By: Nicole D’Andria
Today, I’m talking with the creator and writer of The Deadliest Bouquet, Erica Shultz, about creating compelling family dynamics and punching out some Nazis. Her graphic novel follows three sisters on their investigation to find out who killed their Nazi-hunting mother in 1998.
The Deadliest Bouquet is a 120-page graphic novel currently on Kickstarter. Rose, Poppy, and Violet Hawthorn grew up training under their mother, Jasmine, a Nazi-hunter who was indoctrinated into La Résistance. Now, Jasmine has been murdered, and her three estranged daughters must come together to find her killer, despite their grave differences.
The creator, writer, and letterer for the comic is the Ringo Award-nominated writer Erica Schultz. She is a comic book writer and editor who’s worked on Marvel’s Daredevil and DC’s Hawkgirl. Her works Forgotten Home and Strange Tails were nominated for Ringo Awards. The interior artist is Carola Borelli, who previously worked on Destiny, NY Vol. 3 as well as Star Trek: The Q Conflict. Colorist Gab Contreras contributed to Dead Beats as well as 2000 AD Summer Special 2018 and is currently working on Witchblood. The editor for the graphic novel is James Emmett, also the editor and creative director for I Am Hexed.
Rewards include a digital ($15) and physical ($25) copy of The Deadliest Bouquet featuring a cover by Kevin Wada (She-Hulk, Catwoman). Backers can also get a Deadliest Bouquet temporary tattoo design and a digital copy of Schultz and Alcázar’s M3 #1 ($35), along with a grab bag including an issue #1 comic written by Erica of your choosing with options such as Xena and Charmed ($50)! There isn’t a lot of time left to back the project as it ends on June 15, 2021, at 1:00 PM EDT, so check it out here and consider pledging.
Learn more about the series below in my in-depth conversation with writer/creator extraordinaire Erica Schultz.
Me: What inspired your idea of having a murder mystery surrounding a Nazi-hunting mother investigated by her three estranged daughters?
Schultz: I genuinely have no clue where my ideas come from. Maybe it was nostalgia for the 90s, but I liked the idea of dealing with generational trauma, and people being a victim of their circumstances and upbringing. I also wanted to explore the idea of loss through the complex relationships these women had with their mother and each other.
Me: If you had to pick between Rose, Poppy, Violet, or their mother Jasmine, which member of the family do you find yourself identifying with the most and why?
Schultz: There’s some of me in every character I write no matter if they’re the hero or villain. Certainly all the experiences of these women are extraordinary and rich with potential for storytelling. But I don’t know if I could pick one of them. I’m sure people would say I was a toned-down version of Violet in my twenties, and I’m a bit more like Rose now.
Me: Can you give us a rundown of your wonderful creative team as well as why you decided each member was the perfect fit for The Deadliest Bouquet?
Schultz: I’ve been very lucky with the teams I’ve gotten to work with in comics throughout; I just have to say that.
James Emmett is our editor, and he really is a Godsend. James and I have worked together before, so I knew what he expected from me as a writer, and I knew he’d push me to give my best work. That’s what a good editor does.
Carola Borelli is our fantastic line artist. I was familiar with her work from Destiny, NY and really loved her style. She has clean lines and a realistic style with a lot of great acting from the characters, so she was definitely a great fit for this project.
Gab Contreras is our terrific colorist, and we worked together on Strange Tails (the Ringo Award-nominated anthology from 2020 with Claire Connelly). Whenever Gab comes onto a project, she elevates it. The Deadliest Bouquet is no exception.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Kevin Wada’s gorgeous cover. I was so nervous reaching out to him, but he was so kind and did such a beautiful job.
Me: What are some titles (whether it be comics, movies, etc.) people enjoy that would be a good indication that they’ll also thoroughly enjoy The Deadliest Bouquet?
Schultz: Hmm…Well, I describe it as Clueless meets Law & Order meets Singles. If you liked my work on M3 or Twelve Devils Dancing, you’ll enjoy this. If you like family dramas with hints of history, then you’ll like this story.
Me: Your Kickstarter has impressively already raised over $20,000 with over 700 backers. Can you give us some crowdfunding tips?
Schultz: I can’t take the credit for the crowdfunding awesomeness. James had great success with I Am Hexed, and he brought his knowledge to this. My only bit of advice is to be optimistic and NOT check it every second of the day. That’ll give you even more anxiety than you’ll already have.
Also, Greg Pak has a great book on his site about Kickstarters. Everyone should check that out.
Me: What is the number one reason why someone should pledge money to your Kickstarter project?
Schultz: Why should people pledge money? Well, it’s a beautiful book with an incredible team.
Me: A big part of the story revolves around the relationships the sisters have with each other and their mother. When it comes to creating a compelling family dynamic in comics, what do you feel are some important factors to utilize when writing?
Schultz: Authenticity is key. Everyone has a family. And even though everyone’s family is different, there are still some universal traits, especially when it comes to power dynamics. Who is the nice parent? Who is the disciplinarian? Who is the sibling who is always starting trouble? Who is the sibling trying to keep everyone happy? It’s like building a boy band.
Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?
Schultz: If you want to write a comic, no one is stopping you. Just don’t write a comic with characters that already exist because you’re looking for trouble.
But if you want to be a comics writer and make a career out of it, it’s a very difficult road. Be prepared to hear no more than you hear yes. It’s not a career for everyone, but it’s attainable.
And the best piece of advice (for life, really) is just to not be a jerk.
Me: Promote yourself! What else do you have in the works at the moment that we can expect to see in the future?
Schultz: Ahh! Nothing that I’m working on has been announced yet so I can’t talk about any of it. I’m editing a YA OGN at Mad Cave with REDACTED CREATOR and REDACTED CREATOR, and writing a series with Van Jensen and Aneke at REDACTED PUBLISHER. Aside from that, I’m focusing on lettering the rest of The Deadliest Bouquet and preparing to teach a summer writing course at The Kubert School.
Me: Congrats on your successful Kickstarter, Erica, and I look forward to seeing more of your currently hush-hush books in the works. If you’re reading this and interested in checking out The Deadliest Bouquet, check out the official Kickstarter page.
Do you have a crowdfunding project? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project featured on “Kickstart/IndieGogo/GoFundMe the Week?” Let me know in the comments below or message me on my website. Also check out the official Kickstart the Week: Interviews with Comic Book Kickstarter Creators Volume 1 on Kindle, free for Kindle Unlimited users!
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