The Halloween II co-star on her upcoming comic
While most Heroes viewers will recognize actress Brea Grant for her turn as the speedster Daphne, savvy genre fans have probably spotted her in Midnight Movie or most recently in Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. Up next for Grant, however, is something a little different. With her brother Zane, she has written a four-issue comic book series entitled “We Will Bury You,” an apocalyptic zombie story that takes place in the roaring ’20s.
The first issue is due out from IDW in February and we got the chance to sit down with Brea to talk about everything from the origins of the book, what it’s like working in the genre and her favorite comics currently on the stands.
Robg.: What was the genesis of this idea for We Will Bury You? How’d you and your brother come about the idea of tackling a zombie comic book?
Brea Grant: Zane called me one day about it. Honestly, Zane is not involved in the movie industry at all, and so we both read comics, and at one point he called me up and just said, let’s just write a comic and see what happens. So we put together the idea and we had this whole comic pitch laid out and then I was at a convention and I met Ben Templesmith. I went up to him and said, ‘I have this idea!’ [laughs] Like the most annoying thing you can do to an artist at a comic convention, I did that. And it actually worked out okay and he passed our pitch onto IDW and they agreed to pick it up.
Robg.: Templesmith’s a good guy!
Grant: He’s literally the friendliest person you’d ever meet. You kind of bond at these conventions. He agreed to pass it on and Chris Ryall was our editor and moved it forth from there. The idea actually changed drastically from what we originally wanted to do.
Robg.: What was the original story and how did it evolve while you guys were writing this?
Grant: We originally wanted to write four different stories from four different points of view. I don’t know why, but my brother and I are obsessed with telling stories from these different points of views, and every pitch we do starts out that way and ends up a different way.
Robg.: No wonder you’re a big fan of The Signal!
Grant: I know! The Signal, I love. We both love William Gibson a lot, the whole Bridge series. They all come from different points of view. Every character starts differently, and ends up together. That was our whole initial idea, that we’d have all these people from all over the world dealing with this zombie apocalypse and then they all end up together somehow. But we ended up focusing the story on two main characters instead and following them.
Robg.: Why zombies for your story?
Grant: It was always a zombie story. I think because Zane and I are both big horror readers and watchers. And so that was the start of it. We both like the idea how zombie stories are a representation of people walking around as zombies, people being unaware. And also a lot of zombie comics are written from the point of view of people in power like cops. “The Walking Dead’s main character is a cop. Our idea was what would happen in a apocalypse situation with people that already have nothing, for people who were already social outcasts to begin with, so that’s the characters we decided to follow. And it’s set in the ’20s, which is a whole other thing.
Robg: About the setting, that’s the one thing that sets it apart from all other zombie stories. Any reason specifically for that time period? I know you have a background in history?
Grant: I do. I have a master’s degree in American Studies and Zane has two master degrees – he’s got some history in there as well. The ’20s is personally my favorite era. I’m sure we’ll have to go back and do something in the turn of the century. He studied a lot of German and Spanish history so that’s all included in there too. [laughs] Everything we learned we had to use, we felt we had to use these degrees somehow, becauseâ¦ they’re essentially useless, which is so sad! It’s funny because a lot of my friends are still in grad school and I try to talk them out of going. I pay student loans every month for something I never use, but now I’m using it, so it’s almost like it’s paying off now.
Robg.: I wanted to talk a bit about the covers, because you’ve got Ben Templesmith (30 Days Of Night) doing the cover for the first issue. Were you familiar with his work prior to meeting at that convention?
Grant: I was a fan! I actually started reading “Wormwood,” which is how I got into his work. I liked 30 Days Of Night, but “Wormwood” was the one that for some reason I thought was so weird, so it really stuck with me. And then I was at this convention and told him, “I love Wormwood!” And he was like, “How do you even know what that is?” We started talking and we wanted him to do the comic. He was supposed to draw the entire comic but he had another obligation come up so he agreed to do the cover for the first one. We’re still talking to other artists for the other issues, but the second issue’s cover is by Nate Powell who won an Eisner for “Swallow Me Whole.” He’s an awesome artist and writer. He did it in the theme of a 1920s-ish poster. We’re still talking to other people about the later issues.
