With the release of TRVE KVLT #1 (August 17th) this week from IDW Publishing, we are delighted to be joined by the writer Scott Bryan Wilson and artist Liana Kangas. Scott has written many comics, including Pennyworth, Batman Gotham Nights, Altered Carbon OGN, Divinity: The Complete Trilogy, and Star Trek: Waypoint. Liana has worked on many comics, including Star Wars Adventures, Razorblades, East Side Saints, She Said Destroy, Joan Jett and Devil’s Dye.
Hi, Liana and Scott, it’s so wonderful to have you both here with us today.
LK: Thanks for having us! And may you have it the Burger Lord way!
Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers?
LK: Hey there! I’m Liana—a full-time comic creator and artist. I’ve drawn a ton of stuff, such as books like Star Wars Adventures, Vault’s She Said Destroy, Razorblades, Z2’s Joan Jett and The Black Hearts, and, of course, TRVE KVLT! I’ve illustrated a ton of cover work for publishers like Vault, Image, Oni, IDW, and Ahoy. I’ve also written or co-written stories like Seeds of Eden for TKO, Dagger Dagger Vol 2, and Deadbeats: London Calling.
SBW: And I’m Scott, and I write comics, including the Pennyworth series and a bit of Batman stuff for DC, Savage Tales, Elvira, Altered Carbon for Dynamite, plus work for Valiant, IDW, and lots of anthologies. Upcoming—along with Trve Kvlt—is more from DC, more Savage Tales, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves’ InterWorld for HarperCollins, as well as a bunch of unannounced stuff, including another creator-owned series.
Scott, can you tell us about the origins of TRVE KVLT?
SBW: In the early days of my career, when I was sitting around waiting for the phone to ring with work-for-hire jobs, I kept from going crazy by creating pitches. Most of them were awful, but this is one that just kept tugging at me. I love crime fiction and heist movies, and I wanted to do something like Heat that had this big, exciting heist scene at its center. But heists have been done a million times, most of them way better than anything I could think of, so I started trying to think about what would be a “little” heist that a normal person could get away with, and I thought about robbing a strip mall, store by store. I thought if you watched it all the time, you might find the rhythms and figure out how to do it if you timed it right. Who would watch a strip mall, though? Then I hit on the idea of someone at the ubiquitous fast food places that are always in strip mall parking lots, and I had it.
Liana, when you first heard the pitch for TRVE KVLT, what did you think?
LK: I think Scott is a genius and tends to dig into the things that most people often don’t pay any attention to. He does it a lot with both foreshadowing, dialogue, minute details in environments that play to plot points, and so on. So, I absolutely dug it. My favorite movie is Ocean’s 11, which I had mentioned for the heist aspect alone, and when I read the pitch, I was like “Oh this is reminiscent of Fargo, but a band of kids in real life.”
How would you describe TRVE KVLT?
LK: TRVE KVLT is the one book you least expect—and the one you will definitely want to read. (and certainly the one I wanted to create the most).
Scott, what can you tell us about Marty?
SBW: I always like fiction that has losers as main characters—Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, George Costanza, etc—and always wanted to really dig into that as a writer. Having people’s flaws be central to their character but also keep them not only likable, but someone you actually root for, was something I wanted to explore. Our guy is a career fast-food employee who fully embraces his role at work and doesn’t have many interests aside from hair metal and low-budget movies (which he enjoys non-ironically). We’ve all worked with overenthusiastic people—Marty is that overenthusiastic coworker whose excitement is only starting to fade, long after it’s died out for everyone else.
Liana, has it been a challenge to create the world of TRVE KVLT?
LK: I’m lucky in that if I have any creative blocks or stumped on what to do in TRVE KVLT, I can pull from personal experiences, or ask anyone on the team what kind of input they’d have. Our team (Jazzlyn, Gab, Jimmy, and DC) is just as excited about the book as Scott and I are. I mean, when else will I get to design the entire look and branding of fast food restaurants? This has been a labor of love and I think it shows in terms of world-building for sure.
How long have you been working on TRVE KVLT?
SBW: Liana and I started emailing about the book in October 2018, but I’d been working on the pitch since January 2017. So that puts it at 5.5 years from pitch to first issue being on comic shops’ shelves. My pitch was rejected by a few publishers before Liana was on board, so I can’t say enough about her partnership on this project and what she brings to the book—it wouldn’t exist without her.
LK: YOU ARE TOO KIND. Don’t mess up the bun order.
How important is preordering for any independent comic?
LK: I used to work in a comic shop, so I am probably on a soap box here, but preordering any comic, specifically any series not Big 2, is going to need all of the support it can get in the direct market. Ordering often dictates printing numbers, so if you can preorder and call your shop up to try and get every issue available, it ensures you’ve secured yourself a copy, as well as notifying the shop that this might be a good read for others as well and could entice them to order more copies. Single issue comics are a chaotic and perfect way to read comics in my opinion, but just know that a lot of work goes into that little issue from all of the creators to the incredible teams at the publisher that are hitting your shop’s shelves every month. That one call or click to preorder could mean the world in terms of the success of any book.
Scott, how did Gab Contreras, Jimmy Savage and DC Hopkins join the team?
SBW: Jimmy and Gab had worked with Liana for a long time; I think I met both of them through this book. DC was someone I had worked with a lot on other projects and was my first choice on this one.
Liana, you are creating the art for the comic. What part of that process do you enjoy the most, penciling or inking?
LK: A lot of my creator-owned books I actually pencil and ink at the same time since I work digitally for most of my interiors. (It’s a lot of different layers and moving things around, probably a very weird thing to watch, I bet.) I personally love inking, though, because I get to, in this case for TRVE KVLT, shade a lot of shadows and pull some weird light tricks for Gab to play with, which is always fun. It seems to all come to life at the end with everyone’s expressions and the weird details and logos I can put in for food, fast food interiors, etc.
How did IDW get involved with TRVE KVLT, and what made them the right publisher for TRVE KVLT?
SBW: We originally published the first version of TRVE KVLT through Kickstarter at the beginning of the pandemic; we’d had some publishers interested, but when the pandemic hit, the industry was a mess for a while and we realized we didn’t want to wait and just started making the book and doing it our way. Someone at IDW had seen the pre-pandemic pitch, and they got in touch with us the day we launched the Kickstarter. From those first text messages it felt like a great fit. IDW kept in touch with us over the year or so it took us to make and publish the first version of the book, and before we were done we had started talking contract terms. We were really excited because the Kickstarter saw issue 1 printed, and the rest digital, and people had been asking from the beginning for print issues, so this was our chance to get the book out in front of a huge audience—in print, too—from a company that really supported us and the book.
LK: All I have to say is, I adore IDW so much—and this book has had such an incredible journey with them already and (as of right now when we say this) we’re not even in print yet!
Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?
SBW: Keep reading comics.
LK: Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and pick up TRVE KVLT #1 on August 17!
A big thank you to Scott and Liana for chatting with us; we wish them and the rest of the team, the best of luck with TRVE KVLT.