Pronto Presents: Writer Steve Lucarelli
By David Rondinelli
Steve Lucarelli scares up the living dead as the writer of “The Knock” in the third volume of Deathology, Pronto Comics’ horror anthology. This Hamilton, NJ resident is an avid lover all things superheroes, which makes his detour into horror a new step.
Lucarelli discovered the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and Stan Lee’s cartoon show Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends in his youth, which stirred a desire to read and create comics. Encouragement as a writer started as early as 5th grade for Lucarelli, when his teacher let him write a weekly series called The Sonic Revengers. After scripting and drawing the series himself, his class would then act it out.
Lucarelli’s heroes and world-building stayed with him even after he graduated from Rider University with a degree in English. It would prove to be good inspiration while he worked for three years as head writer for Old Bridge, NJ-based video game developer Digital Embryo. Not only did his creativity find a home there, but it’s also where he met his wife Suzie, another Rider graduate.
As he continues to create new characters, Lucarelli aims to inspire a new generation of readers with his work, just as he did all those years ago.
Pronto Presents: You just finished up your first story for Pronto called “The Knock.” Tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea and made it into the story it became?
Steve Lucarelli: I was lying in bed one night. It was really quiet and eerie in my room, and I thought, “What would really scare me right now? I’m two seconds away from dozing off, so what would need to happen to really make me jump out of bed and scream?” I thought back to all the movies that ever frightened me, and skeletal corpses always seemed to curdle my blood. They have no eyes and their mouths are open like they’re screaming at you. That’s when the spark went off. If something like that caused such a strong reaction from me, then it has to be in the story. I centered the whole story around a skeletal corpse gazing eerily at its victim and cornering them. Once I had that in place, the rest of the story elements just fell into place and grew naturally.
PP: What is your process for writing? How do you go about crafting a script?
SL: I just think about what I want to read as a fan. When I walk into a comic store, I ask myself what kind of stories I really enjoy, and I base it off that. But I also craft scripts as if I’m removing myself from the creative process and approaching the work with a reader’s response criticism. How did this piece change me? What am I taking away from this that I didn’t feel or think about before? That is the true test. I always take the time to take a break from writing, then come back and read it as if I had nothing to do with it. That way, it’s a fair balance between writing for yourself and thinking of your audience.
PP: What is your favorite page in “The Knock?”
SL: When Nancy realizes that the corpse is Warren. He only has one thing to say to her: “Hug.” That’s gotta be the last thing you’d ever hear from a walking corpse. But once he says that, and he shows her the symbol on his hand, you realize that he has no intention of hurting her. You realize his true purpose. Joe Wigfield, the artist on this story, did an excellent job conveying the vulnerability there. I’m very happy with the outcome.
PP: What are some of the comics that influenced and inspired you growing up and today?
SL: Anything by Kurt Busiek. He was definitely a big influence on me (particularly Marvels and his runs on Thunderbolts and Avengers). Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come, Grant Morrison’s JLA, and The Death of Superman really hit home for me too.
PP: What made you choose comics as opposed to other written mediums?
SL: Well, I’m also an artist at heart. Ever since I was a kid, I loved sketching out my ideas and I always had the desire to build or create something. Plus, I always loved to read and see how stories unfold with the plot twists and characters. So for me, the comic medium was the only place where I can truly appreciate the visual storytelling as an artist and become inspired by the stories that I read. It lit the fuse for me to become a writer.
PP: Since “The Knock” is a horror story, what do you find to be scary and make for good horror stories in general?
SL: Anything dealing with sharks also terrifies me. Being alone in the water at night with a great white shark circling around me is the stuff of nightmares. I guess anything that makes you scream for your life, where no one is there to help you, or something that makes you feel like death is just inches away, are natural ingredients for a great horror story.
PP: How did you find out about Pronto and become a part of the group?
SL: I had the pleasure of meeting the Pronto crew on April 5th, 2014 at Camden Comic Con. I remember that day vividly because it was truly a game-changer for me. I sat in on one of Pronto’s panels in which they talked about how to get started in the industry. They all spoke with such experience and enthusiasm. So I thought, “I have to talk to them when this is over.” Dominic (Editor-in-Chief) took me aside and listened to all of my ideas. David (Editor) was great because he literally said, “I need a horror story. Can you write me one?” Dennis (Editor) and I talked superheroes for a while. They really care about other people’s success and that’s a very noble thing. Since then, I attended Pronto’s “Phrases-to-Pages” event and helped host a panel of theirs at Barnes and Noble in Princeton, where I work. It’s been an amazing ride, and I look forward to writing many more projects with them.
PP: What are some other projects and events that you have coming up? Tell us about them.
SL: Right now, I’m working on several superhero projects. One mini-series that I’m particularly proud of is MoonRise. It’s a coming-of-age story where the heroine bravely confronts the issue of bullying head-on. Another is Ballistic. That one has lots of pulse-pounding action with deep inner struggles involved. Another is called HyperShock, where the hero is dishonest and faces a moral crisis. And I’m also working on a few more horror stories that I have to get out of my system. It’s a very fun and exciting time.
Check out Steve Lucarelli’s debut story for Pronto Comics, “The Knock,” available in Deathology #3 in print and digitally on Pronto’s website.