Joshua Viola Interview

With the Kickstarter campaign live today for True Believers, we are delighted to be joined by writer and owner of Hex Publishers Joshua Viola.


Hi Joshua, it’s so nice to have you here with us again.

Great to be back! Thanks for having me.


Can you tell us about the origins of True Believers?

Well, I’ve always wanted to make a slasher comic, but I never really knew where to start. The idea’s true genesis traces back to an evening of wine with Colorado Festival of Horror’s co-founders, Bret and Jeanni Smith. We brainstormed ways to enhance this year’s event. Considering my prior work on a prose anthology (It Came from the Multiplex) for their inaugural event and my growing involvement in comics, such as the Unioverse video game tie-in, I proposed a meta comic concept set at COFOH, and they loved it. I suggested collaborating with Stephen, and he was intrigued. After some idea exchanges, we settled on the “cosplay/con killer” concept, and the rest is history.


How would you describe True Believers?

True Believers is meta horror. We aimed to incorporate the actual convention into the artwork, as well as cameo appearances by Stephen, Bret, Jeanni, myself, and a few others from our crew. Our idea was to craft a slasher story set at a real con, delving into the depths of fandom. We wanted to explore who these ardent admirers of their favorite characters truly are and the consequences when one takes devotion too far. This is how we introduce our main characters, Rip and Kit, devout fans of Killr™, our fictional slasher icon. They proudly identify as “true believers,” but upon witnessing other Killr™ “fans” at the event, they begin to question the authenticity of their fellow enthusiasts and whether they’re tarnishing the legacy of their beloved figure. As you can imagine, things get slashery from there.


What is it like working with Stephen Graham Jones and Ben Matsuya?

Collaborating with Stephen and Ben has been a fantastic experience! Our working dynamic is incredibly smooth, and we complement each other seamlessly, which allowed the story to sort of organically evolve and improve. It’s really exciting, and I’m looking forward to working with them again on issues 2 and 3!


What can you tell us about Killr?

In the True Believers universe, Killr™ stands as a quintessential slasher icon, on par with legends like Freddy, Jason, and Michael. Fans hold a deep affection for Killr™, whose origins stem from a beloved indie short film that eventually led to a popular trilogy. In our exploration of fandom and cosplay in the first issue, we intentionally kept Killr™’s backstory somewhat enigmatic. However, we do provide readers with a tantalizing glimpse of the “movie Killr™,” and we have exciting plans to unveil the character’s complete origin in future issues. Oh, and for those who are wondering, the trademark symbol is playfully satirizing the franchising of horror properties.


How did you pick the artists for the variant covers for True Believers?

Our talented team consists of six cover artists, including Ben Matsuya, who did the interior art. Aaron Lovett, my husband, has created numerous covers for my projects and even collaborated with me on a variant cover for Miskatonic #1 a couple of years ago. Xander Smith, son of Bret and Jeanni, brought his experience from working on American Horror Story and Scream Queens, making him an ideal addition. I discovered the work of Juan Samu (Elvira), Robert Hack (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), and Clara Meath (Goosebumps) through my friend James Aquilone (Kolchak: The Night Stalker), and I was impressed. Thankfully, they all graciously agreed to contribute to this project.


We understand there is a soundtrack and latex mask for True Believers; can you give us more information about them?

Yeah—these are my two favorite rewards for our Kickstarter backers!

We’ve got a CD soundtrack featuring some really cool horror covers as well as some originals, such as PYLOT’s remix of Scandroid’s rendition of Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller,” Celldweller’s rendition of “Cry Little Sister,” originally a theme from The Lost Boys film by Gerard McMahon, the spine-chilling “Halloween Theme,” a cover of John Carpenter’s timeless Halloween theme, and Young Medicine’s haunting take on “Somebody’s Watching Me,” a popular 1984 track by Rockwell featuring Michael Jackson.

And then there’s the Killr™ latex mask by Oktober Studios, which is just cool as hell. It was so much fun working with them on bringing our character to life, and man, did they deliver. It’s one helluva detailed mask. The perfect addition for a comic about horror cosplay.


Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?

Thanks for reading! If you’re a fan of comics, cosplay, horror, and/or slashers, I think True Believers has something exciting to offer. Take a moment to explore our Kickstarter page and prepare for some fantastic rewards, crafted with the same love and passion as our comic. Your support would mean the world to us. Thanks again, and have a spooktacular Halloween!

We would like to say thank you to Joshua for chatting with us. We would like to wish him the best of luck with True Believers.

To visit the campaign, click here: True Believers on Kickstarter.

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