Thrash metal band Slayer have a new comic (and why not). The se­ries’ writer lifts the lid.

The di­rec­tor of Me­talo­ca­lypse and The Death Of “Su­per­man Lives”: What Hap­pened? talks to Claire Lim about his lat­est project, re­turn­ing to the world of comics for Dark Horse’s Slayer: Re­pent­less

Comic Heroes - - Contents -

Comic He­roes: Slayer is a metal band, so what is Slayer: Re­pent­less all about?

Jon Sch­nepp: It’s about ha­tred and in­jus­tice and re­venge, a deadly bloody road trip of hor­ror, where a family is lit­er­ally torn apart by stu­pid­ity, jeal­ousy and love. I wanted to show how two broth­ers can be torn apart com­pletely by dif­fer­ent ways of thought and how that kind of pure ha­tred brings noth­ing but death and de­struc­tion.

CH: How closely did you work with the band on the story, if at all?

JS: They were pretty hands-off – I spoke with both Dark Horse edi­tors as well as Nu­clear Blast [Slayer’s record la­bel] and I talked to the band about the sto­ry­line and they ap­proved ev­ery­thing and just let me run with it. They re­ally let me tell the story I wanted to tell. CH: When were you first ap­proached to work on the comic? JS: I was ap­proached a few months into 2016 by Chris Warner, one of the edi­tors over at Dark Horse. I’d worked with him on the Me­talo­ca­lypse comic book se­ries. He re­mem­bered a bunch of re­ally hor­ri­fy­ing sto­ry­lines that I had told him that we never fit into

Me­talo­ca­lypse, so he knew I had a dark and twisted mind. So, when the comic book op­por­tu­nity to write Slayer came up, he in­stantly thought of me.

CH: How much of the band’s Re­pent­less videos in­flu­enced the way in which you told the story?

JS: I was in­flu­enced by BJ McCon­nell’s three mu­sic videos, which he wrote and di­rected for Slayer. I took the sto­ry­line that was es­tab­lished in the videos, us­ing the char­ac­ter with the eye patch that I named Wy­att, and brought in a brother who he grew up with in Chicago: their par­ents were mur­dered and they were both raised by their neo-Nazi un­cle. I cre­ated an en­tire backstory es­tab­lish­ing his re­la­tion­ship with his girl­friend,

An­gel, who dies. I wanted to show the dif­fer­ence be­tween his ha­tred­filled up­bring­ing and An­gel’s family, which he grew to know through his love for her. CH: The comic is as abra­sive as the mu­sic and the videos. As a di­rec­tor your­self, do you think it’s eas­ier to tell the sto­ries you want to tell with­out re­stric­tion on the page as op­posed to on-screen?

JS: With comic books you have a lim­it­less bud­get as well as an open pal­ette to tell what­ever kind of story you feel is nec­es­sary to tell, es­pe­cially when you’re writ­ing specif­i­cally for adults. I knew I wanted to in­cor­po­rate Slayer’s mu­sic and lyrics and in­fuse that into the sto­ry­line as well as take a lot of the feel­ings and emo­tions that come from lis­ten­ing to 30 years’ worth of Slayer and bring that to life through cer­tain

char­ac­ters. Also, in comics, you lit­er­ally have al­most no peo­ple telling you what you can’t do – I was given com­plete cre­ative con­trol in writ­ing this comic book and bring­ing the story to life, which is a lot dif­fer­ent than work­ing in the medium of tele­vi­sion or film, where you’re weigh­ing in a lot of de­ci­sions with writ­ers and other pro­duc­ers. CH: You ex­plore a lot of touchy top­ics such as racism and ex­treme vi­o­lence. How im­por­tant was this for you to do? Are there enough comics creators, film­mak­ers and TV shows do­ing the same?

JS: I think it’s very im­por­tant to ex­press your opin­ion in el­e­vated si­t­u­a­tions such as graphic nov­els and comic books. I wanted to show the dif­fer­ent worlds seen through these dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters as well as high­light the hor­ror of pure ha­tred and the free­dom of pure love – Wy­att and many of the char­ac­ters live be­tween these two worlds. The abil­ity to show­case hor­rific vi­o­lence and dis­turb­ing sce­nar­ios is only one of the tools which add deeper lay­ers, by us­ing comic books as a metaphor to tell a story that is steeped in our own his­tory of abuse, racism and ag­gres­sive ha­tred of each other for be­ing dif­fer­ent. CH: Are there any other bands you’d like to col­lab­o­rate with in this way in fu­ture? JS: I would love to write comic books and/or graphic nov­els for Amon Amarth, Mastodon and Be­he­moth. Com­ing up with vi­su­als as I did for the band Deathlok as well as do­ing mu­sic videos for bands like Ex­i­tus and Pil­grim, I found it very ex­cit­ing to be able to tell sto­ries visu­ally – the good old­fash­ioned way. By writ­ing comic books I’m able to add di­a­logue and deeper messages baked into those vi­su­als, and that’s what I look for­ward to de­liv­er­ing more of in the fu­ture.

CH: Do you have any plans to dip back into comics in fu­ture?

JS: I do. Comic books are one of the big­gest and most im­por­tant parts of my life. I ab­so­lutely love read­ing comic books, buy­ing comic books and now writ­ing comic books. I have two com­pet­ing science fic­tion and hor­ror comic books that I’m writ­ing right now and plan on get­ting some artists to­gether and ei­ther self-pub­lish­ing them by rais­ing money through crowd fund­ing and/ or go­ing to some in­de­pen­dent comic book pub­lish­ers to make these a re­al­ity. I also want to take a crack at writ­ing the Bat­man, as well as one of my favourite cos­mic teams, the Fan­tas­tic Four. I have barely cracked the sur­face of my fu­ture writ­ing am­bi­tions, so get ready, here comes the rocket!

Above: The three-part se­ries fea­tures cov­ers by Glenn Fabry evok­ing some of his mem­o­rable Ver­tigo work.

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