Inside Look: Zero Killer #5

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Zero Killer is set in present day New York City, with one slight change -- the United States never dropped atomic weapons on Japan in 1945. This had a cascading effect, culminating with a global nuclear war in 1973. There’s lots more information at www.zerokiller.com/timeline.

When the bombs hit New York City, the aftershocks caused the Manhattan Island bedrock to sink a hundred feet or so into New York Harbor. The remaining skyscrapers stick out of the water like gigantic, rusting trees. Gangs inhabit the ruins, one gang to a tower. Each has its own regalia, its own micro “culture”.

The main character is Zero. He’s an outcast and a bounty hunter, despised by everyone, and he’s always had a burning desire to go to a mythical place called “Africa”, a place that was never touched by the nuclear fires. A chance to go there pops up one day when a mysterious briefcase goes missing in the Twin Towers.

There’s something in the briefcase manufactured by the militarized vestiges of the United States government for an African prince. If Zero can get the case, he can hitch a ride to Africa. But the Twin Towers are the scene of a tragedy earlier on in his life. If he gets caught, he’ll be killed in a particularly horrible way...

Page 1

I never have as much space as I’d like! Originally, as with most of my scripts, this page was a splash. Zero’s been caught at this point by his former rival, who is now head of the gang inhabiting the North Tower of the Twin Towers. Matt Camp, the artist, and I tried to give the story an urban, “hip hop” feeling, for lack of a better word.

Page 2

David Stewart, the colorist, deserves so much credit for the fantastic look of Zero Killer. Matt and I joke his name should go above ours on the front cover. Colorists are the most underrated people working in comics! David chose a magnificent, vibrant, poisonous, palette for Zero Killer. Every scene is a little radioactive bonbon of color.

Page 3

Matt Camp is a genius in a lot of ways, but most especially when it comes to portraying character emotions. Panel 2 of this page is the perfect example. The character’s face here has a wonderful quality of menace and anger. You can feel the danger.

Page 4

At last, we learn a little bit about Zero’s past, about what went wrong for him so many years ago in the North Tower. David colored the flashback sequences in a lovely monochrome red, and he outlined the panels in white. That and Matt’s use of bleeds perfectly communicate the idea of “FLASHBACK”. I love visual devices like that. You don’t need to say everything explicitly. I’ve learned that over the years.

Page 5

This page is a set-up for a “joke” later on. Zero Killer’s a pretty grim story, so I tried to lighten it up with a little humor every now and then. Of course, the humor itself is pretty sick. You’re supposed to laugh and then despise yourself for laughing.

And how about the background in the first panel? The backgrounds for Zero Killer were not easy to draw. Matt poured so much effort into it, he deserves to win every single award there is for an artist. Zero Killer is a unique treasure, regardless of the writing.

Where’s Zero Killer going next? There’s just one more issue! I understand Dark Horse is going to collect it into a trade paperback, for which I’m extremely grateful. If sales warrant it, I’ll do another six issues.

I really want to get more into the “mythology” of this world, get into what happened to the United States government, and explore the horrific, blasphemous technologies certain people have been working on deep below the earth. Regardless, I think we end the series on a very strong note.

Zero Killer
is definitely an action adventure, and it has to be judged on the merits of that genre. But I hope it’s something more, too.

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  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Sep 24, 2009 at 3:58am

    I always loved the covers, displaying a sort of ethnic feel. you don't get that much in comics ... after reading this inside look though, I'll be pre-ordering the TPB definitely! The art has a grungy Peter Snejberg feel which is high compliments right there. Good luck with this project and any future projects down the road ...

  • Richard Boom

    Richard Boom Oct 25, 2012 at 1:31pm

    just read it and it truly was a trip! A blast reading it and that artwork is just out of here!!

  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Oct 25, 2012 at 2:11pm

    LOL yeah I also have it in my collection. Awesome dystopian sci fi, read it about three times already. Good seventies vibe too I thought.

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