BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
OCTOBER IS HORROR!
A short time ago we were lucky enough to talk with Sacha Borisich about the online webcomics series, Black Cherry Bombshells. Now we've got writers Johnny Zito and Tony Trov on board to give us some more details about this series where everyone with a Y chromosome was turned into a zombie and rival gal gangs rule the streets of Las Vegas. Of the inspiration behind this series, Zito told THE PULSE, "Tony and I were looking to write women who weren't just the 'girlfriend' or the 'wife' - we wanted to write women like action heroes. So to avoid things like the male antagonist or the 'arms dealer' or 'hitman' we just got rid of all the men."THE PULSE: Who or what are the Black Cherry Bombshells? They kind of sound like some punk rock singing group! JOHNNY ZITO:
The Black Cherry Bombshells is the story of girl gangs fighting for survival in a post apocalyptic Las Vegas where every man on earth has been mutated into zombies. TONY TROV:
Our comic follows the Black Cherry Bombshells, an up and coming gang of bootleggers, as they take on The King, a killer kun fu female Elvis impersonator and the top crime boss in Las Vegas. THE PULSE: How did you come up with this idea? It kind of reminds me of a demonic twist on Y: The Last Man, only there isn't a "last man" that isn't zombified here .... JOHNNY ZITO:
Tony and I were looking to write women who weren't just the 'girlfriend' or the 'wife' - we wanted to write women like action heroes. So to avoid things like the male antagonist or the 'arms dealer' or 'hitman' we just got rid of all the men. Then it was a matter of finding a believable reason to get rid of all the men. Zombie virus - duh. [grins] Y was an inspiration in that sense but otherwise I think that's where the similarities end.TONY TROV:
I would also consider the Philly Roller Girls and the music of The Go! Team to be a huge influence on the comic. THE PULSE: Why pick Las Vegas as the setting? I mean, I know it's Sin City and "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," but still .... JOHNNY ZITO:
Honestly? THE PULSE: Well ... I wouldn't want you to lie to our readers! JOHNNY ZITO:
[laughs] Because since 9/11 all sci-fi takes place in NY -- especially the post Apocalyptic stuff. So, we started looking for locations not as over exposed. Vegas offers us a huge array of backdrops you don't get in New York and with Vegas you still get the New York, New York Hotel.TONY TROV:
Plus it creates and excuse to go visit. I’m going in January for – uh - research THE PULSE: Research ... right! So, what inspired you to do a zombie story? JOHNNY ZITO:
We were looking to do zombies for a while. We love the metaphor of the living dead. Plus as a man, an outsider to the female experience, it seems as if women would identify with being surrounded by drooling, flesh craving monsters.TONY TROV:
…and honestly, it’s more of a gangster story. Zombies are just part of their world. THE PULSE: We've seen a lot of Zombies, what are yours like? The slow moving brain eaters or is there a twist here? TONY TROV:
The twist is that only men were infected with the virus. We're going to get more into that later in the series. The back story of the BCB is very much tied to the origins of the Zombie Virus. JOHNNY ZITO:
They're slow, swarming zombies. We love Romero and Argento; it's all about the classics. They eat brains, hearts, intestines and bone - if you're a living breathing woman then they're looking to eat you up. THE PULSE: And that's different from men on the hunt how? JOHNNY ZITO:
I guess it's not. Hopefully that's why the metaphor works. You know it's funny cause we tell women what the comic is about and they go 'No men? Oh that's cool." and then you tell a guy and they get creeped out 'no men? That's weird." TONY TROV:
I like to imagine that somehow, if I lived in this world that I survived the outbreak.JOHNNY ZITO:
How’s that?TONY TROV:
Probably with an aluminum tin foil hat… probably.THE PULSE: yeah those tin foil hats are good for everything! How did this happen? I mean, was it just like all of a sudden men turned into Zombies? Do their victims turn into zombies too or is it just this group of zombies is it? JOHNNY ZITO:
It's every man on earth. The virus is only carried on the y chromosome. So while the women left alive are always in grave danger or being eaten they can rest assure they'll never face the same fate as their male counter parts. We've dropped a few hints in the comic that more and more zombies are congregating in Vegas. When we reveal why that is you'll learn more about where the virus came from and how it spread. Women are an endangered species. Disease has taken all the men and replaced them with monsters. On the day that happened the news went dead. No one investigated where the virus came from, how it spread and why it only affected men. All of the women went into survival mode. So the reader knows about as much as anyone else living in our post apocalyptic Vegas. TONY TROV:
But except us A-hat wearers. THE PULSE: Right. Of course. Is this a case of anyone pregnant who delivers a male baby is going to see it turned into a zombie as well? Are all the male animals zombies? TONY TROV:
All of the male animals are zombies, yes. A pregnancy at the time of the outbreak would probably result in a miscarriage for the males. At the end of this season we do meet the youngest girl in the world. The child most women expect will be the last human being left alive. She's something of a messiah figure to the survivors. In general though I imagine most babies were eaten on the day of the outbreak. Toddlers run slow. JOHNNY ZITO:
And are probably like eating veal for zombies…wait is that weird to say? THE PULSE: Are you going for serious or funny with this series? Am I looking too deeply into things? TONY TROV:
There are lots of tongue in cheek jokes. Just take our antagonist, The King.
