David Pepose is doing it again, mashing up two different genres and delivering yet another unique and refreshing series, GOING TO THE CHAPEL.
I've been following his work since Vol.1 of SPENCER & LOCKE, and I become more of a fan with each passing project. This time he mashes up rom-coms and action films to bring us a story full of heart and humor.
If you haven't checked out his work, then this is the perfect time to jump on board. He brings not only a unique premise with every project but he infuses each story with his signature characterization.
Do yourself a favor and check out this book when it drops Wednesday, you won't regret it.
COMIC LOUNGE: First off I wanted to thank you for taking out time to talk about this awesome new book of yours, GOING TO THE CHAPEL. It's a book that mashes up romantic comedies and action flicks. Can you tell us more about the book?
DAVID PEPOSE: The pleasure is all mine! GOING TO THE CHAPEL is the story of the world’s worst wedding… and that was before the bank robbers showed up! Our book follows Emily Anderson, a wealthy bride grappling with a serious cold feet — but what she doesn’t realize is her wedding is about to be crashed by the Bad Elvis Gang, a group of bank robbers on the prowl for a nearly priceless sapphire necklace on loan from Paris for the big day.
Unfortunately, thanks to Emily’s crazy family, what should have been a simple smash-and-grab turns into a full-blown face-off with the cops… leading Emily to become the unlikely ringleader of her own hostage situation as she tries to decide what her own happily ever after is supposed to look like. This is a story with a lot of action and a lot of laughs, but at the end of the day, GOING TO THE CHAPEL is ultimately a love story — it’s a crime caper that explores fear of commitment, dysfunctional families, and the leap of faith it takes to say ‘til death do us part.
COMIC LOUNGE: This book has a completely different tone than SPENCER & LOCKE. While it is still a mash-up of sorts, what made you decide to jump into this whole new genre?
PEPOSE: For me, I’m always looking to find what’s the path not taken, what’s the risk I can bring to my stories — while SPENCER & LOCKE was about riffing on one of comics’ most sacred cows, with GOING TO THE CHAPEL I wanted to tackle the bad rap that comes with romantic comedies. There are a lot of men who feel their masculinity is threatened by romcoms, and there are a lot of women who think their intelligence is threatened by them — but when you look at stories like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 500 Days of Summer or About Time, you’ll find that love stories are just as flexible and versatile as sci-fi, crime, or superheroes.
Leaning into romcoms also let me flex some different muscles than I was able to with SPENCER & LOCKE. First and foremost, like you mentioned, I wanted to shift in tone a bit — to keep that combination of humor and action but to ultimately make this a feel-good story. I also wanted to expand the cast beyond the fairly intimate scale of my first books, and in particular expand the level of diversity and representation of the characters I was working with. By mashing together crime at a wedding, I was really able to have my cake and eat it, too.
COMIC LOUNGE: Once again you've been blessed with an awesome art team. What has it been like working with the talented Gavin Guidry and Liz Kramer?
PEPOSE: They’re terrific. Gavin is going to be one of those names that you’re going to see dominate the bestseller lists sooner rather than later — he’s got this style that’s right in the middle of that Venn diagram between Jamie McKelvie and Doc Shaner, almost in that same school as Chris Samnee or Leonardo Romero. Gavin was instrumental in building up the cast members of GOING TO THE CHAPEL and helping me play up their larger-than-life personalities visually — often with an expression or a gesture. He’s also monstrously fast, which kept me on my toes in terms of writing scripts fast enough to keep him busy.
Finding a good colorist, meanwhile, I think is one of the most important partnerships a comics creator can establish, and Liz is just truly our secret weapon. Liz brings such a methodical and literate perspective to her work — she and I talked at length about particular influences and artists we wanted to channel for GOING TO THE CHAPEL, but she not only synthesized these various styles, but made them her own. Our book doesn’t look or read like anything else in the Direct Market, and it’s because of the unique magic that Gavin and Liz have together.
COMIC LOUNGE: Having read the first issue, which I loved by the way, you can see that there are influences from a few different films. What were some of the biggest influences while coming up with the story for this book?
PEPOSE: Oh man, there are so many influences. Dog Day Afternoon had probably the biggest effect on GOING TO THE CHAPEL, in part because I loved that movie’s juxtaposition between crime and comedy — that’s a hostage situation that takes place at a bank, but seeing how quickly the line blurs between Al Pacino and his captives made it such a human story for me. Death at a Funeral, our other big inspiration, has some surprising parallels, as well — it’s the story of a funeral that is just spiraling into chaos by the second, and the idea of family members getting weirder and weirder the more they’re forced to remain in the same room was just hilarious.
