After introducing readers to the masked convention slasher known as Killr™ last fall, Stephen Graham Jones, Joshua Viola, and Ben Matsuya are reteaming to bring readers back to the Colorado Festival of Horror for another round of killer cosplay in True Believers #2. With the second issue now on Kickstarter via Hex Publishers, Daily Dead caught up with co-writer Joshua Viola in a new Q&A feature to discuss working with Stephen Graham Jones and Ben Matsuya on the sequel, how he put together a star-studded lineup of special guest cameos in the comic (including Jamie Lee Curtis, R.L. Stine, and Matthew Kiichi Heafy), and the scary good perks that supporters can look forward to this time around!

Below, you can check out our full Q&A with Joshua Viola as well as cover art and preview pages from True Believers #2, and to learn more about the slasher sequel, visit the comic book's official Kickstarter page!

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions for us, Joshua, and congratulations on the upcoming second issue of True Believers! Set one year after the events of the first issue, True Believers #2 reunites you with co-writer Stephen Graham Jones and artist Ben Matsuya. What was it like to get back together with Stephen and Ben to create the sequel to True Believers? Was a lot of the story already in place after working on the first issue?

Joshua Viola: We've been on the grind since day one with this project, cooking up various plot points. Stephen and I even got a head start on writing issue 3. Ben's art is no joke—it's intricate and takes a while to nail down. Plus, there's a bunch of top-secret stuff in the works that I can't spill the beans on just yet. But ever since our little slasher comic caught fire, Killr™'s been living rent-free in our heads.

Like the first issue, True Believers #2 takes place at the Colorado Festival of Horror and features a star-studded lineup of special guest appearances, including Jamie Lee Curtis, the band GWAR, R.L. Stine, Jeffrey Reddick, Matthew Kiichi Heafy, Devon Sawa, and the characters from Deathgasm. How did you go about setting up these cameos, and how fun was it for you to write them into the story?

Joshua Viola: Actually, Jamie, Stine, Reddick, and Deathgasm make their debut in issue one, but we're giving that issue a fresh spin for this campaign with new, limited variant covers. GWAR, Heafy, and Sawa join the fray in issue two, and we've already got some crazy names lined up for issue 3. The whole process was pretty straightforward—I just reached out to them, pitched our comic, and asked if they'd be down for a cameo. Luckily, everyone was super receptive and totally vibed with the project.

Writing them into the story was an absolute blast. We already had our main plot locked in, but brainstorming hilarious and engaging ways to weave them into the narrative was hands down the most fun I've had with this project. And I have to give thanks to all of them, especially poor Devon Sawa, who takes some serious (well, they're pretty funny, if you ask me) hits in this one. He's been such a good sport about it all.

In issue #1, you introduced readers to a new slasher villain who was creative and creepy in their macabre methods. What can readers expect from the newest version of the masked Killr™ this time around?

Joshua Viola: What I think is cool about our series is a fresh face taking on the role of Killr™ in each issue, kind of like in the Scream series. So, there's this whole mystery about who Killr™ could be, and that big Scooby Doo reveal at the end. That, to me, is a blast, especially with all the blood spilled to get there. 

For issue two, Stephen and I really put our heads together to try to shake things up this time around. I mean, realistically, why would the convention even go on after such a tragedy? But that's what gave us the freedom to tackle it in quirky ways. Bret and Jeanni, the real con's co-founders who we both personally know, kind of end up being the real villains in all of this for keeping the show rolling, which Stephen and I find absolutely hilarious. I mean, they are the sweetest people in real life, so it's this wonderful inside joke just for us. But in this issue, most of the action goes down during the setup phase before the con even kicks off. That twist allowed us to paint a different picture of Killr™ with some fresh motivations.

Were you and Stephen Graham Jones inspired or influenced by any slasher sequels while writing True Believers #2?

Joshua Viola: Sort of. Not exactly in the plot department, but we definitely stuck to Randy's rules from Scream 2, that basically meant cranking up the body count, carnage, and blood.

Similar to the first issue, True Believers #2 is now on Kickstarter. What types of perks and stretch goals can supporters of the Kickstarter campaign look forward to this time around?

Joshua Viola: We've got some seriously cool rewards lined up! Prop shears, latex masks, Matt Heafy of Trivium's original score (on a blood-red saw-blade shaped vinyl and cassette!), variant covers, original art, passes to the real-life Colorado Festival of Horror, getting drawn into issue 3, a signed skateboard deck and drumsticks from GWAR, a signed and previously played Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom guitar, and a bunch more cool stuff! If we hit those stretch goals, we're planning stickers, guitar picks, prints, and even more music!

Ultimately, what do you hope readers take away from True Believers #2?

