Slayer Comic Crushes The Corrupt And Criminal

 

by Vince Brusio

Metal and comics go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Don’t believe us? Check out how KISS was pouring their own blood into a vat of ink so that they could become superheroes in the 70s via Marvel Comics. Bands over the years ranging from Megadeth to the symphonic Within Temptation have carried the torch since this time, but the final death blow has just been listed in the November PREVIEWS catalog. Writer Jon Schnepp hits the mother lode when he gets the green light from Dark Horse Comics to create Slayer: Repentless #1 (NOV160013), which unleashes a 3-issue mini-series based on the band’s videos and same-named album title. Read what Jon has to say about this new horror comic that promises to be nothing less than…brutal.

Slayer: Repentless #1 (NOV160013) is in comic shops January 25.

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Vince Brusio: Jon, you’re no stranger to bones breaking and metal banging, but how did you land such a sweet gig writing Slayer: Repentless #1 (NOV160013)? Give us the backstory on what atrocities were committed in the name of Slayer so that you could pen the story for one of thrash metal’s founding fathers.

Jon Schnepp: A few years back, while I was directing and producing the cult hit Adult Swim animated series Metalocalypse (for which I also designed the Dethklok band and edited, storyboarded, and composited most of the first two seasons), I teamed up with Brendon Small to make these Dethklok comics published by Dark Horse. Eric Powell (The Goon) had already done a one-shot crossover, and the team knew what a sweaty comic book nerd I’ve always been, so the chance to write up stories for Dethklok in comic form was a natural fit. I went ahead and plotted out all three books, Small approved them, and then they went off to get scripted by Jeremy Barlow and drawn by Lucas Marangon. The series was a hit: it sold out, was done as a hardcover, and then that sold out! Now it’s seriously OOP and impossible to find! Chris Warner, the editor on the Dark Horse series (and a true metalhead), remembered one of my gory stories that I told him about a music video idea I wanted to do for Cannibal Corpse, as well as some other pretty violent stories of serious retribution, and I guess that stuck with him. He contacted me to see if I was interested in going full dark and writing a Slayer comic, with none of the humor that I added into the Dethklok comics, but all of the brutal blood and gory violence.

Vince Brusio: What does Slayer mean to you as a brand, and how did you bring that brand to this comic book? And why will such butchery be a good thing for synergy between the comics and metal communities?

Jon Schnepp: Slayer are the Godfathers of Thrash Metal, and staying true to that in the comic world is very important to me. Their music has always pushed boundaries, fearlessly talking about issues that have plagued all humankind across every culture since the dawn of man. To scrape away at the veneer that covers life’s surface and stare into its void — that is what Slayer has always done. I did my best to go into the darkness with that same fearlessness. I think metal and comics go hand-in-hand, especially in the realms of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Album covers that open up the mind’s eye to other worlds and showcase that creativity are just like comic book covers — a tease and a dare to come along and go on the journey. I feel that both comic book readers and metal music listeners have always operated and embraced that which exists outside of the norm, and in this rebellion found a certain unity to the ideas that are covered in both music and the printed page. This synergy has always been there, and we’ve seen this symbiotic relationship grow from Heavy Metal magazine to my show Metalocalypse, and we have really just begun to scratch the surface.

Vince Brusio: Let’s take a tour bus trip through the terrible territory that will be the plot structure for this comic. From the moment we step off the bus, enter the arena to plug into the amps and strike the first chord, what unfolds for the story’s main character(s)?  

Jon Schnepp: I’m basing the story off the incredible tales told by director BJ McDonnell, who wrote and directed the three incredible interlinked music videos for Slayer from the Repentless album. This is a gory road trip of horror, dealing with the modern horror of prejudice, racism, and violence. We have families torn apart by hatred, and this comic covers that and then some, with brutal, bloody consequences, in the hyper-reality of the world of Slayer.

Vince Brusio: Who first deserves death? Give us the dirt on the body count for this book. Please don’t tell us there’s a happy ending. Don’t say it! This is Slayer. And the book ties in to the band’s latest album (Repentless) from Nuclear Blast. Can we get a peek at the carnage factor? Will it rival the gore factor of the official Repentless video?

Jon Schnepp: Are you joking? Nobody dies in this comic; they all just hang out in the rainbow room and drink each other’s Slurpees. Seriously. There is death, there is gore, there is extreme violence. Bloody bodies are stacking up from the very first page, and every death has a consequence, every action a reaction, and every character a purpose. This story is about family, and what ties them and separates them from each other and the world around them. The body count is high, and it’s there because of horrible decisions that have been made by every single one of the characters involved. Nobody is innocent, and everybody eventually pays for that, most likely in a horrifying way. If you loved the three videos by BJ as much as I did, you will be very satisfied with these comic books.

Vince Brusio: Why are you proud of this book? What can you tell us about it that shows us that you gave it your all to make it something that melts people where they stand? How did you go thermonuclear for this book, and how did you get the band’s blessing for this four-color Armageddon?

Jon Schnepp: Besides trail-dipping the innards of the blanched goat god Meskephantos, I honored the band and their decades of darkness by scouring their lyrics and incorporating these themes into the story line, and baking their songs subtly into the pages, so that the feeling embodies what you might think about while listening to the band. I listened to Slayer nonstop while writing the three issues and found it endlessly energizing in the midnight hours. The challenge for myself was to keep everything deadly serious and in the tone of the videos as well as the overall tone of what Slayer has created over the past few decades. The third issue really goes into brutality overdrive, as everything comes to a severed-head climax, literally raining blood. Having worked with Gary Holt directing videos for his band Exodus, and having appeared in a short film from Slayer’s World Painted Blood, I was very pleased to speak with Tom Araya about my process in writing the comic at this year’s SDCC, and he was really excited about it, as was the rest of the band. Play Slayer really loud while you read the first issue for the maximum brain-melting effect!

Visit Slayer on Facebook.
Slayer: Repentless available from Nuclear Blast.

 

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