Cosplayers at the Colorado Festival of Horror are obsessed with the new horror movie icon Killr™, but "true believers" Rip and Kit are taking their fandom to frightfully lethal levels in the new three-issue comic book series True Believers. Written by Stephen Graham Jones and Joshua Viola with artwork by Ben Matsuya, True Believers will debut exclusively at the real-life Colorado Festival of Horror from September 15th–17th and the Kickstarter via Hex Publishers has just launched, giving horror fans an opportunity to support the project and pick up a variety of goodies, including a Killr™ mask of their own.
This week, I had an opportunity to interview Stephen Graham Jones, who told me all about the orgins of the project, collaborating with Joshua Viola and Ben Matsuya, and more! We also have a preview of the first issue, which you can check out below:
Press Release: Experience the world of horror fandom like never before with 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, with interior 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 full-color, four-page ashcan preview of TRUE BELIEVERS #1 will be available exclusively at this year’s festival, which is based in Denver, CO, and runs from Friday, September 15th to Sunday, September 17th. The first completed TRUE BELIEVERS issue will be available on Kickstarter, along with a TRUE BELIEVERS CD/Digital soundtrack powered by the USA-based record label FiXT, featuring Celldweller, Essenger, Circle of Dust, Cantervice, Young Medicine, Scandroid, PYLOT, and The All Things, as well as a TRUE BELIEVERS latex mask from Oktober Studios. The campaign is now live on Kickstarter.
TRUE BELIEVERS was co-created and co-written by bestselling writer Stephen Graham Jones, whose most recent comic, EARTHDIVERS, is set to become a TV series through 20th Century Television and whose most recent novel, THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS, is a New York Times bestseller. “TRUE BELIEVERS is for the true believers out there,” says Graham Jones. “It’s for those who like the masks, the machetes, the blood and the grins.” He has written numerous other slasher novels, such as MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW, DON'T FEAR THE REAPER, NIGHT OF THE MANNEQUINS, and THE LAST FINAL GIRL.
Some seek out fan conventions for community. For safety. For understanding. There are those who believe they reveal their true selves by becoming a cherished character, but sometimes obsessions turn dark. The first issue of TRUE BELIEVERS introduces a new bone-chilling slasher character, Killr™, who offers a sinister and unforgettable take on fandom. In the world of meta horror, Killr™ emerges as the embodiment of evil within the slasher genre, born from a cult-favorite short film that inspires a trilogy. Amid the franchise's rising popularity, devoted fans fervently embrace Killr™, celebrating the character with enthusiastic cosplay. At the Colorado Festival of Horror, fanatics Rip and Kit—proudly labeling themselves as "true believers”—embark on a profound journey of self-discovery under Kit's guidance. However, the boundaries between reality and fiction blur, prompting them to question the ramifications of idolizing such malevolence. This gripping meta horror tale delves into the intricate interplay of identity, horror, and obsession, challenging the very essence of their connection with the enigmatic entity they revere. The Kickstarter edition features the first 24-page story in the three-issue series.
“Killr™ is one of the purest distillations of evil ever produced by the slasher genre,” says Joshua Viola, the Colorado Book Award winner and Denver Post bestselling author of Denver Moon, Nightmares Unhinged, and It Came from the Multiplex. “Our villain, Killr™ (the trademark symbol playfully satirizes the franchising of horror properties), presents a refreshing perspective on the concept of wearing a mask and the diverse interpretations fans can derive from it. “Killr™ is truly a cosplayer’s dream."
TRUE BELIEVERS features interior art by comic book artist Ben Matsuya (Jupiter Jet, Midnight Massacre). The series includes haunting variant covers by fan favorite horror comic artists, such as:
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina artist Robert Hack;
Monster Train artist Aaron Lovett;
Goosebumps artist Clara Meath;
Elvira artist Juan Samu;
American Horror Story artist Xander Smith
Everyone who backs at a physical level will receive a copy of the first issue. Other tiers include variant covers; signed books by Stephen Graham Jones, Joshua Viola, and Ben Matsuya; signed prints; patches designed by AJ Nazzaro (Hearthstone, Overwatch), latex masks; an opportunity to become a character in Issue 2; a 2024 Colorado Festival of Horror 3-Day Pass for 2; and a CD/ digital soundtrack for TRUE BELIEVERS.
“Stephen Graham Jones, Joshua Viola, and Ben Matsuya have delivered a mind-blowing, twisted comic,” says Colorado Festival of Horror co-founder, Bret Smith. “TRUE BELIEVERS is set at our very own horror convention, featuring a cutting-edge psycho killer stalking our Slasher Hotel hallways!”
The official TRUE BELIEVERS soundtrack, titled "Kit's Playlist," is woven into the comic's narrative, providing a glimpse into one of our character's musical tastes during their cosplaying escapades. Every track featured on this playlist exudes dark themes that seamlessly align with the story's tone, creating a hauntingly immersive experience for listeners. Among these seven captivating tunes are covers that enhance the eerie atmosphere, such as PYLOT's remix of Scandroid's rendition of Michael Jackson's iconic “Thriller,” Celldweller's rendition of "Cry Little Sister," originally a theme from The Lost Boys film by Gerard McMahon, the spine-chilling "Halloween Theme," a cover of John Carpenter's timeless Halloween theme, and Young Medicine's haunting take on "Somebody's Watching Me," a popular 1984 track by Rockwell featuring Michael Jackson. Each song gracefully embraces the essence of the slasher genre, amplifying the Halloween season's allure to mesmerize and captivate listeners.
The soundtrack for TRUE BELIEVERS features:
Celldweller/Circle of Dust/Scandroid (the prolific musician Klayton, known for intricately designed soundscapes and a blend of musical styles, has been featured in movies, games, and TV shows);
Essenger (a musician on the cutting edge of electronic music, blending an array of influences for a sound that pays tribute to modern alt rock, EDM, and synthwave);
PYLOT (by blending elements of synthwave and cyberpunk with finesse and attention to detail, PYLOT creates mesmerizing and immersive soundscapes that are filled with beautiful synth melodies and energizing rhythms);
Cantervice (an American concept-based electronic rock project centered around dystopian futures);
Young Medicine (synthwave rockers inspired by diverse genres resulting in a carefully constructed music identity that defies simple categorization);
The All Things (a three-piece rock outfit from New York)
“We hope TRUE BELIEVERS provides thought-provoking commentary on the very essence of fandom and the meaning of being a devoted ‘true believer,’” says artist Ben Matsuya.
Be sure to keep an eye out for True Believers at the Colorado Festival of Horror, and if you can't make it to the convention, be sure to follow the comic book series' Kickstarter page to stay up to date on the project and support it!