Interview: Gloom Machine

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Published:  April 14, 2011
Interview: Gloom Machine

“…8 years ago, everything went wrong… what was meant to be the ultimate triumph after years of fighting evil, winning that final battle unleashed a sh*tload of new problems…”

Melbourne designer and photographer Dante Sapienza has been busy. Real busy! When he’s not immersed in a slew of creative projects – he’s surrounded himself with a bevy of beautiful girls – all armed with big guns and who find themselves knee-deep in combat against some of the most evil nastiest and treacherous zombies who have infested a post-apocalyptic landscape.

“…Today, the world as we know it, is over run with the undead, humankind has gone into hiding and the hiding places are getting fewer and fewer…”

The world of the Gloom Machine is a post apocalyptic world inhabited by beautiful zombie killing machines, the walking dead, supernatural creatures and evil demons. Heroic resistance soldiers, cloaked armys and shady cult leaders battle it out with their black magic, cyberpunk style weaponry and technology for the control or salvation of the last few remaining living humans.

Gloom Machine Creator Dante Sapienza

Gloom Machine Creator Dante Sapienza


photo: Amber Moriarty

Now that the dust has settled and issue one is available for purchase, I decided to have a chat with creator Dante Sapienza on the creation of the Gloom Machine.

This is such a finely crafted and designed publication smothered with gorgeous design, killer art, stunning photography and a post-apocalyptic comic book tale that is sure to please every fanboi and gal. Where did the title Gloom Machine come from?
As the concept of the world and the story I wanted to tell slowly developed, I knew my main characters were going to be these sexy zombie killing girls, but how did they became such elite killing machines – oh of course – a machine. And who built this machine, well Dr Gloom of course! Hence the good doctor called this incredible machine that gives powers to these girls to help turn the tide for world salvation… the Gloom Machine.

“…The zombie hoards are getting more and more organized and the fall of mankind is very close…”

You launched the mag at the recent Supanova event in Brisbane and Melbourne – how did that all go?
The last time I had been to a comic convention as an exhibitor was close to 8 years ago. A lot has changed since then. For one, Cosplay did’t exist. Now I find that 90% of the crowd attending the conventions were cosplayers. I wasn’t holding very high expectations, as my target market was more the traditional superhero/genre comic book reader. But I was pleased to find that the magazine was very well received, with most people stopping by and purchasing a copy.

By blending a fashion-styled genre-inspired photo spread and having comic book stories in the one book, this indicated to me that I was onto an interesting idea!

This format and concept seemed to appeal to general comic book readers who all didn’t seem to hesitate in purchasing a copy and giving it a go.

Gloom Machine Art

Gloom Machine Art

“…But there is hope. Well beneath the surface, somewhere in the deadlands near Hoard City an eccentric scientist that the world had long ago dismissed as crazy and a trouble maker has been working on a machine to counter the zombie hoard…”

Beautiful Gloom Machine 805

Beautiful Gloom Machine 805

So what came first, the drawings – or the girls? Meaning, did you base your drawings on the models or did the drawings inspire the model shoot?
The girls! I was very selective of the models I chose to represent the limited number of girls in the world of Gloom Machine. When I select the models it’s not just about how they look, but also their personality and interests. I work together with the girls in fleshing out a look that they feel comfortable with and a look that fits well into the Gloom Machine world. I take inspiration from the models own personality. I place the character into the world and create the stories.

The whole experience has a Tank Girl feel to it, are you a fan of Jamie Hewlett?
Oh Yeah! Huge Tank Girl fan! And I didn’t jump on the bandwagon after the movie come out. I’m a big fan of the tough spunky female hero. Placing her into the coolest fantasy environment such as a post apocalyptic world, makes for awesome visuals. Coming from a photography, design and art direction background – I’m all about the visuals

What are some of your fave comic book titles and creators?
I honestly haven’t picked up a comic book in years. For me though, the golden era of Marvel Comics was around about the time of the Inferno crossover story-arc. I had a standing order at the local comic book shop for over 40 titles a month. Mostly Marvel and early Image comics…

Dude, we musta crossed paths back then because around about that time, I was exactly the same. I have most of those early Image titles in my collection and I too, would hit the local comic book store on a weekly basis with a slab of comics without fail…

I’m still a huge superhero fan, but strangely enough, superheroes are not what I like to create. As far as favourite titles and creators: Spidey, X-Men. Black Orchard by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean has had a huge influence on my sequential art story telling.

Gloom Machine

Along with the comic, Gloom Machine also features some stunning photography of real life models based on the comic’s characters. I have noticed some of the teaser trailers you’ve put together as well. It seems you are creating an entire multimedia experience in the Gloom Machine world. Are you looking beyond Gloom Machine being just a comic book?
I’m thinking of creating separate picture books from the photography. Telling the story with the use of the photos and short accompanying paragraphs. This will entail a much larger production and budget than I currently put together for the shoots. The comic magazine is only one part of the world, and I’d like to explore different artistic mediums and also with different production values. There is no reason why a sexy zombie killing machine can not be shot in battle with the same lighting and attention to detail one would employ when shooting a fashion spread. And while I’ve put together a bigger budget to make the girls and locations look better, why not take advantage of the setup and also shoot some video. BAM, and we have another medium to have fun with.

Gloom Machine Issue 1

Gloom Machine Issue 1

Click the image above or here to order your copy!

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