An interview with “Death of Love” creators Justin Jordan and Donal DeLay.
You have a lot to look forward to this coming Valentine’s Day. Image Comics is setting you up on a date with your new favorite comic book, Death of Love! Written by Justin Jordan with art by Donal DeLay, this five-issue miniseries explores what happens when one frustrated man goes to war with love itself… with a chainsaw.
AiPT! had a chance to read an advance copy of Death of Love #1 and had a few questions, so we reached out to its creators to talk about the series. As you’ll see below, we discussed everything from the comic’s concept to the creators’ real-life dating stories. And if you read the entire interview, you’ll even be treated to a little romantic advise from Death of Love’s creators!
AiPT!: How did the idea for Death of Love come about?
Justin Jordan: Hah, you know, it’s a weird one. For some reason, the image of a dude chainsawing the crap out of some Cupids just popped into my head one day. As is often the case when I have these weird little thoughts, I put it up on Facebook.
Donal ended up drawing it as one of his warm-up sketches and so I emailed him and asked him if he wanted to do a comic. And here we are!
Donal DeLay: As far as the concept, I don’t know what dark corner of his mind Justin pulled it from, but for the book, Justin posted a two sentence “idea” on Facebook, like he’s prone to do, and I thought it was a cool concept. So I did some quick art. It was of a bearded dude with a curly Q mustache tearing apart a bunch of goblin looking Cupidae with a chainsaw. Something we’ll probably include in the trade paperback after the series. He liked the pic, and as he was thinking up a project for the two of us to work on, I mentioned I’d be down to draw that and things took off from there.
AiPT!: Did either of your personal dating experiences factor into the development of this series?
Jordan: Not really. Or at least, I sure hope not. I think probably most guys have some experience with the whole, “Why is she with him when I would be great for her” line of thought, especially when they’re young. I was no exception. I do think (and for sure hope) that I never really slid into “nice guy” territory.
DeLay: Not for me. I think I channeled my distaste for pick-up artist “nice guys” into making Philo seem more assholish in his body language and trying to keep him and Zoe separated as much as possible in scenes.
AiPT!: Philo, the series’ lead character, thinks he’s a nice guy, but comes off as kind of a jerk. What type of journey is Philo in for, and is personal growth in the cards?
Jordan: Oh, Philo is asshole. And the story here isn’t quite a redemptive arc, exactly. He does become less of a jerk by the end, but in the real world, you don’t stop being a jerk just because you realize you actually are one. Change takes work. So less redemption and more getting on the path where he might be someone better. Maybe. if the Cupidae don’t kill him.
DeLay: Philo is in for a very emotional and physical journey in this story, and it’s not a pleasant one for him as he’s confronted with reality. I don’t want to spoil anything about his character arc, but I will say that Justin is very good at manipulating the reader’s expectations and connections to characters in his writing. I think readers will enjoy where he goes with Philo and what he has to say about “nice guys.”
AiPT!: I feel like everybody has at least one Zoe – an unattainable love – they pine after at one time or another. So, as her creators, what makes Zoe so desirable to Philo?
Jordan: Well, from Philo’s POV, she’s totally this cool and awesome Manic Pixie Dream Girl. But he doesn’t know as much about her as he’d like to think. She’s just cute and cool and he projects a whole bunch of other stuff on to her while not seeing a bunch of other stuff that she actually is. She’s about a thousand times smarter than he is, for one thing.
DeLay: In Philo’s eyes, she’s the embodiment of perfection for an immature ideal of a woman. She’s his manic pixie dream girl. He doesn’t see her as someone with any depth to her beyond the surface shell of quirky attractive girl, and Justin uses that to comment on the MPDG trope by showing the substance that Philo-types don’t see and making sure she’s not some prop for Philo’s life.
AiPT!: What can you tell me about the Cupidae? Other than the fact that they seem to have potty mouths.
Jordan: Well, they are actually responsible for love. Or actually, their cute little arrows cause the release of ocytocin. When they want them to. They just poke holes in you if they don’t. There’s lots and lots and lots of them, and they’re all connected to something much, much bigger and scarier.
