Inside Look: Killapalooza #1

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You probably didn't see this coming from a writer whose biggest DC project to date is Robin, but Adam Beechen takes off the kid gloves writing Wildstorm's newest action romp, Killapalooza. 

The solicitation for the first issue reads:

The Clap are the biggest band in the world–headlining massive stadium tours, selling millions of records, and hobnobbing with the rich and fabulous. And in their spare time, they also happen to be the most sought-after meta-human assassination unit on the black market!

Using their status as rock icons as a cover, they’ve perpetrated some of the more elaborate murders in modern memory! But a financial crunch has the group signing on for one last “gig” both as The Clap and as assassins. But they aren’t the only band – or assassin – on the bill!

KILLAPALOOZA is like no other comics project I’ve ever done.  Neither grim, gritty and tied to decades of continuity (like ROBIN or BATGIRL), nor based on an animated property (like JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED), nor a quirky character study (like HENCH or DUGOUT), this six-issue Wildstorm miniseries was a chance for me to just let go, think of the most absurd and outrageous characters and situations I possibly could, and let the chips fall where they may.  Then, to my delight, artist Trevor Hairsine picked up those chips and turned them into incredibly cool, funny pictures.  Here’s a little “writer’s commentary,” as it were, about some of the first issue.


In the first panel, we did the asterisk caption, which I normally don’t like, to set up the entire tone of the series:  Snarky, blunt, and absolutely not meant to be taken seriously.  It doesn’t matter what language they’re speaking — the terrorists are going to be dead in four pages anyway.  That’s how The Clap feels, and that’s how we want the audience to feel.  Ivory sums it up nicely at the bottom of page five.  Details, shmetails.

At the bottom of this page, the terrorist leader is about to name his cause, but he gets cut off.  That repeats a few times in the next few pages — For all their determination to make their cause known throughout the world, they never actually get the chance to say its name.  It’s a running gag that serves us well as we’re establishing the abilities of our main characters...which is crucial to do here, because their outfits don’t really allow us to distinguish who they are (It always bugs me when supposedly “covert” teams wear individual uniforms — particularly brightly-colored costumes.  You’d think they’d want to look as similar and unremarkable as possible. 

Since that makes identification difficult for the reader during action sequences, though, we decided it’d be best if we mostly saw The Clap in regular clothes during the series).  However, Trevor does a great job of giving them each individual postures, and if you match them to later panels where we see the band members in civilian clothes, you can really see it.


The young fan who approaches the band as they’re leaving the hotel is a tribute to an old buddy of mine from high school days, whose name is also David Ackerman (and he lives in Ohio).  Great guy — endless energy and enthusiasm, and in discussions about musical acts, he’d say, “Omigosh, he’s a musical genius, I have all his albums,” so often, it became a running joke among our circle of pals.  Naturally, that doesn’t impress The Clap, and poor Dave gets his eyeball signed for his trouble. 

One of the many great joys of writing comics is occasionally getting the chance to drop friends’ names into books.  I do the same thing in animation from time to time, but more often than not, when the Story Editor does his or her final pass on my script, he or she will change the name of my friend to one of his or her friends!  Everyone does it.


No one draws chaos quite like Trevor Hairsine.  What’s great here is that he gets to show off his chops for doing comedy, which I hadn’t really seen from him before.  At the top of the script page, I just said, “Have fun, Trevor.”  And I think he did. 

The flying g-string in the third panel is priceless, and I love that we don’t know if it came off of someone, somehow, or if it was just lying around.  Even odds with these guys, I suppose.

PAGE 11 

Here’s our little tribute to all those hotel scenes in “Almost Famous,” one of my favorite movies.  Lots of obnoxious celebrities hanging around, lots of drooling fans falling all over them.  Plus we get another flying g-string! 

Maybe Trevor secretly created a new character, “The Invisible Groupie,” without telling me, and that’s all she wears as she flies from scene to scene.  And hey, I never noticed until just now, the gal reaching for the guy’s zipper at the bottom left.  Nice one, Trev!

PAGE 17 

In which we meet many of the other bands on the bill, including the least frightening fright-rocker ever, Genghis Audrey, who’s much more concerned with his image (and his makeup) than anything else.  He was a lot of fun to write, and we get a bunch of laughs at his expense as the series goes on. 

Then, later in the page, we’ve got Pulg, a parody of European techno bands like Kraftwerk — dated, I know, but fun to write and draw with their robotic blandness.  Thankful Trout is behind them, and then in the next panel we’ve got Marywanna, and her entourage of yap dogs.  Hey, I never said the parodies would be particularly subtle. 

Finally, we’ve got Death Sentence, and Trevor made them look so ominous (Is the guy in the background holding a small handsaw?  Brr.), now I want to do a series about them!


Poor, poor Ass.  At the top of the book, we established he falls in love with a different groupie in every city, and every time, he gets his heart broken.  Why should this tour stop be any different?  He’s completely oblivious to the fact that these women are interested in him solely for his celebrity — it certainly ain’t his good looks, his charm...or his name.  He’s the guy that always confuses, “a pair of legs with paradise,” as they say.  Shawna, however, may be different from the others.  She’s definitely more than a fling, as far as this series is concerned.

So there you, go, a peek backstage.  Here’s one more tidbit you might not otherwise find out...I wrote four complete issues of the mini-series, then called up Editor Ben Abernathy, who’d been nothing but supportive, and I said, “This isn’t working, I need to start over.”  I told him I didn’t think the characters had enough depth — there wasn’t enough about them as people to pull the reader through the story and make them care.  Ben agreed, and we had a long talk about ways we could approach adding depth... Not that we wanted to make the characters navel-gazers, because they’re just not. 

We came up with some good interpersonal storylines, and I went back to the scripts, making the necessary changes.  In some places, we didn’t need to change the panel descriptions, but in other cases, we did, and that was fine, because Trevor hadn’t reached those points yet.  Trust me, the story is better — and more fun — for the revising we did.

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