IN CONVERSATION WITH: JEN AND SYLVIA SOSKA (Marvel’s NIGHT NURSE)

soska and spidey team-up

If there’s a singular descriptive that best sums up Vancouver’s Twisted Twins,  Jen & Sylvia Soska, it’s “busy”.

Since their debut feature, 2009’s DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, the Soska Sisters have hit the ground running with little to no time off for a breather. With four feature films under their belt (and a fifth in development) as well as hosting duties on GSN’s upcoming horror-survival game show, HELLEVATOR, and their recently-crowdfunded collaboration with Daniel Way – the so-NSFW graphic novel KILL CRAZY NYMPHOS ATTACK – you would think their dance card was fully punched. They have found time, though, to fulfill one of their lifelong dreams: to write for Marvel Comics.

SECRET WARS JOURNALS #5 (on shelves today) is part of Marvel’s lead-up to the company-wide reboot, which will see the familiar Marvel Universe broken down and reconstructed. Jen and Sylvia’s contribution (one of two stories found in this issue) spotlights an “alternate universe” version one of the company’s more obscure characters, Night Nurse, in a tale of occult body-horror.

And the result… well, you can read all about that tomorrow right here.

I had the chance to catch up with Jen & Sylvia to discuss the title, their unabashed love of comics and what it was like to work with “The House Of Ideas”.

 

So what brought you to Marvel’s door?4794751-scwarsjou2015005_dc11_lr-0

Sylvia: That would be through our wonderful friend Lauren Sankovitch, who had worked for Marvel before. We met through our mutual friend, Matt Bankston, at San Diego Comic Con and we were fast friends. Months later, Lauren got us in touch with Jake Thomas when they were looking for writers for their Secret Wars story arcs. Jake gave us a crash course in comics and also was very gracious as we nerded out all over him.

Jen: Our grandma always used to buy us comic books. We’d go for walks to the corner store and we got to pick out one each. She called them funny books. I remember we’d flip through them looking for girl super heroes. X-Men in the 80s was our first step into comic book land. I loved Rogue and Sylvie loved Storm. We got so many over the years. We eventually went to collecting them at a comic books store near our grandparents’ place, Big Pete’s. It’s still our comic book shop.

 

As lifelong Marvel fan(atics), what was it like getting to run amok in their playground?

Sylvia: For two girls who grew up making up Marvel stories to kill time between their cartoon shows and comic books, we never dreamed to have this kind of opportunity. We are quite familiar with the Marvel Universes, but Jake was there to get us caught up on all the things leading up to where our story would play. To be honest, I never wanted to leave. Unlike other mediums of entertainment that we have been involved with in the past, there was so much freedom working for Marvel. The world is as big as your imagination and you have no restrictions as to how big or how abstract you can go.

Jen: It’s a dream come true. We spent so much time making up stories for Marvel characters between the two of us between releases. To be able to write for a company that had so much to do with the women we grew up to be is so surreal and just incredible. Admittedly, it was a major career goal for us to be able to work for Marvel, I just expected it to take years longer to be able to break in to it. It felt familiar and so much better than I could have ever imagined or dreamed of to get to play around and raise a little hell in the Marvelverse.

How familiar were you with Night Nurse, and her many iterations, before taking on the project?

Sylvia: The most familiar to us was the new Claire Temple, as portrayed by Rosario Dawson on the perfect Netflix Daredevil show. Night Nurse also made an appearance in the Brian Michael Bendis Daredevil comic run, but Jen was way more familiar with that as she’s the huge Daredevil fan. I don’t want to give anything away, but because of how the story goes, it was important to us for the readers to get to know the original Night Nurse, Linda Carter. As we brushed up on her, I found a lot of similarities between her and our AMERICAN MARY protagonist, Mary Mason.

Jen: We loved her reinvention in the Daredevil Netfilx series. We did a lot of research to catch up on what she’s done and where she’s been. I saw her pop up with Daredevil in the comics and with Strange, too. Not surprisingly we included both in our comic.

SCWARSJOU2015005A005_col_previewWhen you were putting it all together, what was the editorial input like? Were you given carte blanche with your story, or were there specific guidelines in place before you put pen to paper?

