With the release of Jill and the Killers #1 comic from Oni Press this week, we are delighted to be joined by writer Olivia Cuartero-Briggs.
Hi Olivia, it’s so great to have you here with us. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi everyone! As you know, my name is Olivia Cuartero-Briggs, and I’m a comic book writer. What you may not know, is that I’m also a TV and film writer as well as a New York City native, fitness junky and über proud girl mom. And… I am super stoked to finally be sharing Jill and the Killers with everyone!
Can you tell us about the origins of Jill and the Killers?
As a creator, I always try and have my brain cracked open for new ideas, even if I’m already eyeballs deep in several projects at a time… which is more or less the story of my life. Anywhoo, back during the pandemic, I got really into subscription boxes. I mean, you couldn’t go out, so why not get fun stuff shipped to your house? It was then that the magical powers of the marketing interwebs must have put together my new fascination with that of true crime, and started barraging me with ads for Hunt a Killer – a subscription based game where players get a clue each month until they solve an overarching mystery. I thought it was an awesome idea, but couldn’t help but wonder, what if you ordered one of these games, and then realized they were clues to an actual, real-life murder case? That was the nexus of the idea, and once I got Oni hooked on that little nugget, the rest of the story more or less built itself from there.
How would you describe Jill and the Killers?
Jill and the Killers is a thriller comedy about an isolated teen – Jill Estrada – who returns to high school after the disappearance of her mother, to find that her world has moved on without her. To win back her old friend group, Jill buys a subscription to a popular murder mystery box game, only to discover that she and her friends have received clues to an actual murder case, right in their hometown.
It’s a modern homage to the coming-of-age mysteries of the late 80s and early 90s, like Stand by Me, Monster Squad, and It, with a group of teen girls at the center. So, I’d describe it as character-driven, fun, angsty, and scary, all at the same time.
Did you write a full script for Jill and the Killers?
Jill and the Killers started as a two sentence pitch to Oni Press. Then I expanded it to a six-page pitch of the book series, which then became a 10 page outline of all five books, which I then scripted. Combined with art and coloring, the entire process spanned almost four years. A lot of fabulous, fierce women have helped me bring this story to life, and I am super proud of it.
What can you tell us about Jill Estrada?
Jill is the kind of friend I wish I had when I was growing up. She’s awkward but kind, and tries too hard because she’s all heart, and just wanting to be loved. She’s funny, determined, and bold as hell, but masks her pain with humor, which is a trait she and I share. She also happens to be a mixed-race, queer Latina, but that’s not the point of the story, or the core of who she is. She’s a romantic, adorkable, tomboy trying to bypass grief by being a hero, and I hope you all love her as much as I do.
What has it been like working with Oni Press?
How do I put this gently? This is my first book with Oni, and now that it’s out, I’ve warned them repeatedly that they are stuck with me for life. I love this company, their mission, and how they throw themselves full-tilt behind their books and creators. I am beyond lucky to have gotten to shack up with these folks, and I can’t wait to dive into my next project with them.
How did Roberta Ingranata, Warnia K. Sahadewa, Rebecca Nalty and Haley Rose-Lyon join the team?
Roberta did my covers for Silver City with Aftershock, so when the folks at Oni told me she was available and interested, I did a backflip. Roberta is an incredible partner and creative force, and I can’t imagine what Jill and the Killers would be without her. Nia has worked with Roberta in the past, and the two have a great relationship, which is how she came on board. And as far as Rebecca and Haley are concerned, their reputations precede them, and the folks at Oni were able to lure them in. Quite the team I got, eh? Yeah… I’m dumb lucky.
How did Oni Press get involved with Jill and the Killers?
I was introduced to one of the editors at Oni Press back in the summer of 2020. A few months later, I pitched them a few ideas for books I was interested in writing, and Jill and the Killers was one of them. Oni and their team helped me grow this story from a seed of an idea, to the fully fledged, kickass, teen-driven murder mystery it is today.
The first issue of Jill and the Killers is double-sized; how did that come about?
The folks at Oni decided to combine issues 1 and 2 for the initial release, and I think that was a really good choice. In order to get readers invested in the characters, much of issue 1 is dedicated to getting our hooks into Jill, her world, and the folks who populate it. Combining the first and second issues enabled us to introduce the characters, the hook, the mystery they have to solve, and the overarching mission before giving readers a month-long break to see what comes next. Not a lot of creators get that kind of space, and I think the story and the readers lucked out with this decision.
What can readers expect from the first issue of Jill and the Killers?
Wow… it’s hard to tell people what they can expect, but I can tell you what I hope readers come away with. I hope they fall in love with Jill. I hope they find parts of themselves in all or some of these characters. I hope they laugh, and I sincerely hope they want to find out what happens next. I wrote this story first so that mystery-loving women and girls could see themselves at the heart of a great mystery, and then secondly so that anyone anywhere can hang with this crew and feel a sense of belonging. This crew very much represents the friends I wish I had growing up, and the kind of stuff I wish we could have done together – however morbid. I hope readers find that same sense of wish fulfillment in reading the books that I found writing them.
Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I hope you love Jill and the Killers! Please feel free to reach out to me on the socials and share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you! @oliviacbriggs on Instagram and Twitter.
We would like to say thank you to Olivia for chatting with us. We would like to wish Olivia and the whole of the Jill and the Killers team best of luck with their release.