Some say there's more drama behind the scenes of your favorite movie than in it, but an upcoming Image Comics series titled Glitterbomb is showing there's horror as well.
Launching September 7, Jim Zub and Djibril Morissette-Phan's Glitterbomb takes the real struggles of being a working actress in Hollywood and pushes it to a monstrous extreme. The book follows Farrah Durante, a middle-aged actress who is too old to play the young ingenue yet too young to play the esteemed elder. She's aged into being one of the rarest categories for roles in modern Hollywood acting: the adult woman, in her prime.
Newsarama talked with Zub and Morisette-Phan about this gripping new series - one which our Best Shots Review team has already scored as a "10 out of 10" in its advance review.
Nrama: How would you describe Glitterbomb?
Jim Zub: Glitterbomb is a Hollywood horror story about fame, failure, and the way we see ourselves in a media-saturated world. It's sarcastic, nasty, and hopefully surprising as well.
Djibril Morissette-Phan: On the surface, it's a horror story set in Hollywood. But at its core, it's really a character study. That's actually what I liked the most about the project, to help create a compelling and nuanced character that everyone could relate to.
Nrama: And just who is Farrah Durante?
Morissette-Phan: She's a struggling actor trying to survive in Hollywood as well as a single mom. That's the foundation on which Jim and I started building the character. From an artistic standpoint, I wanted to introduce her to the readers as a very calm and delicate person so that it would clash with what she'd ultimately become.
Zub: Yeah, Djibril sums it up well.
Without giving away too much, Farrah Durante is a middle-aged actress unable to snag new roles in Hollywood. She’s too old for the typical roles offered as “arm candy” and too young for “grandmother”-aged parts, that awful gap where casting leaves so many talented actors high and dry because of ingrained expectations around youth and beauty. Her intense frustration around fame and failure is a potent lure for something terrible that fuels a vengeance-laden rampage on Tinseltown.
Nrama: Who are the other major characters in the series?
Morissette-Phan: In the first issue, we are introduced to her young son, Marty (who was so much fun to draw) as well as Kaydon, her babysitter. They're easily the two biggest presences in Farrah's life.
Zub: Beyond those two there's also Dean Slotkin, another actor who's a friend and confidante to Farrah. He's trying to help her ride out this tough time in her life, but is also worried about her recent behavior.
Nrama: The preview released for the first issue gets right to the bloody point with her killing an agent after he says she's not cut out for Hollywood. What sort of supernatural things are going on here?
Morissette-Phan: It's intentionally left unclear, throughout the book as to what the nature of the "beast" is. We wanted something that was visually unique and powerful but nothing more. It's really not the point of the story, so don't expect any sort of clear explanation of the creature. It's really a vehicle for us to externalize all these fears and insecurities that drive our character. It's a metaphor for all the crap we keep hidden deep down.
Zub: Right. It's not a monster story in the sense that we want people to obsess over how to kill it or its exact abilities. The monster is literal, but it's also a metaphor, so it's more about what it does, not necessarily "what is its weakness? If we use an iron cross, will that hurt it? Should we sprinkle salt in a circle?" It's not about the codification of a myth. It's an emotional backlash to an idea.
Nrama: Jim, how did you go about researching the movie/TV industry in order to write about it accurately for Glitterbomb?
Zub: The core idea came from analyzing my own fears about failure, worrying about my career and the neurotic fears I've had around staying visible and steadily employed in a business known for roller coaster highs and lows. When I read a few articles about the age gap between leading men and the actress co-stars signed to work with them, I realized that was a really strong and instantly understandable approach to exploring those feelings. A character who, through no fault of their own, is pushed out of the business and deeply wants to lash back at a system that's put her in that position.
From there I dug into a slew of articles and documentaries about Hollywood. One of the articles I read about abuse and mistreatment on set from a former producer was so on target that I reached out to the author, Holly Raychelle Hughes, and got permission to reprint it in the first issue of Glitterbomb. Holly read the first few issues and was impressed enough that she's actually coming on board to write new essays about Hollywood and what happens off camera for subsequent issues, which adds a lot of extra gravity and fleshes out the real world setting I'm trying to build.
Nrama: Djibril, in a press release, you said "the only thing I love more than comics is cinema." Can you describe your interest in it, especially this 'behind-the-scenes' style story which Glitterbomb is?
Morissette-Phan: Well, I just love art in general, and I believe cinema to be the ultimate art form because it unites all mediums. When I was a kid, movies were a lot more present in my life than comics. So today, I find cinema to have a much bigger impact on how I tell stories than comics. About the 'behind-the-scenes' part of it, it's that love for the medium that makes me care about it. It's because I love movies that I care about how they're made. So to have the chance not only to do what I love, which is create art, but to do it about something I love even more, that is truly great.
Nrama: How did you two connect to do Glitterbomb?
Morissette-Phan: We met at Montreal Comic Con last year. Marguerite Sauvage, a great artist and mutual friend of ours, told him to check out my portfolio. Next thing I knew, I was working on designs for Glitterbomb.
Zub: When I'm not writing comics I teach at Seneca College in Toronto in their Animation department, so Marguerite asked me to give Djibril a portfolio critique. I saw his work and was stunned at the quality and consistency he showed in his sequential samples. My "critique" was essentially "Okay, let's do a book together" and that was that. Djibril is one of the most skilled young artists I've ever encountered.
Nrama: So what are your big goals for Glitterbomb?
Zub: Entertainment comes first, of course. I create stories to keep people entertained. Beyond that, if we can also leave the reader thinking a bit more about their own fears and expectations and the way celebrity culture distorts our priorities, that's even better.
Morissette-Phan: Glitterbomb had a big impact on me. It laid a foundation for some much needed reflection on fame and success. My hopes are that the book can have the same effect on as many readers as possible. Because ultimately, that's what I think art should be doing - making people think.