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'Kill More' welcomes us to the near future with blood and politics

Comic Books

‘Kill More’ welcomes us to the near future with blood and politics

Co-creators Scott Bryan Wilson and Max Fuchs delve into this tale of crumbling cities and serial killers.

For most of us, comics are an escape. We can fly out into the big, beautiful universe, or hop to an alternate dimension, and forget about our personal woes, economic downturn, civil unrest, etc. But the creators of Kill More — writer/letter Scott Bryan Wilson (TRVE KVLT), artist Max Fuchs (Halcyon Days), and colorist Valentina Briŝki (FARTO)— opted for another path entirely: embrace this dread head-on with a story that’s both thoguhtful and poignant while remaining super-mega gory.

Kill More (published by IDW) takes place in the city of Colonia, which is currently suffering from not only record unemployment and economic collapse but a “skyrocketing homicide rate.” The first two causes are a tad more complex, but the latter’s clear as the depressed town’s recently become a haven for a veritable gaggle of serial killers, including The Sufferer, Lady Facesmasher, and The Obituary Machine. It’s up to Colonia’s few remaining cops to save the day — or, at the very least, save what’s left. Kill More is a tale of a depressing and all-too-real future — one we might not be able to escape but can perhaps understand through a no-holds-barred tale of humanity at both its bleakest and most resilient.

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While issue #1 of Kill More isn’t out until September 13, we’re getting an early jump on things with a Q&A from Wilson and Fuchs. The pair discuss our shared obsession with true crime stories, developing these wacky serial killers, and politics in comics, among other topics and tidbits.

Kill More

Cover A from Max Fuchs. Courtesy of IDW.

AIPT: What’s the elevator pitch for Kill More? Am I right in saying (however reductively) that it’s “True Detective meets Smokin’ Aces meets Mindhunter“?

Scott Bryan Wilson: Sure. Or to put it in comics terms, maybe Gotham Central meets From Hell meets 100 Bullets. I don’t really think there’s any easy comparison to what we’re doing in this book — it’s too big to fit in an elevator!

Max Fuchs: I think Kill More is a story about compulsion. Cops who won’t quit, even in a hopeless situation. Killers that can’t stop, because the buffet is open.

AIPT: Is this series somehow a reaction to our shared obsession with true crime? People basically acting totally dumb about crime?

SBW: For me, I’ve always been a huge fan of crime fiction, crime comics, crime cinema, as well as being obsessed with (real) serial killers and true crime. Kill More is grounded in the investigative elements, mysteries, and criminal motivations that make us love true crime, but it’s completely turned on its head through the medium of comics and the introduction of all these over-the-top serial killers. In other words, despite the fantastic elements, the horror, the near-sci-fi setting, I wrote it as a straight police procedural.

MF: Yeah, I still remember being at the grocery store when I was thirteen and grabbing a paperback that purported to offer the true identity of Jack the Ripper. The idea of that dark, mysterious side of humanity intrigued me.

AIPT: These socio-political issues here obviously affect us in the here and now. What is it about near sci-fi that just cuts so deep? Is it having our world exaggerated and reflected back at us so vividly?

SBW: Setting non-sci-fi stories too far in the future can make them too alien to relate to, sometimes. Honestly, I set this in the near future because we needed to have starship manufacturing and Mars colonization as major parts of this world and the story. (I know Mars colonization won’t happen in the near future, but work with me here.) Max and I are having a lot of fun creating this time period and filling the book with the little details that can make it believable as a possible future (like, the last surviving newspaper has a porn section, because, of course it would have to!).

MF: “We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.” — Criswell

AIPT: Is the city of Colonia based on anywhere specific? Or is it just Anytown, USA? And does that distinction matter at all?

SBW: Not really. I was, however, in a major US city last summer that is going through some tough times right now and thought, “If this doesn’t turn around, twenty years from now this is gonna be Colonia.”

MF: In terms of the atmosphere and look of Colonia, I was drawing on my experiences traveling across the US. There’s some Detroit, Michigan, some Jackson, Mississippi, some Red Hook, Brooklyn, and even a little Circle, Montana. Shout-out to my homies at the Travelers Inn.

Kill More

Interior art. Courtesy of IDW.

AIPT: There’s some pretty interesting characters here (I love The Sufferer, for instance). What inspired this cast of criminals from a design and/or narrative perspective?

SBW: Well, we needed a book full of serial killers. But if we were to, you know, try to be as realistic as possible, we’d have a cast of undistinguishable, white male loners. This is comics! We wanted big, bombastic, memorable characters — so our serial killers are classic serial killers presented as supervillains. With the Sufferer, particularly, I started by wondering, “What if there was a serial killer who felt bad about what they did, even as they were doing it, and always cried afterward?” Then you just get larger than life with the design and personality and voilà: you have a vegan crust punk serial killer bawling his eyes out and screaming at someone for stepping on an ant.

