The upcoming comic We Kill the Dead (IndieGoGo) is set in a world where movie slashers from different films co-exist. Since Dread Central’s last story with creator John Lepper, it has been coming along nicely, as he explains.
Dread Central: So it’s been a while since your last interview with Dread Central, how have things been progressing since?
John Lepper: Well, we are making very good headway. We just wrapped up the intro part of the first issue which sees the SSTB kill a slasher named Smiley, an undead killer in Georgia who sports a Chelsea grin. It opens like any slasher movie. A girl comes to camp, finds her friends murdered, killer comes out, chases her, she ever-so-clichely trips, and he is just about to kill her. Then a team of agents rappel down from a helicopter above, save the girl, and kill Smiley like nothing! Kind of shows the concept of the story. We’re 7 pages in now, I believe, counting the cover. We’re just about to introduce the character of Joanna, one of the main protagonists.
DC: Sounds good, and I understand that you earned a Guinness World Record?
JL: It’s as good as ours. As soon as we are published we will make it official. We have 18 slashers from all different movies crossing over in one comic. It took New Line 20 years to bring 2 slashers together in Freddy Vs Jason. Seriously, look it up. That movie was in some stage of development for close to 2 decades. I am bringing 18 together in about 12 months. This is the most separately owned characters to ever appear side by side in a comic book. By a lot!
DC: Congratulations. Was copyright an issue?
JL: No, most of the owners were very excited and actually thanked me for the opportunity! Even characters are big as Stitches, who required 4 different people to sign off on the usage if I recall, had owners who loved the idea. The only one who took some convincing was our mystery 18th A lister, but they are pretty cool with it too. I just have to run everything by them step by step before publishing. They want to make sure I stay true to their established mythos, which I can understand. Now, there were other characters we did not get where, yes, rights became an issue. Scarecrow from the 2002 film of the same name seemed like a sure bet at one point. 2 of the 3 rights holders were all on board. But the last one said she was not sure on the rights and since I wasn’t paying her anything she couldn’t be bothered to check. And WWE gave me a definitive no on Jacob Goodnight unfortunately.
DC: So the film is like a love letter to the slasher genre? It’s kind of like The Avengers with all the established characters coming together?
JL: Oh, for sure! The book is FULL of references! A lot of the big name slashers I did not even try to get cameos for simply because 1. I wasn’t about to fork over a few grand and 2. most of them are already licensed to other comic book companies. But there are little nods to most of them in there.
And yes, I liken it to The Avengers in a couple ways. For one, yes, all of these characters are now being seen together for the first time ever! And, secondly, I am in some ways taking inspiration from the movie adaption of Avengers. This isn’t just horror, I am also making it a truly fantastical story that is just as much action.
DC: I understand that all the slashers come into contact with a government agency?
JL: Yes, that would be the aforementioned SSTB or Supernatural Special Tactics Bureau. One of my other favorites genres is military horror, like Outpost or Dog Soldiers. The best trained humans vs things that just simply go beyond human. So, these guys are specially trained and tasked to take down undead or otherwise supernatual slashers. The team leader Nathan Scrimm, the more than slightly deranged Agent Cooper, and the new recruit Joanna are the main protagonists of the story.
DC: So we’ll be seeing some soldier vs. slasher action?
JL: Oh yes. So much. It’s the main conflict of the story.
Can you talk about the artwork?
JL: I do not do the art. I sadly couldn’t draw to save my life. Art is being done by Bryan Revell and lettering is being done by Alex Giles.
DC: From what I’ve seen the art looks impressive.
JL:Oh, yes. Bryan is VERY talented. He’s very passionate about the project and is a huge asset! Folks should check out his other project, “The Unseen”, which he wrote and did the art for.
DC: And are you working on anything else?
JL: Oh, sooo much! lol. I own and write for horror news website theblood-shed.com, I am exec producer for the first ever Romanian found footage film “Be My Cat: A Film For Anne” which is current;y making the festival circuit and exec producer for upcoming mothman horror film “Moth” out of Hungary. I am in the early planning stages for a horror video game and also a slasher film which may tie into this comic.
DC: Well I think that just about wraps it up unless there’s anything else you’d like to add?
JL: Yes, I would like to add that we are currently funding to make sure the book is released in a timely manner. It’ll happen either way, make no mistake, but we could be talking a 6-12 month difference in release date. I am paying for art out of pocket, our goal covers publishing costs. We have TONS of amazing perks, from simply preordering the book to being written in as a slasher or SSTB agent! We are right now at $3115 of our $8000 goal with 22 days to go, so we need everyone’s help! Our goal is to have the first issue of 4 released by January. So, if the readers want to see this made, plaease contribute or at least share the campaign!