Ever thought about following in your parents' footsteps and make their jobs a family business? What if they were assassins?
That's the conceit of the new IDW Publishing series Assassinistas, the second title from Vertigo alum Shelly Bond's Black Crown imprint. Created by Tini Howard and Gilbert Hernandez, Assassinistas follows a retired bounty hunter named Octavia Price who is pulled back in for one more job - and ends up bringing her son and his boyfriend with her.
A little bit Charlie's Angels, a little bit Kill Bill, and a little bit Sarah and John from Terminator.
For more, Newsarama spoke with Howard and Hernandez about this new project, which debuts Wednesday.
Newsarama: Tini, who or what are the Assassinistas?
Tini Howard: Assassinistas is about a former assassin who has to take one last mission - and since she spent her son's tuition money on weapons, she brings him and his boyfriend along for the ride.
Nrama: Is this concept one you had for some time and then brought to Shelly Bond, or something you developed out of an opening at Black Crown?
Howard: I wrote a short story called “Heartbeats” years ago (I'm including a link to my Patreon here - it's available there!) about an assassin whose years of training have made her too suspicious to have a good relationship with her son. Assassinistas came out of that, of wanting to tell more of their story!
Nrama: Beto, what made Assassinistas a project you wanted to draw?
Gilbert Hernandez: Well, Shelly Bond asked me to - I wanted a break from writing comics and this project sounded fun and something I don't normally do.
Nrama: So who is the former assassin, Octavia Price?
Howard: Formerly Red October, Octavia Price is a former assassin for hire, current kidnapping insurance broker. She is the mother of Dominic, who is a sophomore in college. She has problems with impulsiveness and closing herself off from others due to anxieties. She's also a little boy crazy. She's the Assassinista most like myself.
Nrama: You're known for your ability to draw (and write) stories about women, and this is about a mom bringing a son into their life. I've read your mother introduced you to comic books - is there any comparison there between Octavia and her?
Hernandez: My mom wouldn't know what to do with a gun if it came with instructions. No, I'm afraid Octavia and my mom aren't anything alike.
Nrama: Had to ask!
So then, what about Dominic - and how does he get wrapped up in his mom's return to her day job?
Howard: Mom scores a big client, and ordinarily would use that money to pay for Dom's tuition. Except Mom's client is one of her old partners, and her kid gets napped basically right away. So, Mom has to pivot and spend the tuition money on gear, and Dominic finds himself suddenly in need of a job for the semester...
Nrama: Gilbert, how did you go about designing the looks and clothing of Octavia and Dominic?
Hernandez: Tini will give simple directions with clothing styles and I try to fill in with my imagination. I'm no clothes designer!
Nrama: I get a feeling of Luc Besson's Léon out of this. Did any specific things inspire you on this project?
Howard: Oh man, you know what, I love that movie and it hadn't occurred to me as inspiration until you mentioned it. Kill Bill is a big inspiration to me, so is Venture Brothers - the way that genuine familial moments are pulled out of the absurdity of like, superheroes and assassins and for-hire killers. They're people too, you know? Sarah and John Connor - a pair of characters who are great when they're great but are usually wasted on bad scripts - they were a big inspiration to me, too.
Obviously things like Charlie's Angels for the aesthetic, but then also... that era. That sweet-retro 70s-80s era, is also really known for a certain kind of true crime, a certain kind of serial weirdo who victimized women. There's a part of the series where I go into that, how the past is not as sweet and retro as it seems, sometimes.
Nrama: You're working on this with Gilbert Hernandez - what's that like having someone like Beto at the other end of your script?
Howard: It's continually insanely shocking and amazing. Imagine feeding your scripts to a unicorn that poops out Hall of Fame level cartooning. My favorite part is that I love Beto, and I love his family, and that he loves our book. Those are the moments when I feel myself floating and having to pinch myself - hearing him say the names of characters that live in my head and contribute the reality of their visuals to their existence. He loves them! I love them. I love him. Lotta love.
Nrama: This is your second creator-owned project after The Skeptics - what have you learned that you're bringing to this project?
Howard: Gosh, well with The Skeptics, I started without an editor, which is not good for me. I brought in my good friend and amazing writer/editor Casey Gilly to help me catch a few of the spinning plates I was dropping, and she saved my ass. I need an editor. I do my best work when I've got someone I trust on the production/editing/fact checking/bringing me down to earth.
And I've had one of the best editors in the game, Shelly Bond, at the helm from the start. So much of this book exists because Shelly knew I was loving something that I wasn't putting on the page yet, and she'd spend time - literally, hours - on the phone with me, asking me questions again and again, to make this book feel as real and fleshed out to her (and hopefully the reader) as it felt with me. What I've learned is that I need an editor. Yes.
Nrama: So, with that in mind, what are your big goals with Assassinistas?
Hernandez: For the comic to be the biggest seller of all time and we all get rich and famous! Well...
Howard: To get anyone, anywhere, to love this book the way I do. Oh, and I'd love cosplayers. That would rule.