Updated: Feb 1
"I’ve never seen anything like it!" That's the statement I live to make when roaming conventions and art shows. I personally cherish moments when I come across artists with a unique vision. Like finding treasure buried in sand, Sex & Monsters drew me in with the name alone. Sex & Monsters, these are two of of my favorite things! Entranced by the alluring illustrations of topless hula ghouls drawing pentagrams in the sand, I had to learn more about the mastermind behind such visuals.
Tiki-Horror is becoming more and more popular and it's a delightful concept for horror fanatics year round. However, Will Penny, the mastermind behind Sex & Monsters has always been fascinated with tiki culture. With that though, Sex & Monsters doesn't limit itself to only to tiki-horror. In fact, Sex & Monsters is made up of a collaboration of a handful of artists and writers. Sex & Monsters offers webcomics and comics like "Tiki Surf Witches Want Blood" and "Tales From Grim County". Then there are various concepts, the latests being "Paradise Hell" and in time for the dreaded Valentine's Day, "Vile Valentine Cards." Sex & Monsters has it all; patches, pins, beach towels and koozies.
I appreciate Will's vision. This laid back dude, shrugged off his 5th or 6th Instagram banishment and offered a sale to celebrate. Yes, Sex & Monsters openly and beautifully displays an array of uncensored illustrations and rum flavored debauchery that will either piss off sensitive Social Media users or have those, like me, ready to join the inhabitants of Isle of Diablo with a Mahaloween Treat cocktail in hand.
Will Penny himself was rad enough to allow me to wander into his brain and chat with me about Sex & Monsters.
MH: Where did your inspiration for "tiki-horror" come from?
WP: I think “tiki” has always incorporated certain elements of mystery and horror to it. If you look at any tiki bar menu, you’ll find various voodoo potions and witch doctor concoctions. So I thought it’d be fun to take a bunch of these spooky sounding cocktails and make a horror comic around them.
MH: Black magic in a tropical environment. You attend witchy events. What are your magical influences?
WP: This is gonna sound cliche to comic book fans, but Jack Kirby has been a pretty big influence on me. Kirby has been called a pop culture “shaman” based on his unparalleled storytelling skills and creative ability. If anyone wants to learn more about the intersection between Kirby’s comics and the supernatural, I’d strongly recommend Jeffrey J. Kripal’s “Mutants & Mystics” — it’s a fascinating book!
MH: You included Donn Beach's zombie punch recipe with your Magic Zombie Glass. Tell me, if you had met Donn, what do you think he would make out of reading Tiki Surf Witches Want blood or watching Tiki Surf Witches?
WP: I thought it’d be fun to pay homage to the godfather of “tiki” by including Donn Beach’s original Zombie Punch recipe on the Magic ZOMBIE! Glass. If Donn was still around, I hope he’d get a kick out of the glass and the book!
MH: I applaud you. You really don't give a shit about censorship and have recently celebrated another ban from Instagram. How else do you defend nudity and sex in your art, and that of your contributors?
WP: One of the nice things about being a self-publisher is that I don’t need to compromise art or story because of other folks’ silly hangups about sexuality. While not all of our stuff includes sex or nudity, when we do decide to present these themes, I try to make sure it’s done in a positive, fun, and/or purposeful manner.
MH: Your work conveys respect and displays the power women have with our bodies, minds and magic. Would you agree?
WP: I really appreciate you thinking so. I try to write female characters as three dimensional individuals with their own personal motivations. I’m also happy and honored to work with several extremely talented female comic creators such as Angelica Blevins, Alison Zai, Sveta Has, Jelena Dordevic, Michelle Yague, Prim, and April Snellings.
MH: What's your favorite kind of rum?
WP: I’d recommend Foursquare Empery, Ron Zacapa XO, any of the rums made by Seven Caves in San Diego, and any of the rums by Lost Spirits in Los Angeles.
MH: Do you frequent tropical paradises? If so, what's your favorite?
WP: I moved to Southern California from Des Moines about 10 years ago — so to me, this area still kinda feels like a vacation spot (as long as I can avoid the 405)! For a long time I lived on Balboa Island in Newport Beach, and now I live right next door in Costa Mesa. I like to surf, so I try to live as close as I can to the beach! In regards to real tropical locales, I haven’t been to very many, but I recently traveled to Tulum, Mexico — which was a lot of fun!
MH: Sex & monsters isn't exclusive to just tiki horror. How and what do you look for when deciding what gets featured in Sex and Monsters?
WP: I like to work on and publish things that are personally interesting to me, unique, and a little offbeat. For example, I’m currently working on a satanic beatnik magazine, a street art zine adaptation of an Edgar Allen Poe story, a crytpozoology activity comic, and more tiki-themed novelty items. The tiki stuff has really exploded in popularity the last couple of years, so I’ve recently created a sub-brand called “Paradise Hell” to market all my crazy tiki things under.
MH: Your favorite horror movie?
WP: Like a lot of people, I love the Universal classics, the Hammer films, Godzilla movies, stuff by Romero and Carpenter, and ‘80s slashers. I have a soft spot for slow-burn thrillers too. But if I had to choose a favorite, I’d probably say Curtis Harrington’s “Night Tide” — or any of the RKO pictures produced by Val Lewton!
You can find Will and his tantalizing products next at the IE Punk Flea on Saturday, February, 16th in Downtown Upland, CA.
Can't make it? Visit Sex & Monsters website or on Facebook.