DeLay: They’re a bunch of jaded, disgruntled little pricks, that’s for sure. The Cupidae work for Eros, the god of love. They’re sort of like his grumpy flying monkey army. See, Eros can’t be everywhere to make love connections for everyone in the world, so the little cherub-like Cupidae act as a proxy. They’re invisible to humans, but Philo is granted the ability to see them with the aid of a pill, and that’s where all the trouble starts.
AiPT!: In his war against love, Philo’s weapon of choice is a chainsaw. What makes a chainsaw the most effective weapon against the Cupidae and their arrows?
Jordan: If I’ve learned anything from Ash and Leatherface, it’s that the chainsaw is always the best weapon.
DeLay: Well, if you wanted to violently tear apart a horde of tiny flying people that you thought were ruining your life, wouldn’t you use a chainsaw? Man, that sounds kind of psychotic when you stop to say it out loud. Remind me not to get on Justin’s bad side.AiPT!: After reading the first issue, I could see this becoming a pretty enjoyable film, maybe along the lines of Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim adaptation. If Death of Love catches Hollywood’s eye, who would you cast as the film’s leads?
Jordan: Man, I don’t know. Maybe Jay Baruchel as Philo, Seth Rogen as Bob and Zooey Deschanel as Zoe, just for fun. Although generally, you’d probably want younger people to play them, at which point, I’m not sure. Maybe the cast of Riverdale.
DeLay: I actually like to fancast my characters while designing them. It helps me come up with facial expression cues and develop body language for them, thinking about how the actors move so that I can make the characters actually act on the page and not be lifeless. With that said, Philo is a Jay Baruchel or Ezra Miller type. Zoe is Emma Stone or Zooey Deschanel, Eris would be Ruby Rose, and Eros is Jason Momoa, no doubt. Bob is harder to cast, because he’s a Brian Posehn type, but I sort of see him with a bit more of a strongman body, because he’s the ride-or-die protector in any group of friends and I wanted him to have that type of presence. The Cupidae would probably be CG since they’re tiny, but have big heads.
AiPT!: There’s a gory splash page in the beginning of the first issue. How much more horror can readers expect in the issues ahead?
Jordan: Lots. Lots and lots. I am pretty sure we set a record for most number of Cupidae slaughtered.DeLay: Quite a bit. They’re, um, not very nice to the Cupidae in the course of the series. Both Justin and I do love our ultra-violence. But it’s definitely more Planet Terror than Halloween, as far as violence and gore go.
AiPT!: In the first issue, there’s a scene where a woman accuses Philo of “negging” her. Did you have to do any research into the modern dating scene, including trends and slang, before producing this series?
Jordan: Oh yes. Which is sort of a fascinating subject. That’s not so much modern dating as a whole, but the pick-up artist community or the seduction community. Which tends to look at women in a really dehumanizing way, and tends to attract guys like Philo. It’s very much “Toxic Masculinity the Home Game.”
DeLay: Pinterest is a huge asset when it comes to researching. I’ve been married so long that I’m incredibly out of touch with the dating scene. So much so that I had no idea “negging” was a term, or a thing, until I read it in the script, so I definitely hit the fashion boards.
AiPT!: And while we’re on the topic, I have to ask, what’s the worst date the two of you have been on?
Jordan: Sadly (for a given value of sadly) I don’t actually have an interesting story for this. I think the worst date I ever went on was basically an amicable time where we bored each other. I’m boring! It’s why I have a rich internal life!
DeLay: I think the worst date I’ve been on was when I took my ex-wife out on her birthday. She ended up having a large slice of cheesecake, and being lactose intolerant, ended up puking her guts out on the ride home. The smell lingered in the truck for days afterward.AiPT!: Finally, what romantic advice do you two have for readers to ensure they don’t end up like “nice guy” Philo at the beginning of this series?
Jordan: I think that you should make sure you’re looking at the people you’re interested in AS people. Which should be a ‘hey no crap’ type of thing, but a looooot of people just see what they want to see and treat people as objects and not, you know, people.
DeLay: Be an actual nice guy. Not an asshole making friends just to get laid. Because in romance or life in general, you’re more likely to get a genuine connection with someone if you do things just to do them, not expecting anything, even a thank you, in return.
Death of Love #1 from Image Comics goes on sale February 14.