By: Nicole D’Andria
Inspired by the global pandemic when everything shut down and his wife couldn’t get her braces removed, creator George Aguilar came up with a zombie apocalypse comic book about a woman and her chihuahua in search of an orthodontist. Find out more about this quirky new horror series with “Kickstart the Week.”
Zombie Deathball Mayhem’s protagonist, Jan, has just broken up with her boyfriend, only to discover the zombie apocalypse is upon us! She has a custom deathball for her dog, Papi, so they can take on the zombies and search for an orthodontist. This marks the beginning of a five-issue comic book mini-series filled with action-packed moments spewed with blood as well as heart (both the literal ones being ripped out of chests and the figurative kind).
Writer George Aguilar previously worked on stories for the anthologies Send in the Clowns and Always Punch Nazis. He also co-wrote Leave on the Light #2-4 with Bradley Golden (New Cairo, Chess-Masters). Aguilar has gathered together an international team of talent for Zombie Deathball Mayhem. The interior and variant cover artist is Dino Agor, who previously drew art for Harland Buck under Weldon Studio and works as a nurse with a specialization in the Intensive Care Unit. The main cover artist is Helmut Racho (These Damn Kids, Leave on the Light). The colorist for the issue is Leticia Morgado Rodríguez (Black Death) with letters by Micah Meyers (The Disasters) and graphic design by Dave Lentz (Misadventurers). I am also a member of the creative team, serving as the editor for the mini-series.
The project is trying to raise $3,500 by November 1, 2021, at 6:44 AM EDT. Digital ($7) and physical ($17) copies of the first issue as well as stickers, an art print ($35), and an exclusive variant cover ($40) are part of several reward tiers available. Check out the rest of your options on the official Kickstarter page.
Enjoy my in-depth interview with creator and writer George Aguilar below. Find out what animal he would take into the apocalypse and more!
Me: What can you tell us about your main protagonist and her ultimate goal in the story, which goes beyond just survival and involves dental work?
George Aguilar: I think Jan’s always been someone who cares about people. She genuinely wants to help as many as she can. With that being said, she’s also someone who’s experienced adversity, adapted to hardships, and become a sterner person because of that. She prefers not to share her feelings and is a woman of action.
Yes, she needs to find an orthodontist (which you find out why in the first issue) but I also think it was just an excuse she gave herself to go out and help people under the guise of dentistry.
Whether she realizes it yet or not, I think her ultimate goal is to try and reverse the undead apocalypse and she knows that with her skillsets and experience, she (and Papi) stand a chance of making it happen.
Me: What was the inspiration behind having a chihuahua in a deathball as her companion in the miniseries?
Aguilar: Anyone who’s had a chihuahua in their lives loves them (and fears them)! I’ve never in my life seen such a tiny creature show so much bravery and ferocity barking at anything that irritates them no matter what the size (and everything irritates them). My wife and I have a chihuahua by the same name as the co-protagonist and he is the inspiration for Papi in the story.
So, seeing as how chihuahuas are fearless and won’t back down (unless they’re the ones that tremble, those aren’t battle-ready chihuahuas), I figured Jan would find a way for Papi to join in on the battle.
I tried to think like an engineer and consider how something like this could actually work in real life and sketched out a design with specifically placed weights to help build momentum and to balance out the deathball. That was actually a really fun and interesting part of crafting the story. There’s a backstory for the deathball that will eventually be revealed.
Me: If you could pick any animal to fight alongside you in the apocalypse, which would it be and why?
Aguilar: Hahahahaha! This question made my day. I just got an incredible mental image of animals piloting Gundams fighting against Sauron from Lord of the Rings! I love dogs so much so that would be my real-life companion, but that’s a little too easy, so I think I’d probably go with an elephant because they’re magnificent animals, intelligent, and incredibly dangerous, or maybe sharks (“With frickin’ laser beams!”).
Me: How did you go about forming your creative team and why is each member the perfect person to tell your story?
Aguilar: It actually started with you. I knew I wanted to work with an editor because I’d always heard that if you edit your own work, you’re probably missing a lot. I wasn’t sure who to go with. When I got your email about editorial services I thought, let’s try it. It’s honestly been a great experience and working with you gave me further confidence to approach others about the project.
With the artists, Dino and Helmut, I’d actually been Facebook friends with them for years and always admired their work. So when I was finally ready to move forward with production, I knew I really wanted to work with them.
I also met Leticia over Facebook when searching for a colorist and I really liked her work, it’s the same for Micah (letterer) and Dave (graphic designer).
Everyone brought their own unique gifts to the project and I honestly can’t imagine how it’d look without them. I’m truly grateful to them for all of their contributions to the book!
Me: Thank you so much for your kind words! It was really a joy to be part of this wacky project. You also had a variant cover created by Dino Agor that pays homage to an X-Men cover. Why did you decide to pay tribute to this cover in particular?
Aguilar: Uncanny X-Men #141 and #142 are my all-time favorite comic books. It’s funny, I was brainstorming ideas for how to create interest for the higher tiers, and I also knew I wanted at least one variant cover. So I loved how UXM #141 has the wanted poster and you learn the fates of the X-Men; I thought that could be a great way to get people excited to back the project at a higher tier by allowing them to be drawn onto the cover in one of the limited portrait boxes because it gives them the option to not only be a part of the book but to also determine their own fate in how Dino would draw them with the option of “Wanted”, “Zombiefied” or “Eaten”.
I honestly love the original cover (UXM #141) so much that I just needed an excuse to homage it. I think it lends itself well here and major props to Dino for making the image so incredible! Bonus points for the awesome sketches of the floating heads’ expressions in the price box.
Me: A lot of research went into the Kickstarter process on your part. What would you say are the three most important tips you’ve learned?
Aguilar: Honestly, there’s was so much stress in the days preparing to launch, and as much as I learned preparing, I think I learned so much more by launching. With that being said, I think I should have leveraged the pre-launch promotions more. I was so nervous about launching that I just wanted to get started, but I know now that I could have used that time to reach out to reviewers or doing more to get attention on the project before launching.
I think the last really big tip could be to dedicate as much time to actually crafting the campaign page. I thought I’d have a good page but when I really compared it to other campaigns I saw, others did a much better job of laying out their pages. The only other thing I say is that if you have the budget, you might really consider hiring an expert to look over your campaign and advise you on what you can do to improve it before launching. I would have liked to do this but I had put all of my budget into the production of the book, but in hindsight, I can see how valuable this could be.
Me: What inspirational words would you have for aspiring comic book writers?
Aguilar: I don’t have a lot of work out there so I still consider myself an aspiring comic book writer too, but I would say, don’t give up. Your own worst enemy might be yourself. If you hear that nagging voice in the back of your head discouraging you, ignore it and keep fighting. Whatever happens, for better or worse, at least you’ll know what you’ve been through and how much you’ve accomplished by completing your own project. So don’t give up on yourself.
Me: Promote yourself! What projects do you have coming out soon that we can also look forward to?
Aguilar: I wish I could say I have more lined up but I’ll mainly be working on issue two. I’ve also written out drafts for an anthology comic book series I hope to start working on too in the near future. I also make comic book-themed Youtube content on my channel Uncanny George!
Me: Thanks for taking the time to share your project with us, George, and for having me along for the crazy ride! If you’re reading this and interested in contributing to some zombie madness, check out the Zombie Deathball Mayhem #1 Kickstarter!
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.
Other “Kickstart the Week” features: