Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Back in March, Zuda’s monthly competition winner was a post-apocalyptic tale of biker chicks in Las Vegas fighting a cross-dressing Elvis. Scorched earth, water tower burned up to the ground, zombies runnin’ all around … it was pure chaos and pure magic (heh). The first season of The Black Cherry Bombshells wrapped up last month, and I caught up with the writers, Johnny Zito and Tony Trov, to find out if we’d seen the last of the Bombshells. (Short answer: We haven’t).
Thanks to Johnny and Tony for taking the time to answer my questions. The artwork up top is by Sheldon Vella, creator of the Zuda strip SuperTron. Other art from the strip is by artist Sacha Borisich and colorist John Dallaire.
JK: Let’s start with the news — I understand that your The Black Cherry Bombshells webcomic is headed from the computer screen to the printed page, correct?
Johnny Zito: Heck yes. The Black Cherry Bombshells are going to print, along with a few other Zuda titles over the next two or three years.
Tony Trov: Bayou and High Moon are up first. The Black Cherry Bombshells should follow in 2010ish, depending on scheduling.
Johnny: There are a few other titles set to go analog, but those creators can spill their good news themselves.
JK: I also hear that even though the first season of Bombshells wrapped up recently, we’ll be seeing more of them on the Zuda site in the future.
Tony: Our first season of 60 strips just ended on New Year’s Eve.
Johnny: It’s very satisfying to read all 60 pages together.
Tony: We did get the go ahead for a second season. We’re putting that together now.
Johnny: Our artist Sacha Borisich and colorist John Dallaire are both coming back to work on it, too. So, it should retain the same “Powerpuff Girls on acid” look.
Tony: Speaking of acid; we’re doing flashbacks this season. There’s a lot of history between when we met The Black Cherry Bombshells and when the Zombie Apocalypse first occurred. Season II is going to explore some of that.
Johnny: Plus! – Rocket sauce, Grindhouse style, Season II poster by SuperTRON creator and Australian Comic Book Ambassador Sheldon Vella.
Tony: Dirt bikes! Vrooommmm!
JK: So backing up a little bit, where did the original idea come from?
Johnny: Speaking of acid … the original idea came from a talking velvet painting.
Tony: Exactly. The Black Cherry Bombshells is about ultra-violent girl gangs fighting for survival in a world where every man on Earth has been mutated into a flesh eating zombie. The whole thing takes place in a post apocalyptic Las Vegas ruled by a kung-fu crime lord. She’s a cross-dressing Elvis impersonator, the woman they call The King.
Johnny: We were looking to write women who weren’t just the “girlfriend” or the “wife.” We want to write women like action heroes.
Tony: The obvious solution was a zombie virus carried on the Y chromosome.
Johnny: Mix in some of our bigger influences — Philly Roller Girls, the music of The Go! Team and Asia Argento … and that’s how you make BCB stew.
JK: Why did you guys and your fellow creators decide to submit it to Zuda?
Johnny: I can’t speak for everyone, but I was very attracted to the idea that DC Comics was opening a web imprint. I liked that it was open submission and creator-owned. They came to play on the internet, and they’re playing by the internet’s rules.
Tony: And all those webcomic fan girls. w00t!
Johnny: It’s going to be really interesting when we’re talking about the first DC print character to go digital. Like Blue Beetle might not be cost effective as a monthly. Maybe webcomics and collected editions are the way it’s all going.
Tony: Besides, the internet is the only place it’s worth being famous. I just bought a Dark Horse/MySpace Comics trade the other day at our new local shop RKO South. All those comics were free online, and I liked so many of them so much that I had to own them.
JK: How does the collaboration between you and Tony work? Do you split the writing, or is it more organic than that?
Tony: I do all of my writing with a space pen. It writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, over wet and greasy paper, at any angle, in extreme temperature ranges and space.
Johnny: I use a pencil. It also writes in space.
Tony: We spend a lot of time yelling and not really listening to each other.
Johnny: I always reject the first few ideas Tony throws at me to keep him on his toes.
Tony: They aren’t so much story ideas as they are insults to Zito’s ancestry.
Johnny: Whatever we don’t both hate is vomited on to the page and shaped into a script.
Tony: We keep a lot of notes; Moleskine’s piled to the heavens.
Johnny: All the good ideas are mine.
Tony: All the sexy ideas are mine.
JK: Just to remind folks, how does the Zuda deal work, once you win one of the competitions?
Tony: We won in March 2008, and they signed us for 60 screens with an option for renewal.
Johnny: The option being theirs.
JK: Do you have any advice for creators looking to enter the competition at Zuda?
Tony: Promote. Promote. Promote.