In 2016, comic book creator and television writer Blake Leibel was arrested on the suspicion of murdering his girlfriend, Iana Kasian. But it wasn’t until the autopsy report was released over a year later that the world was shocked to learn that the details of the murder mirrored the story in Syndrome, a graphic novel commissioned by Liebel and actually created by writers R.J. Ryan and Daniel Quantz, along with then-newcomer artist David Marquez. In a 2010 interview on Broken Frontier, six years before the murder, Ryan described the creative process:
With Syndrome, Blake Leibel, who created the concept, just sort of posed a couple of provocative questions to us—especially about how one would actually treat, as opposed to simply punish, an actual, bona fide psychopath—and then gave us the freedom to find the answers through our storytelling, this group of characters, and our work with our artist David Marquez. It was the ideal set-up with which to make a graphic novel.
But at the trial, Ryan testified that Leibel did bring specific ideas to the creative team. One of those ideas, according to Ryan’s testimony, was the idea of turning a victim upside down before draining them of their blood. Ryan said Leibel demonstrated the technique with hand gestures that Ryan still remembers today. He said that Leibel had final approval on everything in the book, and told the team he had done extensive research on serial killers. Kasian wasn’t drained of her blood by being hung upside down, but rather inside a bathtub filled with running water, after hours of torture. Kasian was found by police laid out on a mattress, her scalp removed, in a pose that also resembled a scene from the book.
Leibel, who is 37 years old, was convicted of first-degree murder in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Sentencing is set for June 26th.
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