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Lady Killer: Joëlle Jones’ New Project Finds The Happy Medium Between Homemaking and Homicide

 

Some of the stories Americans love most are those that put the lie to our prevailing visions of ourselves. The work of David Lynch, who peels back the the saccharine layers of suburbia to reveal unspeakable horrors within; Mad Men, with its systematic deconstruction of everything we think we believe about success in this country; and Breaking Bad, which shows us how even the most seemingly wholesome members of society can be monsters waiting to break free.

If you think all that sounds well and good but probably a little too stuffy, Josie Schuller would probably agree with you. Josie is a young housewife living post-war America. She sells makeup door-to-door, she takes care of her twin kids and the family dog, she makes dinner for her husband, and she suffers her endlessly disapproving mother-in-law. That is, when she’s not murdering people in astonishingly violent ways.

Josie’s a highly trained assassin, and the paradox that is her life comes courtesy of cartoonist Joélle Jones and co-writer Jamie S. Rich, whose new Dark Horse series Lady Killer invites readers into a weirdly alluring story that follows a grand tradition of subverting Americana, but with a uniquely wicked, black comedy twist and what Josie might even say is a woman’s touch.

“How it all originated was through an obsession of mine with vintage advertising and falling in love with some of the illustrators from the ’40s ’50s and ’60s,” Jones told ComicsAlliance. “I wanted to play in that world with all the stereotypical characters but to take it someplace darker because that is the sort of thing I am naturally drawn to.”

Followers of Jones’ cartooning and illustration will recognize her fondness for period imagery. Her Tumblr routinely features artwork that calls back to the vintage fashion and pin-up illustrations of mid-century America, and her and Rich’s graphic novel You Have Killed Me dives head-on into the period with more of a straightforward noir approach. But Jones has also demonstrated a penchant for action, particularly in her recent work on Adventures of Superman and the awesomely violent Viking fantasy series Helheim.

With Lady Killer, Jones found a way to synthesize both of her artistic strengths to magnificent effect in a first issue that I had the chance to read ahead of this announcement. The book is at once adorable, funny, sexy and savage. It’s Americana viewed in a funhouse mirror that calls special attention to details like wallpaper, furniture, the contents of a kitchen cabinet, the way clothes hug a body, and the way a knife sticks out of a corpse. It will be obvious to anyone who reads Lady Killer that Jones relished drawing every page.

“I think this entire book came out of a motivation to draw things,” said Jones. “I have always enjoyed working with lots of different writers but writing this myself has afforded me the opportunity to explore what I want to draw, and it has been really fun! I am enjoying the freedom to go as weird, sexy or gruesome as I would like. I love the clothes and the setting, I love doing the research, but mostly I love taking a scene that looks so clean and perfect and then smearing blood all over it!”

Just one of what’s sure to be many more Comic-Con announcements from Dark Horse,  Lady Killer features color art by Laura Allred and will go on sale January 7, 2015.

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