Sylvia: As a filmmaker, much of our work is being put in a box and then you creatively problem solve to tell a story without seeing those perimeters. Working for Marvel was freedom. Obviously, we were fitting into a pre-existing world, but Jake was there to let us know where we were and then let us go. It was a very collaborative process and a fun one because all of us are comic fans, so we were speaking the same language from call one. When we first got to brainstorming ideas, we had some pretty out there ones that had this been a studio meeting, it would have been unlikely to have gotten approved – in this we got everything. We actually were very encouraged to really spread our wings creatively.

Jen: It was liberating. We’ve read so many comic books, so we kind of understood the style, but Jake was simply incredible teaching us the ropes of piecing it all together. Obviously, there are a lot of changes happening in the Marvel Universe right now, so we had to be told what was up and who was off elsewhere doing stuff. We got to create a brand new demon as Blackheart was busy elsewhere, ha ha.

As filmmakers, was the comic-creating process an easy fit for your sensibilities or did you have to flex new creative muscles?

Sylvia: Like filmmaking, you get surrounded by a team of talented people who bring the story to life and support you every step of the way. We wrote out our panels but we also drew how we envisioned the pages and the progression of the story. Seeing those original crude sketches and then seeing the final artwork was a huge holy shit wow moment.

Jen: We were in very good hands. Jake and the amazing editorial and art team were wonderful. They really supported us and guided us in the right directions. It’s a bit of a learning curve as you need to distribute information and tell your story differently than you would in a screenplay or a book. It was very cool. I think we’ve got the swing of it. It’s really cool because you literally get to create everything in your story and world. Nothing’s off limits.

Speaking of Soskas & Comics, what’s the word on your next project, Kill Crazy Nymphos Attack?

Sylvia: Talk about freedom. Those that are familiar with our work know that we have strong opinions about many social, political, and religious issues. My mom more simply has put it ‘you two have always had a problem with bullshit.’ It’s coming along fantastically. Daniel Way is one of the most viciously intelligent and uncanny artists that I have ever had the pleasure of collaborating with. There are things that he comes up with that we could never in a million years and then there are things that we come up with that is from a different world because we look at this very graphic novel as the jumping off place for a ballsy grind house throwback flick.

sisters

Jen: It’ll be coming out next year and I’m so overwhelmed by the love and support we’ve gotten from the fans. It was our very first Kickstarter project and I simply couldn’t believe how much support we got. I love it! It’s especially great because there are absolutely no limits there. And when you’re writing with badass Daniel Way, nothing’s off limits to begin with, ha ha.

Having worked in film and now written for Marvel, are there any other titles you would like to get your hands on, creatively? Which Marvel comic/film properties would you like to have a crack at?

Sylvia: All of them. Reading Marvel Comics really helped me growing up as a weird kid that got picked on a lot. Comics are a medium of entertainment like nothing else. My favourites are Spider-man, Deadpool, Punisher, Storm, and, new favourite, Night Nurse.

Jen: I’d honestly take on any Marvel hero. I love them all. They’re like old friends. I grew up with all of them. I think we’d have a very cool spin on X-Men. Venom is a favorite and I don’t think we’ve quite gotten him right yet.

 

With Marvel “rebooting” its comics universe, is there a chance we’ll see your take on Night Nurse integrated into the new continuity?

Sylvia: I can’t comment, but reading the Secret Wars Journal #5 will answer that.

Jen: Oh! Great question! I’m afraid I can’t say. You’ll have to pick up the comic book!

SECRET WARS JOURNALS #5 is available today at your nearest comic shop. KILL CRAZY NYMPHOS ATTACK is slated for release this year (officlal date TBA). And be sure to add The Twisted Twins official website to your bookmarks for any and all of the news that’s fit to print.

 

A CONVERSATION WITH: BARBIE WILDE

sister cilice

I have always been fascinated by (serial killers), because I am SO not like them at all. I am very empathetic, I care too much and then you have these “lone wolves” going through society, picking off the masses.

Barbie Wilde

“Damaged people, ultraviolence, murder and explicit sex—what’s not to love about her work?”

Chris Alexander, Fangoria Magazine

 

I first met Barbie Wilde last year at Toronto’s HorrorRama, after an extended period of online correspondence and social media chit-chat during my time at Rue Morgue Magazine. The only reason this merits any mention at all is that Barbie is a funny and genuine sweetheart.  A sweetheart with a talent for the dark and disturbing. Make no mistake, there’s more than a little bit of darkness swirling beneath that pleasant facade. Fortunately for us, she’s put it all down on paper for our sick amusement.

