Grime and High Color: ‘Glitter Vipers’ Creator Joe Glass Talks About His Cathartic Grindhouse Comic

by Malissa White

We’re angry. Yet, we all need a bit of levity right now. Not as a distraction, mind you. As a reminder that we’re entitled to our collective rage, that we can use that rage to raise oppressive systems and cultures, and through it we can find community and healing. 

Glitter Vipers. Cover Art by James Gifford.

Joe Glass’ newest Kickstarter launch, ‘Glitter Vipers’ gives us that and so much more. Tapping into rage through the lens of over-the-top grindhouse subgenre, Glass dares to broach queer vengeance that stands in identity firmly and colorfully. I sat down with Joe to discuss ‘Glitter Vipers’ and what backers can look forward to.

Malissa White: Where did the concept of ‘Glitter Vipers’ come from? How was that influenced by current and past events?

Joe Glass: The idea started seeding when I was reading about the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes since the election of Donald Trump and Leave victory in the Brexit vote here, and reading the stories of many of these attacks. I work a day job and I read the news on my phone while I’m taking public transport to and from work. I just remember sitting on the train and feeling so angry, so enraged, I just wished I could punch the people perpetrating these crimes. I wanted not just to improve the world and stand for justice and equality, I wanted to be able to actually physically fight back against the people who hurt us this way. 

But I also felt frustrated. What would that help? What’s the point if it’s after the fact; if the violent act, if the murder, has already happened? But at the same time, aren’t we (the communities affected, the survivors) entitled to that rage?

I think, now especially with what’s been going on in the world today, it’s a feeling that a lot of us, from any number of communities that have faced systemic failures and violence against us, can relate to. From there, the seed took root and started growing, and ultimately, ‘Glitter Vipers’ was born.

The gang is here! Glitter Vipers. Art by Katie Fleming.

MW: How does queer rage factor into Glitter Vipers? How do the characters view their rage? How do you metabolize your rage?

JG: Well, the group of characters, drag queen Bi Phallicia and her friends, initially begin as a survivors support group, until they decide to talk about their anger. They all kind of process that anger slightly differently. Most of them join Bi in her decision to create a street gang and fight back, physically, and all for different reasons: some want to feel strong again, some want to make sure what happened to them never happens again, some are actively seeking revenge. 

A big part of the story is exploring not just the existence of queer rage, and the communities right to it; but also the idea of anger and rage itself, and how we often see people writing those off as negative emotions or judging people for them, when they are human emotions. Something we all share. And that anger and rage can be useful. It’s about exploring the lengths of its usefulness.

Glitter Vipers. Page 1 Preview. Inks by Katie Fleming.

MW: What draws you to grindhouse? Are there any particular favorites in the subgenre?

JG: Honestly, I love the genre because it can often be gratuitously over the top, but also kinda cathartic? Like, when you watch a film where the villain is the scummiest piece of scum who ever scummed, there’s no better feeling than seeing the hero deliver the most righteous comeuppance upon them. They can be cathartic, and often revel in our worst impulses in a manner that brings a burst of serotonin; but they can also be silly, wallow in an aesthetic that is both grimy and high colour. 

But even with all this, they can actually have meaningful commentary on the world around us, or give a measure of wish fulfillment from the world around us. 

Personal faves? I love the Machete films, in terms of more recent ones. John Wick, From Dusk ’til Dawn, Pink Flamingos, Kill Bill – the list goes on, especially if you consider other film genres that owe heavily to grindhouse cinema. 

Glitter Vipers. Page 4 Preview. Inks by Katie Fleming.

MW: What are the influences (comics, film or otherwise) on ‘Glitter Vipers?’

JG: You know, I don’t think there’s any specific media influences that went to Glitter Vipers, beyond a general miasma that bleed in via creative osmosis. The majority of the inspiration came from the real life news stories, the anger they built in me, wanting to put that anger into the page. If there’s any particular media with a similar theme, maybe Virgil by Steve Orlando? Or movies like The Expendables or anything about a group of people deciding to fight back. 

MW: What are you most excited to share with backers?

JG: I suppose I’m excited to share with those who have felt the same way, or worse, have gone through these awful things, that they’re not alone. That they are entitled to that anger, and that anger can even be put to use. Again, I think anyone seeing the world today can see how that’s so, this book is a minor note mirroring the feeling we’re all starting to feel or witness. 

For the backers who have the privilege of never having to have had to face this institutional violence, I hope they maybe get to see another POV, and maybe get to understand why sometimes people want to violently fight back, and how that’s not something we should judge them for. 

But for everyone, backers and the whole world, I am excited for them to see the stellar work being done by my collaborators. The art of Katie Fleming, Kelly Fitzpatrick‘s colours, Lucas’ [Gattoni] lettering etc. They are all doing such incredible work, and this story will be gorgeous too. 

Glitter Vipers on Kickstarter. Logo by Spire Eaton.

Thank you, Joe, for speaking with me! Get your sequined bats ready, we’re taking on bigots and bashers in this 60 page comic. You can support your local queer gang on Kickstarter.

Malissa White

Malissa White is an indie comics writer, creator, producer and reviewer from Los Angeles, CA. Her works include the comic NIGHTMARE, SOUNDBOX with Kamikaze Animated's SHORT CIRCUIT Anthology, and short horror story "Vessel" with Black Women Are Scary. She interviews creators on Comics Creators Club via YouTube and her reviews can be found on The Valkyries blog. Like most 90s nerds, Malissa fell in love with comics after watching Storm on the X-Men. Since then, her mission is to bring complex WOC to the forefront of genre storytelling. When not writing, she's watching horror movies, drinking coffee, and probably on Twitter. Follow her there, or everywhere, at @Malissifent.

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