Jill and the Killers #1 is coming, with an oversized first issue due out January 31 from the creative team of writer Olivia Cuartero-Briggs and artist Roberta Ingranata.

Published by Oni Press, the all-ages book is billed as “razor-sharp teenage thriller”, wherein titular main character Jill Estrada gets caught up in a true-crime subscription mystery box case. It’s fun and stylish and a fantastic early 2024 release.

And today The Beat has an exclusive excerpt from the book to reveal. You can check it out below, along with an essay about the book from Cuartero-Briggs…enjoy!

Jill and the Killers

EXCLUSIVE: Jill and the Killers #1 essay, pages

True Crime and Jill and the Killers
By Olivia Cuartero-Briggs

Okay, let’s get something straight. There is no “true crime” in Jill and the Killers. The cold cases the girls solve are 100% crafted by yours truly. But… the crimes themselves and the larger mystery at the heart of the series, are inspired by actual occurrences, and a very real, and totally terrifying criminal hypothesis; a theory about our nation’s serial killers that, if proven, truly is the stuff of nightmares. 

You may have heard me say this before, but I am a big fan of true crime. Not that it exists, mind you. I can’t stand the violence some inflict upon others, or the devastation it causes to those left behind. It’s heartbreaking and terrifying. What I do love, however, is how dogged we – as humans – can be in pursuing wrong-doers. It’s like we have an innate need for justice that has to be fulfilled or we just can’t move on. And if we can’t be the ones to personally go out and uncover the truth, we need to follow those that do. Trailing the scent right along with them like cadaver dogs in the night. 

Human beings have been telling stories as long as there has been language. To entertain, sure, but before we had Google or even libraries, sharing stories was a means of survival. If your grandfather told you a story about how his friend ate such-and-such berry and died, well, now you know not to eat that berry, don’t you? And if your cousin told you a story about how her friend wasn’t looking and fell into a ravine in such-and-such forest, then you’re gonna watch where the hell you’re going when you’re out there. Additionally, stories help us navigate the world emotionally, allegories give us a sense of right and wrong and how to function as a society. We need them, we’ve always needed them, and we always will.

Jill and the Killers

I think that’s why so many of us are drawn to stories of true crime. Not only do we want to know justice was served, we also have an evolutionary need to keep ourselves safe, and understanding how others fell victim to a sadistic killer, might enable us to keep from meeting the same end. And we need to believe that. Life is too scary, otherwise. We want to know that if we stumbled upon a terrible crime, that we could get to the truth and see justice done. But more importantly, we need to feel that if we, ourselves, came face to face with a ruthless killer, we would find a way to survive.

And, if I’m really honest, that’s why I created Jill and the Killers. Yes, there are jokes, and the story is just as exciting and fun as it is scary – but it came from those same needs. Justice and survival. The need to know that someone like me – not a cop or a profiler, but an “everyman” or, in this case, “everywoman” – could not only solve a case, but come up against a killer – outsmart them – and live to tell the tale. Young women are disproportionately the victims of serial murderers, and I need to feel empowered. As a woman, a mother of little women, and just a fellow human, I wanted to create a world where young women were fighting back. Standing up in the face of terror, and saying “I’m gonna [freakin’] find you, you [sonofagun]” (edited version)… and so, that’s what I did.

So, again, as far as true crime goes, ain’t nothing true in the crimes in Jill and the Killers, but here’s something that is:

Just like me, and the millions of others that watch, listen to, or otherwise absorb true crime in all of its various incarnations, genres, and mediums… killers do, too. Surprised? You didn’t think in this grand age of communication that only those of us on the up and up were chatting away, did ya? Of course not. And I’m not trying to scare anyone – or am I? – but there is evidence out there to suggest that some of our nation’s serial killers don’t just know about and follow one another, as we do, but that they might actually be connected…

I first heard about this concept while watching the A&E documentary series, The Killing Season, and I could not get it out of my head. Could there really be a serial killer network out there? And, if so, what were the cataclysmic possibilities of such a macabre society? We don’t have any stories out there to warn us about something like this, but damn it, we need one. And that – along with just how flipping cool it would be to have a hit comic book series – is why I hope Jill and the Killers goes on for years and years. Because yes, there’s a murder to solve for every arc, but there’s a much larger, more terrifying and imposing mystery at the heart of the series – one connected to the disappearance of Jill’s mom, Juliet – that I am just dying to tell. It’s a story we don’t have out there, yet, and who knows? We just might need it.

Jill and the Killers


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