Monday, April 26, 2010

Deep Discussions with Decapitated Dan: Fiona Staples

Welcome back kiddies. I have lured Fiona Staples into the depths this week to pick her brain about life and everything in between. So sit back and relax as she tells us about who she is, what she does, and what we can expect from her in the future. Trust me, you will like what you read!

Alright lets start out with a short answer section and get the usual out of the way.

Fiona Staples



None right now, but my parents and old roommates keep cats that still own pieces of my heart.

Highest Education Level (If college where did you go):
BD'es from the Alberta College of Art & Design.

High School Mascot:
Ummm... it may have been a bulldog? That seems right. I can't remember what any of the teams were named.

First Job:

Bagging groceries in high school.

Best time of the day:
Early morning, because on the days that I experience it, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment just for getting up.

Favorite place to buy comics:
Probably "Another Dimension" in Calgary. I usually see Riley Rossmo (PROOF artist) there.

Staying with short answers lets talk about what you do:

Comic(s) you created Before 2001:
In 2001 I hadn't even finished high school. So, various two-to-three-page failures.

January 18, 2002 - January 19, 2003:
Um, ditto.

January 20, 2003 - Today:
I didn't start until 2006, but:
Done to Death (Markosia)
Trick 'r Treat (Wildstorm)
Secret History of the Authority: Jack Hawksmoor (Wildstorm)
North 40 (Wildstorm)
Plus many covers, colouring gigs, and short anthology stories.

Alright all that stuff aside lets get to the meat of the interview:

What do you do when not making comics?
Watch movies, drink, sketch, socialize, hobnob with the royalty of the Calgary indie comics scene, bake, play Monkey Island, shop, work out just long enough to assuage the guilt, daydream.

All time best place to shop online?
I just use Ebay and Amazon, so clearly I don't have any great insights here.

The army kidnaps you, runs random tests and gives you powers. What do you hope they are?
Gills! Wait. Actually... I hope it's a power that allows me to escape the military and avoid being doggedly persecuted for the rest of my life.

When you were 8 and 14 what were you for Halloween (can we see pics)?

8: Maid Marion, 14: I can't remember, probably a kind of half-assed mermaid costume or something.

Any TV shows grabbing your attention these days?
I just watched the entire season of The Jersey Shore in like, a week. There, I said it... feels good. Other than that, nothing until True Blood and The Venture Bros come back on.

Favorite music to listen to, right now?
The Dickies, Coheed & Cambria, T. Rex, and Lady Gaga. And Prince, always.

What could you do with a stick of gum, a dragon egg and a big box of rings?
I'm glad you asked. I've been playing so much Monkey Island lately that I've become an expert on combining seemingly random items. First, I would use one of the rings, a diamond one, to cut open the egg and deliver the baby dragon. It would probably be testy, so I would shove the gum in its mouth, thereby containing its fiery breath in bubbles. I'd train it, using shiny rings from the box as positive reinforcement, until it agreed to join my crew.

Then I would try to talk to the eggshell, push the eggshell, use eggshell on door, use eggshell on baby dragon, etc, etc...

Back to comic stuff for now.

Knowing that Iceman is the greatest hero of all time, why do you think he is so underused?
I don't know! But I've been wondering for years. Maybe because there are so many wisecrackin' heroes now, they don't need him for comic relief? When I first saw X2, I really thought that was going to be his moment. "The dam is breaking, Bobby! Freeze it!!" But he just stood there. I was crushed.

Favorite comic character when you were 5, 15 and 25?
5: I didn't know what a comic was.
15: Iceman.
25: Conan/Vampirella/Archie.

Alright your making a comic about a a seahorse who wants to be a real horse after seeing some Budweiser commercials. Whats the name of the book and sell me on a quick pitch, Go!
"Seaquestrian Dreams," a coming-of-age story of a young sea horse struggling to find her identity in a media-saturated world where she is inundated with images of unattainable body types- horses who were genetically blessed with legs. And at the same time, she has to navigate HIGH SCHOOL! The sequel finds her in college- "Big Fish on Hippocampus."

