EXCLUSIVE: Brea And Zane Grant Talk ‘We Will Bury You’, Future Projects, And Politics In Comics

Every so often you get the distinct privilege of interviewing someone that is just genuinely nice, down to Earth, and (for lack of a better term) knows their crap. Seldom does lightning ever strike in the same place twice, much less in the same interview, but then again seldom do you find a pair of siblings as talented as Brea and Zane Grant (“WE WILL BURY YOU”). The brother/sister combination combined to deliver one of the absolute best mini-series efforts of the year with ‘WE WILL BURY YOU’. The title was a more than successful blend of societal undertones, sexual rebellion, political unrest, and the zombie apocalypse that came out of nowhere to solidify the names of the siblings in the minds of comic book fans worldwide. It doesn’t hurt that the two are extremely friendly with a knowledge of history and literature to match. I was extremely fortunate to speak to the two this past week, and beyond the break you can read the entire interview with the duo as we talk “WE WILL BURY YOU”, ComiCon San Diego, politics, and future collaborations. Hey, what else can you expect from the conversations between 3 history buffs? Read on for the skinny!

THEoDEAD:”First of all thank you both for taking the time out of your busy schedules to do this with us. Of course this past weekend was San Diego ComiCon, and you both made it out alive, what were your thoughts on the Con this year?”

BREA:”I know a lot of people are jaded about the Comic Con experience because of all the corporate influx, but for me, it’s still a place where we get to see a lot of our friends who we really only see at places like cons. You can still connect with a lot of artists and writers one on one and I think that’s amazing. I mean, it’s a bit overwhelming, particularly during the day when you’re trying to meet up with about a million people and get through the loud, crowded floor. But it’s great. You get to see friends, meet fans, and talk comics all weekend long. Then you go home and sleep for three days.“

ZANE:”I always think it’s going to be permanent vacation, but I definitely leave exhausted. This year, I went on a date with a woman I met dressed as Batgirl and got some stuff signed. She was fun to hang out with. I like meeting new people at cons. Except for the guy getting stabbed in the eye, people were pretty accepting, and I wish we could quantify how many friends were made over the weekend, total.“

BREA:”I went on zero dates at Comic Con and still enjoyed myself.“

THEoDEAD:” Recently you wrapped up your first comic book series together, “WE WILL BURY YOU”, and the story itself has gotten a lot of praise. Before we go any further I should ask you both how this story came to fruition? What is the “origin story” of “WE WILL BURY YOU”?”

BREA:”Zane and I have worked on projects together since we were teenagers. I think that’s what happens when you grow up in a small town and your sibling is the coolest person you know. We were trying to write together and he called me up with this comic idea. We’re both comic fans so it made sense.“

ZANE:”Oddly, it was an idea I had kicked around for a while and I always thought of it as a comic. I don’t know why. I met a professor once who talked a while about Dawn of the Dead, and I liked the idea of a historical zombie story. After I left academia, I was traveling, sleeping on friend’s couches and in basements, and it was one of the projects I wanted to put together. We worked on writing comics scripts for a while. During that time, we wrote a lot of zombie stories set in the 20′s that will never see the light of day, but Mirah and Fanya came out of that.“

THEoDEAD:” The first time I ever ran a story on “WE WILL BURY YOU” I remember thinking instantly back to the famous Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev quote while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception “Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will dig you in”. So I have to ask: was that the source of inspiration for the title?”

ZANE:”It was. Originally, the geopolitical scope of our notes went on for decades and Khrushchev was going to be one of the main stories. The idea was that zombies would speed up the rise of fascism and Khrushchev was going to rise in power by fighting it. I hope someone writes some fan fiction about that, or a novella. In the end, it’s just a powerful thing to say, especially, in this case, to undead things that should be buried.“

THEoDEAD:”One of the things that I cited in my original review of the first issue as being a huge draw to the story was the major historical and sociological undertones. Brea I know that you have a Bachelors and Masters in American Studies so there seems to be a lot of that drawn into this. What made the two of you decide to go with such a layered approach to the zombie genre?”

BREA:”I should say that I’m actually the least educated in this family. Zane has two Masters degrees and has studied politics and history far more than I. When it comes to writing, though, I don’t know if Zane and I could write something that didn’t include some sort of larger political undertone. We both have backgrounds in history and politics and wanted to do something that would have a broader implication than just dead people walking around New York. Our roots are in radical politics and all of those beliefs are still valid to us today in some way. I don’t know if we could write a character devoid of political leanings. Plus, horror is a great genre to expand on any sort of sociological idea or political mindset.“

