Meet Your Zine Maker #44: Morgan Pielli
Indestructible Universe Quarterly is a serialized collection of comic stories by Morgan Pielli in the spirit of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone.
Indestructible Universe Quarterly is inspired by dreams, and contains sci-fi elements rooted in stories that are dream-like but very personal and relatable. How do you bring all of those things together?
Much of my inspiration comes from other writers, as well as from science-themed podcasts, books, and articles. I’m fascinated by what we are able to make ourselves believe, and the plasticity of our brains in general. Much of the dream-like quality of my work comes from exploring those ideas. That, plus UFO talk radio shows. Holy shit, I get some good ideas from those.
My writing process is very straightforward. I come across an interesting concept, and then I sit down and free-write on it for hours until I have beaten it into the shape of a story. I think of it like carving a marble stature using my forehead. If I just keep smashing my face against the giant block of stone long enough, it’ll eventually turn into something. I just keep doing that until it looks right.
The romance of writing!
You’ve cited Alfred Hitchcock as a strong influence. Which of his works are you most inspired by?
As someone who puts out an anthology series, I am most drawn to Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I love being presented with big ideas and clockwork-intricate stories. I love being dropped into a world already ticking. “Man from the South” in particular is a fantastic exercise in drawing out tension. Plus, it features Steve McQueen and Peter Lorre chewing the living hell out of the scenery.
A few IUQ stories seem like they might have been pulled from the mind of Rod Serling. Do you have a favorite Twilight Zone episode(s)?
More than I can count. So I’ll focus on one of the show’s most prolific writers: Richard Matheson. He’s become more popular recently, having had movies based on some of his short stories, such as “Steel” which was the basis for Real Steel and “Button, Button” which became The Box. He wrote the brilliant-but-oft-parodied classic “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” as well as the underrated “The Invaders” (in which a terrified Agnes Moorehead fends of tiny space-suited creatures in her rural farmhouse).
But one of my very favorite episodes of his was the submily goofy “Once Upon A Time” starring Buster Keaton. Keaton plays a bumbling janitor who is transported from a silent 1800s to the loud, bustling future by way of a…ahem…TIME HELMET. It sounds silly (and it –gloriously– is) but it’s also cleverly written and slyly meta. Plus, even late in life, Buster Keaton was amazing.
What do you like to do when you’re not working on comics?
I’ve been involved with the Magnet Improv Theater, where I’ve performed in a couple of shows and taken classes when I have the time/money (I did two shows where I had to draw what other improvisors where describing as they were describing it!). I also love nerdy science events like the Secret Science Club.Tell us about something you’re excited to present or unveil at the Brooklyn Zine Fest.
I’ll be showcasing the latest in my long-running comic series: Indestructible Universe Quarterly 8. It features two new stories: “The Worry Tree,” wherein a man discovers a tree that has the regrets of whomever was buried beneath it printed on its bark, and “A Forged Man,” about the chilling secret of an armor-suited superhero.