Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Lugosi! What first intrigued you about Lugosi’s life and career that led to the genesis of this project?
Koren Shadmi: It started on a trip I took upstate with my wife; we were listening to the podcast, Stuff You Missed in History Class, while driving. I was struck by what a rollercoaster Lugosi’s life was. It seemed very dramatic and vivid, so I made a note to look into it. After my Rod Serling biography came out, Humanoids asked me what’s next. I sent them a list of three options, and we all agreed that Lugosi would make the best book.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in bringing this biography to life, especially in balancing both the writing and illustrative duties?
KS: It’s not as easy as it might look. You are very limited with the amount of information you can put into a graphic novel. Most of the biographies of Lugosi I read were about 400-600 pages. If I would write it that expansively, I would end up with a 3000-page comic. You really have to pick and choose what you want to include. For instance, Lugosi had a very interesting career in theater, but I could only hint to that since there’s not enough room. Again, with non-fiction subjects, a lot of time the writing process is one of editing down and finding a narrative thread in someone’s life. I think I came up first with the narrative frame of Lugosi recalling his life while going cold turkey and trying to kick his drug habit. Everything else fell into place after I figured that part out.
BD: There was undoubtedly a great deal of research that went into portraying Lugosi’s personal life and career as respectfully as possible. During your research, were there any aspects of his life that surprised you or that took your work in a different direction than anticipated?
KS: I was shocked at how many movies and plays he was in. I think it was 99 films? He must have had an incredible work ethic. I think he was most miserable when he wasn’t getting work. For Lugosi, being on stage or in front of a camera was a sort of lifeline, something that made his life worth living. I was also surprised by how funny he was. I tried to convey his funny side in the book, too. He would often joke around with kids, pretending to be Dracula and giving them a good scare.
BD: What made Humanoids the perfect home for this project?
KS: After my last book with Humanoids, The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television, came out, and I saw what a great job they did with production and release. We both agreed that another non-fiction graphic novel was due.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are currently working that you are able to share with our readers?
KS: Yes, I’m finishing up another non-fiction biography about the origin of video games. The project was written by David Kushner and drawn by me. It details the lives of Nolan Bushnell – creator of Atari - and Ralph Baer - the unsung "king" of video games. They had a sort of feud going on between them throughout the '70s; it’s a fun story. The book should be out in 2022 from Bold Type Books.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about Lugosi and your other work?
KS: You can follow me on the various social networks; I will keep you updated. To see all my other books, you can visit my website, korenshadmi.com.