The Music of Murder: Adam Beechen on Killapalooza

Adam Beechen on Killapalooza

Killapalooza #1

What do popular bands do when they’re not recording and not playing shows? Some might say hanging out, backstage, on tour buses, homes or what have you. But what if I was to tell you that they moonlight in an even more dangerous field: that of assassins. That’s the concept behind the WildStorm series Killapalooza, by writer Adam Beechen and artist Trevor Hairsine.

In Killapalooza, the biggest band in the world goes by the name of the Clap. Like any typical band, at their best they’re friends – but at their worst, they’re at each other’s throats. But through it all they’ve somehow managed to stick together – for fame, fortune, and out of their secret double life as assassins for hire. But as they try to get out of the business, they get pulled back in when they find out another band – of assassins – are angling for their spot.

Killapalooza debuted last month, and issue #2 his this week – so with that in mind, we cornered the comics scribe Adam Beechen to find out more about this murder power ballad.

Newsarama: 1. Thanks for talking to us, Adam. If I can speak frankly – what the hell is Killapalooza about?

Adam Beechen: It’s a somber meditation and incisive commentary on celebrity and excess in this time of harsh economic — Aw, who am I kidding? It’s about jerkwad rock stars with superpowers who moonlight as killers-for-hire! They behave badly, they rock, they kill people. If you looked at their day planner, that’s what it would say. Every day.

NRAMA: This is the Adam Beechen my editor warned me about it. But let’s try to stay on track here, sir… tell us more about the rock band at the center of it all – rockers by night, assassins by later-at-night?

AB: Our anti-heroes are a band called “The Clap,” pampered rock stars, groupies, world tours, all that. In their spare time, they take on contract kills brought to them by their manager, Slide. There’s five members of the band, Axe, Amp, Ivory, Skin and Ass, and each has a different meta-human power. They hate each other, and they threaten to break up every five minutes. When we meet them, it looks like they’re really going to do it this time, but the thing is, they can’t. Because of their years of high-living, they’ve actually spent every penny they’ve made. They can’t afford to break up. So they take on one last contract, which happens to coincide with a music festival, before going separate ways. But they find out they’re not the only ones who’ve been hired to make the hit.

NRAMA: Does this pull from any personal experience from you – being in a band or (gulp) being an assassin?

Killapalooza #2

AB: That’s classified, Chris.

NRAMA: I now know why Matt wanted me to do this interview. Let’s try to keep things going here… In your previous works such as Hench and Dugout, you really do a spectacular job in getting to the harsh realities of a job. Would you say that’s the case with this book?

AB: If there’s one thing this book is not about, it’s reality. In any way, shape, or form. I mean, think about it: How could you be a top rock star...and an assassin? After, like, three tour stops where important people, you know, turn up murdered, don’t you think someone would say, “Hmm...Everywhere The Clap goes, we get corpses?” So we’ve embraced the inherent silliness of the concept, and gone full-bore for the laughs, rather than worrying about how any of it could actually work. No deep character explanations, no pseudo-science, no pushing the envelope of the medium. We want people to escape for 22 pages and be entertained. This book is just about good, mean, fun.

NRAMA: The title’s kind of out there – Killapalooza – but it’s fun to say. What’s in a name, Adam?

AB: Well, The Clap’s playing at a rock festival of sorts, and lots of people wind up losing their lives in creative ways, so the title seemed like a natural to me. Personally, I’m kind of looking forward to seeing, “The Clap created by Adam Beechen and Trevor Hairsine” in print. Now there’s something to take credit for!

NRAMA: I’ve seen groupies at comic conventions – both men and women, so I can see that headline coming soon.

So now that we know what’s going on in the book, now take us backstage – how’d this book and concept come together?

Killapalooza #3

AB: Wildstorm Editor Ben Abernathy and I — we’d wanted to work together for a while — were brainstorming ideas that might work for existing Wildstorm characters from a re-boot standpoint, and nothing was really clicking, so after a while, we started just throwing weird things together and laughing. Suddenly, “assassins...who are rock stars!” And we fell off our chairs. We knew we couldn’t do it with any long-standing WS characters without melting the Internet, so we decided to create original characters and an original story, and instead of worrying about any existing continuity, just completely go for it. I started writing, and then Ben called me up and said Trevor would be drawing it, and I felt like the luckiest guy in the world. You’ll flip over the stuff he’s drawing — the man is too good.

NRAMA: Oh yes, Trevor Hairsine is definitely an “A” talent.

This book is penciled in for six issues – but if it goes well, could we see more Killapalooza?

AB: Sure! There’s lots of stuff we don’t get into in the mini-series...How the band came to be, their early career...Notice I’m not saying they survive this adventure...

Twitter activity