TAKE 10! I Heart Skull-Crusher!

BOOM! Studios: TAKE 10! is a new interview series asking writers and artists about their new series or graphic novels.

Josie Campbell, the breakout, hit writer of DC’s Amazons Attack event and screenwriter/producer on My Adventures With Superman, along with rising star artist Alessio Zonno (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) bring sports action to post-apocalyptic America in the new, YA Mad Maxian series I HEART SKULL-CRUSHER!

18-year-old Trini will do anything to compete in her favorite sport, Screaming Pain Ball, aspiring to the heights of her longtime hero Skull-Crusher! But she can’t do it alone, and a gaggle of misfits is just what she needs to cross the American wastes and battle in Queen Mob’s deadly tournament.

With Trini’s dreams of being just like Skull-Crusher on the line, do she and her friends have what it takes to win a coveted spot on Skull-Crusher’s undefeated team?

1. What was the most challenging aspect of working on this series?

Josie Campbell: This is the first time I’ve ever had the chance to write something wholly original, 100% made up by me – and it’s a little daunting! This is a passion project and a story told from the heart. I hope readers will love Trini, Skull-Crusher and the rest as much as I do.

Alessio Zonno: This is the first Creator series for me in the USA, so from the beginning I was very excited and happy about this challenge. The goal I set myself was to give even more vigor to the pages, while always maintaining the expressiveness of the characters which is the thing I love to draw most. And the Deadline!!!

2. Could you explain the title?

JC: Skull-Crusher is the best Screaming Pain Ball player in the American Wasteland – and the object of affection for Trini, our main character. Trini wants to be LIKE Skull-Crusher. She wants to be WITH Skull-Crusher. She hearts Skull-Crusher in every way. Thus the title was born!

AZ: I HEART SKULL-CRUSHER is a title that 100% sums up the rhythm of the series: half sweet and soft, and the other half crunchy and badass!

3. What is the elevator pitch for the series?

JC: A plucky underdog journeys across post-apocalyptic America to win the love of her idol and compete in her favorite blood sport: Screaming Pain Ball!

AZ: A pure and visceral passion for a sport pushes a young woman full of energy to face a crazy and destroyed post-apocalyptic world, in search of love and a family.

4. What does your writing and drawing space look like?

JC: I have an office. I’ve done a ton of work hanging up pictures in the office. It’s a nice office. Yet somehow, the place I write the best is on my living room couch, surrounded by laundry!

AZ: My main space is a studio that I share with other Comic Book Artists, great friends of mine. I think I spend more time there than at home, but it’s a fundamental environment that helps me improve every day and not go crazy. We work a lot but we have even more fun. I work on a Cintiq 16 surrounded by comics and books. It’s the cockpit of my Eva. Around the studio there are statues, comics, soccer balls, mini-skates and a thousand other things to distract me from work. I also have a station at home, also surrounded by comics, but quieter. There I work with my cat Aki. I also sometimes work outside with the iPad.

5. What was your biggest inspiration for Man’s Best?

JC: The comic was inspired by my love of “Mad Max: Thunderdome” and sports anime. I was reading a lot of “Prince of Tennis,” watching “Haikyuu!!” and asking myself “What if an uplifting sports story was happening in a messed-up apocalyptic world?”

AZ: There’s no point in hiding it: all the manga and anime culture of the early 2000s that I have in my head had an impact on the series. Gurren Lagann inspired me for its freshness and mood, while for the football scenes I was reminded of the dynamism of Inazuma Eleven that I saw as a kid. Inside, however, there are inspirations from all over the world and from media of all kinds!

6. What are you reading now and what’s on your pull list?

JC: My pull list is largely “Saga” and “The Immortal Thor.” But I’m also re-reading “Slam Dunk” for the millionth time, and going nuts for “Apothecary Diaries” right now!

AZ: At the moment I am so busy with work that the only reading I can afford is the IHSC script. But Josie is so good that she makes up for this void!

7. Describe your ideal way to sit down and read a comic or graphic novel.

JC: In a hammock, sipping lemonade, on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

AZ: On a comfortable sofa, in front of a fireplace, with my cat sleeping next to me and a cup of coffee.

8. What is your favorite writing/drawing snack or drink?

JC: I am fueled by 90% oat milk lattes, 10% egg and cheese sandwiches!

AZ: Coffee, without sugar, bitter and strong. During breaks it’s an Italian espresso, during work it’s a Black Coffee.

9. Who would you cast in your dream movie or TV adaptation of the series?

JC: Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Skull-Crusher, hands down. Grace Jones as Queen Mob. I will somehow de-age Michael B. Jordan for Cutter Dan. Vico Ortiz as both Twins. Trini is tough! I’m torn between Iman Vellani, Jenna Ortega, or Maitreyi Ramakrishnan –though in my head she sounds like Ellen Wong from “Scott Pilgrim.”

AZ: Josie’s list is practically perfect! I agree with her on this! Coach B.B. remains. and in mind I have Owen Wilson, trained but with a beer belly. For David it would be difficult for the cast, so I would leave the real bears alone and use CGI.

10. What piece of advice would you give to the main characters? What about the villains?

JC: To Trini my main advice would be: STOP PLAYING THIS AWFUL GAME, YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. To the villains: you are all fabulous and I love you. 10/10, no notes.

AZ: To pay attention to the sun because it makes you crazy. So sunscreen and a combined hat like David’s to protect your head. But I think it’s too late for this advice…

I HEART SKULL-CRUSHER! #1 is available now in comic shops!