Lady Killer, the book being billed as “Mad Men’s Betty Draper meets Dexter”, is unlike anything else in the industry. The comparison couldn’t be more apt as Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich tell the tale of Josie, a contract killer living under the cover of a 60s housewife. Jones and Rich took time out of their crazy schedules to talk about their new Dark Horse book, in stores in January, and provide Comicosity with a debut look at a piece of Joëlle’s art from 2011 that lead to Lady Killer!
Aaron Long: Lady Killer is not your first collaboration, with You Have Killed Me and Twelve Reasons Why I Love Her already under your belts. How did Lady Killer come to life? Has this one been bouncing around for awhile and waiting for the right time to drop?
Joëlle Jones: I brought the idea to Jamie about three years ago but my schedule has been so busy until now that I never had the time to do anything with it. Really relieved to finally be drawing it!
Jamie S. Rich: Yeah, I feel like I’ve lived with these characters for a long time now. I suppose it speaks well that I am not at all tired of them. The time in development was not really a negative, though, it kind of all worked the right way to end up the way it is, morphing in such a way that Joëlle took over more of it the deeper we got into it..
AL: In Lady Killer, Josie is living a double life. Can you discuss who Lady Killer’s protagonist is and what she’s taking on in the series?
JSR: Where we find the character, she has been working as an assassin for a while, but we join her at a moment of awakening. In this initial arc, she’s stepping back for the first time to look at the agency that employs her and the men in charge. As you’ll see, she’s given a task that is too much to ask, that kind of ratchets up the morally gray aspect of the work so that she sees a much darker scenario. Thematically, it ties into family and her duties in her everyday life, because the two things can never truly be separate. So, in a way, she is both protagonist and antagonist, as in addition to the agency, she has to face herself.
AL: The book has a serious Mad Men vibe, with the time period acting as a character in some ways. What aspects of the time period have an affect on Lady Killer?
JSR: Certainly the social and political climates have a bearing. A housewife in 1962 is different than a housewife even a decade later. Our story so far is pretty much right before things will really change and shift in another direction. You also have unique challenges for problem solving within the plot. The characters don’t have the technology we do, which really reminds you of how much we rely on these weird little sci-fi devices in our pockets when you have to think about how someone in the story is going to find a map and a payphone.
AL: In the first issue, you don’t shy away from action or some pretty intense violence. Did you know from the outset you wanted to go no-holds-barred with the book, or did that decision come as the first issue started to evolve?
JJ: I always knew that if I was going to do it that I would go all the way. I want the violence to have a real physical reality to it which I think is really funny when paired with adorable almost cartoony characters.
JJ: This book has really been my chance to draw whatever I wanted, and what I wanted was to do sort of an homage to all the vintage advertising and illustration that I have been drooling over for years.
JSR: I’ve laughed a lot when she turns in the scripts, because I’m like, “If I asked you to draw this, you’d kill me!” Joëlle gives herself a lot of storytelling challenges here that I think she sees with a different level of clarity as the writer/artist than if it were just me writing the script instead.
AL: Being that this isn’t the first book you’ve worked on together, have you noticed your style has changed as you’ve been collaborating?
JSR: We have both certainly progressed in skill. At least I hope so for me, I think it’s pretty obvious for Joëlle’s art. Every project is different, though, every book has its unique way of coming together. With this one being more of Joëlle’s vehicle, I get to sit back and watch it come together a little bit more, and I think I’m learning a little bit about how an artist approaches a story, since, as I mentioned, the visuals definitely drive certain sequences more than they might were I scripting it out.
AL: Any final words you’d like pass on to readers about Lady Killer?
JSR: I just hope people see the love and care that is going into this, and also all the fun we’re having at the same time. I think that’s what’s really cool about what Joëlle is doing, that she is so meticulous in the execution, yet the comic remains so light on its feet. Some of this stuff, people will laugh and recoil in equal measure. And then Laura Allred makes everything just look like candy. I love it!
Below, find an image from 2011 when the idea of Lady Killer was first forming. Lady Killer #1 hits stores January 7, 2015.