Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your comic book, Silent Joy #1! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of the series?
Zach Beckert: Silent Joy is a modern re-imagining of Dante’s Inferno. The story picks up with a girl who is stuck in a hellscape and is completely over the current mundanities of her existence. She feels life has lost all of its zest and cannot even remember the last time she was truly happy. In the midst of her depression, she meets a boy named Joy who can’t speak because his mouth is sewn shut. In spite of this fact, he has an undeniable glow and radiates a happiness that she can’t ignore. While getting to meet this boy named Joy, she finds out that the person who has taken his voice resides deeper in the hellscape and makes it her mission to travel with him and claim retribution on her new friend’s behalf.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in working with artist Luis Diaz and letterer Francisco Zamora in bringing this story to life, and what (or who) were some of your creative influences in terms of the characters and tone?
ZB: I have been incredibly blessed in regard to my artistic team. Luis Diaz has done an incredible job bringing my words to life on the page, and Francisco Zamora, the letterer, has done an fantastic job bringing, well, my words to the page. Communication has been key to the success between Luis and myself. We have open lines of communication, and we both have a respect for the other’s creative talent which lends itself to a trust which I think is so crucial between a writer and an artist.
As far as the characters go, the central idea I wanted to convey was a platonic friendship between a girl and a boy, which I feel is sorely underrepresented in media. And after that the creative catalyst for essentially the whole story was that I wanted Joy, the main male character, to have some kind of simply drawn but immediately gripping feature. This is when I decided to have his mouth sewn shut. Tonally, I have many influences, but I believe for this book I drew heavily on the stylings of Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. I have always been a fan of their bravery and creativity in how they tell a story and their willingness to go to dark places to better shine a light on the human condition. Silent Joy is ultimately a redemptive tale about the power of love and forgiveness, but it traverses topics such as abuse, depression and suicide just to name a few.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Silent Joy’s story will connect with and impact readers?
ZB: I love looking at different mediums and seeing how they spotlight different aspects even within the same story. In fact, I was fortunate enough last year to partner with a theatre company and adapt Silent Joy into a stage play. It was an award-winning show in the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival. It was a truly amazing experience to get to see this story told in a completely different medium and see how it resonated with audiences! Ultimately, this is a powerful story about the human spirit overcoming loss and hatred to find peace and joy and I hope that it will inspire readers to look inside and find their own inner strength no matter what they are going through.
BD: How many issues do you have planned for the first arc of the series?
ZB: Silent Joy is a limited series that will be 9 issues in total. Each issue deals with a different village, or ring of hell, a la Dante’s Inferno. And while our heroes are traversing their hellscape battling it out with different hyperbolized demons and perils, the reader also gets glimpses of the girl’s real life and sees the troubles and heartaches that have breathed life into her demons.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
ZB: Silent Joy Issue 1 is selling on comiXology and Issue 2 has just been accepted and will be selling shortly on XomiIology. I am also excited to announce that we have decided to do a hard copy run of Issues 1-3 as soon as the third issue is completed. We are still working out some of the details, but it will most likely be Kickstarted in the coming months!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Silent Joy?
ZB: Fans can find the e-book, as well as other information surrounding Silent Joy, here.