Down the Creator-Owned Road: Chris Yost on Killer of Demons
Chris Yost on Killer of Demons
Newsarama contacted Yost to talk about killing demons and giving creator-owned comics the old “college try”.
Newsarama: Is Killer of Demons your first creator-owned go at comics?
Chris Yost: It is! I've been lucky enough to be pretty firmly entrenched in Marvel's animation projects and X-Universe comics for a few years now, and this is my first creator-owned project. It's been a few years in the making, and I'm thrilled Image said 'yes’. Special thanks to Robert Kirkman for helping make all this happen.
NRAMA: Can you tell the readers a little bit about Killer of Demons - what's Dave Sloan's deal?
CY: Dave Sloan is the Killer of Demons, chosen by God to be his hand on Earth. There are demons walking among us, seducing humanity and spreading evil, and it's the job of Dave and Dave alone to kill each and every one of them.
So says the fat little baby-angel that showed up one morning, yelling at him to kill, kill, kill. Kind of a worrisome thing to wake up to. But it gets worse, because when he goes to work, he sees them... demons. Half of everyone he works with appear to him as demons from hell. And Dave feels the urge to kill them.
Meter maids, guys at the fast food counter, gardeners with really loud leaf-blowers, people with annoying voices... all demons from hell, sent by Satan to ruin your life.
Or, possibly, Dave has gone crazy. What's more likely? Everyone Dave is killing (he can't resist) is a demon from hell, or Dave has snapped and turned into the worlds most recent mass murderer?
That's Dave's deal.
NRAMA: Who are some of the other key players in Dave's life?
CY: No one in Dave's life makes this easier. His fiancé is a police officer, on the case of the murderer. His best friend has embraced sin. His boss is an archduke from hell. The angel is a cranky little bastard that hates Dave every second he's not killing demons. And his brother is a collector of medieval weaponry that calls out to Dave, begging him to uses swords, axes, you name it to kill.
Dave's life is complicated.
NRAMA: How long have you been working on this project? Has it gone through a series of developments or did you nail this with an artist on your first try?
CY: We've been working on this for a while, but artist Scott Wegener nailed in the first try. Luckily, I found him before he because Scott Wegener, artist of the Eisner nominated series Atomic Robo. Lucky because he did the first issue for free.
And while I was trying to find a publisher, he went on to fame on Robo. Then when he finished up, he wrapped Killer of Demons. But I knew the second I saw his art that he was the guy. It's so fun and kinetic, he's really developed a great style that I think suits killing and slaughter really well.
NRAMA: Talking about some of the themes of the book; what was your motivation behind comparing certain types of careers (such as advertising) being inhabited by demons? What's your take on the struggle between Heaven and Hell?
CY: My background is in advertising, I worked at various agencies in Detroit for a number of years before heading out to Los Angeles. Most of the jokes and bits in KoD come directly from that.
In any job, there are people who just make your life hell. It's the only explanation... they were sent by Satan just to torment you.
As far as my take on Heaven and Hell, it's complicated... and the basis for the next two chapters in the story. So provided people don't hate this, there's more to come.
NRAMA: How is working on a creator-owned project different from working at Marvel?
CY: A lot more expensive. (laughs) But incredibly satisfying. Unless it tanks, I assume. But right this second, it's incredibly satisfying. At Marvel, I grew up with those characters and that universe, and I love every second of it. I'm lucky to be able to do what I do.
With Killer of Demons, it's my creation, my universe, and my voice.
Win or lose, it's something original (relatively, ha ha) that I'm putting out there.
NRAMA: Do your designs for Killer of Demons reach beyond comics? You work on Wolverine and the X-Men - could this project be destined to be a "mature" cartoon or a campy film franchise?
CY: Fingers crossed. I envisioned it as a comic, and if it's only ever a comic, then mission accomplished. If it moves to other mediums, great. If not, that's fine.
NRAMA: Do you have any advice for would-be creators who want to make a move into creator-owned projects but are afraid to make the leap of faith out of the mainstream scene? Inversely, do you have any advice for young creators who want to break-in via the indie scene first?
CY: The first thing people say when I give advice is, 'Who are you again?' But I think if you've got a story to tell, and you've got the time and money to produce it, I don't know why you wouldn't.
That being said, it's a lot easier for writers from a time and still able to do other stuff to put food on the table standpoint.
NRAMA: What's a work day for you like? Do you budget your time between certain projects? Or do you just work for maximum output and what gets done is what gets done?
CY: Most pressing deadline gets done first. It all has to get done, it's just a matter of when. Because I work from home, my work day is spread out over all 24 hours, but it's pretty much seven days a week.
It's hard to complain about, though, given what I do.
NRAMA: What kind of working rapport did you develop with Scott Wegener? How did the two of you get together for this project?
CY: I had done a short story for an indie anthology from Ronin Studios called Memories and Echoes, and Scott also had a story in there. I saw it, fell in love with the art, and stalked him down through the magic of the internet.
I had a completed script and a character design for 'Dave.' He mocked both, making me cry, but took the job anyway. Maybe it was pity, I don't know. But it's worked out so far. He gets me, and just really nailed the look and feel of the story and characters.
NRAMA: Where can readers find out more about Killer of Demons?
Scott Wegener, Ronda Pattison, and Tom Mauer (along with Jeff Powell and the fantastic Christina Strain) knocked this one out of the park. It's three issues, 30+ pages of content per issue... and in color! For the blood.
Killer of Demons is all about putting a smile on your face via jokes, depravity and violence. You're probably reading the big crossovers, thinking they need more underage strippers and decapitations, and you're right.
And Killer of Demons has it. Sex, drugs, smoking, mayonnaise, Satan, Satanists, strippers, underage strippers, the war between heaven and hell, car chases, insane asylums, goat-sacrificing, Battlestar Galactica jokes, sexy chicks licking their katanas, and the feel of joy you get when you kill someone who really annoys you.
This is what we offer you on March 4th.