They Might Be Giants, But Terrance Zdunich Is The Bad Ass Russian

We got to hang out with Terrance Zdunich, the creator of Repo: The Genetic Opera and the man who played Graverobber in the film, while he was down in Houston at Comicpalooza promoting his excellent comic The Molting. Either we clicked like true homies, or he's just really, really patient with goth fan boys.

Regardless, we ended up on his email list and recently he sent along a music video that is weird and wonderful even for him.

Zdudinich's latest character is Count Tarakan, the Bad Ass Russian. After being freed from prison, he promptly fights off a pack of wolves with his bare hands, then makes a snazzy outfit out of their carcasses using only his teeth. Fresh from victory, he visits a local bar where the patrons include Jareth the Goblin King, Long John Silver, a Repo Man, a member of the Baseball Furies from the film The Warriors, a nun, and more.

Tarakan mounts the stage, punches the one-eyed jazz singer, and begins belting out a traditional Russian folk version of They Might Be Giants' "Istanbul." During the song, we are given glimpses of his other adventures, such as punching a gypsy woman fortune teller, freeing frozen spirits in an ice castle and claiming an ice sword as a prize, then using that sword to kill a yeti.

The whole thing ends in the bar with everyone celebrating. Absolutely nothing we just said was even slightly made up. All. That. Happens.

The video is actually pretty amazing in its scope, with impressive special effects, costumes, and settings. We've seen big-budget record-company attempts not look even a quarter as ambitious or put together as what Zdunich has accomplished.

Plus, Russians have the best folk music, period, so any rendering of any song into that style is guaranteed to please. All in all, "Istanbul" is absolutely mind-altering. Whoever gave Zack Snyder all that money to make Sucker Punch, which was basically a pointlessly pretty series of action music videos, should've given it to Zdunich instead. He would have put that investment to work.

Behold the adventures of Count Tarakan below.

Zdunich kindly agreed to let us question him about the music video. Click over to Page 2 if you're wondering, "OK, what was that all about?"

Rocks Off: Thanks for talking with us again, and for not punching us in the face. Is this part of a larger work, or do you just occasionally dress like Rasputin and be weird for the hell of it?

Terrance Zdunich: Yes.

Actually, the character started out as a bit of a goof... an afternoon recording session with a few friends drinking vodka, cracking each other up. When we played the track for others, however, the consensus seemed to be that we should do more with the character, and the song... so we decided to shoot a music video. One wolf coat, two ice swords, and a flurry of Cossack kicks later, Count Tarakan was born.

RO: What made you pick "Istanbul?"

TZ: That's nobody's business but the Turks.

RO: Walked right into that one, didn't we? Why is the solution to all of Count Tarakan's problems to punch women in the face?

TZ: Now, now. Let's not jump to conclusions. We can't be certain that the Yeti is a woman. It could also be a girl. Or even a lady.

RO: Any chance you'll put the Russian spin on some new original tunes?

TZ: The Count and his comrades spent a day recording a mix of standards and originals earlier this year. It has yet to be determined whether the tracks will be released in a traditional format or merely unleashed to an unsuspecting crowd of open-mikers who won't know what punched 'em in the face 'til it's too late. Stoy!

RO: How's The Molting coming along? Still haven't seen copies in Houston.

TZ: I'm about two-thirds of the way through issue No. 7 of this 12-part series, which should be available in November. Producing an independent comic book series is hard work, and the release schedule's always a tad flexible. I'm three years into the journey and have at least two more to go to complete the entire story.

Like the mighty Count Tarakan, The Molting is a completely independent endeavor, so you won't be able to find issues at most stores. You can always order your fix at TheMoltingComic.com, however.

Your patronage is what keeps the series alive, so thanks in advance for your support.

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