What happens when you put together a haunted muscle car, a circus crime family, a dancing bear, bearded women, methed-out carnies, crab twins, and a young woman teamed up with her dead father’s ghost on a vengeance mission? You get the four-issue comic series Death Trap, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.
Ollie and her dad’s ghost are out for revenge against Beau Davenport, who ordered his murder, as they set out in her father’s old 1968 Mercury Cougar. Ollie gathers help from The Strongin Circus crime family she grew up in, beginning a high-energy, bonkers adventure to right the wrongs done to her family.
Created by writer Matt Miner (GWAR: Orgasmageddon) and artist Christopher Peterson (Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight), the comic is an ode to carsploitation and revenge flicks of the 1970s and 1980s. Colorist Josh Jensen (GWAR, Lab Raider) and letterer Matt Krotzer (Strayed, House of Fear) complete the team.
The crowdfunding campaign launched earlier this week and is filled with a ton of goodies for backers, including Kickstarter exclusive covers, physical copies of the comic, digital versions, and professional services like script reviews and cover art for aspiring creators.
Miner and Peterson chatted with the Beat to discuss the book and what to expect from the campaign.
Deanna Destito: The premise is pretty crazy. What was the inspiration?
Matt Miner: I’ve been a fan of exploitation movies ever since I watched that VHS tape of Death Race 2000 in my friend’s grandparents’ place when I was like 11. From there on, I was hooked on cheesy B-movies, whenever I could get ahold of them. So Death Trap is a nod to carsploitation like Gone in 60 Seconds mixed with revenge flicks like Death Wish mixed with a little Freaks and 2000 Maniacs.
Christopher Peterson: Matt came to me with this when it was further along in development, so I’ll give my inspiration for the characters and additions process. After my introduction into comics via superheroes, I discovered Madman 20 or so years ago and it fascinated me with the characters Allred created and I’ve always wanted to create a bunch of unique and weird characters that I saw fitting into this world. So here’s my chance to go nuts and get creative and explore. I’m also intrigued by creating an “odd” family that has so many differences or backgrounds but all come together for a common goal.
Destito: With something this bonkers, do you feel freer in your creativity?
Miner: Yeah, absolutely. The rules that govern my more serious books don’t exist, so we can do whatever we want. We’re still telling a story of a woman and her tough relationship with her father and of finding family where you can, but the dressing is all bananas and wild – for instance, Chris recently came to me with this dog wearing a jetpack and it’s like “yep, that’s a new character now!”
Peterson: A project like this speaks to the power of comics where you don’t have to think of budget or actors to find or “can we pull this off?” – I love stuff like this where the medium frees you and yeah, you can doodle a flying dog in the corner of your drawing and it’s a new character that fits so easily into this established world.
Destito: Underneath the crazy there seems to be a solid plot, with the main character on a mission to resolve her dad’s death no matter what. Can you tell us more about that?
Miner: Ollie, our hero, grew up in this criminal crime family operating out of the Strongin Circus. Her dad was an enforcer who collected debts and cracked skulls, traveling with this mobile group of circus freaks, acrobats, sad clowns, dancing bears, and the like. He pushed back a little too hard against their main rival crime family in Davenport Amusements and ended up dead and haunting his old Mercury Cougar muscle car. Now Ollie’s dad has her looking for payback with him, but Ollie’s still just trying to make the guy proud, even after he’s dead.
Destito: Who are your favorite characters and why?
Miner: I love writing dialogue for any of the characters with thick Eastern European accents and broken but understandable English. I used to work at a nonprofit full of folks from that region of the world, and really paid attention to how they spoke, so I have a fun time with the way those characters in Death Trap put words together. Ollie’s cathartic to write – her relationship with her dad has in it a lot of my non-relationship with my mom, who disowned me for writing comics she felt were evil without even having read them. Even now I hope she’ll be proud of me, but I know in real life that’s never gonna happen. Ollie, too, is chasing that approval from a parent who’s gone.
Peterson: This is where I get into trouble because I have a bit of free reign, in a sense, to make up all kinds of supporting characters and they are all things I like to draw. The stand-outs though, are the conjoined twins – first it was about making them unique, but now it’s about “how can I make these two work in crazy and regular situations?” And of course Ollie because we’ve packed a lot of character into her, so she’s always great to draw.
Destito: For backers, what can they look forward to in the Kickstarter campaign?
Miner: So here’s a thing. Death Trap is gonna be in comic stores all over once it’s funded and published, but the two covers on the Kickstarter are exclusives to the Kickstarter. Everyone else who snoozed on the campaign is gonna miss out on these. Aside from that, you can pick up digital copies, trades, tons of book packs of my previous work, and we even have lots of ways to get your likeness or influence in to the book, like appearing as a bobblehead figure or customizing a license plate!
Peterson: People can also look forward to getting something they normally might have a hard time finding on the internet like special creative services that can often come with a high cost if they finally do find someone. And hopefully they see our work and dig that they get us helping them out.
Destito: Why did you choose the crowdfunding route?
Miner: Because the art team works way too hard to have their electric shut off on them and I’m not independently wealthy to where I could front the page rates.
Peterson: Beyond getting paid and being able to publish a comic, I think it’s awesome to engage at a stronger level with the community. Giving people a stake in a product or letting them be a part of the project is a lot of fun and grabs your audience and gets them excited … I hope.
To support the campaign for Death Trap by the deadline of October 2, click here.