Interview: AWBW's 'Disturbing' And 'Thought Provoking' 'The Killing Jar'
Aug 25, 2020
Interview, as told to Troy-Jeffrey Allen
A small Colorado town. Three drug runners with a van filled with product. Two police officers investigating suspicious activity. A heroic young woman with a violent past, an innocent little brother and her dead father's .38 police special. And a throng of ravenous townspeople out of their minds with drug lust. This is The Killing Jar (JUN200976).
A Wave Blue World's The Killing Jar is a wild ride. So wild that Don Murphy, the producer of Michael Bay's Transformers movies (a pretty wild ride in their own right) deemed it "the most fun you can have legally." That's a bold statement. And writer Justin Zimmerman and artist Russ Brown are here to back it up. In the following discussion, the creative team behind The Killing Jar explains why their cross between Preacher, La Femme Nikita, and Dawn of the Dead is a senses shattering experience! Keep reading.
Justin Zimmerman: I was working on a feature length adaptation of a Stephen King piece and Transformers producer Don Murphy challenged me to write something from scratch. I came up with THE KILLING JAR, and decided to tackle it as a sequential comic. I “Brian K. Vaughaned” every chapter, leading up to a crazy cliffhanger. I would not recommend your first indie comic experience to be an over 200-page original graphic novel, but it was what the story needed to be. And fortunately, I met Russ.
Russ Brown: I'd never dedicated any real time to comic book art. I'd been a reader, and had dabbled in character creation, but for something this ambitious, I had to learn a whole new skillset. We BOTH did, and we dove in headfirst January, 2008. Three screaming freeway hours away from each other, workshopping Justin’s creation into the beautiful and terrifying book that exists now.
Justin Zimmerman: It took YEARS. I wanted an old-school black and white film look, so we shot from the pencils. I digitally inked and toned every page, and lettered to boot. And every page was something we learned from. I wanted a strong but fallible female lead. I wanted survival-horror. I wanted neowestern. I wanted blood.
Russ Brown: 1,479 individual email threads over years of collaboration. No stone remained unturned with Justin. He was both wide-open to creative suggestions and madly specific when it counted. He didn't simply learn how to write a comic book script, he learned how to design, edit, print, distribute, and advertise a book. And man, they are beautiful books.
Justin Zimmerman: It is pretty remarkable that after all of this time, it’s finally been remastered and readied for the direct market thanks to A WAVE BLUE WORLD. It’s been out in the book market for a bit, but a graphic novel isn’t real to me unless it’s on a comic book store shelf, and on August 26th, that’s where THE KILLING JAR will finally be! I’m so excited people are going to be seeing Russ’ art the way it was always meant to be seen.
Russ Brown: It’s a hand-made labor of love, and after 12 years, still alive and delivering its vicious, mindless mobs and the horrors of small-town secrets with the meanest of kicks. It's always had a strange resonance with its readers, and it always manages to catch passing eyes on the shelf or the convention tables. Now everyone gets to find out why.
Justin Zimmerman: I’ve been so careful with THE KILLING JAR. It has such an important place in my heart. It’s always circled as a property, but I’d never let it happen unless I was involved to help shepherd the production along. To me, it loves on the page, first and foremost… and it’s worth fighting for to keep that original vision – and Anna and co. – intact. I love each and every single one of those characters – even the worst of ‘em – but it’s Anna’s story, period.
Russ Brown: It's a hard day to come to the realization that there is sickness inside your home. It's harder still when you know that you might be the only one to see it, that you might have to fight your way out, or be a shield for your loved ones. Anna is that person in THE KILLING JAR. She is neither hopeless nor cynical. She is someone who is constantly underestimated, and in spite of everything she endures, is strong and willful. And while surrounded by corruption, brutality and desperate addiction, she is utterly capable.
Justin Zimmerman: What’s next for THE KILLING JAR? That’s up to the readers. I hope they enjoy it as much as I do to this day. It’s in their hands, literally, now!
Killing Jar (JUN200976) is available now at your local comic shop.