For our latest exclusive interview, we were fortunate enough to be able to sit down and have a chat with the extremely busy – but extremely helpful – creative team behind upcoming Dark Horse Comics series Lady Killer, Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich.
Here’s how the conversation went;
Big Comic Page: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedules to chat with us. Okay, first thing’s first, for those of our readers who may not be aware of the series, what’s the ‘elevator pitch’ for LADY KILLER?
Jamie S. Rich: A housewife in the early 1960s moonlights as a government assassin. I’ve said it’s a little like if David Lynch decided to make an adaptation of a Norman Rockwell painting, because Joëlle is essentially adopting that very clean and attractive illustration style of the period and marrying it to grisly violence and peeking behind the curtain at all the dirty secrets that entertainment of the era often buried.
BCP: It definitely sounds like a pretty unique premise. How did the idea for the series come about in the first place?
Joëlle Jones: I think little bits of the idea have been knocking around in my head for a while. I would obsessively look for illustrators of the time and I love the costumes and the music from that era. I think it was just inevitable that I would do something set in that time period and eventually I had formed a story to tell in it. Once I did, things just fell into place from there.
BCP: Now obviously you can’t give too much away, but tell us a little bit about Josie Schuller. Based on the first issue, she definitely seems like a fairly complex protagonist.
JJ: I think her motivations as a character are pretty simple, her family is very important to her and making her household run smoothly is a priority but what makes her complicated is that while most people, I believe, have dark sides she acts upon hers and makes money from it. The contrast in personalities is what makes her so fun to write and visually stimulating to draw.
BCP: The pair of you have previously worked together on several occasions. What’s the creative process like between you after all this time, and was it any different from normal on LADY KILLER?
JSR: I’m taking the backseat this time around, as this is Joëlle’s idea and she very much wanted to get behind the wheel. So, I end up consulting sometimes as she writes, talking stuff through with her as need be, and then doing a polish on the dialogue. I think we drive our editor, Scott Allie, a little crazy because we’ve been very unconventional and have sort of figured some of it out as we go. But Joëlle writes the main plot and the first complete pass of the script.
BCP: Joëlle, you’ve previously admitted to having a bit of an obsession about vintage advertising, something your Tumblr can definitely attest to. What is it about that style that appeals to you, and what made you decide to twist it into something a little darker here?
JJ: I think I must have seen some Norman Rockwell at some point and things just spiraled out of control from there. I love the storytelling aspect of the artists of the time. The ease of the acting of each character is just lovely but I think any story I was going to tell would be dark or violent.
BCP: There’s definitely some fairly graphic violence in the first issue, but the series also seems to have a steady undercurrent of dark humour throughout. Was it important for you to strike that balance?
JSR: From day one, Joëlle laid out her plan to really go for it with the violence. If I remember right, she mentioned DEXTER as an indicator of how violent. It was important to us both that Josie’s job not be toothless, that people be genuinely surprised to see her do what she does and that it’s not very nice. We both have a pretty wicked sense of humor, you should hang out with us after a couple of drinks when we’re being catty. We both like the macabre. So, you know, a little ADDAMS FAMILY, a little of the AMERICAN PSYCHO movie.
BCP: Did you guys draw on any specific sources for inspiration when you were planning the themes and visual aesthetic of this series?
JSR: For the story side of things, I know we talked about some older Hollywood movies we liked, such as CHARADE and Hitchcock’s NOTORIOUS, in terms of the tone and how they balanced the heavy situations with some humor and kept their characters very likable even when doing rough things.
BCP: The first issue doesn’t give much away in terms of the ‘bigger picture’, although we do get to meet Peck, one of Josie’s… well, ‘colleagues’, I guess you’d call him. What can you tell us about him?
JSR: He’s her “handler,” as it were. He tells her what her assignments are, and then he is essentially the clean-up crew. There’s a boss above him, whom you meet in issue #2, but for most of the time, Josie’s only contact is Peck. He’s kind of your old Hollywood leading man type–a bit devilish, confident, a ladies man. But he’s also dangerous. As we’ll learn, he’s got other gals he manages, it’s not all joking and winking and good times.
BCP: The series is set to run for five issues. Is that the full extent of the story you guys wanted to tell, or can we expect to see more LADY KILLER down the line?
JSR: We’ve had lots of different ideas for situations these characters could get into, including lots of backstory that we haven’t even touched yet, so there is still many stories to tell. I know we both have a lot of affection for these characters. Once you start spending so much time with any good fictional creation, it can be really hard to let them go.
BCP: Laura Allred provides the (fantastic looking) colours for the series. That has to be considered something of a coup. How did her involvement come about?
JSR: I keep saying it’s like keeping it in the family, as I’ve been the Allred Family editor for years. I’m like their Mr. Tawky Tawny or something. So we asked. She was our #1 choice, and we got her. It’s been an absolute joy.
BCP: And finally, the obligatory shilling question. Aside from LADY KILLER, what else do you guys have in the pipeline that we should be looking out for?
JSR: I’m going to have a lot of books coming out in the first half of the year. In fact, the same day that LADY KILLER #1 comes out, you’ll also be be able to grab THE DOUBLE LIFE OF MIRANDA TURNER #5 and the first chapter of ARES & APHRODITE: LOVE WARS off of Comixology. MIRANDA TURNER is the superhero comic I do with George Kambadais and Monkeybrain, whereas ARES & APHRODITE is a romance book I’ve been working on with Megan Levens. Oni Press is publishing that as a book in April.
Megan and I are also collecting our MADAME FRANKENSTEIN series as one trade paperback from Image in February.
I should note, all of these books, including LADY KILLER, are being lettered by Crank! He’s such a great member of the team. He’s basically lettered everything I’ve done since IT GIRL & THE ATOMICS, and he’s got such a great sense of how to arrange balloons on a page, he’s invaluable.
JJ: I have BRIDES OF HELHEIM out with Oni Press written by Cullen Bunn colored by Nick Filardi and also lettered by Crank!
Lady Killer #1 goes on sale January 7th. Keep your eyes glued to the Big Comic Page over the next couple of days for an advance review of the first issue.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
Article Archive: Ceej Says