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Talking Trve Kvlt With Scott Bryan Wilson & Liana Kangas

Trve Kvlt is a limited series described as a “satanic panic with a side of fries” co-created by writer Scott Bryan Wilson and co-creator artist Liana Kangas who are joined by color artist Gab Contreras, letterer DC Hopkins, and Jamez Savage assisting with colors. Kangas is known for their work on the limited series She Said Destroy with writer Joe Corallo and Black AF: Devil’s Dye with writer Vita Ayala as well as stories in Razorblades, Dead Beats, Where We Live, and several more anthologies. Among Scott Bryan Wilson’s credits are the Pennyworth limited series from DC, Altered Carbon: One Life One Death, and The Good Fight and Where We Live anthologies among other works. They both were generous with their time to talk about Trve Kvlt in this interview!

We hope you enjoy!

GL: Hello, Liana and Scott! Thank you for taking time out of your schedules for this interview! The first issue of your TRVE KVLT series will be out this week. How are you feeling about it

Scott Bryan Wilson: It’s unreal. I wrote down the initial ideas for this series back in January 2017 and now the first issue is hitting stands in August 2022. That’s a five-and-a-half-year birthing process, so to say I’m ecstatic is an understatement.

Liana KangasThis labor of love wouldn’t have happened without the support of our creative team, IDW, and the relentless support of the series’ fans before it went to print. I am so grateful… I do think I may cry this week out of happiness. (And seeing the team for the first time since we started the book!) 

GL: As I started reading the story I began having flashbacks to high school and my brief stint working in a local burger joint. Thanks for that! It feels to me a lot like a mockumentary blended with dark humor up to the last page surprise. How would you both describe it?

LK: Oh wow! I’ve never heard mockumentary before, I love that take on it! I think I’d definitely describe it as a sympathetic dark comedy meets heist meets thriller, but I have a lot of takes on this book. It’s truly unique. It’s wild to try and put it into a box, because there’s so many angles to it. 

SBW: I’ve been calling it fast-food-fueled Satanic criminality. I think there’s always been and still exists a bit of a stigma for comic books that flat-out brand theirselves as comedy, but fuck it: it’s a comedy. You can’t have this much insanity and characters this weird without a lot of laughs entering the fray almost by default.

GL: How did you come together on this project and would a little about the journey it’s been on from its conception?

SBW: Liana and I had both had stories in the Where We Live anthology from Image, so I knew her name from that and introduced myself when I saw her tabling at a show in New Jersey. We decided to team up on a short story for The Good Fight anthology, and had a lot of fun working on that, so we almost immediately started talking about working on something longer. I’d had TRVE KVLT gestating when she mentioned she always wanted to draw a heist book, so I said, “Weeeeell, it just so happens…” and we went from there.

LK: Scott and I have the same type of bullshit humor and mutual music, film, and comic interests, so it just sort of organically worked itself out. He’s among the first peers I met in person while starting off in comics, so it has been nice to come up together and get to collaborate as well. 

GL: The creative process always intrigues me. Scott, what sorts of things conspired in your imagination to give you the idea for TRVE KVLT?

SBW: I think I mentioned this on a podcast recently, but when I was working a fast food job in high school, I had no idea I was going to be a writer, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life, but I recall very clearly looking around the grill area one day and thinking, “Remember all this, remember everything. This is insane.” Almost thirty years later I morphed a lot of that insanity into TRVE KVLT. On top of that, I love crime fiction and crime cinema, so I’d say I wanted to start leaving my mark in the world of crime comics but figured I’d better have a different take on it than anyone else, hence the world of fast food.

GL: Liana, did Scott’s script or plot inspire ideas for your art or evoke any experiences to use in your art?

LK: Absolutely. One of the first things we discussed was our strings of bad food industry experiences, which I think colors the story a bit on my end, but I think primarily, the way Scott writes these characters is what really lends its inspiration on my end for drawing the story. I easily connected to a ton of them (or thought they were just wild) so most of what you see in the book is an amalgam of inspiration, mutual visual direction, and a sprinkling of personal experience. 