We all know your a great artist but what do you really want to be when you grow up?
A cake decorator.

Where is the real money at in comic creating?
The '90s?

When your making comics whats going on around you? Music, what kind? Silence? TV on?
Just music, any and all kinds, whatever I'm not tired of. Often internet radio like Boot Liquor on SomaFM.

Favorite character you ever created/worked on and why?
Probably Sheriff Morgan from North 40. He really charmed me. It's fun drawing old people, and he got all the best lines.

10 years from now. Where do you see yourself?
Maybe I'll have cable!

Alright we can finish up with a quick word association game. I will say a word, you give me a quick one sentence response.

North 40?
Imaginary highway

Done to Death?
Lots of stabbing.

Horror Comics?
Black and white scrawly stuff from the '70s.

Some kind of animal, or fried food on the grill at 7/11? Both?

Politicophobia- Fear or abnormal dislike of politicians?

Pamela Anderson?

Gummy Bears?
Here and there and everywhere

Decapitated Dan?
A mysterious fellow with a strange silhouette

Fiona Staples?
Feels put on the spot.

Thanks so much Fiona.
Thank you, Dan!

If you would like to know more about Fiona and check out her work please go to

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Deep Discussions with Decapitated Dan: Decapitated Dan

Don't you think it is about time I interview myself? No seriously this week were going to take a look back at C2E2 as I share with you all my experience of the show and how I thought it went. So lets just jump right in, and yes I will be recalling as much as I can so it may get a bit long winded.

Alright so Friday morning hits and I was really pumped up to go. Show didn't open to the Press until 1 pm, and it was only 7 am so I had a little while to wait, before heading over to my buddy Kenny's. I went through made sure I had all my stuff for the show, in retrospect I probably should have taken some comics from home to have signed but oh well.

So jump ahead a few hours, it was about 11 when we left Ken's and headed down McCormick. We live about an hour or less out of Chicago, so it's not a long trip at all. I have to say I love the location so much better than Wizard, and I will also add that if you want to complain about parking costs, remember that Wizard World is located off the tollways so it adds up to be about the same.
So anyways we get to the show and head into the Press office to pickup our passes, very easy and smooth process I have to say. 
So off to the show. Even though it was only 12:15 they let us in, thank you press passes. I was amazed at the size of the room. It had been awhile since I had ventured over to McCormick. One of the best touches in my opinion was the carpeting, very nice on the feet. That and the size of the aisles. I like to say that at WW if a bigger person is heading your way you have to move, but here there was room to spare.
So we headed over to say hey to my brother in law Jimmy at the Challengers Comics booth. We talked for a bit about how the setup went, nice and smooth, and then headed back to check out artist alley. I had my list of people I really wanted to talk to and meet, basically just put faces to emails with all the messaging we do back and forth. So I will say it was great to meet Gary Reed, Mike Hoffman and Jeff Balke. By the end of the weekend it was just like hanging out with old friends, whenever I would head back to say hey. Very cool stuff. So I met some other people while walking around but I didn't get sketches from anyone. Not my thing to have done I guess.

So after about 2 hours of walking and talking in Artist Alley, and by the way you could tell when the doors opened because people flooded back to AA to get stuff signed. Anyways after leaving AA we headed up to the comic site area/web comics. We basically made our way from the back to the front. So I met up with my buddies from and talked to my friends at Legion Studios, who have a great looking movie coming up.

So it was about 3 when I realized that I had not been over to the Avatar booth yet to pick up my C2E2 Crossed: Family Values exclusive #1. So I kinda ran up there and picked it up, along with a Crossed #2 to get Jacen Burrows to sign. He signed both, we chatted for a bit and I also grabbed 5 of those Crossed masks. Awesome stuff for sure, oh and a review will be coming of Crossed FM #1.

So then we went over to the Marvel and DC areas. These kinda disappointed me, well Marvel really let me down. It was kind of just like an open area of nothing. A stage, some banners, some people signing but nothing with an actual comic book. DC had more going for it, with more people signing, and just more to see.

