Glitterbomb Vol.2: Jim Zub & Djibril Morissette-Phan On The Price Of Fame

by Oliver MacNamee

You may have already read our early-bird review for Jim Zub and Djibril Morissette-Phan’s Glitterbomb Vol. 2, but if not, by all means read away here. It’s a horror-revenge-tragedy that focuses, in this volume, on Kaydon Klay, a naive young woman about to be eaten alive by the machinations of the Hollywood system. She has witnessed her neighbour, and one time cult TV star, massacre a room full of people courtesy of the parasitic creature possessing her body. Klay, as the sole survivor, is hot property at the moment, and that’s where we pick up the story.

I talked with Jim and Djibril  about this second arc, a switch in protagonist, and their  views on the celebrity culture we find ourselves immerse in, whether we like it or not.

Olly MacNamee: In the first arc, our lead was a jaded character, chewed up and spat out by the Hollywood system. In this second volume, ‘The Fame Game’,  you’ve taken the bold step of focusing on Kaydon Klay, a much more naive and innocent, younger person. Did either of you feel any trepidation in taking up this story with a complete different main character?

Jim Zub: Switching focus and bringing a new character into the forefront is always a risk, but in this case that just felt like the best way to broaden the scope of what Glitterbomb could show. Farrah’s story is complete, but the echos of what she did reverberate for a long, long time. Kaydon appeared in the previous story but now her role in all this is different.

With a mini-series format like this we can take risks and try something different. I figured it was a risk worth taking.

Djibril Morissette: From a visual stand point, I was very excited at the idea of focusing on an entirely different character. It gave me the chance to not only flesh out some secondary characters that I liked from the first arc, but also to create new ones, which is one of my favorite parts of creator owned comics. Also, Kaydon being a younger and more naive character made her very relatable to me. Even though I really enjoyed bringing Farrah to life in the first arc, I felt a deeper connection to Kaydon as a main character because I could see myself in her world, which made it more fun when giving her a personality on the page. I could easily put myself in her shoes. On a more pragmatic note, switching character also made me feel more free to update my drawing style, not having to stick too much to the visual language I established in the first arc.

OM: While still commenting on the media industry’s rapacious appetite, this a very different story isn’t it? Kaydon is at the start of this celebrity/exploitation journey, right?

JZ: Absolutely. Farrah’s story was one about bitterness gathered over a long and troubled career, while Kaydon’s is about the initial excitement as your world shifts and you gain fame, but quickly realize the toll of that on every other aspect of your life.

OM: Her brush with media, and media exploitation changes her. In more than one way? Can this be seen as something of an everyman/woman story in some aspects? Aren’t we all one news story away from being famous?

JZ: Yup. The fame that Kaydon is pulled into is something completely out of her control. She wanted to be a celebrity, but never like this. This “tragedy fame” has nothing to do with her skills or efforts, it’s a voyeuristic freak show that she can’t stop. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now she has to try and cope with it, and make it into what she dreamed fame could be.

OM: The comments made about celebrities becoming familiar to us, rather than talented, really stuck with me. Is this how you both see it, as more and more reality TV types seem to enter such shows in the hope of gaining a media career? I mean, I still don’t know what The Kardashians actually do, or what their reason for even existing is.

DM: I think that’s always been the case. We want to relate to celebrities, to live their lives by proxy, that’s why we’re so obsessed with them. We enjoy art but envy creators, or at least I do. I think the difference now is the access we have to them, from social media to the 24 hour news cycle. Those things only intensify a desire that is already there. I think the Kardashians exist because they fulfill that desire people have to live through someone else’s life.

JZ: Familiarity and visibility is one form of fame. Being recognized by a larger public and then needing that continuous attention in order to feed your ego and sense of self worth, even if that visibility might come from personal details coming to light, embarrassment, or disgrace.

OM: What were the influences informing this next chapter, narratively and stylistically?

JZ: I wanted to take the basic revenge story we built in Glitterbomb: Red Carpet and filter it through a very different character with different results. At first glance it looks like Kaydon will fall down the same rabbit hole as Farrah, but things change and different decisions drive her to a different breaking point.

Red Carpet locked in a sense of despair pretty early on and we didn’t really ever leave that. The Fame Game pushes and pulls some brief moments of light for contrast before plunging into the darkness.

DM: Stylistically, my main inspirations are usually movies. If I had to boil it down to one movie for each arc, the first one would probably be Drive where as the second arc was more inspired by the movie Dope because of the high school setting and the characters.

OM: You’ve described this book as a ‘horror tragedy’, Jim. Isn’t there a bit of revenge horror to it too?

JZ: Definitely, though most of that vengeance ends up causing more damage to our main character, so the catharsis is pretty short lived. The creature slays some awful people, but the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. It’s so intensely exaggerated that you’re kind of left wondering if you should be happy or horrified.

OM: There’s hints in this volume that there’s more to these symbiotic creatures than meets the eye. What can you tell us about their origins? Do we even need to know their origins?

JZ: I don’t think we need to know exactly where the creature comes from. The mystery of it makes it scarier instead of codifying it. It doesn’t have a weakness to religious symbols or cold iron. It’s not something that can be solved in a neat and tidy way. That’s not the point. It’s a reaction. It’s intense emotions made manifest.

OM: It’s an interesting, albeit frightening, time to find yourself writing about the Hollywood Machine, to say the least. When horrendous events in real life are more horrific than fiction, where do you go? Will you find yourselves drawn to these themes, do you think? What’s the big picture for Glitterbomb

DM: While working on the first arc of Glitterbomb, I, for my part, didn’t really realize the scale of the problem we were tackling. I remember reading Holly’s essay for the first time and being outraged, not realizing that the account was part of a much larger trend like we’ve seen in the past few months. Looking back on it, I’m glad we started the series when we did, because I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable telling that story in the current landscape, being someone who hasn’t had to deal directly with the issue. My only hope is that Glitterbomb can be a constructive part of a much-needed dialogue about the issue.

JZ: The original idea for Glitterbomb came from my own fears about failure. Channeling that through Hollywood seemed like a natural fit given the churning highs and lows that happen all the time in Tinseltown. Seeing all of that exploding outward in the public eye now, larger and even more awful than I ever imagined, it’s just surreal.

I agree with Djibril. The fact that it’s tapping into a larger zeitgeist is fortunate, but I don’t think I would have developed it if these stories had already been so out in the open. It would have felt exploitative.

If we get the chance to do a third volume, we’ll have to address the public outcry and changing industry. It would be wrong not to.

OM: And, not to give too much away, can we assume that Kaydon will be sticking around for a while longer than her predecessor? What’s next for her and her new found friend?

JZ: I’m hoping we get to do a third mini-series. If we do it’ll be focused on Marty, Farrah’s son. He’s growing up with an infamous serial killer mother and the eyes of the world looming all the time. It’s a story about childhood fame and the way Hollywood and the media treat children, stripping them of their agency and innocence.

Glitterbomb: The Fame Game Vol. 2 is out February 28th from Image Comics.