Rogues Portal had the chance to do a Q & A with Tini Howard about her upcoming book Assassinistas, which will be part of the new IDW imprint Black Crown. The official for the Solicit is below and then check out the interview with Tini that follows.
Tini Howard (w) • Gilbert Hernandez (a) • Rob Davis (colorist) • Gilbert Hernandez (c)
Dominic Prince and the Semester Abroad, Part 1 of 6.
Dominic Price is a college-age kid who just wants to spend the semester making out with his boyfriend, Taylor, in between rounds of TurboLight Fighter and maintaining a solidly passable 3.2 GPA. His mom, Octavia, formerly a badass action-movie-quality bounty hunter, didn’t pay his tuition, because she had to get back in the business and spend 40K on black market weapons and body armor. And she’s bringing Dominic with her, because the alternative is making lattes for a semester, and he’d rather die. Good thing in mom’s line of work, dying is an option.
For readers who may not be familiar with your career can you touch on how you got your start in comics?
Sure! I got my start in comics after my script, Magdalena: Seventh Sacrament won the 2013 Top Cow Talent Hunt. That was my first professional credit, and from there I just hustled, went to cons, stayed in the loop, and tried to show my best work to anyone who might be interested!
Assassinistas is part of the new Black Crown imprint that is being run by Shelly Bond for IDW. How did the book come to be? Was it an idea you already had or one that was formed after deciding to work with Bond?
I’ve had the basic bones of Assassinistas in my head for years – Octavia and Dominic as a mother and son who couldn’t really connect because she was still too tied to her old life to be real with her son. It went through a lot of changes, but Shelly really loved the concept from the get go, and her sharp design sense (and of COURSE, Gilbert Hernandez’s work) really helped shape the primary-colored retro-cool that I wanted so badly.
What is the pitch you give when someone asks you about Assassinistas?
I have friends who are better writers than me, so Jeremy Whitley said it was ‘Unforgiven, for Charlie’s Angels’ and Mags Visaggio said it was “Kill Bill as directed by Wes Anderson.” Those are pretty dope, so I use them a lot. My own go-to is it’s about a hitwoman who goes back into the business to cover her son’s tuition, and takes her son and his boyfriend with her.
Can you take a minute to give the readers a breakdown of our main assassins ?
Hell yes! Octavia “Red October” Price, Charlotte “Scarlet” Calvert, nee LaCosta, and Rozalyn “Blood” Diamond. Octavia’s pistols and fists, Charlotte’s a sniper, and Roz is all knives and covert ops. They’re also best friends. Octavia’s boy crazy and in denial. Charlotte’s a bit of a hippie. Roz is impulsive. They’re real women I’ve known, in these sort of flat, ‘action movie’ roles we often see female characters in.
Obviously this is a brand new universe with characters that have never been seen before. How does your process work when creating a new universe. What comes first? The characters, the setting, the plot?
This time, it was the characters. The setting is so much of a mishmash parody of things, ‘action-movie realism,’ I guess I’d call it. And the plot is a method of giving the characters what they need. This time, it was definitely all about the characters first. My next big project was all concept-first, though! So it changes.
Assassinistas does a wonderful job of balancing the action with everyday real world problems like paying for college. How important was it to find that balance?
Completely. Look, there’s value in genre work that doesn’t really heavily dig into a connection to reality, but it’s not what I write. I grew up smothering a lot of my feelings and fears in books, movies, games, whatever. Writing, for me, is a bit of an experiment where I mash them together like action figures and see what emotions gush out.
Dominic has a secret that he is keeping and throughout the book a certain tension is built on him revealing it, only to be met with the secret being fully accepted. Was there a conscious effort to handle it that way or did it just feel right based on how the characters developed?
I don’t want to treat his sexuality like a reveal to the audience, because it’s not. It is a reveal to his mother, and that’s the way I intended it. Dominic’s always been gay. He came out of some of the frustrating coming-out conversations I’ve had in my own life. I’ll say this – Octavia seems to neatly accept it at first because she compartmentalizes things. They aren’t done with that conversation yet.
How did the creative process work with Gilbert Hernandez? Did you do have a set vision?
Once Shelly brought him up as an option for the project, I couldn’t think of anyone else. I start every script with a letter to him, and I leave him lots and lots of room to work. He’s so brilliant, I want to see what he does! I can’t contain that Hernandez cool. No one can.
Right now Assassinistas is a six-part miniseries, any plans to revisit this world later down the road?
Hah! One of the amazing things about Black Crown are that there are opportunities like the Black Crown Quarterly, where we can play and dabble. I think if we get to see more of the family, we’ll see them there. I have plans.
Any recommendations for people to be going out to read, watch, or binge right now?
Let’s see – I have been deep in research for my next project, which focuses a lot on things I’m learning about from the Death Positive movement. It’s really fascinating, and I encourage people to confront those things in our lives. And I’m watching The Sopranos for the first time – years late, I get it – but it’s a really great example of how TV used to be, with each episode being a full story that contributed to the larger narrative, not a bingeable 10 hour movie.
How can people reach out to you if they want to share their love for any of your works?
Like the rest of Comics, I’m on Twitter @tinihoward, tinihoward.tumblr.com, or my Facebook author page!