I was happy to see Michael Nelson and Declan Shalvey at the BOOM! Studios booth as we talked 28 Days Later and Dingo. I really didn't stop at any other booth's. Walked by Image and Top Cow but nothing interesting going on. Oh you know I did stop by the Dark Horse booth and pick up my B.P.R.D. member card. That turned out to be really cool. Most Publisher booths had books for sale but at cover price, so if you wanted to find it at the seller booths it would be cheaper.

So we were all done seeing the main attractions and we headed over to look for deals, which there weren't many to be had. It was around this time I started to realize that we had basically done it all. The show was open until 7 and it was only 4:30. So we decided to brave the traffic of rush hour and head on home.

I think all together I only dropped like $10 on books. Not much to be found and we kinda knew it was time to take off. The show was for the most part dead on Friday. I attribute some of that to how wide open it was so people were more spread out, but also it was kinda empty. I was also debating whether or not I wanted to go back on Sunday, I was going to skip Saturday just because of the rush of people and because of ride options. Did I mention I have never driven in Chicago. Don't know why but I never have. So after some debate in my head I decided to go back on Sunday.

So here it is, Sunday morning 7 am and I am already out the door. The deal for getting a ride today was that I had to head up there early with Jimmy, my brother in law who was helping with Challengers, stick around all day and then help take down after the show closed. I didn't care, figured it was worth it to go again. Plus I told so many people I would be back on Sunday. I also had the freedom to do as I wanted and not worry about hanging out in one spot for longer than I wanted.

So we got up to McCormick around 9 am, show opened at 10, and we just got the booth ready. After a little while I head over to the Comicrelated booth again to say good morning to them. We chatted for a bit and Gary Reed joined us. Then we all kinda split off. I headed over to Artist Alley to see how the weekend treated Jeff Balke and Mike Hoffman. We discussed how it had all gone so far. Then I just kind of walked around for a few hours. A lot of back and forth. I was kinda waiting for 2 panels to start later in the day.

So I browsed for deals, ate lunch, watched some people read their indie books on the Variant Stage. I will say this, if you go to a show pack your own lunch and keep it in your bag. I did at WW and at C2E2 and I saved money doing so. Sure it was a warm sandwich, but know what your going to eat and be prepared for it. I can't even tell you how many time I heard people complain about food prices.

So it was around 1 and I was tired from walking. I looked in the little con book and seen that Mark Waid and Jeff Smith were doing a panel on making it in the Indie world. Then in the same room 30 minutes after that ended was the X-Men panel. I figured why not sounds good, and it was. I really liked how they put things into perspective for new writers trying to make it. Jeff Smith luckily looked at his watch towards the end and realized he needed to go catch his plane. Funny stuff.

Alright so that first panel ended and I gave Mike Moreci a text to see where he was, yet another person I wanted to meet up with and almost forgot. He came up to the panel room and we chatted about how his weekend went and comics. Really awesome guy to talk with and I was glad I remembered to text him. He took off as the X-Men panel was about to start.

So the panel started, they introduced that members and started the slide show. The big things were a new Wolverine Book, an X-23 Book, Daken book (WOW WOLVERINE. LAME!), and Mutants vs. Vampires. No signs of Iceman. When they opened it up to questions I took off. It was really nice to go and sit down for 2 hours though.

So it was all winding down at this point. About an hour to go til the show was over and I headed back to say bye to my buddies and the booth. Then made my way to really look for some good deals, since it was the end of the day. I went into the show looking to pick up some of the classic horror reprints. I was able to find Essential Man-Thing Vol. 1, Showcase House of Mystery 3 and House of Secrets 2 all for $5 each. That was really about it. I was unable to find the Deadworld's I still needed and some good deals on Creepy and Eerie. Overall I think I really only spent $40 the whole weekend.

So the show closed and it was now time to pack it up. We got the booth broke down in about 20 minutes while two guys ran off to get the vans and get in line. This was at 5. At 7:30 the finally had the vans in and we loaded them up. It seemed like forever, luckily I had some books to read, lol. So we got loaded then headed over to the shop to unload. We got done around 9-9:30 and were on our way back to Jimmy's. I finally walked back in my front door at 11 pm. It was one long ass day, and I had to crash and get up for work on Monday.

