It’s 1927, and zombies have overrun New York. But for Mirah and Fanya, the stars of IDW’s “We Will Bury You,” battling the undead is just the latest hardship they’ve had to endure – which is not to say these two women aren’t perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. Written by Brea Grant, best known for her role as Daphne on NBC’s “Heroes,” and her brother Zane Grant with art by Kyle Strahm, the four-issue miniseries begins February 24 under a Ben Templesmith cover. Desert Island Comics in Brooklyn will host a book release party on February 26, where the siblings will sign copies of “We Will Bury You” #1.
Mirah, coveted on the dance floor but caught in a loveless marriage, and Fanya, a Ukranian thief, find comfort in each other’s arms. But when strange riots break out and a confrontation with Mirah’s husband threatens to complicate matters further, the two women are forced to fight for their lives. Fanya has already shown some strong survival instincts, and Mirah, too, has begun forcefully to stick up for herself. Against hordes of zombies, however, the odds might still be stacked against them. CBR News spoke with Brea and Zane Grant to discover more about the series.
CBR News: “We Will Bury You” deals with a zombie infestation in the 1920s. Across the genre, though, there are of course a number of variations on zombies. What can you tell us about yours?
Zane: We wanted to do Romero zombies with good costumes. Everyone remembers the Krishna zombie from “Dawn of the Dead,” so we tried to bring some zombie diversity. We promise zombies from all walks of life, in the 1920s. We promise a zombie witch.
Brea: We also promise a zombie in a top hat. That is essential for me.
Equally intriguing is the title itself. Who or what is the speaker, if it’s not giving away too much? It’s an unusual choice of words to describe zombies’ actions…
Zane: I think originally, the book was planned as being so epic it was going to span the globe and several decades. “We Will Bury You” is what Khrushchev said hitting his shoe on a podium when giving a speech in the U.S., and I like political theatrics, so at some point it was on the table that part of the book would follow the Soviet experience with zombies and a young Kruschev as one of the plot lines. That got dropped, but it is a powerful statement to make to a group of people… or in this case zombies. So we dropped its political history, and I think now the title simply suggests “we (humans) will bury you (undead).”
Brea: And we do reveal that there is a bit of politics involved towards the end of the first four issues. Spoiler alert!
By setting the book in the 1920s, what possibilities does this allow you in terms of storytelling? What appeals to you about the era, either in terms of visuals or the culture of the time?
Brea: We thought the 1920s would be great for a lot of reasons. Probably most obvious is the economic downturn that happened at that time and the one we are currently experiencing. There were also a lot of interesting movements happening at that time. Our two main characters are women, and we touch on new feminist theories and the sexual revolution that was happening.
Brea, you were on the very comics-friendly show “Heroes.” Although this project seems a bit different, did working on that series influence the creation of “WWBY” at all, either in terms of inspiration or the way you ultimately put it together?
Brea: I don’t think it affected it as far as inspiration goes, but, honestly, it did give me some pull when I approached people about writing a comic. It’s funny – being on a sci-fi show, even one that
borrows so much from the comic world like “Heroes,” doesn’t mean that you like comics. Yet for some reason, people aren’t surprised by my interest in comics. But I think they would be if I was on “90210.”
Brea and Zane, what is your background when it comes to reading comics? What series did you enjoy growing up, and what are you reading these days?
Zane Grant: When I was younger, I read all the Spider-Man series that were going on then and Sergio Aragone’s “Groo.” I thought “Groo” was hilarious, and I don’t remember many of the Spider-Man story lines, except that I was annoyed that Kingpin didn’t have any powers. My cousin let me borrow all his “Spawn” stuff and “Waxworks” and stuff like that. These days, I pretty much read whatever horror and crime stuff comes out. I like “Creepy,” “BPRD,” “Hellboy,” “Locke and Key,” “Buffy,” “Angel,” “Stumptown,” “Hellblazer,” “Chew,” anything Templesmith, Brian Wood, and Becky Cloonan do, oh, and “Thor.” I binge read Marvel stuff after the events end, so I’m usually pretty behind on those. I follow some webcomics like “The Abominable Charles Christopher” and “Sam and Lilah.” The last couple of weeks, I’ve been rereading everything by Dash Shaw for an article I’m writing, which has been fun.
Brea Grant: Growing up, I was mostly into My Little Pony, not comics. Wait – is there a My Little Pony comic? I bet there is. I would’ve enjoyed that because I did like reading, but I didn’t get into comics until college. Hope I didn’t just lose some any street cred I might have had. Currently, I’m also a big Brian Wood and Ben Templesmith fan. I love “X-Factor,” “Hack/Slash,” “Fables” and anything that catches my interest. I’ve also been enjoying “Locke and Key” and “Stumptown.” Yes, we are brother and sister and often like the same things.
How did this project come about? Have you written together before?
Zane: We are both into comics and work well together, so it was sort of a natural progression. I was taking a graphic novel writing workshop in Washington, D.C., and this was a project I had been thinking about for a while, so we worked on our pitch through that course. Chris Piers from DC Conspiracy gave good comments through that, and Brea met Ben Templesmith…
Brea: Ben was cool enough to send our stuff over to Chris Ryall at IDW, and they were cool enough to give us a publishing deal. Zane and I haven’t written much together before, but we’ve played music and collaborated in other areas before – you know, scavenger hunts, running an anarchist bookstore, that type of thing.
Tell us a bit about what it was like seeing Kyle Strahm’s finished pages coming back.
Brea: Opening the pages for the first time, I literally squeaked. Yes, squeaked. It was so amazing to see what he could do with what we had written on the page. He’s an amazing artist. We had really specific images of Mirah and Fanya (our two main characters), and Kyle drew them beautifully. We’ve also had a lot of fun sending him historical pictures from the era so that he can include them.
Zane: Kyle does great work. When he and Zac Atkinson, the colorist on the book, started showing us finished pages, I was pretty psyched.
Do you have any plans for further comic oriented projects, either together or individually?
Brea: We’re working on a few ideas together. It’s been a really fun time so far, and I don’t think this will be the last time you see the Grant name in the comic world. These Grants, not Grant Morrison. Although I’m sure he’ll be around too.
Zane: We have a lot of ideas. I hope people like this book and that we get a chance to do more on this scale.
“We Will Bury You” #1 is on sale next Wednesday, February 24.