Welcome back kiddies. I have lured the We Will Bury You Crew into the depths to pick their brains about their new comic. So sit back and relax we find out why we should all read We Will Bury You.
Hey everyone thanks for taking time to talk with me about We Will Bury You. First of all lets talk about you. Who are you and what do you do?
Zane Grant: I'm Zane, I share writing responsibilities.
Brea Grant: I'm Brea, also writing.
Kyle Strahm: I'm Kyle. I'm pencilling and inking.
How did you find yourself getting into making comics?
Z: I've been into comics and writing since I was younger. When I was living in Washington, D.C. a while ago, I started researching how comics are created and did a graphic novel writing workshop with a couple of guys from D.C. Conspiracy. I worked on some stuff with my
friend Orion, and then Brea and I started talking about doing We Will Bury You.
B: I think Zane and I are both very creative people who were looking for an outlet. So, about a year ago, we decided we should write something together. For me, it was a way to create and stay busy. Comics seemed the most logical because we're both avid comic readers. I think a major problem for me is that in the film industry, you have to wait years for anything to actually start happening. I spend a lot of time waiting on a phone call to tell me I'm starting a movie, but with comics, Zane and I could just write without waiting for someone to give us the go ahead.
K: I've been making comics since I was nine or so. I was a big fan of the early '90s Batman books and before that the Eastman and Laird Turtles stuff blew my little mind. I thought "That's something I can do" and went to town. After high school, I headed off to an art institute for a year and found I wasn't being taught what I was interested in learning, so I quit and started doing comics again on my own. I did a lot of mini zine-style books way back in the early Aughts and hit a lot of the indie shows. I did a webcomic in 2005, Clockwork Creature, which led to occasional freelance jobs which led to this.
So what can you tell me about We Will Bury You?
Z: It's the story of a Ukrainian artist immigrant and a sex worker trying to survive a zombie apocalypse in 1927. In the process they deal with the inhumanity of other survivors and make some friends. Sideshow 'freaks', will make an appearance, which I am happy about.
What's it all about?
Z: A lot of zombie more recent stories follow pretty normal people longing to restore their everyday lives. In relation to that trend, I think my main motivation behind writing these characters is to channel what happens to people who were already sort of screwed when society
collapsed. The main characters, Mirah and Fanya, only had a failed marriage and poverty to lose. They sort of go from living to survive to living to survive while surrounded by violent undead. Being poor is scary, but being poor amidst mass violence is horrific.
K: It's about two beautiful women running through a filthy city inhabited by grotesque people who are turning into zombies. While the story is largely about poverty, I'm mostly thinking about how I can make things as chaotic and dirty as possible. There are body parts flying all over. Heads are dropping from windows. Everyone keeps spitting and bleeding a lot. The book also has a lot of subtle humor in it. Look for it. It's subtle.
Who are the main characters?
Z: The main characters are Mirah, a woman who is working as a sort of 1920's call girl at a taxi dance hall, and Fanya, her unemployed, thieving girlfriend. Mirah's jealous husband Henry also drives the story. There's a large cast of 1920's dandies, ruffians, police, and a voodoo priestess to round things off.
B: And like Zane said, a few sideshow performers make an appearance.
K: The zombies. The one with the top hat is pretty cool. There's one who's a voodoo priestess and she's awesome. Yeah, there will be freakshow zombies later, a mermaid zombie, flapper zombies, hobo zombies, a zombie barbershop quartet. I'm hoping zombie Calvin Coolidge will make an appearance. There are zombies riding roller coasters and smoking pipes and playing steel drums. Jack Dempsey shows up for a second, but he just punches zombies.
Where did this idea come from?
Z: Flappers and zombies was an idea I'd been kicking around for a while. The 1920's stand out in a lot of ways as a decade of change. It was the time of America's first sexual revolution, and a lot of subversive political ideas were spreading. The clash between those living vapid, decadent lifestyles and those struggling to survive, and the lead up to the Great Depression and global financial crisis, provides a great environment for zombies.
B: We originally wrote a huge worldwide storyline - following people from all over the world from similar backgrounds to our main characters - like prisoners or German artists. Since it's our first comic, we didn't exactly get our ideal 100 issue deal upfront so we picked the two characters we thought would be the most interesting to start with.
K: Brea and Zane gave me a lot of photos with some thoughts about how they'd like things to look and we tossed sketches back and forth. They are very open to any ideas I come up with and are great to work with.
If you were to give this books a movie style rating what would it get?
Z: I'm not sure. It is a zombie book, so people get ripped apart and disemboweled. How do they decide those ratings? I know the MPAA is a dark wraith that will slay you, so I don't think I should say too much about that.
B: Eh - probably somewhere between PG-13 and R but mostly just for violence.
K: I did just draw some bare breasts that could kick it up to R but they might make me take those out.
What are you hoping readers can take away from this story?
Z: I hope people like it. I mostly read comics as escapism. If I
learn something or think differently about something because of one, I
think it's a bonus.
B: I'm with Zane - entertainment is key. And I hope we're doing something different enough that people will think it's interesting. With all the zombie things coming out, I'm hoping we don't get lost in the shuffle.
K: I hope we've put enough of a spin on the zombie thing so that people will really take notice. I think we have.
Is this a series that we can expect more from in the future?
Z: Right now, it's a mini-series, but if people like it, we definitely set up some things to allow the crisis to unfold globally. It's areally fun story to write, so I'd love to keep working on this
K: I would be up for more.
So how did you all come together to create this book?
