RICH INTERVIEWS: Darren Koziol Creator/Writer “Retro Sci-fi Tales # 11- Famous Monsters”

First Comics News: How did “Retro Sci-Fi Tales” come into creation?

Darren Koziol:
I have always loved old science fiction – ‘The War of the Worlds’ is my all-time favorite – the vintage stories you see in old books from the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s, stories by H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and others. The old-school stories and art feel romantic, a throwback to simpler times. I am heavily influenced by early pioneer writers and classic artists.

I had been producing my horror anthology ‘DECAY’ for several years (I love old horror anthologies too), but I wanted to start writing and working on ‘retro’ science fiction stories. I had included a couple of short sci-fi stories in DECAY – there were 16 issues of ‘DECAY’ out when I started work on ‘Retro Sci-Fi Tales’. Retro #1 was released at the same time as DECAY #17, in April 2014, and the two comics couldn’t have been further apart in style and tone.

1st: What type of comics does Dark Oz publish?

Dareen: Dark Oz is known for producing ‘Ozploitation’ style comics – Australian indie comics, mostly anthology comics showcasing dozens of creators per issue – and hence this has led to us working on ‘Ozploitation’ style films.

The comics are aimed at adult audiences, though ‘Retro Sci-Fi Tales’ is kept to a PG rating for all ages to enjoy. The comics are designed to be easy to dive straight into – anyone can ‘get it. Dark Oz comics are great fun wherever you start – amazing stories and awesome art.

The horror comics have a very 80’s feel to them, while the sci-fi comics feature stories set anywhere from the 1880s to the 1980s.

1st: Why is “Decay” special to you?

Darren: My initials are ‘DK’ – which sounds out as ‘DECAY’, haha. And one of the early lead stories was ‘Oz Zombie’, featuring rotting ‘decaying’ zombies.

DECAY was the first comic book I produced and ran for 24 issues at a big 52 pages per issue. Every issue was fully self-contained, averaging around 5 to 8 short stories per issue. I have fond memories of reading horror comics as a kid, so I just had to make my horror comic when I started.

1st: What is the fascination people have with the creatures of the night?

Darren: Real ‘horrors’ are something most people don’t want to face. You hear it on the news in shock and disgust and try to forget about it. But ‘creatures of the night’ are a lot more fun, even when they’re scaring, attacking, and killing the characters we love in stories and films. It’s a form of escapism, a dream world of monsters and aliens – from a safe distance.

1st: Which famous monsters does “Retro Sci-Fi Tales # 11 – Famous Monsters” have in it?

Darren: Retro #11 features SEVEN classic public domain ‘Famous Monsters’ in the lead story ‘Bruno & Maggie: Horrorwood’. Each monster also has its own stunning variant comic book cover: Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Wolfman, The Mummy, The Bride (of Frankenstein), The Creature (from the Black Lagoon), and The Hound of Dracula. And there is one Limited Edition variant cover with a ‘movie poster’ featuring real actors such as ‘Bruno & Maggie’.

This is a retro-style science fiction comic, and many of the monsters were born of ‘science’, by mad professors in dark laboratories.

1st: Why use anthology books to tell stories?

Dareen: I’ve always loved the anthology format. I grew up reading short stories in horror and science fiction comics: Warren, 2000AD, Heavy Metal, Toxic!, etc. You can sit down and enjoy them in short bursts.

I have too many stories that I want to tell, so writing them as short fast-paced punchy stories is the best option. One of the best bits of advice I ever had was from the 2000AD website, years ago, where they suggested new writers should start with short ‘Future Shocks’, and for practice take a US comic (generally 20 to 22 pages of story) and rewrite it as a 6-page story – you end up with something much faster, punchier and exciting.

Also, it’s much easier to find many different artists to each draw short stories than one artist to commit to drawing a full-length graphic novel.

1st: How did you find the various artists that are in “Retro Sci-Fi Tales # 11 – Famous Monsters”?

Darren: I have been producing comic books for over 12 years and I have made many contacts during this time – many artists contact me. Most of the artists in Retro #11 are people I have worked with before, and we work well together – so I know they can deliver the desired style and quality in the required time.

Originally I found artists/collaborators by attending comic book conventions. In fact, my first ever convention, where I tabled at, was in 2009 and I didn’t have anything to sell. I paid for the table to hand out flyers seeking artists to work with on a new comic book anthology series I wanted to produce. The following year I was at the same convention with the first couple of issues of ‘DECAY’.

1st: Do you think “Retro Sci-Fi Tales” would make a good TV series, yes or no and why?

Darren: YES’!!! Both ‘Retro Sci-Fi Tales’ and ‘DECAY’ would be amazing as an anthology TV series, in the style of ‘Love, Death & Robots’, ‘The Twilight Zone’, etc. And many of the stories would adapt brilliantly to the big screen as feature films.

I write with a very ‘visual’ style – I ‘see’ the story playing out as a movie in my mind’s eye. Most of the stories are set in the ‘real world’ too – easily filmed with modest budgets.

My writing has improved greatly over the years, with better character development – characters you love and care for. So you get great stories, characters, and settings.

1st: When you write how do you try to capture the reader’s attention?

Darren: The aim with ALL of my stories, even the sick and brutal horror stories in ‘DECAY’, is to always have ‘fun’, haha.

Comic books are a form of ‘visual storytelling’ so you work to those advantages. NEVER fill pages with ‘talking heads’, no matter how well the dialogue might be, as it just looks boring. People flick through a comic before buying so you want engaging images to capture their attention.