ZANE:”I think the best horror does lend itself to some political undermining or at the very least some micro-relational analysis of it’s subjects. If it doesn’t have that, it’s mostly just an action movie with too many closeups. ‘Last House on the Left’ is one example. It’s a hard movie for me to watch, but I feel like it’s trying to address the cultural divide of the time and Kent State and the violence that has become every day. There is a danger in being too heavy handed, laying it on too thick, and not trusting your reader to think. It’s a hard thing to pull off, but it’s better to try. Of course, I enjoy trashy horror devoid of that value as well. Just in a different way.“

The Opening Sequence From The Final Issue Of ‘WE WILL BURY YOU’ Illustrated By Kyle Strahm

THEoDEAD:”Another huge difference between “WE WILL BURY YOU” and its peers is that is centers around not only a lesbian couple, but also a lesbian couple that happens to have murdered a man in order to be together. I think that that actually worked to perfection for the two of you and really made the story because it added an extra depth being based in 1927 at the height of feminist movements at the time. Was this a particular subject the two of you had a vested interest in going into the story or did all that sort of come later?”

ZANE:”I stopped telling people the protagonists were lesbians after one guy asked me if they made out a lot n the book. The 1920′s represent the time of the first sexual revolution in the U.S., and we wanted to follow cultural outsiders as our survivors. One of my favorite characters in a zombie film is the trans woman in the Japanese movie ‘Wild Zero.’ It’s a strange choice for a rock and roll zombie film, but watching military and expectant mothers survive gets boring after a while. I think that’s why we wanted to include the people we did, it would just be a really different experience.“

THEoDEAD:”The two of you were very fortunate to be able to work with artist Kyle Strahm for the interior art of “WE WILL BURY YOU”, and he did a fantastic job as usual. What was the process like finding the illustrator for this project? Did you know going in that Kyle was your guy?”

BREA:”No, we originally had someone else attached for the project but he fell through. So our editor sent over a bunch of names of people he trusted and liked. We saw Kyle’s art and knew that he was our guy.“

ZANE:”Just look at the way the eyeballs explode from the heads. How could you not love his art?“

THEoDEAD:”One of the things that really drew me in right off the bat, though it pains me to say it because it makes me sound like a terrible horror nerd cliche, was the fantastic kill sequences that were all over this. Immediately the first scene that jumps to mind was the “eating out” panel of issue #1, but really there were really (I hate to say) fun kills throughout. Were these things that the two of you came up with or did Kyle help out on those?”

BREA:” Kyle played a huge role in coming up with some of the greatest kill panels. All the flying blood and gore is all him. And it was better than we could have possibly imagined.“

ZANE:”Brea actually did write the zombie bj scene. I wrote the typewriter and fire poker deaths. “

THEoDEAD:” You had a lot of great contributors to this project in a lot of ways, including on the covers. How did you get guys like Ben Templesmith on this project?”

BREA:”I met Templesmith at a con in London actually. I’m a huge fan and basically stalked him until he’d talk to me. Then I took advantage of his intoxicated state one night and asked him to be involved. I would suggest to approach all famous comic artists with a bottle of whiskey when you need something.“

Guest Spot Covers From Left To Right: “WE WILL BURY YOU” #1 Cover By Ben Templesmith, Issue #4 Cover By Nathan Fox

ZANE:”We’ve known Nate Powell for a while, so we were really excited with him working on the cover to issue 2. We used to distribute his comics through a zine and book distro we would set up at punk shows years ago. Trevor Hutchison did some great Transformer covers that were modeled after old propaganda posters, and I really like what he did for us. I really liked Nathan Fox’s work on Pigeons from Hell, and once I started looking at his other stuff I was blown away.“

BREA:”And for those people, we just asked. People in the comic community want to work on comics. Yeah, some of them are too busy and don’t have time, but a lot of them are open to helping out first-time writers. They’ve all been there and they know how tough it is. It’s nice to be around people who are just excited to create.“

THEoDEAD:”Now that the two of you have really gotten your feet wet with this project, and the reception has been so warm, where do you go from here? I know that you have quite a few film projects on the way Brea, but do the two of you have any other projects you’re planning on doing down the road?”

BREA:”We have a few we are working on with different artists. Now that we’ve started writing, we can’t really seem to stop. And we’d love to continue writing WWBY. We have three other stories for WWBY written out that take place in different places in the world.“

ZANE:”We are pitching out a neo-giallo, a neo-noir, and a not neo- 80′s urban fantasy. I’m excited about those. There are some others I can’t talk about yet too.“

THEoDEAD:”Is there anything that you would like to say to your fans before we let you go?”

BREA:” The trade paperback is out in September!“

ZANE:” Yes! And thanks for reading!“

We all like to thank both Brea and Zane for taking the time to do this interview with us and for being genuinely awesome sports. If you want to keep up with the two you can check out Brea’s Official Blog and Zane’s Official website. Also be sure to keep things locked here at Graphic Content as we continue to bring you more exclusive content every week.