On August 24, metal band The Devil Wears Prada
enters the world of the undead with the "Zombie EP
," a collection of five songs that pit the outnumbered living against infected former humans. To commemorate the horror-themed release, the band has commissioned "Zombie, The EP comic
," a 14-page comic book by writer JL Bourne and artist Kevin Mellon, available as part of the EP's preorder package. I caught up with TDWP vocalist Mike Hranica
a few weeks back before the band's show in Lawrence, Kan. to get his take on the band's upcoming release and what made comics the right delivery system for expanding the scope of their brand of metal.
ComicsAlliance: What made this the right time for you guys to do a concept album, and what drew you to the zombie theme?
It was pretty much just me being on a zombie kick. We were overseas and I was reading a lot of Max Brooks -- or at least "World War Z" and "The Zombie Survival Guide" and that night we were planning on going to see "Zombieland" and, I dunno, growing up I wouldn't call myself a zombie geek or a comic geek or anything, but I thought "What if we did a zombie song?" When I brought it up to the rest of the guys they were all about it, saying "Let's do five songs. Let's make an EP." ...It's just a big creative outlet and it doesn't have to be as serious as a regular full-length. It can be much darker and more sinister.CA: When did the idea to include a comic as part of your EP preorder package come along?
I'm not sure whose idea it was exactly. When we were on the [Killswitch Engage] tour we had a meeting at Ferret Records in New York and we were talking to our rep and the people who work there at ILG [the Independent Label Group] about cool things to make the "Zombie EP" a really sweet package. Our preorder packages are usually just an exclusive t-shirt or whatever and we wanted to do something cool specifically to go with the "Zombie EP." Doing a comic was just something we wanted to do. Having the band in a comic book just seemed sweet. Whenever fans see their favorite band drawn out -- whether it's on a t-shirt or whatever -- people just seem to love it. Having that happen in a comic book specifically is just perfect for us.
CA: How much of the comic have you seen so far?
[Kevin Mellon] drew up 14 pages. We've seen our cover, we've seen the line art and we've seen the colored pages.
CA: And how did you hook up with writer JL Bourne?
JL's literary agent, Mark, works at The Agency Group, which is the company that books us. So they have agents doing authors and writers and bands. So just through that mutual relationship, we knew JL was already writing this Armageddon story ["Day by Day Armageddon"] and we got matched up.
CA: What have you thought of the artwork so far?
It's been awesome. The zombies are really gory, really detailed, just what you'd expect. Having a good illustrator is the primary component for having band members look like what they look like. I spent a bit of time trying to package everything to get [Kevin] a lot of photos of each band member to where he's got their characteristics, just helping to make each member look as realistic as possible.
CA: Was your approach like a Coheed & Cambria ["The Armory Wars"] situation where the comic is almost a literal translation of your music?
No, not at all. The songs on the EP each have a specific theme, but none of them went directly in the comic. I guess we could have put some lyrics into it, but we really just came up with a brand new story that the comic can work off of. The script for the story and the illustrations, we wanted to read like a comic [rather than a specific song]. The story doesn't really work directly with the lyrics, but the lyrics do all have their own individual meaning within each song on the EP.
CA: Will the comic's availability be exclusive to the EP preorder?
Right now it's exclusive to the "Zombie EP" preorder, but we're talking to Hot Topic about getting the comics in their stores. I don't think we've spent too much time as far as getting the comic into comic stores just yet since it's still in motion. I would like to see [comics going to comic shops] go through. The best way to get it right now is to preorder, though.
CA: You mentioned that you weren't a comic book geek as a kid. Have you been reading any zombie comics to help decide what you wanted to do or how you wanted this comic to feel?
I haven't. I just wanted everything to be really solid and with that in mind, I've kind of just been going off of my perception of what a comic book should be even though I've never really collected them or anything. I'm just kind of working off of what I've always seen as what a comic book is. [Jeremy DePoyster, guitar and clean vocals] has collected a little bit and the same with [Andy Trick, bass], so as long as they can look at it without saying, "This isn't what a comic book is," I think we're good.
CA: Are there any plans for a digital release of the comic?
It probably would be a good idea. I think the sole purpose of the comic is to make a cool preorder package for the fans and to try to reach out to new people. I've heard about the Coheed comic, but not a lot of other bands use comic books to reach out. That's something that's really important. With that in mind, doing a digital release would probably be a good idea. I think it'd be cool to do that just to reach out to as many people as possible. Hopefully a lot of people get to see it.
Check out our exclusive look at Kevin Mellon's art process on the "Zombie, The EP Comic" from thumbnails to fully-colored pages below: