Jen and Sylvia Soska are making a graphic novel with Daniel Way. And it’s going to be violent, funny and give zero damns about your finer sensitivities. The only surprise from all of this is that its taken this long for Vancouver’s Twisted Twins, self-professed and proud as hell comic enthusiasts, to make the leap to four-coloured mayhem.
KILL-CRAZY NYMPHOS ATTACK, co-written by Way & The Soskas, is nearing the end of its Kickstarter campaign. Having surpassed their initial set-up target (two-thirds of which was accomplished in the very first week), they’re now deep into the “stretch goal” phase of the campaign. Jen and Sylvia were gracious enough to take some time and sit down to talk about this next logical step in their march for worldwide media domination, as well as working in an artform very near and dear to their hearts.
Your love of comic books has been very well-documented over the years. I guess the first question should be: what took you guys so long?
Sylvia: Ha ha, I know right? We’ve been making up stories for comic book characters since we were kids, we’re just officially getting into it now and that’s because of Daniel Way. We are huge fans of his work and without his guidance in this medium, I don’t think we would be here right now. It’s super cool to learn this stuff from someone you admire who is so damn good at this stuff.
Jen: We’ve only really got to get into video games now. That would be the total hat trick. It’s always been a dream of ours to get into writing comic books. I feel some of the greatest stories and characters ever have been in graphic novels. It’s an incredible medium. I had no idea of how to get into that medium, aside from hoping one day Marvel would notice how much we love them, ha ha.
You’re co-writing with Daniel Way, writer on Deadpool, Thunderbolts and creator of Daken (aka Dark Wolverine). How did you guys end up connecting and collaborating?
Sylvia: Daniel tweeted about Dead Hooker in a Trunk and we saw that and tweeted back like total fangirls. We started talking on twitter about how much we dig each others’ work and it progressed into this rad collaboration. Daniel is the real deal. He’s so honest and bitingly so with how he sees the world and I love it. We pitched a few ideas back and forth and Daniel’s Kill-Crazy Nymphos Attack! was too good to not make. Plus, it’s always a good idea to go big out of the gate – it’s loud and extreme and has some great social commentary that could only be put on this thick with a grindhouse-style graphic novel.
Jen: It was a Twitter romance. I couldn’t believe it was THE Daniel Way. We’re big fans of his. He’s just an incredible writer who pushes boundaries with amazing results. I love the work he did on Wolverine: Origins and I always know when he’s writing Deadpool. We started talking and he mentioned a project he wanted to make called “Kill-Crazy Nymphos Attack”. We were in, from title on.
How have you found the creative process in writing comics, as opposed to screenplays? Are there are any adjustments you’ve had to make to standard procedure?
Sylvia: I’m loving it. What a lot of people might not know, is Jen and I grew up with comic books. I have thousands of comics in my bedroom right now. This has always been a goal for us to make somehow happen and we’re having the time of our lives doing it. It’s very similar to filmmaking with the script process, but there is definitely more black on the page to describe the action on the panels. Daniel is pretty genius and great at getting us up to speed on how to tackle this medium of storytelling.
Jen: It’s very organic. I have an understanding of comic books as a consumer, but Daniel has been simply amazing to work with. It’s similar to script writing. Pitching ideas back and forth is awesome. It’s like a mini writers room, which I love.
Give us the “Cliff Notes” version of the plot.
Sylvia: There’s this shitty scientist called Pervis Gunt, who is a putrid sleaze bag, who tries to make a female Viagra to get women to want to fuck like pornstars, but he fucks it all up and creates Kill-Crazy Nymphos that naturally then Attack! There’s a lot of commentary on the world and what is acceptable/unacceptable, but the story shines a real light on all of that ridiculousness. It’s a pretty wild satire – it’s very uncensored and we aren’t holding anything back, so that’s very cool. It’s very freeing.
Jen: Ha ha, that’s it. Science gone wrong and then hilarity, horror, and social commentary ensue.
From what we’ve heard so far, it sounds like there’s zero limitations on the content, as far as sex and violence? Was there ever a moment where you went “nope, too far “?
Sylvia: Not yet. A comic book won’t rattle your fabric of existence unless there’s something that it’s addressing that is already unstable. Everyone is so busy on this pursuit for happiness or having a fulfilling life that some big issues just get thrown to the wayside. The graphic novel is a fun, violent, and sexy way to point attention to things and say, isn’t that fucked up?
Jen: It’s our responsibility to push boundaries. Satire is healthy. You should be able to laugh at yourself. In the infamous words of John Cleese, “some people deserve to be offended.” However, that being said, we’re not being foul and nasty just for the sake of being foul and nasty. Everything that appears in the book is meant to open a discussion. Art should encourage people to think and this book will definitely be starting a lot of discussion. That being said, people can really enjoy it on a surface level, too.