MF: Designing our killers is one of the most fun jobs for me on this project. Finding interesting ways to portray these human extremes is a challenge and a pleasure. They have to be on that dangerous balance point between believability and larger-than-life audacity.

AIPT: Is it so simple that cops are good and baddies are bad? Should we sympathize with the latter and also question the brains/sanity of the former?

MF: Nobody here is good or bad. Our characters are driven by compulsion. They’re doing what they feel they must do. Kind of like making a career as a comics artist.

AIPT: Max, I also loved your work on Altered Carbon. How do you go about designing or thinking about the look and feel of a world like these (gritty, run-down, sci-fi-y in nature)?

MF: Thank you! Like a lot of people my age (whether we knew it or not), my vision of the future was heavily influenced by a surprisingly small group of artists. Jean Giraud, Ron Cobb, Syd Mead, Chris Foss. Seeing work from those guys represented in movies like Alien and Blade Runner made a huge impression on me, and I carry that through to my own imagining of the future.

AIPT: It’s early, but I love the dynamic between Detectives Aaron Aira and Mwanawa Parker. Why is their thing so compelling, and how much of the series hinges on this relationship?

SBW: It’s the whole series, in a lot of ways. Aira is the cop desensitized to the horror, while Parker is just getting started; they’re exactly what the other needs in a partner at this point. Aira can show Parker the ropes, and Parker can keep Aira from total descent into frustration and madness. Both are obsessed with solving the crimes, but they approach it from different angles. Their growing friendship and partnership really is the heart of the book.

MF: And they both have awesome hair.

AIPT: Is there a challenge in balancing thoughtful political insights/observations with the pacing, action, and comedy inherent to comics storytelling?

SBW: Any political insights in the book are purely the result of the situations of the characters. These are cops, so they’re going to have opinions that I, not a cop, may not necessarily agree with, but to not include them would be disingenuous to the characters and the book (or, conversely, to give them my opinions would also be disingenuous). So the challenge is really building this deeply layered world and keeping the story moving while at the same time creating those places where the motivations, frustrations, and justifications of the characters are coming from a place that’s true to the characters.

MF: Yeah, for me, this isn’t a political book. Scott and I have plans to do some more pointed political works in the future. Kill More deals with more primal human themes. This book is down to the bones and blood of humanity. Politics mean about as much here as the buzzing of flies around a cadaver.

'Kill More' welcomes us to the near future with blood and politics

Cover B from Goran Sudzuka. Courtesy of IDW.

AIPT: Do either of you have a “favorite” killer and why?

SBW: I mean, they’re all my babies. There are a lot of good ones who appear in issue 1 in just one or two panels, and some who don’t appear at all until later. There’s lots of insanity coming up!

MF: I have a soft spot for Lady Facesmasher. Just hope she doesn’t find it…

AIPT: What can you tease about the rest of the book/other issues? Even more kooky criminals?

SBW: More — and weirder! — criminals, and as the body count rises, so does the tension. There are huge emotional moments, lots of creepiness and cliffhangers and horror. It’s a huge story—there are a lot of characters and subplots — so the action just keeps escalating until it has to burst in some massive moments in the final issues. Like a big novel or a great TV series, Kill More will be rewarding to reread again and again, as it’s full of subtle hints, teasers, and implications that can only be found with additional reads. (The dialogue, in particular, foreshadows a lot!)

MF: Never order ramen from Chiang’s.

AIPT: What other things might go wrong in Colonia?

SBW: It might be quicker to make a list of what might go right. Put it this way: Be glad you don’t live there or have real estate there you’re trying to sell.

MF: I hear they’re closing the art museum.

AIPT: Why should anyone pick up issue #1?

SBW: If you like intricately plotted character-driven comics that also happen to have insane violence and a lot of dark humor, then this is for you. If you don’t like those things, you’re still gonna want to grab the issue for Max’s art. What he’s doing on the book is astonishing—and, spoiler alert—he just keeps leveling up with each issue. (There’s a splash in issue #4 that everyone is going to be talking about — or having nightmares from.) And who’s not going to want to have that gorgeous cover in their collection?

MF: Narratively speaking, we run the reader down with a car on page freaking one. Then, narratively speaking, we put it in reverse and back over the reader, narratively speaking, and then we throw it back in drive, and, narratively speaking, we run the reader over again. Narratively speaking, we keep smashing the reader under our tires until the reader is, narratively speaking, a fine, gritty pulp between the treads. Good luck.

SBW: That’s all narratively speaking, of course. We love every one of our readers. This is gonna be a relentless, emotional journey, and we’re glad to have them come along with us—there’s strength in numbers.

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