So overall I loved it. I think that they did a great job. There was a lot more to see than at WW, because publishers showed up at this one. The crowd may not have been what most people were expecting and I can understand that, but it was a first show. Talking to some of the sellers, they were pleased but not super happy with sales, but this didn't seem like a buyers show. WW really has turned into this massive show for buying, where here it was about the industry. Which I liked. I also liked the lack of celebrities. Matter of fact I didn't see a single one. I like that it was about comics.

For me it was about getting to meet people I have been talking to online for the past year and expanding my connections to the horror world. I wouldn't take any of it back as it was all very enjoyable and I highly look forward to next years show, so get your plans ready to meet me there next year!

If you would like to see the entire picture gallery you can (there is not that many) here on my Facebook page.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Posted 10 New Reviews ! Echoes of Dawn #1, The Littlest Zombie #1, Hack/Slash #30, Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors #1, Zombiebomb #1, Priest Volume 1, Dampyr #1, Mack Turner: Slayer of the Dead #2, Diabolo Volume 1, Hellsing Volume 1. Come check them out!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Deep Discussions with Decapitated Dan: John Layman

Welcome back kiddies. I have lured John Layman into the depths this week to pick his brain about life and everything in between. So sit back and relax as he tells us about who he is, what he does, and what we can expect from him in the future. Trust me, you will like what you read!

Alright lets start out with a short answer section and get the usual out of
the way.

John Layman


Married swinger

Cats, Rufus and Bumble Buzz

Highest Education Level:
BA in English from Chico State.

High School Mascot:
A goose

First Job:
Golf cart parker and driving range ball picker-upper dude.

Favorite Food:
Chicken wings.

Favorite place to buy a groceries:
I have people for that.

Staying with short answers lets talk about what you do:

Comic(s) you created Before 1992:
Nothing. I didn't start in comics professionally until 1992

May 19, 1993 - May 19, 2003:
Bay City Jive, Puffed, Left Behind, Thundercats, Gen 13

May 20, 2003 - Today:
Red Sonja, House of M: Fantastic Four, Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness, Xena, Scarface, Armageddon & Son, Gambit, Chew.

Alright all that stuff aside lets get to the meat of the interview:

What do you do when not making comics?
Build Legos and play World of Warcraft.

All time best comic movie you ever saw and why?
Mystery Men, which had all the charm and eccentricity of a Bob Burden comic.

All time worst comic movie you ever saw and why?
The latest Punisher was so shamefully nihilistic and mean-spirited Marvel should have been ashamed to put their name on it. George Clooney Batman and Electra sucked pretty hard, too.

When you were 6 and 12 what were you for Halloween?
I'm very old. I can't remember that far back.

Any TV shows grabbing your attention these days?
Breaking Bad, which is so dark it is both hard to watch, and impossibly to look away from.

Favorite music to listen to, right now?
All I listen to, and all I EVER have listened to, is The Cramps and Alice Donut.

What could you do with a lighter, a Spider-Man action figure and a big box of cotton?
Light a cigarette, play with Spider-Man, and stuff cotton in my mouth to do my Brando Godfather impression.

Back to comic stuff for now.

Knowing that Iceman is the greatest hero of all time, why do you think he is so underused?
Global warming.

Favorite comic character when you were 5, 10 and 15?
Rom Spaceknight for all three!

You find a genie lamp, but he only offers you 3 comic related wishes what are they?
1. More Stray Bullets.
2. A Bay City Jive TPB
3. Chew "absolute editions."

Alright your making a comic about a hell bent cat who controls mice with its mind. Whats the name of the book and sell me on a quick pitch, Go!
Death Puss. Keeping the pitch to myself. It will be my next creator-owned masterpiece!

We all know your a great writer but what do you really want to be when you grow up?
No, seriously. Comic book writer. From the very beginning.

Where is the real money at in comic creating?
Not in my wallet.

