Killing God With Matt Pizzolo

Louie Falcetti writes for Bleeding Cool;

You’re probably aware of Halo-8 without even knowing it. If you’ve picked up the Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods or Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts docs then you’ve been introduced. Those documentaries however are just a fraction of the work that’s coming out of this company. You may have even experienced (which is really the only way one can take it in, you don’t “watch” it) one of the Godkiller illustrated films, available streaming on Netflix.

This year in San Diego I was lucky enough to meet Matt Pizzolo, who not only writes comics but directs and is the principle organizer of Occupy Comics. I had never heard of Matt or his work until the Horror On The Paneled Page panel, where I was so taken aback with the striking covers of Godkiller, that I immediately ran to the floor of the show and picked up the first trade, devouring it that very night and returning the next day for the second. Matt is one of the heads (and founders) of Halo-8 and I was able to talk with him a little bit about the upcoming Godkiller Graphic Novel Tomorrow’s Ashes Book II: Spiderland coming out July 31, and the upcoming illustrated film adaptation of Hack/Slash of which he is directing. If he sounds too busy to be human, worry not, he assured me that he gets all the sleep he needs…at red lights.

First off, I wasn’t sure from the site but are there individual paper issues of Godkiller, or are they released digitally and then bound together for trade paperbacks? Those covers are so unique and stunning, I was hoping that there were actual back issues out there.

There are, we just don’t keep them in print. The first mini-series Godkiller: Walk Among Us had 6 individual paper issues. They weren’t at comic shops, just at conventions and on our website until they sold out. You can see on the Godkiller DVD there are PDFs of those 6 issues.

We changed things up a bit with Tomorrow’s Ashes where we only do the issues digitally, but then each mini-arc is collected into a graphic novella (around 100 pages). When all the Tomorrow’s Ashes arcs are completed they’ll be collected in a complete Tomorrow’s Ashes trade.

For someone totally new to the world of Godkiller, do you suggest that people start with the book or the illustrated films?

The content is basically the same either way, so it’s really just a question of whether you prefer engaging with a world through the comic book format or through experimental animation.

It’s a matter of taste, we find that the book and the illustrated film draw two different audiences and there’s not much crossover. People who love the illustrated film often buy the book afterward so they have something physical they can return to, but I think it’s actually less common for people to start with the book and then move to the illustrated film.

I’ve had this weird experience several times where people run over excited when they see the Tomorrow’s Ashes book and pick it up, but then stop short and put it down saying they don’t want to spoil watching the next installment of the illustrated film. I don’t think the reverse is true, so I guess most people are watching the illustrated film first and then reading the book.

Tomorrow’s Ashes, is that a reference to the Propagandhi album or is there a source that you’re both quoting? If it is a nod to Propagandhi, is the band aware of it?

Hah,  good catch, yes it’s a reference to the Propagandhi album Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes. I doubt they’re aware of it, but if they have a google alert maybe now they know. Obviously Walk Among Us is a reference to the Misfits album and Spiderland is a reference to the Slint album. The titles match literally to the content of the stories but they’re also a nod to the intended musical tone and texture.

The Spiderland trade is coming out very shortly, would you like to say anything specific about it?

Spiderland takes the series off the rails in a lot of different ways. It starts bringing in much more of the Starkiller mythos along with radical street politics and quantum physics-based magic. At the same time it also includes some of the most explicit sequences we’ve done, Anna must’ve been downing viagras laced with I don’t know what and chased with red bulls because she’s been firing on all cylinders, the art is just completely unhinged in such an exciting and unique way.

One thing that’s interesting is we start tying in the events of Godkiller: Silent War in Spiderland. Silent War was previously a serialized prequel novella included on the Walk Among Us DVDs as e-books and audiobooks. I wrote it back in 2009 and some of the core plot takes place among young radicals protesting on Wall Street. The pages in Spiderland look like they’re directly lifted from Occupy Wall Street, but Anna actually illustrated those pages last summer before Occupy started. It’s funny because when Silent War started coming out people were telling me they didn’t believe there would be a populist youth movement targeting Wall Street, but now when Spiderland comes out everyone will be like oh yeah that’s so obvious haha.

One thing I noticed being *very* new to this world (how many days has it been since con?) is that there seems to be more colors, or maybe brighter colors used in Book 2 as opposed to Book 1, is that a conscious move and is that something that’s going to continue to play out as the story develops?

It was a conscious choice to change the aesthetic a bit in Tomorrow’s Ashes… the first book is very bleak and about Tommy discovering this dangerous and exciting world as a young boy who’s feeling threatened and overwhelmed by it, now in the second mini-series he’s growing more powerful and learning to master himself and the forces around him. Halfpipe also has shifted from being essentially a slave struggling to buy back her freedom in the first mini-series to now being more heroic. So Anna’s art mirrors the tonal changes in the story and among the characters. She has an amazing amount of range, so it’s really impressive to see her re-invent the aesthetic without sacrificing her unique style.

In the first 2 books we’ve experienced a lot and been introduced to many characters, but I feel like we’ve only seen a fraction of this world, as the story continues are we going to see more of the rest of the planet or is the story going to be mostly based in the area we’ve seen so far?

The physical scope of the story world will definitely grow. The idea has always been to introduce the world incrementally as Tommy discovers it. He’s very sheltered in his orphanage in the beginning, but as he travels beyond his comfort zone he fills in the world for us. The story arcs coming up will introduce us to other areas of the planet as well as other planets and other dimensions and other times.

We’re also building out this world to be further developed and further explored in other stories. Already Silent War spans from Old Testament/antediluvian-era within the Godkiller world to present day and post-apocalyptic future. We’re also readying Godkiller: The Long Knives for release, which is a mini-series that tells the pre-apocalyptic origin of one of the Godkiller characters. So even though it’s a standalone story it still fills in more of the world’s history and mythology.

You’re working on an illustrated film of Hack/Slash, for devotees of the title, how involved is Tim Seeley on the project with you? I see that he’s involved in a lot of Halo-8 projects, I’m just wondering how collaborative this is or if he’s leaving it up to you and your vision?

Tim is a great collaborator because he’s ready and willing to participate at every stage, but he’s also cool with taking a step back and letting us tinker with his world. Hack/Slash has been simmering here for a while because we want to do something really special and unique for it. Sometimes we’re in a position where we know what we want to do, but we have to wait a bit for the available technology to catch up with our vision… that’s where we were for a bit with Hack/Slash, but we’re now in a place where we’re making real progress and we’re all very excited about it. Tim has been deeply involved in every good decision we’ve made so far, but all the bad decisions are solely my fault.

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