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Interview: Joshua Williamson talks NAILBITER and the World of Serial Killers

Get ready for a dark and twisted ride courtesy of Williamson.

When it comes to comic books, movies and TV shows, we're used to the idea of killers existing. When we see news or headlines in real life, that's something totally different. The idea of serial killers is something that can't be easily explained. Something happens to cause an individual to become one. That's one of the small things we'll see explored in Joshua Williamson's upcoming series, NAILBITER, with art by Mike Henderson.

With the series coming out in May, now is the time to let your comic shop know you want and need a copy. In case you missed our video interview with Josh or his last appearance on the podcast, we asked him some more questions about NAILBITER.

COMIC VINE: We know NAILBITER is about a serial killer, whose perspective will we follow in the story?

JOSHUA WILLIAMSON: For the most part we are seeing this world through the eyes of a man named Nicolas Finch. Finch, an army interrogator, came to Buckaroo, Oregon after a friend of his, an FBI agent named Eliot Carroll, told Finch that he had solved this crazy mystery.

The mystery is that 16 of the world’s worst serial killers were all born in the same small town. Finch is not an expert on the mystery so when he shows up, it’s all new to him. When Finch gets answers, so does the reader. Finch doesn’t really care about the mystery, he just wants to help Carroll.

Finch is a man of few words with a temper that gets him into a lot of trouble.

GHOSTED is a book with a lot of characters who live on the edge… Finch jumped a long time ago.

CV: What has the research process been like? Did it ever get to be too much?

JW: Lots of depressing reading.

Reading about different serial killers and their M.O.s late into the night gave me quite a few nightmares. I’ve read a bunch of books, watched a bunch of documentaries, and see more pictures of brutally murderer bodies than anyone has business seeing.

But I wanted to have a bit of an understanding of that world. Not to answer the question of what made serial killers but so I could accurately represent that world. Also for ideas on the different crazy killers.

After HBO’s True Detective started we were already deep into scripts but I remember watching it and feeling like they had read the same books I had.

CV: We can assume writing this takes you to dark places. What do you do to escape? Take your dog for a walk?


There is this saying about how horror writers are the most relaxed, because they let out all their fears onto the page. And that’s what I do. Writing horror and crimes means that I get to exorcise the demons into the book.

But it’s not like it’s ever “turned off.” That dark ideas are always there under the surface. I’m a pessimistic, worst case scenario, neurotic kind of person and I’m always thinking of horrible things.

CV: Will the story consist of separate story arcs fitting into the bigger picture or will it all be one big story on its own?

JW: Separate story arcs. The first five issues set up the world, characters and overall mystery, and then the rest of the comic will be a shorter arcs showcasing the different killers and with Finch trying to solve the mystery.

There is the major mystery of “Why this Town?” but as we go we set up a few smaller mysteries and challenges that need to be solved. It’s all going to add up.

CV: Will you try to delve into what makes a serial killer kill? Or will you focus more on those trying to catch the killer?

JW: It’s all about the “Why?”

What drives a person to not just kill but to become a serial killer? And with this why that town? Why did Buckaroo give birth to so many serial killers?

I will touch on the bigger issues, but I doubt we can ever know exactly what turns a person into a killer. Is it something big, or a bunch of smaller things? Nature or Nurture?

Our big mystery is “What happened in this town that caused this many evil people to be born there?” And as we go along, yes they will be after a few killers who might have answers.

CV: You’ve mentioned Twin Peaks before when talking about this series, will there be any sort strange vibes or situations that could be hard to explain in the real world?

JW: Yes. Lots of “did I just see that?”

One of my favorite aspects of horror is showing the reader something that the character’s don’t see. But not fully explaining it to the reader. As we get deeper into the word, there will be a few strange things… but still very grounded.

We don’t get a weird as Twin Peaks did. Mostly because our focus is a bit more on the horror side.

Twin Peaks was about a town effected by Laura Palmer’s death. Her one death sent ripples into the town effecting everyone there. With NAILBITER, its not about the victims, is about the killers. It’s about how a killer can create ripples in the worlds around them.

CV: Did you ever start writing a scene and then decide it was simply too disturbing?

JW: Yes.

But then I take a step back. And talk to Mike. Mike is the visual ruler of this book. Any time I think something might be too much I reach out to him and get his take on the scene.

We’ve gone back and forth a few times on some of the more extreme scenes and our goal has always been to make it clever. The best kind of horror is the kind that we don’t see. The kind waiting in the darkness. Even though our cover is pretty bloody, the book itself only has a little bit of blood on it. I wanted to focus more on the psychological aspects of horror. Not as much the blood and guts slasher kind.

BUT there is a page… at the end of issue 4 that is pretty brutal. And Mike went for it.

Showed everything in its bloody glory. Hopefully people are surprised when they get there. And not too grossed out or scared.

Well… scared would be good. It is a horror comic after all.

Be sure to let your comic shop know ASAP that you want this title added to your pull list. It's in stores May 7 and you won't want to miss it. Also, be sure to check out Josh's other books, GHOSTED from Image and CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT at Dark Horse.

14 Comments Refresh
Posted by TommytheHitman

I might pick this up. Sounds really cool.

Posted by deadpool25mm

Mmmm.... Mmm.. cant write im biting my nails..

Edited by G-Man

I just read issues 1 & 2. Believe me, it's great stuff.

Edited by Nahuel

I'm sold!

Now I must think what to drop to be able to afford this comic... Oh, man, this is becoming so difficult :(

Posted by SupremeHyperion

Real interested in this book, looks outstanding.

Edited by iaconpoint

Sounds pretty pretty interesting.

Edited by RaggedScarecrow

I'm not a big gore horror fan, but the fact that this is going more fore psychological horror has me intrigued. I'm still concerned about this super graphic future scene, but I'll be keeping an eye on this.

Posted by frankcal460

I can't wait. I get more and more excited for this book everyday.

Posted by Cuboid

I'm really intrigued by this and plan to check it out, though I read the first arc of Ghosted and wasn't a big fan.

Are those stats at the top real? Mostly just interested in the 20% chance of meeting a serial killer in your lifetime, though I'm also guessing that might be for Americans?

Posted by longbowhunter

@g_man: I added this to my pull a month ago. Big horror fan, big Twin Peaks fan, super excited.

Posted by mak13131313

I had this put on my pull list when it was first announced at Image Expo. I'm so excited for May to get here!

Edited by RulerOfThisUniverse

It sounds interesting, I might pick it up.

Posted by Bad_People

So he... bites nails then.

Edited by Strider92

This maybe my best shot at converting my current partner to comics! She's a steadfast manga lover but she loves anything with serial killers!

This may be the trump card i've been waiting for! Also I wanna read this too it looks damn good.