Jim Zub might be best known for his thrilling fantasy work in series like “Skullkickers” and “Pathfinder”, but he consistently working to defy comic readers expectations with each series he writes. He’s dabbled in the supernatural in his Image Comics series “Wayward”, but Zub is diving head-first into the bloody waters of the horror genre with his new series “Glitterbomb”, which debut in comic shops on September 7, 2016 from Image Comics.
“Glitterbomb” is a Hollywood horror story that centers around an aging actor Farrah Durante, who finds herself struggling to earn a living after being typecast by her previous success. After an audition goes horribly wrong, Farrah becomes possessed by a supernatural force that has a thirst for blood. The series explores the highs and lows of Hollywood and our obsessive celebrity-driven culture.
Bloody-Disgusting caught up with Jim Zub how “Glitterbomb” has allowed him to confront some of his own hopes and fears, as well as how you open yourself up for rejection when you launch a new creator-owned series.
Glitterbomb is quite a stylistic departure for you as a writer. How has it been diving into the horror genre and doing a book that people wouldn’t come to expect from you?
I absolutely love writing action and comedy, but diving into the deep end on something really different and pushing myself into uncomfortable areas I haven’t confronted before has been invigorating for my writing as a whole. I’m nervous and excited for people to follow along with this horror-tragedy and see how it all comes together.
You had mentioned that the series grew out of your own fear of failure and fame. Can you elaborate a bit about that a bit, because when you talk about comic book writers you think they have this amazing job, but there is a tremendous amount of pressure coming at you from all sides (Deadlines, fan reception, and sales). What was the trigger that inspired you enough to want to really examine that fear in a book?
Writing comics as career, is wonderful and I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to do this and contribute to so many great projects but, as you said, there are some weird pressures built into it too. Like any creative endeavor, you put yourself into it and that means you open yourself up to being hurt, rejected, and failing. That’s the challenge of making something new.
I had a few setbacks in my creative career that rocked me pretty hard and they got me thinking about the ‘success myth’ we’ve built up. Stories about destiny, one-of-a-kind heroes, and one in a million long shots that inevitably pay off. What happens to everyone else in those stories? There’s visceral material all about the other 999,999 that don’t get to be perfect or special. There’s a nasty reality we’ve all felt when we don’t get what we imagined we deserve. Setting that kind of story in Hollywood, where the highs and lows of rich and poor, famous and obscure, important or washed up are so pronounced seemed like the perfect fit.
You do a lot of Comic Book Conventions, where you often see celebrities that have had their fleeting moment of fame and they are attempting to stretch that 15 minutes just a little longer. Did any of your experiences on the convention circuit provide you with any inspiration for Farrah’s back story?
Absolutely. In issue 2 you’ll get a glimpse at the sci-fi show Farrah used to be a part of and it echoes that celebrity nostalgia you see at conventions. I’ve been to almost 200 conventions since I started hitting the ‘circuit’ in 2002 and it’s a fascinating microcosm of fame and frustration that you see behind the curtains. The outpouring of excitement and intensity of fan culture is wonderful, but it’s so localized and built around such specific character moments, that’s got to be utterly strange for any actor.
When you read issue #1 you are immediately drawn into Farrah Durante’s world and feel the pressure cooker that her life has become. Her reaction to this insanely frightening situation being possessed with a demon creature is what makes this book compelling. How much time was spent developing the world and Farrah’s back-story in the entertainment world?
I did a lot of reading about the Hollywood that happens off camera. The weird relationship between studios, production staff, actors, representation, and media. A lot of that doesn’t immediately factor into Glitterbomb’s first story arc, but it all informs the bigger picture and helped me get a feel for how difficult maintaining a career in Hollywood could be and the kinds of cracks people can fall into. I’m hoping we can dig into other aspects of production in future story arcs to broaden some of those themes even further down the road.
Adding to the grounded reality of Glitterbomb, we have essay material in the back of each issue that delves deeper into what happens off camera. Holly Raychelle Hughes used to work as Producer in Hollywood and the material she covers in our back matter adds gravity to the lead comic story.
The supporting cast seems to be a big part of this book, including Farrah’s son. What can you tell us about the role they play in the book?
Kaydon and Marty are deeply affected by what’s happening to Farrah. Marty’s home life is chaotic and Hollywood is an impossibly hard place to raise a kid. Kaydon is looking for a way out of her own situation and thinks Farrah may have the key to providing that, not realizing that Farrah’s own troubles are far more complicated and horrifying than she could imagine.
The artist for this series is newcomer Djibril Morissette-Phan. Tell us how you found him and what made him the perfect match for Glitterbomb?
Marguerite Sauvage (artist on DC Bombshells) is a good friend of mine and when I was at Montreal Comic Con last year she asked me to give Djibril a portfolio critique. When I’m not writing comics I teach at an art college here in Toronto called Seneca, so I have a lot of experience reviewing student work and giving feedback. I expected to see a typical student’s comic portfolio and instead was blown away by the quality of Djibril’s work. In the end, my portfolio review was pretty straight forward – “We should do a book together.” That was that.
Djibril is one of the most skilled young artists I’ve ever seen. At his age most artists are still struggling to deliver consistent professional quality, while he’s already putting the kind of nuanced storytelling and emotion in his pages I’d expect to see from an industry veteran. He immediately understood the mix of pathos and textured reality I wanted for Glitterbomb and he’s been delivering his A-game right from the first page. Watching his skills grow throughout the process has been a thrill.
The color palette by K. Michael Russell for this series is quite unique, and the colors really set off the tone and the mood for the book. How did you come up with a palette to match the dark tone of the narrative and visuals?
I didn’t ask for a specific palette. That’s all Kurt. I set the scenes in my writing and explained what I wanted in terms of mood – gritty, grounded, bleak – and he did the rest. I love that he adds to the atmosphere without over-rendering Djibril’s delicate line work.
This is a creator-owned book through Image Comics and you’ve been drumming up publicity for the book. How do you get people excited enough to pick up the first issue, but not reveal too much about the plot?
It’s definitely a challenge. We get saturated with articles and media day after day, so standing out amongst the pack can be really difficult. Most of my books have had a simple verbal hook; Skullkickers was “A buddy cop movie slammed into Conan”, Wayward was “Buffy in Japan”. In this situation, I felt like the visuals say more than I ever could. Djibril’s iconic imagery and the emotion he evokes in Farrah’s face drives home the emotion I’m going for. Those first 3 pages of issue 1 convinced Eric Stephenson that Glitterbomb was a good fit for Image and I hope they grab readers and retailers the same way.
While you are launching Glitterbomb, you also have Wayward deep into its run over at Image. What can you tell us about that book and where it’s heading?
The fourth arc of Wayward begins in late September and we’re roaring onward with big action and drama, as our readers expect. The group has been split up so we’re toggling between two very different locations, setting up new challenges for Rori and the crew while broadening the mythic ideas that run underneath everything else we’ve done so far with the series.
“Glitterbomb” #1 hits comic book stores and Comixology on September 7th, 2016. Pre-order “Glitterbomb” from your local comic shop now using Diamond ID: JUL160682.