Interviews

ZeroKiller's Arvid Nelson and Matt Camp


By Geoff Hoppe
Jun 23, 2007 - 12:08

Arvid Nelson, writer of Rex Mundi and writer/creator of Dark Horse’s upcoming ZeroKiller, and Matt Camp, penciler of ZeroKiller, answered a few of my questions about their new series.  


zerokiller_1.jpg
The stunning cover to issue #1.
CBB: Thank you both for letting me pick your brains today . I appreciate the opportunity, and so does the Bin.

 

Arvid: Oh, it's our pleasure! We appreciate you getting the word out.

 

Matt: It's my pleasure.

 

CBB: Could you guys describe ZeroKiller in your own words?

 

Arvid: Yeah, well, Zero Killer is definitely in the tradition of classic after-the-bomb epics, things like Mad Max or Escape from New York. It also has a lot of original elements, too. It's an alternate history, or rather, an "alternate present:” that is, it's set in the present-day, in New York City, but given different historical circumstances.

 

Matt: I was going to say the Left Behind series meets the Muppets Take Manhattan, but Arvid's explination is better.

 

Arvid: Actually, that's not a bad description, Matt! It's also heavily influenced by cyberpunk. The cyberpunk won't become apparent until later in the story.

 

CBB:  Arvid, your other series, "Rex Mundi," also deals with an alternate present. Why does this concept appeal to you?

 

zeroklandscape_1.jpg
The Pan Am building, home to the murderous Joker gang.
Arvid: For me, it's a way of tracing the blizzard back to the beating of the butterfly's winds on the other side of the world. It's a way of examining history in a new way. Things like the decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan to end WWII -- that had a huge impact on everything that followed.

 

CBB: On the series' website, zerokiller.com, there's a very detailed timeline of the events that led to the nuclear war. How research intensive was it to write this story?

 

Arvid: Pretty intensive, you know, for both Matt and myself. For me, it involved learning about the Cold War. Matt's done a lot of research into the physical aspects of the story -- New York City, graffiti styles, military equipment, stuff like that.

 

CBB: Does the research have an impact on your creative process, Matt?

 

Matt: Definitely, I'm a pretty detailed artist so I have to make sure things are just right. And consistent.

 

Arvid: That's one of the many things I love about Matt's art--I write "draw a Chinook helicopter", and Matt will draw the most incredibly detailed, unmistakable Chinook helicopter.

 

Matt: We have to keep the buffs as happy as possible.

 

zerokiller2-1.jpg
Zero arrives at the home of the Black Cats gang.
CBB: I also loved the detail of your cityscapes, Matt-- there's an Otomo-esque quality to them. I'm guessing the detail makes ZK a pretty labor-intensive series?

 

Matt: Yes, it is but I think I'd be this detailed if I were working on Archie. And that's not a rip on Archie.

 

CBB: Fair enough. Veronica's a fox, even though she's evil (she was the evil one, right?).

 

Arvid: Yeah. You can tell because she had black hair and she was always glowering.


Matt: Veronica was the hot one, Betty was boring. Speaking of detail, though, I'd actually like to go even farther in the future.

 

CBB: F arther?

 

Matt: Yeah, bigger shots, more big ideas.  Up until this week I had a day job which was really hindering my work on the book so now it's Zero Killer 24/7. I've actually been up for 25 hours now...but I love it so it's not really work.

 

Arvid: Wow, Matt, get some sleep!... As soon as the interview is over.

 

CBB:  Speaking of bloodshot eyes, the detail in your facial expressions is as good as the detail in your landscapes, Matt. Any advice for budding artists on how to get that way?

 

Matt: Whenever I start a new project I try and re-learn how to draw in a way, I look for the mistakes and I ask other people what they like about a certain page. It's like a popularity contest for new ideas.

 

CBB:  For both of you guys-- What about the character of Zero? Even in the free comic book day promotion, he seems very well defined. What were his influences?