After gaining rave reviews for her 2013 debut novel, the violently satiric THE VENUS COMPLEX, Wilde now gears up for the release of her latest work: VISIONS OF THE DAMNED, a collection of short stories previously released in various publications, all gathered together for the first time courtesy of Short, Scary Tales.

While best known for her work in front of audiences and the camera, writing has been in WIlde’s blood for a very long time, dating back to age 11 when she wrote and performed in a play about the ride of Paul Revere. “I’ve always been writing and trying to get stuff off the ground for many years. I cannot say how long it took to get THE VENUS COMPLEX to get out. That was very difficult and I went through a lot of problems. It started out as a novel about a plucky female forensic psychologist tracking down a serial killer. And I got really bored. I thought “this is like every other book I’ve ever read”. The things that have always interested me are the “whys”, the psychology of the characters. And so, I thought ‘what if it was all told through his head?’ It was very difficult to get a publisher to take it on, and I actually gave up on it for years.”

hellbound heartsSoon, though, Wilde was approached to contribute to a horror anthology being overseen by Paul Kane and Marie Regan, one with very near and dear ties to her heart.  “I was still struggling to get the book published (they) said “listen, do you want to write a story for this anthology, Hellbound Hearts? All the stories had to be based on the novella,The Hellbound Heart, that Clive wrote, which of course I knew well. So I thought “oh, gosh, guys. I’m really sorry but I don’t really write horror. I am interested in crime.” And they went “oh, go on. And that was the first horror story I ever wrote.

Her entry in the Hellraiser-themed anthology, Sister Cilice, formed the first in a trilogy which featured a loosely-based and reimagined version of the iconic “Female Cenobite”. ” The Lead Cenobite in the book IS female, so it while it wasn’t “The” Female Cenobite”, it was “a” female Cenobite. From there, a lot of people asked me to write horror stories. It’s not to say I was reluctant, but I was wondering ‘why is that?’. I guess people assumed because I was in this horror movie, that I was just going to do that.”

There were other forces at work, outside motivations to get the novel done. “The expression is “when acting left me behind”. That’s the sweet way of putting it. I think you’re very lucky to get any acting work whatsoever after 35. After that, I went into casting, which was really soul-destroying – if you still have any hopes of acting – when you see how casting directors work. And you wonder, oh, is it really that brutal? Do they really sit there, open an envelope, look at the picture and then throw it into the wastebasket without even looking at the C.V? That was a real hope-sucker. In the end, I decided ‘okay, this is good’ because it would force me into doing what I always wanted to do, which was my serial killer novel. Paul Kane, bless him, suggested Comet Press and they loved it.

With the publication of THE VENUS COMPLEX, Wilde found herself with new fans, including those who were venus-largeinterested in helping her work reach a wider audience. Chris Alexander, FANGORIA MAGAZINE’s Editor-In-Chief, published “three” of DAMNED’s stories (Zulu Zombies, “The Cilicium Pandoric” and Writer’s Block) in Fango’s sister mag, GOREZONE and also contributes the collection’s foreword. She’s also gained the support of Vancouver filmmakers, Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary, See No Evil 2), who bookend the anthology with the afterword. ” I met them in Texas and I was so excited, because I thought Mary was brilliant. I had looked over and they were running towards us through this throng and we immediately had a Cenobite-Soska “selfie” session. We have been firm friends ever since. I had a long chat with Jen in Chicago, and that was when we realized we were both Canadian so were able to talk about growing up in British Columbia, which has its own special pleasures.

When it comes to writing horror, Wilde always roots the most supernatural of premises in reality. ” When I was given the letter U for Uranophobia (the basis for DAMNED’s story, GAIA), I thought whoa, there aren’t that many phobias to start with. What I really wanted to do was write a story about home invasion, because I think that’s scary. So I had to twist one of my phobias into this rather fantastical one, this Fear Of The God Of The Sky.”

With VISIONS OF THE DAMNED slated for release on October 31st (but of course) , the advance critical review has been very positive. “I’ve just been just been thrilled with the response so far. I didn’t know how people were going to take them.” So, what’s next for Wilde? More writing, obviously, including a potential sequel to THE VENUS COMPLEX.  She’ll also be on the convention circuit again, promoting the release of VISIONS OF THE DAMNED. They say there’s no rest for the wicked, and Barbie Wilde is living proof.

VISIONS OF THE DAMNED is available for pre-order through Short, Scary Tales Publications . Barbie Wilde is also online at Twitter, Facebook and at her website, barbiewilde.com .

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