around to checking into the Dahmer case I was absolutely appalled at the distortions going on and the relentless marketing of this scumbag pedophile as some kind of handsome intriguing dark heartthrob. It was sickening. I decided I would do a very dry “just the facts, Ma’am” kind of a book and I hired a newspaper illustrator to draw the book. I did the best I could to handle a distasteful subject and handle it as tastefully as possible, while being true to the facts of the crimes.

When the book came out, a reporter in Milwaukee bought copies and then ambush-interviewed the victims’ families at their homes. I mean, this is exactly the kind of wreckless shitty behavior by the television media I was criticizing in the book. The families were very upset about my comic book. In their minds, comics were for kids. Then the “local community leaders” got into the act and started using the victims’ cache for their own political gains and to get on television. It was an awful thing to watch, let alone be in the middle of.

Hart Fisher On Sally Jesse Raphael Show 1993 - This round goes to Mr. Fisher!

I tried to have fun with this media bad guy thing but it got real ugly real fast. Death threats, vandalism, businesses refused to work with me anymore like my local copy shop. My house was robbed because the assholes in the local news broadcasted to the town that I’d left town to do a Fangoria Horror Convention. At the convention I found out that my house was robbed and now that too was on the news, in fact, it was a CBS news team that found my place busted into.

I’d been to Milwaukee plenty for conventions and promotions and always had a good time there, except for the court dates, those were humiliating. This included time at the Milwaukee Metal Fest, I mean, metal fans rule, man; they’ve always supported me all the way. That’s why I’m down with the fucking metal. When I needed them, the metal heads were there for me. They scooped me up off the ground, put a fistful of booze in my hand, and sent me back out into the fight. That means the world to me.

It’s just the last time I was at MMF that was brutal. The longer the Dahmer controversy went on, the more I was getting hunted and attacked. I had two different stalkers in Champaign, Illinois where I was living. One was a gay ex-marine who tried to spook me, stalkin’ me out at the local Goth bar hang. Another was a female stalker who liked to dress up as the killer from Brian DePalma’s Dressed to Kill, the one with Michael Caine, she’d stand across the room at Comic Conventions and stare at me.

The more television shows I did, the more death threats poured in, particularly from Milwaukee. When I came up for the last MMF show, it was the summer of ’93 and it was one week after Michele had been killed and I was out of my mind nuts, packing a .357 revolver in my briefcase. I was stone cold out of my mind crazy. Sure, I sold a ton of shirts and comics at the show, but I didn’t know who was there for the show and who had a shiv meant for me.

Dahmer Cue Pt.1 - Protest March on Comic Publisher Hart Fisher's Home

Frankly, I don’t remember much from that weekend at all, it’s just one red hazy blur.

As for Miller Brewing… Same old shit. A dick sucking reporter, looking to stir up trouble, bought a couple of my Jeffrey Dahmer: Milwaukee’s Best t-shirts and sent them to Miller Brewing to get a reaction out of them. Heehehehe… That got a reaction out of them all right, Miller Brewing sent me a cease & desist order. I was tired of being in court so I said fuck that one. Hell, I can’t deny I took the logo for the shirt right off of a case of Milwaukee’s Best and slightly altered it.


Man, I laughed so hard when I got the cease & desist… I had that thing taped up to my fridge for at least a year after that…

Hart Fisher with Martial Arts Trainers Gokor and Bas Rutten
TR: Interestingly enough, while I was familiar with the Dahmer comic, it barely made a blip on my radar. Living in Milwaukee, I started to tune out the local media and District Attorney grandstanding that surrounded the case, so the whole controversy with the comic slipped by me without much notice.  I actually first became familiar with Hart Fisher indirectly. I was working on some storyboards for a horror comic inspiration that  was much more demonically grisly and risqué than my “normal” more cerebral horror fare. I had the thought that it was just too much for most publishers, but it had some real creative merit! Were there even any publishers that would touch it with a 10 foot pole? Then I discovered Glenn Danzig’s comic line “Verotik”. While my life got swallowed up by the music biz and didn’t leave me time to pursue that line of thought any further, I was always curious about the few comic companies that really dared to push the envelope – Enter Hart Fisher and Boneyard Press. Could you talk about your experiences in comic publishing with Boneyard Press, Verotik and the role that experience has played in your filmmaking endeavors? Are you through with the comic publishing business? … Or is that bug still inside you somewhere waiting for a future in which it can breed?