 

zero_1.jpg
Zero, titular hero.
Arvid: Zero comes from a lot of places. Definitely Bruce Lee, Max from Mad Max, Snake Plissken, even Spider Man.

 

CBB:  How Spider-Man?

 

Arvid: He's very acrobatic and agile. He's not a thug, you know? He's very acrobatic and agile. He overcomes his opponents with superior tactics and a superior attitude, not brute force.

 

Matt: I just try and make him a bit like Eastwood.

 

CBB:   On the website, Arvid, you mention Zero's desire to escape the violent world of New York. In what way does the desire for redemption shape Zero?

 

Arvid: That will become clearer as the story progresses. Matt mentioned Clint Eastwood, and that's a great reference too, especially his character in Unforgiven. Zero used to be a very bad person. But he had a revelation of sorts, a revelation that came out of a terrible personal tragedy for him. I wouldn't say he's a "good guy" now, but he's definitely not malicious or evil anymore. He's on the path of redemption.

 

blackcats_1.jpg
Two members of the Black Cats.
CBB:  Hence his willingness to work for the gangs, but stop them if they do something wrong (as in the story from free comic book day)

 

Arvid: Yeah, right! Exactly. He's kind of irritated when he has to go out of his way to help someone, but he'll do it.

 

Matt: You have to be selfish in this world, but his weakness is that he's sees what's wrong in that.

 

Arvid: I couldn't have said it better. Zero’s going to learn the value of helping people. None of the characters are what they seem. The first issue sets up a lot of expectations for readers…expectations which we're going to totally defy by the time the series concludes.

 

CBB:  Speaking of that, do you have a full "first season" storyline set? Or do you plan for ZeroKiller to be an ongoing (or, possibly, both)?

 

Arvid: I see Zero Killer as a finite story. I think a lot of stories run out of gas, and that's really a shame.   Better to end gracefully. Dark Horse has given us the go-ahead for six issues. I'd like to do another six, or maybe even another 12. That all depends on how well it's received! I guess that's just the way I write. I like stories to go somewhere, to have a beginning, a middle and an end.

 
CBB:   So...not a fan of how The Soprano's ended ?

 

Arvid: You know, I actually think that was okay--

 

Matt: Ahhhh, don't tell me!

 

Arvid: I mean, I didn't watch The Sopranos, but I like that they left off the way they did.

 

joker_1.jpg
A member of the Jokers.
Arvid: Some songs end by slowly fading away. Some have a definitive ending chord. But the most important thing is that it ends when the story is over, not when ratings take a dive because the creative team has run out of juice.

 

CBB:   Well, I'll let you guys go (so Matt can sleep), but before I go, any advice for the prospective writers and artists out there?

 

Arvid: Don't give up. Seriously, that's the only thing separating a professional from an aspirant. Stubbornness. Rejection is totally normal. I've been reject from film school, I've had my stories rejected from every major and minor publisher, including Dark Horse!

Take pride in what you do, but secretly hate your work.  The minute you believe your own hype is the minute you should retire.

 

Matt: And be nice. Like Dalton says.

 

Arvid: Ooo, good one, Matt…

 

Arvid: Yeah, that's the best advice of all, "live like Dalton from Roadhouse".

 

Matt: That's right I made a Road House reference.

 

CBB:   Muppets take Manhattan still wins my award for best reference of this interview, however.

 

Arvid: It's hard to best Kermit.

 

CBB:  Kermit's amnesia was a striking indictment of Ed Koch-era policies.

 

Arvid: Absolutely. I love it when he tells Miss Piggy he's going to "bring home the bacon!" and then she flips out and karate chops him. So many happy memories.

 

CBB:   Gooood times.

 

Matt: The Muppets Take Washington?

 

CBB:  That could be cool.


Arvid:  One hopes. Jesus, if ever we needed Kermit's wisdom on foreign policy, that time were now.

 

CBB:   Thanks again to both of you, guys! I look forward to seeing ZK on stands July 18th.


Last Updated: Jun 26, 2018 - 9:28

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