Keep On Truckin': Fillbach Brothers talk “Roadkill”

What's the worst that can happen when a genetically-modified monster rabbit escapes near Route 66? No, not that; it's much worse. Or better, depending on your point of view.

In October, Dark Horse Books lets loose “Roadkill,” an original graphic novel by “Star Wars: Te Clone Wars” creators Shawn and Matt Fillbach. CBR News caught up with the brothers to discuss the December-shipping project, the Magic 8-Ball, and the wonders of sharing a brain.

“Roadkill” is a mix of various genres and influences—without taking itself too seriously. “'Roadkill' is, simply put, a fun action-horror-comedy,” the Fillbach brothers told CBR News. “It's fueled by our love of weird pulp stories and movies, including the early works of Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi, along with plenty of Lucio Fulci and John Carpenter thrown in for good measure. 'Roadkill' will appeal to people who say, 'Oh, that's sick -- I want to see more!'

“Everybody remembers some late night movie they watched as a kid that when you see again as an adult doesn't live up to the memory. We wanted this book to tap into those memories. To take readers back to being nine-years-old sneaking to watch 'Motel Hell' on HBO.”

“Roadkill” finds an evil mutant bunny, developed lovingly by secret laboratory Confarm, briefly on the loose before being flattened by a passing truck. All is not lost, however, as the slain animal is delivered up to the nearest truck stop restaurant to embark on a new life as hamburger. As the mutant gene begins to infect people and other animals, however, things get quickly out of hand, and truck driver Jim Kowalski finds himself obligated to clean up the mess.

Shawn and Matt Fillbach are credited together on “Roadkill” and previous works, without indication of who exactly is doing what. This, it turns out, spills over into other aspects of their lives. “The work is split right down the middle. We both create, write, and draw it all. That's what life's like when you share a brain,” the brothers collectively told CBR. “But it also helps to have plenty of talented and hardworking zombie-like-mutations chained up in the cellar for when deadlines grow tight!”

If “Roadkill” seems like a bit of a departure from previous Fillbach Brothers projects like "Clone Wars" and even "Maxwell Strangewell," the artists consider their latest book simply one more aspect of their dual-processor imagination. “After coming off of doing a 400 page epic sci-fi graphic novel with 'Maxwell Strangewell,' it was a blast doing a fast 80 pages of pure goof and gore,” they said. “But as far as the creative process is concerned, our brains are sort of like the warehouse at the end of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.' We have so many stories stashed away in our heads, in boxes, in filing cabinets, in drawers, under beds, in attics, and in pants pockets that we just forge full steam ahead with whichever story strikes our fancy. We don't think about genre when we start working on a new project. We love doing everything!

“What we hope people begin seeing in our work is a 'Fillbach Brothers' creation, whatever genre it is. We can go from sci-fi to noir in a heartbeat. A perfect example is the new graphic novel we're working on now, 'Valley of the Gun.' It's a contemporary western drama. After we finish it we might do some crazy comedy. Whatever our magic 8-ball tells us to do next.”

The brothers would like to stress that “Roadkill” is not exactly a zombie story, but rather a tale about “zombie-like-mutations from an experiment gone awry when some scientists tamper in god's domain.” It does, though, feature a standard-definition trucker in the starring role. “'Convoy,' 'Breaker Breaker,' 'BJ & the Bear,' 'Smokey & the Bandit' -- need we say more about our love of the truckers' code?” Fillbach & Fillbach joked. “As far as what makes Kowalski qualified to deal with this -- nothing! He'd tell you himself that he's just a truck driver. A truck driver who just so happens to deliver supernatural and paranormal oddities to a mysterious cabala-like organization called 'Illuminati Incorporated,’ your average 'protect humankind from certain doom' type of establishment that has everything from gnomes to yeti on the payroll--even Merlin has a 401k. But at the end of the day Jim's a simple truck driver none-the-less... that just so happens to have a talking dog and a GPS crystal skull.”

If the book’s subtitle, "A Jim Kowalski Adventure,” is anything to go on, “Roadkill” will be only the first of many adventures for the hapless yet valiant trucker. “You know, you never can tell” whether we'll see more of Kowalski, the brothers said, “but we do have a plethora of ideas, especially about Kowalski's past--there may actually be more to him than we previously let on, nudge-nudge, wink-wink). If the audience demands more Kowalski then who are we to argue with the masses or to say no. We are but pawns in life's game. We must consult the magic 8-ball.”

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