ZITO: I think it goes both ways. We want it to be fun. We want people to ask these questions of themselves and keep coming back to find the answers. We think that we offer a lot for the audience to latch on to. And it's a job well done for us if someone chews it over even a fraction as much as you have. [smiles] THE PULSE: Well ... I like to be thorough when I can. So, with the world in the state it is, it's not hard to see how there's safety in numbers and gangs would develop. How'd the Black Cherry Bombshells team up? JOHNNY ZITO:
Regina, the rictus scared leader, put them together. She has a shady past with The King. But they are a fairly new gang in the Vegas hierarchy. Very recently they've made a name for themselves as bootleggers. So we're going to do some flash backs coming up showing where everyone came from and how they ended up where they are at the beginning of strip 1, when we met them for the first time. So as we continue to chart the BCB rise among the gangs, we're going to go back and get into the mystery between Regina and The King and how Megan got involved in all of that. THE PULSE: So you do plan on showing a little of before the virus ...? TONY TROV:
I think the furthest we might go back is the outbreak. The people they were before that day don't exist any more. They are changed emotionally and mentally by their circumstances. Meeting Frankie or Red before the virus spread - you wouldn't recognize them. JOHNNY ZITO:
I think it would be awesome to see some other cities too. THE PULSE: I agree. Speaking of AWESOME, how'd you pick Sacha Borisich to bring the BCB to life? What was it about her style that really spoke to you? JOHNNY ZITO:
We found Sacha on the now defunct ComicJobz.com. We had a male artist at first but he had to drop out. So we went searching for a new artist and came across Sacha's gorgeous line work. When she started drawing the characters there was a new quality to them that wasn't there before either. They were still sexy lil' cartoons but it wasn't the same kind of sexy a male artist brings. The characters had attitude and personality that made them sexy instead your run of the mill, t&a cartoon.TONY TROV:
We just met her for the first time in person October 30th. She lives in LA and we're in Philly but we got together in NY that night and got drunk and talked comic books. It was crazy to be working with her for almost a year now on the project and never have met face to face. Oh! And she did a great doodle of Frankie in my writing note book. THE PULSE: Why was this the comic you wanted to enter on Zuda? I mean ... what niche did you think this filled? JOHNNY ZITO:
We pitched this to Zuda because it is a pretty far our idea and it has some trippy visuals. We feel that internet cartoons should push boundaries and try to do things you might not see in print right now. I think a zombie comic with an all female cast is a pretty big departure from zombie comics and zombie fiction in general. TONY TROV:
Zuda embraces that philosophy; being the first big name publisher to open a web comic imprint is proof of that. So we thought our wild ideas and their wild ideas might work out and they have just been fantastic. THE PULSE: When does the comic update and what's coming up for the BCBs?JOHNNY ZITO:
We update on Monday and Wednesdays. In the next few months we hope to be far enough ahead to increase to three times a week.TONY TROV:
That's more of a personal goal than an editorial mandate or anything. We just love producing it and we want to see it come out as much as possible. THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on? JOHNNY ZITO:
We have a web comic at Thrillabuster.com
TONY TROV: And We’re coming up on the season finale of Black Cherry Bombshells. Things are ramping up and we promise to close things with a bang or a zap. I dunno. Rest assured there will be a clever onomonopia in there. BlackCherryBombshells.com, tell your friends.
JOHNNY ZITO: Happy Halloween!
TONY TROV: Yes, Happy Halloweenies.