Nothing is sacred as Crossed returns! The horror series returns with an all-new six-issue story written by David Lapham of "Stray Bullets" fame. Set right at the start of the Crossed outbreak, this epic tale of depravity promises to shock and disturb you with even more intensity than the first series.The Pratt family lived an idyllic life on a horse ranch in North Carolina. A few generations of family working, living, and learning together. But not all things should be shared with, nor done to, other human beings, much less your own family. Some men are just born evil, some men are turned Crossed. But which is worse? Imagine, for a moment, the worst crimes against humanity. Picture the cruelest affronts to decency. Conjure your darkest nightmares... and then realize it could all be so much worse. When civilization crumbles in one terrifying moment; when people are gleefully breaking into unthinkable acts of violence all around you; when everyone you love has died screaming in agony: What do you do? There is no help. There is no hope. There is no escape. There are only the Crossed.
That’s Avatar Press’ description of their second Crossed mini-series. I’m a comic shop owner that writes infrequent articles here on Newsarama about retailing called “Shop of Ideas”. Garth Ennis’ Crossed book was an overwhelming success for Avatar and David Lapham’s Stray Bullets is one of my all time favorite comics. This interview with David Lapham picks his brain about Crossed: Family Values, but also asks the question “When well we see new collections of Stray Bullets”.
Newsarama: David, tell us why you agreed to write a Crossed tale?
David Lapham: For the fame, the cash, and the negatives.
Also, I felt I was repressed by all the happy comics I write and needed an outlet.
Nrama: We know you were asked to write this series by Avatar publisher William Christensen, why do you think you were on his and Garth Ennis’ short list of writers who could play in the Crossed world?
Lapham: Honestly, it’s very flattering, unless it really was just because of the negatives. Also I suspect William thought I had more to give on the sick and twisted scale and wanted to provide me with an opportunity.
Nrama: Tell us a little about Crossed: Family Values. I understand it has the same inciting incident as Garth Ennis’ Crossed, but beyond that it doesn’t sound like a sequel or prequel. Will a fan of the depravity in the first Crossed find that in your work?
Lapham: It’s another story happening in the same world that Garth created. The whole world was affected by this…whatever it is…and everybody has a story (though most are very short stories). The Pratts are a very large family that hung together and stuck around to try and navigate the new landscape. The Pratts owned a horse farm in North Carolina, were very religious, and had ten children. Post-Crossed they find their family bonds tested and a lot of skeletons, that were glossed over for years, come storming out of the closet.
One of the benefits and curses of going second is that there’s an expectation that the depravity must reach new heights. So I take Garth’s series as a jumping off point. But in truth, that may be, I think, why they asked me to do this story. The Crossed are very visceral, very immediate. They feed off depravity and evil and torture, but it’s very in the moment. It’s what they can do in the time they see you, till the time they get their hands on you. In the work I’m known for, like Stray Bullets, I deal a lot with the horror and depravity normal people, friends, family can inflict on each other. There’s other forms of depravity to be explored in the Crossed universe and they are the horrors people inflict on other people, which in the post-Crossed world can be beyond horrible. Even beyond what the Crossed can do.Nrama: You’ve said your Crossed: Family Values has “…. murder, rape, incest, dismemberment, and betrayal” and then the Crossed. It sounds like we’re going to get another taste of some of the family dynamics your fans loved in Stray Bullets. What would you tell a Stray Bullets fan thinking about picking this up?
Lapham: Yeah, continuing what I was saying. I deal a lot with the horrible things people do to each other, and also how people hold it together, or try to, through all that. How despite how awful everything can be, people still cluster together and still try and form family bonds. In Stray Bullets it was Virginia, Beth, Orson, etc. as screwed up as they were, they still tried to connect, still tried to be loyal to each other. Often their flaws would unravel that, but not always, and they still tried. There’s a lot of that amongst the Pratts. They survive as a family. But they also are in large part responsible for their undoing. The central story follows Adaline, the oldest of the Pratt’s girls and her stepping up and trying to hold them together as things break down.
I don’t think Stray Bullets fans will be disappointed. At the same time, I never forget that this is a Crossed comic. They’re never more than two steps from horror or action.
Nrama: Usually your freelance work on company characters are “PG-13”, while your creator owned work like Stray Bullets, Murder Me Dead, and Young Liars are more “R rated”. With Crossed: Family Values you’re doing a hard “R” freelance work. Is this going to be your darkest work yet?
Lapham: If it’s not, I must have done that other thing in the grip of some foreign substance and have no memory of it.
Nrama: Speaking of Stray Bullets, I understand we’ll get the final part to the last arc when you are able to devote time to drawing it. I’m a fan, but I’m also a businessman, I understand freelance writing is what’s paying the bills and art is far more time consuming. However, as a comic shop owner I know I could sell the heck out of some Stray Bullets collections. They’ve been out of print for some time now and I think a whole new crop of comic fans loving Brubaker’s Criminal would also love your Stray Bullets. The work is timeless, and Eisner award winning, when are you planning to get it back in shops?
Lapham: I want to answer this carefully, because I don’t want to promise something then have it not happen. No one wants Stray Bullets back in print more than me. No one wants to write and draw more Stray Bullets stories more than me. Maria and I were very lucky to be able to do that book and pay the bills for nearly ten years doing our own thing, so it has a lot of meaning not just creatively but as a way of life, really. I have every intention to get the books in print and to continue new stories, but there’s no timetable I can give except I hope sooner rather than later.Nrama: Seeing that you’ve had a working relationship with Vertigo and now Avatar is there any way you could envision either of those companies doing a run of Stray Bullets collections, perhaps in conjunction with your El Capitan imprint? IDW continuously reprints older creator owned works as well. Is having your El Capitan work printed elsewhere a possibility you would entertain?
Lapham: I’ve had many offers from many good companies to get those graphic novels back in print. It seems an easy answer, but a lot needs to be considered beyond just saying go and getting books backing print. Stray Bullets is not just some ol’ book.
Nrama: Do you have any other work coming that you can announce, perhaps a Vertigo Crime original graphic novel? If Crossed: Family Values does well do you think we’ll see more work from you under the Avatar imprint?
Lapham: Yeah. I have a book of my own creation in the works with Avatar. It’s a little early yet, but I’m sure something will be announced shortly. Avatar suits me well because…well…they’re unhinged. Sparta, U.S.A. just started up at Wildstorm. I’m very excited about that. I’ve been doing some Deadpool stories for Marvel. That’s been fun as well as a new Wolverine Giant Sized I’m doing with David Aja that looks gorgeous.