Beyond the risqué humour and outlandish violence, there’s also a deeper and meatier subtext running through it. What kind of statement are you making here?
Sylvia: I want people to be able to read this and really think about it. It’s a pitch black satire, but we’re taking on everyone here. No one is safe. Instead of saying what we are saying here, I’ll leave it up to the audience to decide right now.
Jen: I like putting a spotlight on the kind of things most people like swept under the rug because those issues are unpleasant or make some people look bad. Having an open discussion is the only way to make a change. There are so many issues being looked at from gender equality to gay rights. We talk about politics and organized religion. Pretty much what Sylvie said. No one is safe.
On top of writing and directing, you also draw/illustrate. Have you contributed anything, visually, for the story (ie: character designs)?
Sylvia: Not on this one, but we shall see! Rob Dumo and Dave Johnson are two of my favourite guys in the comics business, so I think they have all this stuff very well handled on KCNA! I feel very lucky to be able to work with such a wealth of talent of this graphic novel. I’ve seen the illustrations from the novel and it’s really gorgeous stuff.
Jen: Rob Dumo and Dave Johnson are supremely talented. I think I’ll sit this one out. You never know, though. It might be cool to release a book with stories and artwork, kind of like our own version of Clive’s ABARAT.
Regarding comics, what’s the appeal for you? What do you look for in a comic or graphic novel that makes it a must buy? And which ones do you buy, without fail, on a regular basis?
Sylvia: When I was little, my grandmother got us our first comic books. She called them funny books and that we might like them – it was classic X-Men with mohawk Storm on the cover being badass. We were awkward kids, not very popular, and these comics made us feel stronger. When I discovered Spider-man, I could relate to him and I have been collecting him for years. Like even the obscure stuff. I love Ennis’ stuff, so I have a lot of his books. I collect everything Deadpool and Frank Castle. I still read X-Men. I’m a big Marvel girl. It’s such a magical time to live in where you see your heroes get live-action adaptations and all these great Marvel treats for fans.
Jen: Your chosen favorite super hero tells a lot about you. I started out with X-Men and Rogue. Then came Spidey and his glorious villains. Then Venom. Then it was Daredevil for a good long while. And Deadpool came in. And then Daken and Dark Avengers. Superheroes make you feel strong. They tell these amazing stories about extraordinary people in their ordinary days. They make you feel like you can be just a little bit stronger or cooler or suave~er, like you can survive anything. And when stuff is really rough, comic books, like films, provide some much needed escape.
As well as your first graphic novel, this is also your first leap into the crowd-funding pool. How has the experience been?
Sylvia: I was super nervous about it because we have never done it before and I used to not be a fan of crowd-funding. Then I saw great films getting made because of support from crowd-funding – like Astron 6’s The Editor or any of Andy Stewart’s glorious films. Also, I’ve seen Jimmy Palmiotti turn the crowd-funding into an online store where people are pre-buying perks and that gets the comic made. People have absolutely spoiled us with the support. We’re still two weeks away from the cut off and hoping to get some more perks unlocked before we go into making this thing!
Jen: I only ever wanted to do crowd funding in a unique case like this book. When people contribute or donate to the book, they’re getting something in return. It’s almost like a very specific online store. People can pre-order the book through the Kickstarter. Unless I was directly giving something back to our supporters, I wouldn’t want to do it this way. Also, this project is going directly from the source to our audiences. No middle man.
So can we expect more comic work from you in the future? Any projects lined up, or ( in case the right eyes are seeing this) any dream titles you’d like to work on?
Sylvia: Yes. We’re already planning the next one with Daniel – it’s a story about a demographic that always gets overlooked, so I never got any traction with it when I was trying to get it made into a film, but I think a comic first is a great way to prove a market to be able to make a film as well.
I have one secret dream job that we’re working on, so we’re already very fucking lucky. I would love to write for Spidey or Punisher or Deadpool. Anything Marvel. I would love to write for a video game too.
Jen: Working with Daniel has just been great. He’s a kick ass writer and imaginative as fuck. We have similar sensibilities, but we’re very different and that’s a really good thing when you’re writing together. This collaboration is the first of many, I suspect. When we first came together, we pitched a few ideas back and forth. We only decided that we ought to start with Kill-Crazy Nymphos Attack! and just go from there.
I’d love to write for Marvel. I grew up with those characters as friends. It wouldn’t even matter who. If I could pick, I’d like to write for the X-Men or Daredevil.
There’s still two weeks left to donate to KCNA’s Kickstarter drive (should you be feeling philanthropic and such). Also, if you’re in Vancouver on April 30th – one week from today – you could make far worse decisions than attending (deep breath) The Twisted Twins Kill-Crazy Kickstarter Burlesque Party and Fundraiser at the Rio Theatre . Hosted by Jen and Sylvia, with Daniel Way and KCNA artist Rod Dumo in attendance, it promises to be a wild night (obviously). Tickets are still available here.