Robg.: How’d you find Kyle Strahm to do the art for the entire book?
Grant: When Ben became unavailable, our editor sent us a bunch of people and asked “What about these?” And we looked it over and Kyle stood out. He could draw these gruesome disgusting monsters, but also really pretty characters and our two main characters are women so we wanted them to be good looking, likable and awesome. He was able to pull off both so we really liked him. He’s been great. Literally he draws everything almost exactly as we envision it, so it’s been amazing. We were really lucky.
Robg.: It must be something to get back pages of something you wrote and see it fully drawn out.
Grant: You have no idea. I swear, I got the whole first issue drawn and colored. Just looking at it, I was squealing! It was more exciting for me then seeing myself on TV or going to a movie premiere. I think because this was something I created. Does that make sense? [laughs] I think it’s because it felt like something that Zane and I did on our own. We went and pitched it and got it done, and there weren’t a ton of people involved, because it was our own thing.
Robg.: Well, a movie there’s so many people involved, whereas a comic book is a bit more intimate.
Grant: There were like five of us. Something about that was way more exciting then anything else I’ve ever done, whichâ¦ is scary because I don’t know what that means about my acting career. [laughs]
Robg.: Maybe you found your second calling as a comic writer? You never know! I just wanted to know a bit about the working relationship with your brother. I know you guys had grown up together liking the same stuff, so it seems like you’ve always been collaborating in some capacity.
Grant: You know, it’s weird. I’m not sure because it happens so naturally. I’ll write something, he’ll read it and then “what about this and this?” And he’ll add some stuff and send it back. It’s definitely a back and forth between us. It’s never been difficult, like people imagine it’d be with a sibling.
Robg.: You play hot potato with an idea?
Grant: Yeah, I send him stuff, he edits it, and sends it back. But even if I don’t love his ideas, I still go with it, and if he doesn’t love mine, he gives me the benefit of the doubt. Maybe that’s the brother-sister dynamic where we just want to be supportive and encourage each other. [laughs] But we never get frustrated and I think it’s kind of nice working with your brother because I can call him up and say, “I’ve had a really bad day and I’m not going to do this.” And he’s like, “Yeah, don’t do it. I’ll do it, or just do it tomorrow.” And I think we can say that to each other. We’ve always been best friends since we were little. We grew up in a small town and didn’t have many friends, so we made music together and have always been fairly close. It’s been easy and I feel people think it’d be hard and we’d bicker, but we’re not like that with each other. It’s our goal to be the next Sedaris’, Amy and David Sedaris. Because I feel they are both very prolific and intelligent and people love them! Zane needs to find his equivalent of “The SantaLand Diaries” and I’m Amy and it’ll all work out! [laughs]
Robg.: So you guys planned this as a four-issue arc? Have you thought ahead on how to continue?
Grant: This is a four-issue arc. Possibly more. It will end. It’s the way I think final episodes of shows should be. It should end, but it could also continue. So, there will be no cliffhangers, it will have an ending.
Robg.: If you did future installments, would you set it in different time periods?
Grant: We have both the idea of continuing with these characters but also meeting other characters in the same time period in the same situation but elsewhere in the United States and following them.
Robg.: What comics do you like or are an influence?
Grant: “The Walking Dead” is the quintessential zombie comic book. But I tend to read a lot of indie comics. I’ve been reading one called “The Mess Of Everything.” I read a lot of female-driven comics, which means most superhero comics I don’t read. Also, it’s funny, there was an article io9 just did about celebrities writing comics. It was like “What do Tyrese Gibson, Brea Grant, and Rashida Jones all have in common?” And I was like, “I don’t know. What do we have in common?!” [laughs] Nothing as far as I know! And apparently they also have comics. I was talking to someone about that, and it’s not that celebrities are writing comics, but comic book writers are becoming celebrities because of the Hollywood influx. Okay, favorite comics? I’m a big Brian Wood fan, I love “Local.” I loved “Supermarket” and “The New York Four” and all of those titles, because they’re all very realistic comics. As well as “DMZ,” I love apocalyptic anything! Also, I love “Hack/Slash,” which some people think is cheesy, but I think it’s amazing! I love any female-driven genre style comics.