I also always plan for the ‘reveal’ – the turn of the page in comics. In print you see BOTH pages at the same time, so (wherever possible) do NOT put a ‘reveal’ on the right page, as the reader will ‘see’ it before they read all the panels leading up to it.

1st: Are there many Australian comic book companies?

Darren: No. There are quite a few small independent creators doing their own things, but no big publishers, nothing on the scale of Marvel or DC, nothing even anywhere close to Image, Dark Horse, Boom!, IDW, etc. We do have Frew who publish ‘The Phantom’. After that, it’s all small independent publishers, like DARK OZ, with some great quality.

1st: What is going on in Australia now that people should know about?

Darren: Environmental concerns are always in the news and affecting our lives – crazy weather conditions at times, etc. And the cost of living is going up faster than wages – and then some ‘luxury’ items are cut – people buy their bread and milk before comic books.

1st: What is your favorite monster movie?

Darren: Crikey, that’s a tough question. If I had to pick just one, it would be John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’. But wow, there are dozens and dozens of close seconds: Alien (and Aliens), the classic original B&W movies of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, The Mummy, etc. All the 50’s B-grade movies, Ray Harryhausen clay-animation, etc etc etc.

1st: Which monster would you least want to meet in the deep dark woods at night and why?

Darren: Wow, another tough question… I’m actually not sure which would be the worst choice to run into.

But the monsters that I would most LIKE to meet are zombies – that would just be so cool, and so much fun, going around killing zombies in hundreds of imaginative and creative ways! Ha ha.

As with many people, I’m a huge Mad Max fan, and I love muscle cars. I have quite a few old cars and I put the cars into my comics – most notably my 1973 yellow VJ Valiant hardtop – in much the way that famous movie director Sam Raimi includes his yellow 1973 car in many of his movies. My car was on the front cover of DECAY #1 way back in March 2010, is in the latest comic ‘Retro Sci-Fi Tales #11’, and had cameos in all four of the movie comic book adaptations that I recently produced. I had the car on display alongside the comic books at a muscle car show here in Adelaide just last weekend. The car was known for a long time as the ‘Zombie Hunter’ – from appearing in my ‘Oz Zombie’ stories in DECAY. So yeah I would LOVE to be out there in a post-apocalyptic world killing zombies in my VJ Valiant hardtop, haha!

1st: What would you like to say to all the fans of your work?

Darren: Thank-you! The comics could not continue if not for the love of the fans, AND all of the talented creators involved. Stay tuned for some AMAZING new projects that we have in the works already for future release. And be sure to check out the latest comic book on Kickstarter

The FOUR Australian ‘Ozploitation Classics’ comic book movie adaptations are now out: ‘Stunt Rock’ (1978), ‘Deathcheaters’ (1976), ‘Money Movers’ (1978), and ‘Midnite Spares’ (1983) – NEW remastered Blu-Ray releases WITH the printed comic book adaptations included (printed small to fit inside the Blu-Ray cases). I will be releasing larger (easier to view and read) magazine-sized versions of these comics in 2023, as two pairs of ‘Grindhouse double-feature’ comic books.

From the pages of ‘Retro Sci-Fi Tales’, the most popular character ‘Captain Ice’, who has appeared in EVERY issue of ‘Retro Sci-Fi Tales’, is getting his OWN all-new Graphic Novel. Fans of Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds’ AND ‘The 14 Fists of McCluskey’ (seen briefly in ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’) will LOVE this new Captain Ice story, as we visit Ice’s origins as a fighter pilot from the UK during WWII. This is pure ‘Naziploitation’ for people who grew up with ‘Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS’ and other such movies. The script is finished and over a dozen pages drawn so far – and it is looking brilliant. ‘Captain Ice’ stories are normally rated PG with the fun and sexiness of ‘Abbott and Costello Go to Mars’, but this new ‘Captain Ice’ story goes to new heights and is definitely a Mature Audiences release.

The much-loved fan-favorite Vampire ‘Sisters’ – Regan, Mignon & Daniah – from the pages of ‘DECAY’ and their own one-shot comic – WILL be returning in an epic 160-page gore-fest of staggering proportions. This is extremely sick and brutal, full of horrible war crimes as the Sisters travel through Germany at the height of WWII. NOT for the easily offended.

Also, of course, more issues of ‘Retro Sci-Fi Tales’, more international translated editions, and possibly a return of ‘DECAY’.

AND… we are working for films! The anthology comics ‘DECAY’ and ‘Retro Sci-Fi Tales’ also serve a second purpose – they double as ‘catalogs’ of artistic talents for clients to browse. Many creators featured in DARK OZ comics have picked up additional work elsewhere, including other comic books, advertising, poster and album designs, story-boarding and concept work for film & TV, etc.

I can’t say anything yet about the current feature film that we’re working on, but keep following the ‘DECAY horror comic’ Facebook page for breaking news as soon as I can tell, AND be sure to pledge to the Kickstarter for ‘Retro Sci-Fi Tales #11’ (even if only a small cash donation in support) so that you receive all future updates and news there.

You can see LOTS of amazing images and more information on the Kickstarter page – 

Independent Australian anthology comic books showcasing over 200 creators
Producing Australia’s FIRST EVER Comic Book ‘Ozploitation’ Movie Adaptations
Celebrating a decade of DARK OZ – est 2009, first published in 2010
Darren Koziol – DARK OZ
Facebook: DECAY horror comic
post: PO Box 811, Salisbury, South Australia 5108, Australia
To view the most recent DARK OZ project on Kickstarter – Retro Sci-Fi Tales #11 – FAMOUS MONSTERS follow this link to Retro #11 –



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