Last year, writer Jim Zub and artist Djibril Morissette-Phan introduced comic readers to a world of both celebrity and creature horrors with their series Glitterbomb, published by Image Comics. Now, they’re continuing that series’ saga of fame and its dark side with Glitterbomb: The Fame Game. AiPT! was lucky enough to speak with the creators about their upcoming series (arriving in stores September 20), what makes a good horror comic and more.
AiPT!: For those who may not be familiar with the original series, how would you pitch Glitterbomb: The Fame Game?
Jim Zub: Glitterbomb is a Lovecraftian Hollywood horror story about fame and failure. The Fame Game builds on our previous mini-series, but is also meant to stand on its own as we follow a different main character and explore different aspects of emotional dread.
AiPT!: Glitterbomb: The Fame Game shifts its focus from original protagonist Farrah Durante to her ex-babysitter, Kaydon Klay. Had you always intended to switch protagonists after the end of the first volume? How did you decide on Kaydon as the series’ next central figure?
Zub: It was always the plan, yes. As long as the first mini-series did well, and thankfully it did, I wanted to put together three connected mini-series, each one focused on a different main character.
Kaydon was adjacent to the terrible things building in the original Glitterbomb and even then we had a sense of her goals and desires. Now we get to really focus in on that and put her through the wringer as she gets dragged into the media spotlight thanks to her proximity to Farrah.
AiPT!: How much attention do you intend on paying to differences between Farrah and Kaydon’s perspectives regarding fame and societal status? Specifically, do you plan to address differences between the way the two characters adhere or don’t adhere to Hollywood norms (such as those pertaining to age or race)?
Zub: Differentiating between Farrah and Kaydon is absolutely crucial to the story we’re building. Farrah was a bitter veteran of Hollywood and Kaydon is young and naive when it comes to attention and the kind of ’emotional armor’ required to make it in the entertainment industry. The fact that she’s thrust into ‘tragedy fame’ instead of making it on her own creative merits makes it that much worse.
AiPT!: Having read issue #1 of Glitterbomb: The Fame Game, I’m struck by how thoroughly thought-out and well-executed its visual storytelling is. The attention paid to capturing the right moment, the right emotion, brings to mind compelling cinematography. There are also panels that almost seem to convey sound, even without the use of words. Did horror stories from other mediums (such as film) influence your approach and design choices for the series?
Zub: Thanks! The visual supremacy of Glitterbomb is all Djibril and Kurt [Michael Russel], our colorist. I’m writing full script, but the art team makes it all their own. Djibril brings a confident visual sensibility that grounds the series and draws like a seasoned pro, even at this young age.
Djibril Morissette-Phan: I wouldn’t say there are specific horror stories that influenced me in my approach to storytelling but I’m definitely influenced by films in general. I studied animation so I learned to tell stories through that medium. Not only that, but it made sense to me to have a story set in Hollywood be visually reminiscent of a movie.
AiPT!: Have there been any new challenges to creating Glitterbomb: The Fame Game that you didn’t encounter while working on the original series?
Zub: Building on our previous story while making sure everything is clearly defined and Fame Game can stand on its own is a bit more work, but enjoyable too. It’s not just about more of the same, it’s about taking the story into different places and continuing to surprise our readers.
My writing career is in a good place right now, so it’s a bit of a challenge channeling the right level of negativity and frustration at times, but then I check the news and, just like that, I get in the mode for some strange reason…
Morissette-Phan: Now that Jim’s familiar with what I can do visually, I think he definitely pushed me to draw challenging stuff. I’d say I found myself working outside of my comfort zone a lot more during this new arc.
AiPT!: If possible, would you like to continue creating more series in the Glitterbomb universe after The Fame Game concludes?
Zub: Absolutely. I have a third (and probably final) mini-series I’d like to tackle after Fame Game wraps up. Same release schedule, just a year later.
Morissette-Phan: Definitely. As long as we have people’s attention, I think we have a lot more stories to tell.
AiPT!: What, to you, makes effective horror?
Zub: Horror, for me, isn’t about gore or monsters. The emotional stuff has to be there to grab me and make me feel uneasy. Splattering blood and knocking down characters like dominoes is easy. Engaging an audience and getting them to care about what happens next while pulling them into dark spaces, that’s horror.
Morissette-Phan: To me, the simple rule for horror is ”less is more,” especially in the context of Glitterbomb where the violence is a direct result of the oppressive and abusive nature of the Hollywood system. By keeping the outbursts of violence to a minimum, we retain its cathartic effect. With that in mind, the difference between this project and other more action-oriented stories I’ve done is that I get to take my time and explore the subtleties of how the characters feel and act.
AiPT!: Lastly, where can people follow you online and do you have any other projects you would like to promote?
Zub: I’m online at jimzub.com and on my site you can find tutorial articles on writing and pitching comic stories in addition to links to my work. In addition to Glitterbomb, I’m writing Wayward for Image, Uncanny Avengers for Marvel, and Dungeons & Dragons: Frost Giant’s Fury for IDW. I’m excited for readers to see what else I have planned for 2018.
Morissette-Phan: Other than Glitterbomb, I’ll be releasing a graphic novel online for free in the coming months (soon to be announced) so people can keep up to date by following my on Twitter @DjibrilMP.