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Exclusive: Artist Elaine Bogan and Her Zany Zombies

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I love that there are zombie lovers everywhere you look. For example, artist Elaine Bogan. She doesn't let her "straight-laced" job drawing storyboards at DreamWorks get in the way of her more... decrepit interests. We chatted with Elaine about how she incorporates the creepy into her everyday life (like this zombie self-portrait).

Tell me about your background.

I grew up just outside of Toronto, and went to a high school for the arts. From there I went to photography school and took some general art classes, then went to college to get a BA in classical animation.

What do you do at DreamWorks?

I'm in the storyboarding department. I've been working on a How To Train Your Dragon TV series for just under a year. It is due this summer, I think. Currently, I am co-directing on the final episode of the first season.

I hear you are in love with zombies. Where did your fascination with them begin?

I cannot even remember a time when I wasn't fascinated with anything creepy. My mom loves to tell this story about the very first film I ever saw in theaters. I was about three or four years old and she took me to see Ghostbusters. Looking back, I suppose that was probably a really terrifying movie for a little kid, but all through the movie I was totally immersed. When it was over, my mom had to drag me out of the theater kicking and screaming because I didn't want to leave. I was so captivated by it.

I was looking at your blog, and you have a lot of zombie artwork. Is that something you do in your free time?

Yeah. Everything on my blog is strictly off-work stuff. I guess a lot of my inspiration comes from me still being a giant kid. I try to stay playful with it... and keep myself out of trouble. I started a project up for myself last October. I called it "31 Zombies in 31 Days." I put the idea out there and took a bunch of requests from friends. I think maybe half of the drawings I did ended up being requests. I try to get a lot of people involved. It turned into this weird, kid-friendly zombie thing because all of my friends were showing it to their kids. It's a good way to get everyone involved in zombie world.

Are you working on any other zombie projects?

I do have a few ideas kicking around, but nothing I have started to develop.

Are you able to incorporate your love of zombies and all things dark and creepy into your regular DreamWorks work?

Definitely. Working at DreamWorks, I'm put on a really wide range of shows, as far as tone and style go. Everything I watch inspires what I do, every day. Zombies, in particular, help generate brainstorms and scenes that I can use in more suspenseful or moody shows. Watching movies over and over, and reading books, are really great inspirations and motivations. My job requires me to watch everything I can get my hands on. It just so happens that zombie movies are my favorite!

Have you tried to slip zombies into any of the projects you have been working on?

I have. A couple years ago I worked on a project called Scared Shrekless - a Shrek Halloween project. We were given a lot of free range and asked to go away and just come back with some ideas. A lot of mine did happen to have zombies involved. It's a great place to work -there is so much creative freedom. They let us play. It's nice.

Do you ever worry that you are going to go too far and make something that is a little too dark for the intended audience?

Um... I'm not going to say it has never happened, but I try to have a good sense of judgement.

What is about zombies that you find so inspiring?

I'm a "pro-slow" zombie fan. I prefer the slow-moving zombies over the fast zombies in the modern films. The zombie itself is so slow-moving, and it's a pretty dim-witted character to start off with, so logically, that would tell you that they're not really a threat, other than just being hungry all the time. When something like that is put into the hands of a really creative director or writer, and they are able to take a character like that and turn it into a really terrifying creature, I think that is a huge challenge, especially with a character who is so "simple."

What are some of your favorite zombie movies?

Well, of course I love all the George Romero classics. Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, White Zombie. My favorite in the last few years is Shaun of the Dead. It's a great mix of humor and horror. It is so, so funny, yet there are moments in it that are terrifying. It's really well put-together and scary and it looks awesome, it cuts great. On that note, there is another great [zombie film] called Fido. That is one of the most kid-friendly zombie movies I have ever seen. It's just so colorful, it looks like candy. And yet it is so emotionally sincere and there are really sweet moments in it where you think you want a pet zombie, too. That's the aspect I love most for modern-day zombies, coming up with new ideas and new worlds to put them in; mixing them in with horror or something else.

Is there a zombie movie or storyline that you would like to see happen, that you haven't seen already?

I would sincerely love to see a zombie animation that is funny. I'm not even too picky! A zombie cartoon would do me just fine.

Have you pitched any to DreamWorks?

Not yet!

Check out more of elaine's work on her blog, The Eel Bog.

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