Robg.: “Hack/Slash” is pretty cool! And a movie version is in the works.
Grant: It is cool. People always laugh at me when I buy it at the comic store. Oh, I’d love to be a part of that movie! I’d dye my hair black for that. [laughs] I think I can totally pull that off. I’ve also tried to look into “The Couriers” which is another Brian Wood book being made into a movie.
Robg.: Didn’t you and your brother write an entire CD of zombie themed songs or something?
Grant: [laughs] Yes! For Comic-Con, I called him before Comic-Con and said, “Hey, you know we’re not going to have anything to pass out. Why don’t we make a CD and hand it out to people and it’ll just be about our favorite zombie movies as told from the perspective of the main character in the movie.” So we wrote a bunch. There’s eight songs. We wrote an album and it’s really bad. It’s really poorly written, we did it all on our computers on basic software. Hmm, other zombie movies I like? I liked 28 Days Later. I liked Dawn Of The Dead. I like the original better, but I kind of like the remake too. There’s this movie called Night Of The Comet that I love, which also has a mall scene it in.
Robg.: Let’s talk a bit about the genre movies you’ve done. For Halloween II, Rob Zombie’s known for shooting a lot of material. How much stuff do you remember shooting that didn’t end up in the movie?
Grant: There was a lot of stuff that I liked that didn’t make it into the movie. I was a little shocked, because I ended up not having much of a part! [laughs] Which is fine because the stuff that he did use was amazing. Who wants to watch a three hour version of that movie? There were just a lot more scenes with me and Scout showing that we’re best friends and that’s pretty much most of what got cut. I think the final movie ended up telling a good story, but I would like to see some of the other scenes we did. It was all character stuff between me and Scout. There was also more of a fight scene between me and Michael, which I think it’d be fun to see what it looks like.
Robg.: He took you out pretty easily.
Grant: He did take me out pretty easily! But we filmed this whole thing of him picking me up by the neck, dragging me down the hall and me screaming and fighting back, but it all got cut. I think the stuff Rob picked was amazing. He had some tough decisions to make. People don’t really care to see how good friends me and Scout are.
Robg.: So overall, Halloween II was a positive experience for you?
Grant: Yeah, I think Rob is a very fluid artist and I’m actually not. I have a lot of trouble, I mean, I am improv-trained, so we’d show up on set every day and Rob would be like âHere, I wrote this brand new thing for you to sayâ and that was hard for me, but for him it really worked and I think it ended up being a really good process for me, because it challenged me to show up and be ready to do one thing and have Rob decide that it was going to be another. That’s the way he works, it was a great experience and I would 100 percent work with him again because he was so challenging â he challenged me as an actor and I think he has a lot of good movies left in him. The script definitely changed along the way but it changed the way Rob wanted it to change. It ended up being something I didn’t expect, but it turned out to be really interesting.
Robg.: Since you’ve done a few horror films, what are your earliest horror recollections? What movies scared or had an impact on you at an early age?
Grant: I think it was the movie Tremors. I watched it and I was such a wuss. I remember for a long time after, I would walk very lightly everywhere because I was scared they’d jump through the floor board and get me like they did in that movie. And Return To Oz! I was pretty scared of The Wheelers. I watched it pretty recently and I was still scared. [laughs] That’s still one of the scariest things you’ve ever seen.
Robg.: Did you have a favorite horror movie growing up? Or a series that you followed?
Grant: Probably Nightmare On Elm Street. I just showed Dream Warriors to a friend of mine that had never seen them.
Robg.: So you were a Freddy girl growing up?
Grant: I was. Definitely more than Halloween and more than Jason. I probably didn’t actually see Friday The 13th movies until much later like high school or college. And I didn’t grow up watching a ton of horror movies. The Nightmare On Elm Street movies would always come on TV. We would always rent the B horror movies that were at Blockbuster like House. Otherwise, I didn’t watch a ton of scary movies until I got older. I’ve always loved action and sci-fi stuff.
Visit Brea Grant’s official website and blog right here. For more info on We Will Bury You, visit IDW’s website here.