When your making comics whats going on around you? Music, what kind? Silence? TV on?
Secret Agency Radio on SOMA FM. Best writing music of all.

Favorite character you ever created/worked on and why?
Probably Tony Chew, as he is the first character of mine specifically designed for an ongoing series. Or, at least, a semi-ongoing series, since we're projecting Chew to run 60 issues.

10 years from now. Where do you see yourself?
"That guy on skid row who wrote CHEW, before a spectacular flame-out."

Alright we can finish up with a quick word association game. I will say a word, you give me a quick one sentence response.

A cult classic that inexplicably went sorta mainstream.

Image Comics?
The best creator-owned deal in comics.

Horror Comics?
Makes me think of Eric Powell's The Goon, and I love The Goon.

Gargamel will have his day.

Coprastasophobia- Fear of constipation?
I've got it!

That's a restaurant, right?

South Park?
Created by Republicans, so I do not watch.

Decapitated Dan?
My own true love.

John Layman ?

Thanks so much John.

If you want to know more about John and what he is up to please go to

Monday, April 5, 2010

Deep Discussions with Decapitated Dan: Fred Van Lente

Welcome back kiddies. I have lured Fred Van Lente into the depths to pick his brain about life and everything in between. So sit back and relax as he tells us about who he is, what he does, and what we can expect from him in the future. Trust me, you will like what you read!

Alright lets start out with a short answer section and get the usual out of the way.

Fred Van Lente

On the right side of 40. So far.


Max, Ivan, Zelda (cats)

Highest Education Level:
Proud Graduate School Dropout, from the University of Pittsburgh; Syracuse University for undergrad

High School Mascot:
Chagrin Falls Tigers

First Job:

I cleaned chicken shit off eggs at the farm down the street from my house when I was in the 8th grade. I'm serious. Didn't last too long, though.

Favorite Food:
I'm kind of a "foodie." I'll say sweetmeats just to be a snob.

Favorite place to buy comics:
Rocketship, Smith Street, Brooklyn:

Staying with short answers lets talk about what you do (if you want to ad descriptions I guess it would be okay):

Comic(s) you created Before 1990:
None that I can think of.

March 18, 1990 - October 19, 2003:
The most significant would be the supercrime comic I created with Steve Ellis, THE SILENCERS, which got me noticed at Marvel.

October 20, 2003 - Today:
Action Philosophers, Incredible Hercules, Amazing Spider-Man, Comic Book Comics, X-Men Noir, various Marvel Zombies, Halo: Blood Line, and the upcoming Iron Man Legacy.

Alright all that stuff aside lets get to the meat of the interview:

What do you do when not making comics?
I like to cook, garden, play video games and watch baseball, when it's available.

All time best movie you ever saw and why?
I'm not a big fan of calling anything "the best" or the "favorite." Life isn't lived in absolute terms like that. I like a lot of movies. The best movie I just saw was Broken Embraces, Almodovar. Very beautiful and haunting.

All time worst movie you ever saw and why?
Ditto for "the worst" and "the best." I never answer these questions because in this business you never know who you're going to work with next, so there's no get in slamming other people's work. There's enough negativity in entertainment -- Creators, stay positive!

When you were 5 and 15 what were you for Halloween?
I don't remember. But to plug Iron Man Legacy this is what I was wearing when I was about eight! Mom made the hip pods from Quaker Oats lids.

Any TV shows grabbing your attention these days?
I'm rewatching Deadwood, all three seasons, and remembering how much I loved it.

Favorite music to listen to, right now?
At this exact instant the soundtrack from The Life Aquatic is playing. But my iPod's on shuffle and if you asked me again in five minutes the answer would be completely different.

What could you do with a stick, a bag of oysters and a big box of legos?
I'd build a refrigeration unit to keep the oysters fresh and lock the door with the stick.

Back to comic stuff for now.

Knowing that Iceman is the greatest hero of all time, why do you think he is so underused?

Bad representation?

Favorite comic character when you were 5, 15 and 25?

Spider-Man, The Question, and Tranquility (which Steve and I created before the Silencers).

