Interview - Laura Harkcom and Chris Leone (We Kill Monsters)

We Kill Monsters is a new comic from Laura Harkcom and Chris Leone, screenwriters-turned-comic book writers. The story goes thusly: Jake and Drew are brothers when Jake gets bitten by a monster, transforming his arm into a monster arm. The siblings are then tasked with fighting off a nonstop barrage of monsters. Harkcom and Leone were awesome enough to do an interview with Omnicomic, and it's full of the requisite shanking threats. Read on.

Omnicomic: The two of you worked on "The Lost Room" for SyFy, which was pretty well-received and critically acclaimed. Did that writing experience help you with We Kill Monsters?

Laura Harkcom: The episodic aspect of television writing -- telling a story in episodes that had their own beginnings, middles and ends -- was definitely a help in plotting out the arc for the 6-issue arc for WE KILL MONSTERS.

Chris Leone: Yeah, mini-series are an unusual format. They have episodes like a TV series but still have to add up to one overall story, like a really long movie. So in that respect, it's similar to writing a limited comic book series like WE KILL MONSTERS. Each issue is its own story, but they have to connect to a complete arc for the six issues.

Omnicomic: From a broader perspective, the two of you seem to have a lot of screenwriting cred in general. Is it difficult to write comics after screenwriting? Do you have a preference?

Leone: Screenwriting pays more, but it's a lot easier to get a comic book made than a movie. Writing comics was weird at first just because it's a different medium. It goes by different rules. Every page is its own decision. Is this one panel? Three panels? Seven panels? How efficiently can I tell this story in pictures? Luckily I don't have to draw any of it.

Harkcom: It was much more difficult for me than Chris. I think this is because comic writing is actually more like directing than like screenwriting. It's about calling the shots in every single panel of the comic, thinking about each panel in a meticulously visual way. Since Chris is also a director, this came more naturally to him than to me.

Omnicomic: : Where did the idea for We Kill Monsters come from originally?

Harkcom: Chris came up with the title first. After we stopped laughing because we thought it was so funny, the ideas just started flowing. Chris had the idea that one of the brothers, Jake, would need the glowing fluid from the monsters' brains to survive. Then I had the ideas that Jake would take on the characteristics of whatever monster whose juice he drank, and that there would be this triangle with Drew's ex-girlfriend who felt like the third wheel in her own relationship. Then we sort of evolved it from there.

Leone: All our ideas come from different places. This one started with the title. I snickered about that title for weeks. I knew that if I saw something called WE KILL MONSTERS I'd have to check it out. Then the question was, what does WE KILL MONSTERS make me think of? And it always seemed like it should be about two guys who drive around killing monsters. Then the question is why? That one stumped us for a while. And then one day I had the image of one of them drinking the glowing fluid from the monster's brains, because he need it to stay alive. And then we kind of had it.

Omnicomic: We Kill Monsters focuses on Jake and Andrew. Do these guys represent anyone you know in real life?

Leone: They don't really represent anyone exactly. They're named after my brother and my nephew though.

Harkcom: Well, I've certainly taken some of the dynamics between the brothers from my real-life relationship with my sister, but the characters themselves are fictional.

Omnicomic: : "We kill monsters" is a pretty straightforward and succint summation of what readers can expect from the book. But we don't know what kind of monsters we can expect to be killed. Are you planning to draw on monster mythos (werewolves, swamp things, etc.), or will we see some totally new and crazy monsters as fodder for Jake and Andrew?

Harkcom: Totally new and crazy. No mythic monsters.

Leone: No, there's no Dracula or Wolf Man or anything. They're all new monsters, like the kind you'd make up when you were a kid. In the first issue there's a triclops that's built like a bull, with big ornate horns.

Omnicomic: : Will each issue focus on a different monster, or are you just writing this over-arching story without an episodic feel?

Leone: Almost every issue introduces a new monster or two, so each issue has kind of its own feel and identity. But the six issues together tell one complete story.

Harkcom: Pretty much each issue introduces a new monster, but there's also an over-arching story that unfolds. So we answer a little bit of the mystery of the monsters' origins in each issue.

Omnicomic: From the We Kill Monsters website, it appears that Drew brandishes a shovel, Jake a claw and Vanessa a big-ass Magnum. Which of those three should monsters fear most?

Leone: I would fear Jake, since he's the mechanical genius. He builds bigger and better monster-killing weapons as they go along.

Omnicomic: Speaking of Vanessa, can you tell us anything about her new man Dennis? Something of the sinister variety maybe?

Leone: Why, I don't know what you're talking about. Pshaw, the very thought.

Omnicomic: You recently started Monstrosity, Inc., and We Kill Monsters is your first comic book. Can you explain your relationship with Red 5 Comics?

Leone: Well, the Red 5 guys I knew in prison, and they would pay me in cigarettes to shank dudes who were talking smack. My prison name was The Shanker. After prison we all mellowed and went our separate ways, and now those guys are publishers and we're creators, so a business arrangement made sense. I don't shank people any more! Unless I get mad.

Omnicomic: Is the book going to be a monthly series?

Harkcom: Yes. It's a 6-issue limited series that will publish monthly until December, 2009.

Leone: Yup, the book is coming out monthly like clockwork. Issue #2 drops on August 19th.

Omnicomic: Any plan to use your screenwriting knowledge and adapt this to a movie at some point?

Leone: Actually I think it would be an awesome video game but yeah, it would be definitely be cool to adapt as a movie or TV series. But for me, I grew up collecting comics so we were really just trying to do a bad-ass comic book first and foremost. It is a really surreal feeling to bag and box your own comic book, by the way.

Omnicomic: Anything else you want to plug while you've got the floor?

Harkcom: Our incredibly talented crew of artists -- pencil and inker Brian Churilla, colorist Ronda Pattison, and letterer Jeff Powell. Without those guys, we'd just have scripts.

Leone: We're doing a signing at Golden Apple for the release of WE KILL MONSTERS #2 on August 19th. So if you're in the area, come by and check it out. Maybe I'll shank you. You can check out Omnicomic's review of the first issue here. We Kill Monsters #2 hits stores next week (interiors are below), and be sure to check out their website.