It feels like there are millions of would-be filmmakers flocking to the indie comics marketplace these days in hopes that a drawn version of their film pitch will lead to a studio deal. What’s not seen quite as often are successful indie filmmakers coming to comics, but that’s the track writer/director Luke Ricci found himself on after completing the horror-comedy “How To Be A Serial Killer.”
While shopping the finished film around to distributors (New York area viewers can see the flick as part of the NYC Horror Fest from November 12 – 16), Ricci spun a scene that dropped to the cutting room floor into a comics prequel with artist Ramon Espinoza that was released by Viper Comics as a free give-away at San Diego Comic-Con and will be in comic shops in November. “I think we brought 1,500 copies, and we’d planned on handing them out over three or four days, but they were gone by Saturday morning because people kept coming back for them and telling other people about them. It just felt like the right fit,” Ricci told MTV of the Comic-Con promo.
But parents worried that there’s a guide telling their kids how to kill need not worry about the comics corrupting influence. “It’s like a horror comedy that’s not particularly taken seriously, and it’s not a very scary film. It’s more of a parody,” said Ricci.
“Part of the movie is a comment on the 'Self Help' genre of literature which is where the title comes from. And it’s about this guy Mike Wilson who’s a serial killer who brings on an apprentice and essentially takes him through the ten basic lessons of what someone would do to become a serial killer. And as the lessons are illumiated in sidebar staged presentations in the film, Mike and his pupil, Bart, go through these lessons in the narrative form.
“Mike Wilson is loosely a parody of a Tony Robbins type of person, and he has these grandiose ideas of himself and who he is, so I outlined the movie as I thought a self-help book for serial killers would be and developed the narrative around that. As things get crazier, you get into lessons like ‘Getting Away From the Cops’ and ‘Burrying Bodies’ and ‘Disguising Your Appearance.’”
When it came to shifting the premise to a comic one-shot, Ricci had plenty of material he could tap into. “One of the sequences I ended up cutting out of the movie was the origin of the main character of the movie and the specific incident that makes him go from 'Joe Citizen' to become a serial killer,” the writer explained. “That was always something I wanted to play with, and having to cut it out of the film was a good decision for the film, but as somebody who’s very invested in the material, I wanted a chance to play with that idea. The prequel essentially takes that form, and we follow Mike Wilson from Joe Citizen through his first kill.”
As for how he sees the film and comic working together in terms of building a fanbase, Ricci has high hopes for what could be achieved by way of audience crossover. “The comic book medium is a valid way of getting an idea out there whether it’s a completed film or something that you’d want to turn into a project at a studio,” he said. “‘How To Be A Serial Killer’ is a small film, and it’s definitely got a cult sensibility. And we really felt that the comic book fanbase was probably a place where we could get some traction with this idea.”
But unlike some of Mike Wilson’s victims, the world of “How To” won’t stay dead if Ricci has his say, and the writer noted that the comic was only a one-shot “for now.” And from this property to future ideas, now that the creator’s been bitten by the comics bug, he plans on a few more four color projects in his future.
“I’ve always thought this is a concept that could be protracted into a monthly or a mini series. Sitting down as a writer and writing something is great, but sitting down with an artist and creating something is really just a wonderful process that I’m tremendously enjoying. I’m wild about the medium, and I’m working on something right now that I’m so excited about that we’re going to be taking to publishers in the next couple of weeks.”
So, what do you think, Splash Page readers -- does "How To" look like a winner to you? Let us know what you think in the comments.