You find a genie lamp, but he only offers you 3 comic related wishes what are they?
1.) That the popularity of iPad and related technologies makes digital comics take off in a big way.
2.) All the Golden and Silver Age creators who created the super heroes gain all the popular credit and royalties long denied them.
3.) Relatives and acquaintances would stop, once and for all, after being told I write comics for a living, ask me what's it like to draw all day.

Alright your making a comic about a guy who writes tv show commercials but aspires to one day be on Broadway. Whats the name of the book and sell me on a quick pitch, Go!
The Jingleman: Rich, naive ad exec gives it all up to self-finance his dream show and is nearly fleeced by a gold-digging starlet but they fall in love instead.

We all know your a great writer but what do you really want to be when you grow up?
A writer. Honestly, I can't think of a time when I wasn't into that.

Where is the real money at in comic creating?
Zombies don't hurt.

When your making comics whats going on around you? Music, what kind? Silence? TV on?
Music primarily. I select iTunes specific to a particular project, with songs likely (or formerly proven to) trigger my thoughts in that direction. No TV, no way, too distracting.

Favorite character you ever created/worked on and why?
The next project is always the favorite, because that's the fun, in creating things. Once it's created, it's in the reader's hands to embrace or reject as she sees fit.

10 years from now. Where do you see yourself?
Creating and living off my own graphic novels. That's the goal I aspire to, anyway.

Alright we can finish up with a quick word association game. I will say a word, you give me a quick one sentence response.

Hulk? Herc

Marvel Zombies? Fun.

Horror Comics? EC.

Tadpoles? Frogs.

Kathisophobia- Fear of sitting down? Pacing.

Blank piece of paper? Opportunity.

Owl pellets? Huh?

Decapitated Dan? Head.

Fred Van Lente? Me.

Thanks so much Fred.
My pleasure!

To learn more about Fred and what he is working on please go to

Friday, April 2, 2010

Deep Discussions with Decapitated Dan: Justin Zimmerman

Welcome back kiddies. This time I have lured Justin Zimmerman into the depths to pick his brain about The Killing Jar. For those of you who don't know about The Killing Jar it is a neowestern horror story set in a small Colorado town. The story so far has been an action packed thrill ride and I don't think it will let up anytime soon. So sit back and relax as we find out why we should all be reading The Killing Jar and what the future holds for Justin and storytelling.

Decapitated Dan: Hey Justin, thanks for taking the time to talk to me about the Killing Jar.

Justin Zimmerman: No problem, Dan.

DD: Lets start off simple. Who are you and what do you do?

JZ: My name is Justin Zimmerman, and I am a 32-year-old writer and filmmaker. I’ve also been a professor, a Big Brothers / Big Sisters caseworker, and an after school counselor in my day. I am a working man. And you’ll be able to tell that I was a professor, because my answers will be ridiculously long. Sorry about that. (Mom, at least I’ll see you at the end!) Anyway, I’m on Facebook…as is The Killing Jar and my website is and you can see my shorter film work at

DD: Seems to me you have a nice background in film. Want to tell me about it?

JZ: My BA is in English with a minor in Film Criticism and my MFA is in Film Production, which is a terminal degree. I was probably one of the last classes to use entirely analog material. I shot, edited and finished on film. I recorded sound on a Nagra and mixed in an 8-track reel-to-reel sound environment. Sometimes we even used real paper to write down our thoughts! Anyway, I gravitated toward documentary and sound work in school. When I graduated, I directed a doc – the Calling – that was broadcast on national public television and a personal doc – One of Five – that won the IFP/Chicago film festival non-fiction award and was featured in film festivals all over the world. I was also working full-time as a caseworker and then as a professor. Flash forward five or so years and I was making my living working in the doc world – creating projects for the world’s largest image provider, Getty Images, for example. So, the more I was creating docs for my living the less I was interested in focusing on that creatively. So I started writing. A lot. And in 2010 I was signed to a literary agency!

DD: How has filmmaking helped and/or hurt your approach to making comics?