GL: Years ago I read somewhere that fast food chains use warm colors like orange and yellow in their restaurant designs because those colors visually stimulate hunger in our brains. Gab Contreras has a really nice color palette that accents those colors without being overwhelming. How did they become involved in TRVE KVLT?

LK: One of the funnest things to do with this book was creating a look and branding for fake fast food restaurant(s). I worked in marketing and design for almost a decade, so I utilized my commercial experience in that sense to try and create a look and feel of a timeless, side of the road, middle-of-nowhere place you’d eat at. Gab and I have a long history of collaborating together so it was a really easy transition on letting her do her thing, since she totally “understood the assignment” from the beginning! 

SBW: Gab is a genius. Liana and I spent a lot of time before we even started making the book talking about the color scheme and what we wanted. Neon was there from the beginning, but we also wanted Alison’s old-style Burger Lord uniform (brown, orange) to be there. Gab really took our basic notes and proceeded to blow us away with her color choices and additional textural work.

GL: If TRVE KVLT had a playlist what do you think would be on it?

LK: I’ve created a playlist for each issue and each character! Maybe one day we’ll post them somewhere.

SBW: If we’re thinking about our three main characters, it’d be a lot of hair metal (for Marty), lots of ’80s and ’90s R&B (for Bernice), and then nothing (for Alison, who I bet doesn’t listen to music).

LK: It may or may not surprise you to know that most of what I put on Alison’s playlist is actually repeat music I heard at my oldest retail job. Foreshadowing?

GL: Scott and Liana, do you have any advice or tips to anyone reading this who might be struggling with their writing or art or just starting out?

SBW: The three things I would suggest for a writer are 1: just start making comics, even if you have to draw them yourself with stick figures. 2: Read everything you can. If you’re not reading, you’re not a writer. 3: If you can imagine yourself doing anything at all other than being a writer, do that instead. It’s a brutal occupation.

LK: Much like Scott, my biggest piece of advice is to just draw comics. (Do it digitally, on scrap paper, whatever you got! Join your local comic shop’s 24-hour-comics day!) I would even say go so far as asking your (old college) roommate to write you a script, (who may or may not be our color assistant on this book) to where you can draw your first real comic as practice, to get a feel for what you enjoy doing in the process, but to actually *do the thing* so the industry says! I buy and collect a ton of comics, art books, French BD, and manga. It’s a great tool for any artist who’s looking to experiment and find their visual style, or wanting to research fun ways to tell stories within the page and panels. 

GL: What projects are in your near future that readers should be looking out for?

LK: Right now, you can pick up my work on TKO Tales of Terror, Canto Tales of the Unnamed World, #1 Joan Jett and The Black Hearts by Z2, She Said Destroy at Vault Comics, and heaps of my variant covers like Dark Spaces: WildfireCrashingDeadliest Bouquet, and more! For preorder, pick up my new story in the Chilling Adventures of Sorcery at Archie Comics, my new variants for End After End (Vault) and Blink (Oni) and Sartorial Geek magazine! I’m currently working on an unannounced project I hope can tell you about soon, but Scott and I do have some cool things coming in the future! 

SBW: The Pennyworth trade paperback from DC Comics is just out, as is the Altered Carbon: One Life One Death graphic novel from Dynamite. I have some Savage Tales out now and forthcoming from Dynamite, as well as things farther out on the schedule, including more DC work, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves’ InterWorld for HarperCollins, and some projects I can’t talk about yet, including another creator-owned book AND another series with Liana.

GL: Where can people find and follow you to keep up to date on your future work?

LK: lianakangas.com and almost ever social media platform possible at @lianakangas. Thank you so much! 

SBW: scottbryanwilson.com on the web, @scottbrwilson on Twitter, and @scottbryanwilson on Instagram. Thanks for having us!

GL: Thank you both for a great interview! And thank you, dear reader!

Trve Kvlt is out today in print in your local comic shop and digital format from Amazon. Comicshoplocator can help you find a comic shop!

August 17, 2022
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