What’s a girl to do when every man on Earth becomes a zombie? (And not the kind of zombie a guy becomes when we talk about shoes or ask him to pick up tampons on his beer run – genuine, flesh-eating zombies.) The only reasonable thing to do is get tattooed, join a bootlegger gang, and get in touch with your bad ass side.
Such is the life of the Black Cherry Bombshells, the titular girl gang stars of of Zuda’s hit webcomic. Created by Johnny Zito and Tony Trov, The Black Cherry Bombshells has recently been renewed for a second season on Zuda. Here, Zombie Lisa and John talk to Zombie Zito and Trov at Zombie Prom 2008.
Lisa: Tell me about the genesis of The Black Cherry Bombshells.
Zito: Trov and I had never written women as protagonists. They’d always been girlfriends or mothers. We were looking for an excuse to write women for whatever our next project was. Then Zuda came along and I made Trov do Zuda with me. He wanted to do a movie, a short film, but I said let’s do Zuda because we’ll get paid at Zuda.
Trov: And now we do.
Zito: And now we do! It came out of the idea that we wanted to write women as the leads, not as the girlfriends, not as the mothers. As characters that could be the action hero, and not with the intention of getting the guy. Kind of like in Silence of the Lambs, she [Clarice] has no love interest.
John: Clarice doesn’t have a love interest, but she has almost a father-daughter relationship with Lecter..
Zito: Right. There’s that weird, sexy incest thing with her and Hannibal Lecter, but her goal in the movie is never to catch and bed Buffalo Bill or Hannibal Lector or to get someone’s love. She is the hero. She takes on what you would have assigned the male counterpart in any other movie without any frill of a romantic interest or anything like that. So it was all about making women action heroes and not taking away from that by making them the girlfriend of an action hero.
Lisa: Why did you choose zombies for The Black Cherry Bombshells?
Zito: Kind of a device.
Trov: Just to get men out of it. The zombies aren’t the antagonists of the story, The Black Cherry Bombshells isn’t necessarily a zombie feature. The zombies are more part of the women’s habitat, part of their world.
Zito: Getting the men out of the way, but doing it plausibly and not having to deal with a bunch of extra male characters like “the weapons dealer” or “the henchman”. We didn’t want that – we wanted to get men out of it altogether
John: So all the men have died in this world?
Zito: All the men are zombies.
John: Any Y: The Last Man influence there?
Zito: Absolutely. When we were trying to figure it out and put it all together, I’d just read the first trade of Y: The Last Man. Who doesn’t love Y: The Last Man, right? You know what’s weird? When we tell people what the comic is about and that all the men are dead, the women say, “Oh, that’s really neat!” and the men will say, “That’s weird.” Dudes don’t groove on it.
John: What roles do each of you take in the creation of the story?
Zito: I’ll come out with an idea I want to do and Trov will be like, “That’s boring. This would be more interesting.” He’ll find a way to make an overall idea work character-wise. Then we boil that down from a general plot to a detailed script. The whole time we’re going back and forth.
Trov: We share a wall, we live together. And when we’re not together, we work by gmail. We’re constantly shooting scripts back and forth. It’s easy to write together.
Zito: As a kid, trying to write by yourself, it really helps having someone telling you that your idea is bad. You sit there for hours asking yourself if something works, and it really helps to have someone immediately go, “That’s stupid. That’s dumb, Get that out of here.”
John: Did you have any difficulties starting out with the writing process? You’ve known each other forever, so is there difficulty with hurt feelings when one of you says something sucks?
Trov: We generally think that all of our ideas are bad, so it’s just a matter of us both agreeing that they’re bad.
Zito: Trov and I went to film school together – I was film and he was broadcast telecommunications – so we wrote all of my film projects and all of his telecommunications projects together. We worked together even then telling each other, “Your stuff is crap.” It’s the best creative relationship I’ve had insofar as someone can say your stuff sucks and there’s no animosity about it.
Trov: High five!
Zito: High five for that! High five for sucking!
Trov: Wyld Stallyns!
Lisa: How did you hook up with Sacha, the artist on The Black Cherry Bombshells?
Trov: Comicjobs.com, which is no longer in effect. She lives in LA and we’ve never met her face to face.
Zito: We’re supposed to meet her next month in New York when she’s visiting.
[Scuffle breaks out behind our zombie foursome at the zombie prom.]
Trov: There was almost a fight at the zombie prom right now!
John: Yeah, a zombie girl tried to rip out a zombie guy’s lip ring!
Lisa: Tell me about your collaborative process with Sacha.
Zito: We’ve really learned to trust the artist. We’re big on teamwork, but we’ve really learned to trust Sacha over the first eight strips in the competition, with her help during the competition, and with helping us promote. We became friends with her over that. Now she influences the strips much more now as far as design and appearance and layout.
Trov: With the initial eight, we were so crazy about making sure it looked exactly right, and now we totally trust her.
John: What are your influences? Or what do you not want to do?
Trov: I’m not a superhero fan, but John is.
Zito: We’re both sequential art fans.
Trov: Yeah, Stuff like Calvin and Hobbes.
Zito: We love webcomics. We’re big fans of XKCD. Also Intergalactic Law.
John: Oh, you’re just sucking up to the interviewers.
Zito: Oh, no! Never! I think it’s clever. It reminds me of Harvey Birdman, but in a good way, not the Harvey Birdman way where there’s too much happening at once.
Zito: And it’s my favorite character from Futurama and all the best bits from every sci-fi ever, all in a law firm. I like that it’s on the main page. Other sites may benefit from doing the same thing.
John: What’s your dream project?
Zito and Trov: Ghostbusters.
Trov: We also have this awesome idea for Ninja Turtles.
Zito: It’s so awesome we’re not even going to tell you what it is. Whoever owns the rights to Ninja Turtles, call us. We’ll do it for a dollar. We have a written out a pitch for Ghostbusters as soon as we get a hold of someone who does that, whose job it is to handle Ghostbusters, we’re sending it.
The Black Cherry Bombshells is written by Johnny Zito and Tony Trov with art by Sacha Borisich and colors by John Dallaire. Catch up on old episodes and read new episodes at Zuda.