Joshua Viola: The world's feeling pretty volatile lately. As creators, we're all about diving into another world for ourselves and then offering it up to others. Entertainment and escapism? Vital. And I'm hoping that's exactly what True Believers offers readers—just a good old bloody time.

True Believers is initially planned as a three-issue series, but do you have plans to expand this series beyond that if given the opportunity?

Joshua Viola: Can't spill all the beans just yet, but let's just say you're going to be seeing a whole lot more of Killr™, I reckon.

In addition to writing comic books, you’re also an accomplished novelist. How does writing comic books compare to writing long-form prose?

Joshua Viola: For me, it's been very refreshing. I've dabbled in comics on and off for a bit, but I've really thrown myself into it headfirst over the past year and a half, and man, am I loving it. There's something so rewarding about diving deep into such an artistic medium. I still write prose, and I always will, especially short stories—that's been my bread and butter for the past 14ish years. But comics have provided such a rejuvenating escape from my usual routine.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers who are just getting started?

Joshua Viola: Read a bunch of stuff. Write often, even if it's just a little. Don't sweat feedback, it's all about improving. Get cozy with editing, because that's where the magic happens. Don't stress about finding your own style—it'll come with time. Oh, and rejection? Totally normal. Just keep at it. And most importantly, believe in yourself and your stories. Enjoy the ride and stay passionate about what you're doing. You got this!

In addition to True Believers #2, do you each have any other projects coming up that you can tease?

Joshua Viola: In the prose world, I have a novella dropping from Blood Bound Books this summer. Next year, a short story collection and a novel coming out from Crystal Lake Entertainment, as well as a tie-in novella for the new Scandroid album (all with Sean Eads). Also, I've been dipping my toes into the movie biz—I'm executive producer alongside Slash from Guns N' Roses on the reboot of Roger Corman’s Deathstalker, directed by Steve Kostanski of Psycho Goreman and The Void fame. I'm also EP on Deathgasm 2 (big fan of the first one) and Skinner's stop-motion masterpiece, Shrine of Abomination. Loads of other fun stuff in the pipeline, especially in the video game world, so please keep an eye out!


Press Release: (April 2, 2024) Some of the biggest names in horror — iconic actress Jamie Lee Curtis, the band GWAR, bestselling novelist R.L. Stine, screenwriter and film director Jeffrey Reddick (Final Destination), musician Matthew Kiichi Heafy, actor Devon Sawa, and the characters from the cult horror film Deathgasm — will make cameo appearances in TRUE BELIEVERS, a gripping and grisly new comic book mini-series co-written by bestselling Bram Stoker Award-winner Stephen Graham Jones and Denver Post bestselling writer Joshua Viola, featuring artwork by Ben Matsuya. The three-issue series, which delves into the world of cosplay and fan conventions, is set at the Colorado Festival of Horror. A Kickstarter campaign for the second issue features lettering by Jeremiah Lambert and variant covers by Matthew Therrien, Skinner, GWAR’s Matt Maguire, Luigi Scarcella of Half Sumo, and Ben Matsuya, as well as all-new, limited edition variant covers featuring Jamie Lee Curtis and R.L. Stine and Deathgasm by Therrien.

In TRUE BELIEVERS #2, a year has passed since the harrowing events of issue 1, which introduced readers to the bone-chilling slasher character, Killr™. Now a mysterious new figure emerges, adopting the enigmatic Killr™ persona—but is it just another obsessive fan or a new threat on the horizon? Brace yourself for a rollercoaster of suspense and humor with a fresh ensemble of characters. With new mysteries, hilarious gags, and an extra dose of blood, issue 2 promises a thrilling ride for both seasoned fans and newcomers alike.

“We're incredibly honored to have iconic Scream Queen — Jamie Lee Curtis — featured in our slasher tale,” said Joshua Viola. “As a special treat for fans, we're offering limited Jamie Lee Curtis variant covers by Matthew Therrien. But it's more than just a cool cover. For every purchase of her variant, I will personally match that amount and donate it to the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, in support of Jamie's charity, My Hand In Yours. Your contribution to the campaign will make a significant difference in the lives of critically ill & injured children.”

“Nothing better than being at a horror convention, and the Colorado Festival of Horror does it right,” Stephen Graham Jones says. “Only thing better might be . . . I don't know. Maybe being there and feeling like you're walking through the panels of a slasher comic book?"

Rewards for the project include a 30 minute original score crafted by lead vocalist and guitarist of the Grammy-nominated band Trivium, Matthew Kiichi Heafy (available in limited blood-red saw-blade vinyls and cassette tapes), a Friday the 13th-inspired samurai latex mask donned by Heafy in the comic, Killr™ prop shears by Oktober Studios, a signed Matt Heafy Les Paul™ custom guitar, signed GWAR skate deck and drumsticks, and more.

For updates, follow Hex Publishers on X and Facebook. To support the project, visit Kickstarter.

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.