JZ: Film of any kind is as much about previsualizing as it is capturing. This fits remarkably well with comics. And film is an inherently collaborative medium. But I still do a great deal of pro bono doc work. Meeting people – understanding the world around you – is the key to any kind of writing, frankly.

DD: What was it that got you into comics? Reading and creating?

JZ: I grew up with comics. I instantly loved them. I remember finding ElfQuest in the library and just being sucked in. And back in the day when you could get the three packs of random comics in the daddy would pick those up for us kids. I was there for some comic changes too…watching Transformers evolve as these British folks came in and suddenly made everything super cool. And Captain America replaced. That was important. And Image. And Superman dead and Batman broken and the big DC revamp. And Spider-man clones. And my first graphic novel was Sandman: Season of Mists…and I bought every single Vertigo book I could find. I could go on and on. I love this stuff. These days I read many different kinds of books, but I follow one writer through every title…and that’s Warren Ellis.

DD: So lets talk about your book. What can you tell me about The Killing Jar?

JZ: The second feature length script I ever wrote – waaaay back in 2007 - was my roadmap for the series. I’ve always loved comics, but wanted to make sure I had a piece that would fit that storytelling aesthetic. The Killing Jar WAS that property…I could tell from day one. I also knew it was going to be a real learning experience for me. Fortunately, I’m married to a graphic designer and work full-time so I knew with budgeting, I could put out a regular book. And on the eve of our first trade paperback and into our fourth issue, here we are!

DD: Where did this idea come from?

JZ: A dark and twisted place in my head, heart or soul, evidently.

DD: Any influences that lead you to come up with this story?

JZ: I state on The Killing Jar Facebook Fan Page that: “If Sam Peckinpah directed Night of the Living Dead, if a bloody Old Testament story was ghost written by Kathryn Bigelow and John Carpenter, if God’s favorite film was The Outlaw Josey Wales...I wouldn't have written The Killing Jar.” That about sums it up.

DD: How did you bring the creative team together?

JZ: My wife was drafted. We bought all our fonts. I paid for the logo. An acquaintance of mine – Tony Wallace – was pitching an incredible animated series called Sunstorm Saga around. I saw the prepro work and asked about one of his artists and he recommended Russ without reservations. I was so impressed with Russ’ work that I paid him in advance for 6 issues…roughly half of the first series. To keep the quality of a grainy, B+W 16mm film, I decided to post all the pics straight from the pencils myself and to keep the cost down, I letter the book too. I talked my incredibly talented - but incredibly deadline wary - friend Tom into digitally inking intertitles. I recently hired a local artist to color posters for each issue. Harold’s doing a great job. And I shoot the cover photography on 35mm film myself. That’s the whole book! I’m a working guy, so budget is incredibly important. You’ll see above I paid where I felt it warranted but do quite a bit of work myself to keep the cost down. In the end, The Killing Jar was a great choice for my comic foray because the technical limitations – no color, for example – were identified at the beginning of the project and fit the aesthetics of the story. We’ve forged a great relationship with an online printer / distributor called and there you have it!

DD: The book has a good mix of action and suspense so far. Do you find that these styles are easy to write?

JZ: Well, I love the genres, but I also love writing in the 22-page vein. Part of the big problem in the film to comic world is that you’re supposed to fit the entire feature into an easily digestible 3-issue series. That’s all anyone will publish. Forget it. There’s no pacing, no style. With The Killing Jar, each issue is self-contained. But it’s part of a whole story…and that story will methodically be revealed. Characterization is SO important to this book. And what’s horror and suspense without interesting characters? Friday night at the cinema, sadly. I’d also stress to any aspiring story-bible to comic or feature to comic writers to be prepared to adapt continually. Over a third of every issue is rewritten once I get the pages in…and that’s AFTER I break my larger arcs into 22 page self-contained issues. I can’t even begin to think about how much gets cut and / or shifted during THAT process.

DD: Who is the main cast of The Killing Jar?

