A small Colorado town. Three drug runners with a van filled with product. Two police officers investigating suspicious activity. A heroic young woman with a violent past, an innocent little brother and her dead father’s .38 police special. And a throng of ravenous townspeople out of their minds with drug lust. Mix and… BANG! Welcome to the neo-western survival horror world of Justin Zimmerman’s THE KILLING JAR…
As always, we were excited to sit down with Justin Zimmerman (writer + creator) and Russ Brown (artist) to talk about the new release of The Killing Jar.
Katie Cardwell: THE KILLING JAR has been out for a while. What makes this release different?
Justin Zimmerman: THE KILLING JAR was my first large-scale independent comic project, and while I worked on it issue by issue for years, A WAVE BLUE WORLD really brought it to a whole new visual level with their remastered version. And while it’s true that it has been out on the book market for bit, this is the first time THE KILLING JAR has ever been available at comic stores. It’s truly a celebration of the initial project Russ and I worked on… started over a decade ago, now!
Russ Brown: It’s always been a book that grows. Like the characters inside, it wants to survive. We started small and independent, attempting the 20 page paperback floppy issue model. Whether it was the gritty black and white interiors, the beautiful but bloody covers, or maybe the intriguing name itself, people arrive very curious… and get in on the secret.
What are you most excited about with this release?
JZ: Just the fact that people can go to their local comic store and finally discover the world that I painstakingly created and Russ drew to horrific perfection! As I don’t believe a graphic novel is ever really finished until it’s on a local shelf, this is a culmination of years upon years of work. I couldn’t be happier.
RB: Single issues, then a 3-issue trade paperback, then a 5-issue trade paperback, then the full, collected story. More and more people always came to see what THE KILLING JAR was all about. It’s a great story, rooted in a pretty realistic scenario, and readers LOVE to talk about it. I’m always excited for those conversations.
What is it about THE KILLING JAR that YOU love?
JZ: I’m always character first. And I love them all, especially Anna. But your hero is only as good as her antagonists, and THE KILLING JAR is filled with intense antagonists. And not only that, but the town itself. Readers have taken a look at the book in the past and talked about it feeling post-apocalyptic. Heck no. We got a cool review by a now defunct site back in the day I’ll never forget. The reviewer loved the book, and she wrote: “More within the realm of possibility than we’d like to think about.” That stuck with me.
RB: I’m a sucker for drama, gore, and small town secrets! Well-written stories are often hard to come by, and Justin not only crafted an amazing world and the folks that live in that world are absolutely wonderful. It was an incredible experience working on the book.
What do you hope others love about THE KILLING JAR?
JZ: Just that every page was the culmination of a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I wanted to create a visceral, black and white high contrast 16mm feel, so we shot from the pencils and I inked, toned and lettered every page. Neither of us had ever tried anything like this before – we built the book, page by page, chapter by chapter, from the ground up. Thank goodness I’d written the entire thing before we started, but even there I made major edits as pages came in. I hope people love being scared, inspired and challenged by the book… because that’s what it was like for me, every step of the way.
RB: I am simply happy to have people enjoy the stories that I help tell. If a reader finds anything at all to love along the way, whatever that might be, it’s a tremendous compliment.
What’s next for THE KILLING JAR team?
JZ: Most recently, I worked with Russ on a book called THE 27 RUN. It’s available now, and has a sequel on the way in 2021. Follow all the fun at www.AWBW.com. As for THE KILLING JAR? While I’d love to continue Anna’s story, that’s up to the readers, now!
RB: I’m drawing THE ADVENTURES OF JONATHON STONEBINDER for creator Daniel Krug. More on that here: www.danieljkrug.com/fiction
The Killing Jar is hands-down one of my favorite graphic novels, particularly out of Justin’s collection of work. You’ve got representation in the lead, an interesting world that is adjacent to ours, and a pace that keeps the reader turning the page until it is done.
Then, they go back to the beginning and read it again. At least I do! Because there’s always something to catch as two good people try to survive in a town full of terrible ones. Russ’ art really brings the story to life, and The Killing Jar is a lot to chew on.
So get down to your local comic shop and check it out on Wednesday, August 26th.