HDF: I’m returning to comics sooner than you think.

Clint Scott hired me to write his new series, Splatter Saint, I’m finishing up the writing chores on the first issue right now. He’s asked me to deliver to him the HAMMER; much like Glenn Danzig did when I brought him “A Taste of Cherry” for Verotika #4, so I’m bringing him something really dark, twisted and fucked up. It’s going to damage some fan boys out there for sure...

But to answer your question about comics and movie making… When you publish comic books on a monthly basis it’s much like managing your own mini-film studio. You have creative teams on your “features”. You have monthly deadlines you have to hit, ad campaigns that you have to create, manage, and gauge how well they do or don’t do… You have to be able to manage people well. You have to be able to budget, to plan for and overcome obstacles… You ship your “Prints” to your “Theaters”, just like you do in film.

Comics is actually a merciless business full of jealous back stabbing social rejects who don’t know how to interact with each other well… Don’t get me wrong... it’s a funny world too, full of awesome people, funny guys and artists… But Jesus jumpin’ Christ, do you deal with a lot of gossipy little girls who’re afraid of interacting with real human beings, who are threatened easily, who guard their turf like it’s their own personal fiefdom, and not a lot of insight of ability to laugh at themselves… You know, Hollywood without the pussy and the big money…

Yeah, I’d say comics is a nice starting business before getting into Film and Television, but you better be ready to play rough in the entertainment business, you better be ready for fuckin’ war in the gutters and death from above… but to me, they’re weak, they’re staggered and stunned… They’re ripe for a fall, for the blade, for my fire. I’ve got high tolerance for pain and pressure just pushes me to do better work. The more you pile on the pressure, the better and sharper I function. I mean, I started Boneyard Press while going to college full time, writing & drawing the books and training six days a week, 2 hours a day for my Black Belt test in Tae Kwan Do. A guy who does that for FUN is a driven dude.
Comics, I’ll come back to comics when I’ve got money to burn and unleash bloody hellfire like they’ve never seen. One thing I truly learned from running Verotik with Glenn Danzig’s muscle behind me vs. being the Boneyard Press outlaw- Money talks. Money changes the game, changes the rules, all of them. Everything else is window dressing. Hell, I’ve been working with Glenn again as his editor, and he’s been teaching me more and more about navigating Hollyweird and the entertainment game. How’s that for an advisor? Glenn’s been very generous with his time, he’s watched everything I’ve given to him,  he’s given me sharp constructive criticism of the American Horrors show that I’ve incorporated into the American Horrors Mobile Network. 

You name me one other fucking horror company with a guy like Glenn motherfuckin’ Danzig giving advice. Name one… go ahead. I’ve got a lot of sharp, experienced people behind me on American Horrors. That’s a major game changer.

Boneyard Press was my one man vendetta to be the scariest publisher of comics EVER. I brought a unique voice to horror with Boneyard Press, one that slipped under the radar, touched people where they didn’t expect to be touched. I started the careers of a slew of creators (like My Chemical Romance front man Garry Way, Village Voice critical darling and foster care reform advocate Stephen Elliott, Top Ten Wizard artist John Cassaday) in comics and I aim to apply that same ability to spot and develop talent to use at American Horrors. I’ve formed alliances with the tastemakers in the horror film festival game, and they’re steering me the talent. American Horrors is backed with serious professionals who bring their wealth of experiences and business relationships to my plate. I’m being groomed for the boardroom and the media world by serious men who’ve taken an interest in me and my vision for American Horrors.

It’s a great day to be alive and walking in my shoes. I’m doing everything I want to do with all the people I grew up respecting and wanting to work with. That’s the result of hard, hard work that people have noticed, a lot of pros have been waiting years for me to find my way out of the madness and into the light so we could have some fun, make some money, and bring down the nightmares.

You can find Part One of this interview at

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