The following is an interview with writer Olivia Cuartero-Briggs regarding the 2024 release of the comic book series, Jill and the Killers, through Oni Press. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Cuartero-Briggs about her shared creative process in working with artist Roberta Ingranata to bring the story and characters to life, what she hopes that readers will take away from Jill’s journey, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Jill and the Killers! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise?
Olivia Cuartero-Briggs: Thanks so much. I’m super excited to share this book for lots of reasons, but one of them is because I finally got to write in one of my all-time favorite genres: the horror dramedy. Like Scream, Cabin in the Woods, and Jennifer’s Body, JTK is truly scary, while dealing with real issues, AND it’s funny. All of my favorite things balled into one.
Jill and the Killers is about an isolated teen who tries to win back her friends by ordering a popular murder mystery box game. When the game arrives, however, Jill and her crew discover that what they received isn’t a game at all, but clues to an actual string of real-life disappearances that occurred right in their hometown of Seligman, Arizona.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in crafting this crime thriller series? I would imagine that crafting the narrative and staying 3 steps ahead of your reader is quite the challenge!
OCB: JTK is my first mystery series, and the hardest part was figuring out how they were going to solve the case and figure out who the killer was in an interesting, dynamic way, where the discovery of each clue felt like a raising of the stakes, so to speak. And so, like most, I think, I had to work backwards from the killer, figure out their modus operandi, and what the trail of breadcrumbs would be. Once I had that laid out, I had to find the beats of Jill’s emotional story – which is the heart of the piece – and lay those in, and then the smaller emotional journeys of some of her friends. It felt overwhelming at times for sure, and if you saw the entire wall in my bedroom covered in scrawled-on notecards, you probably would have thought I was a serial killer myself, but in the end, I think it all worked out really well.
BD: Likewise, what can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with artist Roberta Ingranata to bring the story and characters to life on the page?
OCB: Roberta is a dream. When I found out she wanted to join the team, I was thrilled. She had done my covers for Silver City with Aftershock Comics, so I knew her work and, most importantly, her work ethic. Roberta doesn’t just illustrate, she is a storyteller in her own right, and one powerhouse of a teammate. I owe her a lot in regards to JTK, and my dream is that she and I get to keep this series going together for years to come.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Jill’s story may connect with and impact readers?
OCB: Oh, boy, what a question! Jill is a whip-smart, snarky teen who hides her pain behind her wit. As confident as she seems, she longs for connection, and most of all, to matter. I wrote her that way because I connect with that – feeling like an outsider for reasons that are completely out of your control. She’s awesome, and she’s also deeply flawed. Jill makes some big mistakes, and you might want to wring her neck sometimes, but you also love her because she’s just a hopeless romantic who misses her mom and wants her girlfriend back. And I think grief, isolation, and the will to be better than your crappy decisions and emotional outbursts are things we can all relate to. And hell, if you can’t, she’s funny, so you have that.
BD: What makes Oni Press the perfect home for Jill and the Killers?
OCB: Everyone knows the incredible reputation Oni has for great comics, but what I think makes them the perfect home for Jill, is how they’ve supported Roberta and myself as creatives. This is only my first series with Oni, but they never lost sight of me or my book. Oni had and has tremendous editors, namely Jasmine Amiri, who initially developed JTK with me, Desiree Rodriguez who spiced things up, and Megan Brown who, I suspect, secretly moonlights as a detective. She’s just too good at finding holes in the investigation and helping me fill them. Editors like these lift up the work, while trusting the artists to bring their crazy ideas to the page, and that is exactly what JTK needed.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
OCB: Absolutely! I am currently writing the upcoming Fate: Winx series with Maverick, the first volume of which will be coming out this summer. I also have some unannounced projects in the works with Mad Cave and Humanoids that should hit shelves late 2024 or 2025. I can’t tell you much, but I can tell you they are both high-concept, deeply personal, and have forced me to grow as an artist. I cannot wait to share them.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Jill and the Killers and your other work?
OCB: Readers can always check in with me on Twitter and Instagram (@oliviacbriggs). I will be doing lots of interviews for this book and others, and I always post updates. I’m super proud of what I do, as well as the comic book community that I create for, so I always try my best to keep everyone in the know.