Illustrator and writer Terry Blas has become one of the biggest names in the publishing world thanks to his wonderfully executed book Dead Weight and web series Briar Hollow. Not only that, but he’s worked on the comics for iconic television shows like Adventure Time and Rick and Morty.
His talents, which have been appreciated for the better part of the 2010 decade, are only continuing to get bigger as his career appears to know no ends. He released his latest book, Hotel Dare, in June 2019, which covers themes inside and out of the LGBTQ community all with a colorful and exciting storyline that many types of fans can enjoy.
Terry chatted with me about his new book in our exclusive interview while also discussing him leaving the Mormon world (of which he grew up in) behind and what’s next for his very bright future.
How have things been going since we last spoke?
Things have been good. I have some projects I’m currently working on that will hopefully be announced soon and my new book is doing well. Can’t complain!
Please tell us all about your new book that I hear is doing sooooooo well.
My newest book is Hotel Dare. I wrote it and the amazing art is by Claudia Aguirre. It’s a Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, family adventure about three siblings who get sent to live with their creepy Mexican Grandma in a disgusting hotel that she owns. While cleaning the kids discover that every room in the hotel leads to a different magical world. So there’s a hunky wizard and aliens and monsters and all kinds of things in it. Very kitchen sink. But mostly, I’m proud that it features several Latinas who aren’t maids or sex objects. And a few of them are queer! The Latina is the fastest growing demographic in the country and they deserve to have stories told for them so I’m glad I was able to work with Claudia as well.
Also, I wanted to do a fantasy book that was Mexican and Aztec in its visual language. So many of our popular fantasy series are European in their look (Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter) that I felt having a fantasy with an Aztec look automatically makes it different. https://www.amazon.com/Hotel-Dare-Terry-Blas/dp/1684152054
Have you ever thought about optioning your works into a TV show or movie?
That’s not really something that’s entirely up to me. That’s all book and film company contract stuff. If it were up to me, I’d adapt all my stuff for TV or film!
You’ve written so many thought provoking characters so far. Are any of them your favorite?
I love Mama Lupe from Hotel Dare. She’s the opposite of what you’d think when you picture an abuelita. She’s masking a lot of pain and hiding many secrets and peeling those layers back was really fun. Also, from my first book, Dead Weight (which I wrote with Molly Muldoon and has art by Matthew Seely) also has a character named Benji who is not fat but is at the weight loss camp because he’s gay, so he thinks he’s fat. It can come off funny (the book is a dark comedy) but it also shows how body issues affect people differently.
I know you grew up Mormon and have talked about how difficult that was as a gay man. Are you still dealing with those struggles all these years later?
Um, sometimes I don’t want to talk or think about it and then other days I really need to. I acknowledge it as part of my past but I don’t identify as Mormon or religious or even spiritual. I feel very creatively fulfilled and don’t have time for religion. I also don’t feel comfortable aligning myself with a religion whose teenage members that identify as queer are the group that has the highest suicide rate in the country. For me it’s better to distance myself. I like to say that if Leah Remini (who is one of my idols) were to say “I’m going to use all the power of Xenu and be the best Scientologist I can and change the church from the inside,” we would think she’s nuts. So I don’t subscribe to the idea that it’s okay to excuse other members of other churches to do the same. I recently did an episode of The JV Club, Janet Varney‘s podcast, so if you want to hear me talk about Mormonism for an hour or so, you can go there.
What would you say to someone who is trying to break free from the religion?
I’d say find something you are passionate about and focus on that. That will fulfill you. I’d say seek out others who have done the same. Talk to them, share your experiences. It’s good to have those people in your life who understand where you’ve been.
In conclusion… what’s the dream career wise and is it tangible yet for you?
Writing graphic novels, my own material, that really was the idea of the dream career. I love it, but I do have other goals too. I’d love to write for TV and work with a team doing that. I’d love to do character design for a project. And I’d love my dream career to include a vacation somewhere.
More on Terry Blas can be found here.