Ed Brisson and Johnnie Christmas are weaving a pre-apocalyptic tale with their latest work from Image Comics, “Sheltered”. The story takes place in a survivalist compound known as Safe Haven, and the inhabitants believe the apocalypse is extremely nigh.
With issue #3 about to drop this week, writer Ed Brisson (or “Bri$$”, as he likes to be called) sat down with Bloody-Disgusting to talk about apocalypse conspiracies, survivalist training, and his favourite horror movies.
BD: Alright, Brisson, I know you’ve done this a hundred times already, but give us the Sheltered pitch for people who don’t know about the book yet.
Ed Brisson: Sheltered is about group of survivalists who set up an off-the-grid society in order to prepare for any end-of-world or societal collapse type of scenario, only to find themselves taken out by the one thing they never could have suspected – the one threat that they, in fact, created.
BD: You mentioned in your interview with Multiversity that doing a “pre-apocalypse” story adds a certain tension to the story. So far we haven’t heard much about the impending apocalypse. Will the apocalypse come into play?
EB: It will. What it is and HOW it comes into play, I won’t say because that’s going to be part of the fun of the book. But, there is something very specific that these kids are afraid of and we’ll find out just what that is before too long.
But, the story is really about how the children of Safe Haven deal with the threat of the apocalypse more than it is about the apocalypse itself.
BD: This is obviously your take on all these apocalypse theories and conspiracies that are out there. What attracts you to this kind of stuff?
EB: I’m not sure. I’ve always had a fascination with apocalyptic theories and can’t get enough of post-apoc films, no matter how bad (and they’re usually REALLY bad). I wish there was some sort of childhood moment or event that I could point to to explain it, but it’s been an area of interest for as long as I can remember.
BD: Why do you think we, as a society, are so obsessed with the end of the world right now?
EB: I’m not sure. I know that in 2012 everyone was obsessed with the Mayan Calendar and how it apparently predicted our demise – despite so many flaws with the argument.
With environmental concerns like global warming and economies collapsing all over the place, there is a fear that humanity could be at its end or that societies as we know them will break down. Sure, it’s mostly hyperbole, but it’s hard not to get them impression when it’s all you see on the news.
BD: You must have done loads of research on survivalist training and some more… violent things as well. How do you research? Do you have any gems that you really wanted to put it but just couldn’t fit?
EB: I read a lot of books on the topic, watch any documentaries I can find and listen to a ton of podcasts. There are a ton of podcasts by preppers and survivalists, which is great. So much info, straight from the source.
I’ve emailed with a couple of preppers, but found that they tend to be pretty guarded.
As for gems that I haven’t been able to fit…I read a long document on how to dispose of bodies during the winter months. It was something like 10 pages long and outlined a multitude of ways that you could dispose of bodies if you needed to. The thrust of the article was that if some sort of pandemic hit, you would NEED to properly dispose of the bodies or risk exposure to you and the rest of the group.
In the end, I DID use some of info in there, but there were so many different ways that just weren’t applicable to the story.
BD: **SPOILER** Teenagers slaughtering their parents is pretty messed up. Were you worried about it being “too much” at any point? As a writer, are you ever shocked by your own ideas?
EB: When we first pitched the idea, Johnnie and I were pretty sure that it would be too dark, that a publisher wouldn’t touch it. But, we both really believed in the story and so pitched it anyway. Luckily Image saw the potential.
As for it being “too much”, I don’t worry about that as much. I think it would all depend on how it’s handled. I mean, sure the kids of Safe Haven kill their parents, but it’s not gratuitous. The kids aren’t bathing in the blood of their dead parents. It was something they did out of a perceived need of necessity.
BD: Lucas is a demented kid, but he is also very much a product of his father. What can you tell us about him and his vision for Safe Haven?
EB: You nailed it on the head – he’s definitely a product of his father. He will go to any extreme to ensure the safety of his people. He’s not afraid to make hard decisions and really believes that what he’s doing is for the best of the group.
As we move forward, his mask starts to slip a little, but his sights are always set on long term survival. His methods may be a little on the harsh side, though.
BD: I kind of want to date Victoria. Is that weird?
EB: Yes. She’s a fictional character. And 17. You could go to fictional jail.
BD: You and Johnnie are co-creators. You say this book has been something you wanted to do for a while. How did you guys develop it into what it is today?
EB: Johnnie and I have been working on this idea for just over a year now. Basically, we conceived of it over a six pack of beer. Once we had the core concept down, we talked things out and had a rough overview of what would happen – including how the book would end – and then I scuttled off and started writing.
Johnnie and I are lucky in that we live pretty close and can meet up for a beer or coffee or ice cream or whatever the case may be and talk things over as I’m writing or as Johnnie is drawing, so we’re constantly able to keep up on what’s happening.
BD: Since Johnnie’s not around, if you could say one thing about him, what would it be?
EB: I want to say something mean, but I’ve got nothing. He’s a great dude. A dream collaborator.
BD: This one is totally unrelated, but I know you watch a lot of horror movies. Could you give us a top five?
EB: Hrm…this is tough. So many films and distilling it down to five…ugh. Why you doing this to me, Lonnie??? Ok, off the top of my head and in no particular order:
•Night of the Living Dead (original): One of my all time favourite films. Scared the shit out of me as a child. Still just as effective today and features one of the most heart wrenching endings.
•An American Werewolf in London: I’ve probably seen this film more than any other. I’m not sure how or why my parents would let me watch this so often, but they did. Bar none, the best werewolf film ever made.
•City of the Walking Dead: An Umberto Lenzi masterpiece! This is by no means a “good” film, in fact, it’s pretty fucking awful, but man…it is SO MUCH fun. Zombies run, wield knives and hiss! The walking dead have a larger emotional range than Hugo Stiglitz, our bearded hero. It’s the perfect film to put on and watch with friends. Makes a great double feature with Zombie Holocaust.
•Street Trash: 80s gross-out horror/comedy about contaminated liquor causing drunks to explode and/or melt. Gets pretty rough at times, but mostly hits for me.
•Black Christmas (original): This film still terrifies the shit out of me. A well made slasher that relies more on tension and creepy POV shots than it does gore. Super effective with some literal piss-your-pants moments and a great twist ending.