An interview with comic artist John Broglia
John talks comics, zombies and gives some advice to aspiring comic creators
by TS Alan
Brooklyn, NY born and raised comic artist John Broglia knew from an early age he wanted to be a comic creator. Now, nearly ten years after his first comic (Zombie Sama!) was published, he’s done work on over a dozen comic issues including Atomic Robo: Real Science Adventures for Red Comics, The God Complex for Image Comics and two digital comics of his own: Denali with Jay Faerber and Unmasked with Michael Sarrao. Broglia has also done animation for several studios, including Greenhead Media.
ZEA caught up with John at this year’s New York Comic Con and he was more than happy to talk zombies, comics and the inevitable zombie apocalypse.
ZEA: You got your first break 2005, when you collaborated with Shi creator Bill Tucci. How did that collaboration come about?
Broglia: I was working for a small press company that actually didn’t see the light of day. But I did get me a free trip to San Diego Comic Con. I was passing by Billy’s booth, and I said [to myself], “Oh, man, that’s Billy Tucci!” I was basically living the fanboy dream at San Diego that year. Billy is one of my favorites, so I stopped and met his wife Deborah and the whole family. We hit it off. When we get back to the East Coast we met up at Pittsburgh Comic Con, where we got to sit down and discuss possibly working together. As soon as we got home, Billy sent me the script for Zombie Sama!, and the second I read it I fell in love with it.
ZEA: Obviously Zombie Sama! was Tucci’s idea but why not an action hero or heroine, since Tucci is well established with his Shi franchise.
Broglia: I’ve heard Billy say enough times that zombies give you the best villains. There’s no remorse and they’re almost like the Nazi’s of WWII. They’re the ultimate bad guys. There is no compassion, ulterior motive, and you can’t turn them back to the good side or anything along those lines. They’re straight forward villains that you have to take on and fight.
ZEA: Next year marks the tenth anniversary of Zombie Sama!. Bill told me there is to be an anniversary issue, but he also told me that you think your work should be re-done. Bill thinks it’s perfect. Why do you feel you need to re-do your work?
Broglia: It was ten years ago and I’ve grown as an artist in leaps and bounds, not just in the style of art but in the technique. In storytelling alone I know I can lend a better hand to it now. I go after Billy every year about doing the book again or doing further volumes of it, because I love the character so much. So if I work on the book I want it to be the best possible work I could put out. You don’t want to show your work from the first year you were doing it, you want to show your best possible stuff.
ZEA: As an established comic creator, what advice can you give others who are looking to get their first comic published?
Broglia: Hard work and perseverance. It’s not an easy lifestyle. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish. It’s all about passion. It’s all about being completely in love with what you do. Most artists you talk to don’t make a lot of money. They work second jobs but they do it absolutely because they love doing it. So if you don’t love it that much then don’t even try it.
ZEA: What is the worst thing someone can do who is looking to get published?
Broglia: The worst thing — not be humble. You absolutely have to be humble. You can’t approach artists, creators, editors and publishers thinking you’re the absolute best with a pompous attitude. You need to be completely respectful to the industry and everyone in it.
ZEA: Can you tell me about your latest creation?
Broglia: I’m working on a couple of pictures that I, unfortunately can’t talk about. What I can talk about is zombie related, which is awesome. I just got hired to do the comic book tie in with an indie film that’s hitting the horror fests right now, Naked Zombie Girl. It’s a really cool short film. I’m very good friends with the lead actress Meghan Chadeayne. The director and writer, Rickey Bird, Jr., contacted me and wanted me to do a ten to twelve page short. I jumped all over it because it’s so much Grindhouse fun.
ZEA: So you’ve done an zombie comic and you’re doing a Naked Zombie Girl tie in, so do you believe in the possibility in a zombie uprising?
Broglia: Absolutely. You got the Ebola virus spreading around right now. There’s all ready reports of people coming back from the dead. That’s the one apocalypse that’s actually going to happen.
ZEA: Are you prepared for any doomsday scenario with or without zombies?
Broglia: Ah, no. Not even a little bit. I’m terrible, I’ve never even fired a gun in my life. Actually, I take it back. I own a samurai sword. I have one in the house so I’m set and ready to go.
ZEA: So if there is a zombie uprising, would you plan to bug out or hunkering down in your home?
Broglia: I’d head out. I have to take the wife and kids and move out. Seems like in every Walking Dead episode as long as you stay on your feet and move place to place, you can stay alive.
ZEA: What would be your firearm of choice be, if you could get one?
Broglia: I’d still use a samurai sword. It never runs out of bullets and you can’t miss.
ZEA: My final question: Who was the person that most influenced you to become a comic creator?
Broglia: It’s a laundry list. Will Eisner has got to be at the top. The work he did on the Spirit was phenomenal. But as a kid, I was eleven or twelve when Image Comics started. So just those books alone. Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon. Those books! I always wanted to do it [create comics] but when I was eleven and I saw these guys come out with creations, their own stuff, and do things I hadn’t seen before. That completely blew my mind. It made me turn around and say, I have to do this. I actually have to do this.
ZEA: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Broglia: Yeah. Check out Unmasked on USA TODAY [dot] com. Michael Sarrao and myself create our own series. Every Monday, Unmasked Mondays, they add four new pages to Volume One. Also check out Denali on ComiXology from Monkey Brain Comics. That’s a digital series I have with Jay Faerber. And be on the lookout for some new stuff that’ll be coming out that I can’t talk about yet, but soon!