Z: Chris Ryall and Denton Tipton at IDW helped piece together the team. Kyle's art is amazing, so we're really happy to get to work with him. IDW helped us set up Zac Atkinson, who is doing the colors, which are great… and Brea is my sister so working with her is always fun.
B: We also need to give a shout out to Ben Templesmith who I met at a comic convention. He gave us all the info on pitching and writing for IDW and agreed to do our first cover which really helped us to secure a deal.
K: I shout out to Dara Naraghi who gave my portfolio to Chris in the first place. Thanks, Dara!
Can we expect more from you horror comic wise in the future?
Z: Brea and I have been working on a few things of the sci-fi and horror persuasion that we'd really like to write, so we'll see.
B: I think the horror genre is addicting. Once you start creating in any medium in that genre, you just want to push more boundaries and see what you can do scare people. So, I definitely think I'll be doing more in that world.
K: Yeah, horror, sci-fi, and barbarian fantasy. Buns are in the oven.
Can you talk a bit about your experiences so far with working in comics?
Z: When I tell people I'm working on a comic, they usually say something about how great it must be to draw all the time. When I explain that I don't draw, almost everyone says, 'Oh, you just write them?' Regardless, I like the format of writing comics and working with other people on a project. Thinking in terms of panels and how to pace pages is a lot of fun and harder to pull together than you might think. Kyle is quite helpful with making pages flow together.
B: When I got the first copy of our first issue, it was one of the most exciting moments of my life - just to see it all come together the way we had planned it. It was cool. I think we're learning a lot as first time writers - we've made some mistakes but it's all fun and I think it'll just get more fun as things go along.
K: I like working together as a group. Everything I'd done up to this point had been in black and white and hand-lettered by me. It's pretty crazy to see my work colored by someone else, but Zac is doing a fantastic job.
What has it been like working with IDW?
Z: Everyone at IDW has been great. Denton Tipton, our editor, deserves an award.
K: The D in IDW stands for Denton.
Were you into any horror titles growing up that lead you to want to create a book like this?
Z: When I was about ten, I remember being really scared of the Hellblazer covers at the comics shop in our town, so I avoided them. I got into horror movies in high school, and started picking up 30 Days of Night in college because of Templesmith's art. I was surprised at how much could be done with the medium, and now I buy pretty much any new horror comic that my local shop picks up and seek out the EC titles and Creepy stuff that is being reprinted these days.
B: I don't know if it led me to creating a book like this but I like the genre. I'm a fan of Creepy (Zane got me into it), Walking Dead and Locke & Key.
K: Kelly Jones' Batman is pretty much what got me into comics. I was also really into Spawn way back when. Before that, I read a lot of MAD Magazine which influenced my visual style. Even though it was ridiculous, there was a MAD horror parody called Arbor Day that scared my pants off. I was really into The Nightmare Before Christmas when it came out. Since then, I've also been reading Eerie, Creepy, and Tales From the Crypt. The original Swamp Thing run was great to look at. I love Wrightson, Richard Corben, and all those old Bruce Jones Twisted Tales books. Hellboy is still one of my favorites. I never really thought I was doing horror until people kept saying, "Dude, I dig your horror style."
What comics are you currently reading?
Z: I pick up Walking Dead, the new Creepy, Locke and Key, Crossed, Hellblazer, Stumptown, King City, The Goon, Thor, Hack/Slash, Sweet Tooth, Chew, and anything Mignola or Brian Wood-related on Wednesdays. Basically, horror, noir, sci-fi, or Viking will get me to take a
chance on your book at least once. My favorite web-comic is the Abominable Charles Christopher, but I follow a few other ones. Graphic novel-wise I enjoyed reading Ball Peen Hammer, recently, and am working my way through the Pluto manga series. Both of those seem
pretty dark in a way. I'm looking forward to Choker, the new Zombies vs. Robots run, more Tank Girl… seems like lots of good work is coming out in 2010.
B: I don't know if it's because we're related or because we share comics, but I read a lot of the same stuff as Zane - Stumptown, Hack/Slash, Sweet Tooth. I'm also a big X-Factor fan.
K: I have a big stack that never seems to get any smaller. Scalped, Franken-Castle, Hellboy, Jason Aaron's Punisher, the new Creepy, Glamourpuss, Batman & Robin, Tank Girl trades, Savage Dragon, Starr The Slayer, Bisley's Hellblazer, and some of those Frazetta books. I'll usually buy anything drawn by Corben or Mignola. I'm always flipping through the giant Judge Dredd case files, the first Lobo mini-series, Brian Bolland's The Actress and The Bishop, Batman: Black and White, and that Sam Kieth Wolverine/Cyber story from Marvel Comics Presents. In 2010, I'm looking forward to Cupid from AiT/Planet Lar.
So where can readers find out more about this book?
Z: You can check our blogs at http://zanegrant.org, http://breagrant.com, http://www.kylestrahm.com, or IDW's site.
So in summary give me a quick recap on We Will Bury You and why fans should give it a try.
Z: Historical zombie graphic fiction. It's a book that serves the interests of both historians and gore hounds. If that's not enough, Ben Templesmith, Nate Powell, and Trevor Hutchison are doing covers.
B: I think horror and zombie fans will like that it takes a different perspective on the genre. Also, zombie cops.
K: It's awesome! Brea and Zane and Zac and Denton and I are all awesome! And We Will Bury You is what happens when you put us all together! You will need sunglasses when you open issue #1 of We Will Bury You!
Thanks so much for your time guys.