Garth Ennis stepped away from the “Crossed” series for a bit, but is returning to the book in March with the release of the monumental “Crossed: Badlands” #50. In true violent fashion, Garth is set to take fans back to the beginning where it all began and the “Crossed” virus was unleashed.
Joining Garth for this upcoming arc is artist Christian Zanier, who illustrated Christos Gage’s Crossed arc, which told the harrowing tale of Oliver, a traitorous human only interested in his own survival. Gage and Zanier also introduced us to the villainous alpha Crossed – Smokey, who brought a new horrifying element to the book; intelligence.
Bloody-Disgusting caught up with Christian Zanier to discuss his work on “Crossed” and offered some insight into what fans can expect from the upcoming seven part “Crossed” epic known as “Patient Zero”.
What can you tell us about the upcoming “patient Zero” arc that you have coming up with Garth Ennis?
Christian Zanier: Well without giving away any spoilers, it’s basically how the Crossed epidemic started. It has the three main characters from Garth’s last run on Crossed Badlands, which are the military soldiers. It’s them and how they got into that situation and why they were so deadest on trying to end it all. They weren’t directly involved in creating the Crossed virus, but they were involved. It also introduces a couple new characters that were involved that didn’t make it to the end, and we show how they tried to stop it. Everything becomes chaotic and the story evolves from there.
BD: What is it like working with Garth Ennis and how do you approach it from an artistic standpoint to put your own spin on these characters?
CZ: Well they sent me copies of the book, so I could get to know the characters and have a reference point. The characters in our story will look a little different than they did when they last appeared in the pages of Crossed. I’ve never worked with Garth before, but he puts just enough on the page. I find that some writers don’t visualize enough when they write and they end up with too much. Garth allows his artists some leeway to play around with layouts and he just tells you what he wants to see. He gives his artists a lot freedom with how they draw a page.
BD: Crossed is an extreme horror book and it takes things to some pretty dark places. When you draw these extreme depictions of violence are there things that are off limits or do you strive to push the boundaries a little?
CZ: Nothing is off limits. I’m pretty open and nothing really shocks me. There are some things that I am a little bit uncomfortable with, but not extreme violence or the sexual content. Some things like the killing of babies can be a little bit much, but again in depends on how they are killed and in what context to the overall story. If it’s in the book then I’m not going to say, “Oh my god this is disgusting and I’m not drawing this.” The act has to be story driven and the violence can’t drive the story. The story has to drive the violence.
BD: You worked with Christos Gage on one of my favorite arcs of Crossed. What was it like working with him and developing the character of Smokey?
CZ: That story was a bit of a departure and when I finally got my script I was extremely happy with it. It was really a story about someone that was desperate to survive at all costs. That to me seemed more realistic and to have the characters do whatever it took to survive was great. As for Smokey, they didn’t really go too in-depth describing what he would look like and he just came to me. The description basically just a hulking guy in a fireman suit, and when I read that I immediately started to think of like a bodybuilder. From there everything else with like the axe just kind of fell into place.
BD: I loved how that Crossed arc added a new dimension to the characters and showed that they can be intelligent beings rather these mindless killing machines…
CZ: It reminded me a lot of “Land of the Dead” where the same thing was happening. So when I envisioned Smokey I sort of based him around the main zombie in that movie.
BD: What sorts of things inspire you from the horror world?
CZ: I’m a horror fan so when I saw all the violence and gore that needed to be depicted it was right up my alley.
BD: What’s next for you?
CZ: Well right now my schedule is really tight and I’m concentrating on Crossed at the moment. I have my own creator-owned book called “Banana Games” that I had to put on hiatus, because it was a lot of work and it requires a lot more of time. So, right now I’m concentrating on this upcoming Crossed arc with Garth Ennis and then we’ll see what happens.