Comics (and films for that matter) were once relegated to specific genres which didn’t change much over fifty years until imprints like Vertigo, and companies like Dark Horse Comics, began giving genre-bending tales a chance. Horror comics have certainly benefited from this widening of the borders, and now encompass not only supernatural tales, but also those tinged with crime, drama, and social commentary.
From one look at Matt Miner and Christopher Peterson’s Death Trap, it is clear that both creators enjoy “painting outside of the lines” when it comes to graphic storytelling. In this exclusive interview with Horror News Network, both creators share the impetus behind Death Trap at the start of their Kickstarter campaign to fund and continue their wild ride.
Horror News Network: Where did the idea for Death Trap originate?
Christopher Peterson: From Matt, he already had it rolling when I was introduced to the project, but I’ve added my own touches along the way building the world around it knowing Matt’s sensibilities and my own desire for madcap adventure.
Matt Miner: I’ve been a fan of 70s and 80s grindhouse flicks for forever – and I especially love horror, carsploitation, and revenge exploitation flicks, so I figured let’s combine all those favorite things into one blood-soaked ball of craziness.
HNN: Death Trap seems like a blend of various genres. Is there one that defines the book more or is it equal parts horror, crime, etc?
Peterson: I’m going to go with ‘revenge’ if that’s a genre. Because of this need for revenge, (resolution) these other things happen, so I guess that’s the core driving force (no pun intended). But it does mix in a hefty amount of all that other stuff – which also makes it fun because you don’t know what you’ll get next. It can turn on a dime and be some weird body horror or a touching family moment or goofy criminal activity.
Miner: It’s revenge with a mix of supernatural. Our main character is teamed up with the ghost of her murdered father on a vengeance quest through an underworld of circus freaks and methed-out carnies, so it’s safe to say things are gonna get bonkers.
HNN: Have you worked together before? In either case, what do each of you bring to the table in the artist/writer relationship?
Peterson: In the ‘official sense’ Matt and I haven’t worked together past him pushing my butt a bit as an editor for my Una story in “All We Ever Wanted”. We did collaborate on a couple pitches in the past, so I think we got to know each other mainly through that. We’ve both lived very different lives but in the end have a lot of overlapping social awareness, rationale and general cool vibes, plus respect for each other to make things work. I think what’s great is that we blend both our perspectives into this balancing us out – and what makes it even greater is that if you ever saw us together, you’d never know we worked on the same book.
HNN: Memories of working on the Gwar comics?
Miner: I mean, so many. My favorite memory is doing that first release signing with the entire band in costume, in their hometown of Richmond. The line was around the block and snaked through the store for hours. It was freaking’ great. But what I value most are the collaborative moments with Matt Maguire, who is Sawborg Destructo’s “human slave”, and the friendship that’s come from that.
Peterson: I remember Matt asking me if I liked Gwar and I responded with “I know OF them.”
Miner: That was me trying to get you on the book, but I always ask if folks are a fan first, because you really need to be a fan to get it and appreciate the satire and craziness that is GWAR.
HNN: What horror comics or creators influenced you in your approach to Death Trap?
Peterson: I don’t know if this qualifies as horror, but The Crow (revenge) and Preacher (road trip with wacky bunch of characters at odds with each other) come to mind. I think creeping below the surface of stuff I do is Ashley Wood’s work in Doomed and the wild and creepy moments of some of Mignola’s Hellboy.
Miner: A couple of my favorite horror comics writers I thought about while creating Death Trap with Chris are Steve Niles, who did 30 Days of Night, and Scott Snyder, better known for his DC superhero stuff, but his Wytches and Severed books are f’n fabulous horror comics. Steve has a knack for grotesque monsters, gore, and body horror and Scott’s a master of character development and world building, which you don’t always find in horror comics. I would add Junji Ito as an all-time favorite horror comics creator because his books can scare the shit out of a person, but you didn’t ask who my favorites were, just who I could point to as influential to Death Trap.
HNN: You offer a lot of different levels (rewards) for the Kickstarter version of Death Trap. Did you feel it was important to offer many choices for fans and different tiers?
Peterson: Choice is always good. For myself, having contributed to a few, I know I can’t always get the fancy stuff and am annoyed sometimes when there’s nothing lower level or what I do want costs way too much to ship to Canada so the digital or other services are welcome. Giving everyone a chance to participate makes it a lot more fun and engaging and also allows people to get excited about what opportunities they have – like who has custom character bobbleheads drawn on the dash of one of their character’s car?
Miner: The comics themselves have covers exclusive to Kickstarter. So while Death Trap will be hitting comic stores with its publisher down the road, these exclusive covers are gonna make your buddies jealous because you were smart enough to jump onboard the Kickstarter.
HNN: Do you have plans for more stories in the world of Death Trap if this campaign is successful?
Peterson: I have no idea if there WERE stories planned, but I think after making 17 different “this is my favorite character!!” characters, we’ve now come up with all sorts of possibilities and “this person NEEDS a comic” spinoffs.
Miner: What Chris said. Every time we come up with a new side character circus freak I’m driven to ideas of sequels where they star in their own twisted little adventures.