JZ: The first arc is all about meeting Anna, our protagonist, her dead father’s .38 police special and her little brother Michael. They live in a dying town called Saguache. Three drug-runners come through for a resupply, set their sites on her for a kind of initiation and all hell breaks loose. By the end of issue #3, a couple state troopers show up, we get our first glimpse of drug-insane townspeople and in issue #4, we start to learn what’s gone so wrong in Saguache, who’s running the show and what it’s truly going to take to survive. There’s conflict and compromise, backstabbing and violence and in the end of The Killing Jar, there’s not much of any kind of cast left. Which is how we like it in Romero / Peckinpah land…

DD: Why did you choose to go with a female lead?

JZ: Why not? Seriously, it’s incredible to me that when you decide to tell a story in these genres, females have to be sexed out centerpieces, supportive sidekicks or constantly in danger and thus continually rescued. Astute readers will see that I play around with the female in danger tropes in the first arc, but that Anna is anything but a helpless protagonist. She is a confident, thoughtful and thoroughly capable woman…like most of the women in the world. That’s not to say that she’s perfect. In fact, she will be challenged and changed by what happens throughout the comic internally and externally. And that’s not to say that The Killing Jar is hung up on the idea of political correctness. The people that want to kill Anna in the first couple issues are vitriolic and horrifying in both action and words. But she’ll stand against them, and I’d bet on her.

DD: Some are saying that this is a western / horror, do you think it fits into these categories?

JZ: Oh yeah. Neowestern, though. In other words, the Road Warrior was a Neowestern in the sense that evoked Shane so perfectly. And as far as horror goes, there are plenty of horrific happenings, but it’s as much internal as it is external. There’s plenty of social subtext with all the blood…if you’re looking for that kind of thing.

DD: What can you tell us about the future of this series?

JZ: I’ll keep writing them. They’ll keep coming. Hopefully people will buy them.

DD: Do you think there are more stories to explore within this universe?

JZ: Absolutely. In fact, I’ve already released a photography-based annual that fits in to the second arc. And while the end of The Killing Jar will be satisfying, there’s always more to tell…

DD: You have any plans on creating other titles?

JZ: Always. But it’s really important – at this stage – not to dilute too much. I’m doing an experimental little one-shot called The Robot Library that we’ll release later this year and I already published a doc / comic hybrid about the Korean War called Dr. Holman’s War in 2009. But in the comic world, my focus is on finishing The Killing Jar comic…which will be in 2012, at this rate.

DD: So what has it been like so far self-publishing this book?

JZ: Exhilarating, frustrating and educational. I went through three revised printings of the first issue alone before we felt like we were doing it right. It can be an expensive hobby, though certainly not as expensive as indie film. But my opinion has always been that if you’re doing personal creative work for the money, you’re in the wrong field. And I remember when Wayne – who used to run the comic store when I was in middle-school discovering comics – self-published his comic. He had to order like 5000 copies or something. Those days – thanks to outfits like ComiXpress – are over!

DD: Do you find that there are a lot more obstacles to overcome?

JZ: Hopefully not! I’ve had my fill.

DD: How has the fan support been so far? Do you notice more people coming on board?

JZ: We’ve been relatively quiet about the book so far because the first arc is so important to be out there. It lays the foundation for everything that follows. And we also wanted to be well on our way with issue #4, where the stronger horror elements are introduced. We’re there now. That said, we’ve received a lot of praise, criticism and strong reactions from those on board so far…and we’ve appreciated it all! Hopefully now that we’ve got a solid character base and a strong record of work behind us, people will be ready to enter the world of The Killing Jar.

DD: So why should people be reading The Killing Jar?

JZ: They shouldn’t. It’ll mess ‘em up.!

DD: Thanks so much for your time Justin.

JZ: Dan, thanks for being so supportive of indie books. I don’t know how you get to ‘em all! And Dan, could you let me get a quick shout out to my mother in here? Mom, everyone quit a couple pages ago, but I wanted to thank you for reading all the way to the end. Mom? Mom?!? Oh, the glorious life of a comic writer…

If you would like to know more about The Killing Jar and Justin please go to . If you would like to purchase issues of The Killing Jar please go to as issue #3 and the Trade Paperback will be available the first week of April. You can also meet the crew behind The Killing Jar at Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland on April 24 and 25.