As far as visuals and pacing go, Gavin and I also tapped into a ton of other inspirations. Old-school Tarantino, for sure, but I’d say more Reservoir Dogs than necessarily Kill Bill — this book isn’t a bloodbath by any stretch of the imagination. To get into that Western vibe, we also talked a lot about Breaking Bad and Hell or High Water, and we also talked about the unique rhythm and action choreography of Edgar Wright movies like Baby Driver.
COMIC LOUNGE: The characters in the book were really fleshed out, were they based on anyone in particular? Did you use any real life experiences when crafting the story?
PEPOSE: Heh — yes, I did draw from life a little bit on this one. (Laughs) The inspiration behind GOING TO THE CHAPEL was that I was the best man at a wedding, and I planned the absolute worst bachelor party of all time. It involved busted-up Airbnbs, botched sumo wrestler suits, no-show groomsmen, and me winding up in the hospital with a kidney stone. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong — and I wound up thinking, “what would be the worst thing that could happen if this was during the wedding?” The idea of bank robbers interrupting the wedding felt like a great way to take a new spin on romantic comedies, but the idea of the bride suddenly having second thoughts made me realize there was a real emotional core to mine here.
A lot of the characters I also drew from real life, as well as real-life actors whose voices and personalities felt like the right fit for this cast. Emily in particular I think was informed from a lot of the relationships I’ve had in the past, both the good ones and the not-so-good — I think our story is definitely about confronting past heartbreaks so you can embrace your future. Jesse and Tom, meanwhile, definitely represent the more cautious and more adventurous sides of me. And B.J., the terrible best man, is definitely my mea culpa for my own past wedding sins. (Laughs) I will say that Grandma Harriet is not inspired by me, but my own Grandma Helen, so if I get struck by lightning between now and when the trade hits in February, you know what happened.
COMIC LOUNGE: Heist stories tend to always have this familiar vibe to them, how did you find a way to make this both unique and fresh at the same time?
PEPOSE: That’s often why I bring the mash-up approach to a lot of my work — that way I’m able to keep things from getting too stale, by being able to switch gears when the words aren’t flowing. With GOING TO THE CHAPEL, the wedding day venue already affords us a lot of different opportunities — we’re not constrained to the usual limits of bank security, but instead we’re able to use so much iconic wedding imagery that lends itself surprisingly well to weaponization. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence we have the term “shotgun wedding” in our cultural lexicon…
We’re also able to keep GOING TO THE CHAPEL fresh just because of the wealth of larger-than-life characters we have in this book. What I think is so universal about our series is that everyone’s been to a wedding — everyone knows what the father of the bride, the best man, the maid of honor, the flower girl look like. It’s very archetypical, so we’re able to play on those cultural expectations and then lean on them in different ways. For example, Emily’s Grandma Harriet is a super-weird lady, while Emily’s fiance Jesse gets to shrug off the stereotypes of being an awkward nerd and try to step up to “rescue” his bride-to-be. These characters really will keep the Bad Elvis Gang (and our readers) on their toes.
COMIC LOUNGE: With SPENCER & LOCKE being so well received, what are your expectations with this new book?
PEPOSE: Honestly, I try not to bring too many expectations to the mix — trying to compare the books feels like a sucker’s game, and a surefire way for me to feel bad about one of my babies, when I really love all my fictional children equally. While I do think that readers of SPENCER & LOCKE will find a lot of commonalities to enjoy in GOING TO THE CHAPEL, the thing that’s most important to me is that I’ve delivered a story that’s made me grow as a creator.
Ultimately, the main reason I’m so invested in the creator-owned side of comics is because I want to be a true believer in what I do — because I can’t expect readers to invest in my books if I’m not 110 percent into it. And that level of passion only comes if I feel like me and my team have left everything out on the field — and with GOING TO THE CHAPEL, I truly think we have. Beyond that, I’m just hoping people enjoy our book — but the benefit of working with a team like Gavin and Liz is, even if they hate the writing, the art is sensational enough to carry the book even without me. (Laughs)
COMIC LOUNGE: Are there any other projects you're working on that you can talk about?
PEPOSE: Sure! I’m hard at work on GRAND THEFT ASTRO, my upcoming sci-fi/heist series with artist Jordi Perez — I’m in the middle of scripting the second-to-last issue, and the art that Jordi has already done is just phenomenal. I’m also working on an epic fantasy story with a creative team that I’m really excited about, as well as in the middle of the laborious research stage of a crime story that, if I can pull it off properly, will be one of the most ambitious books of my career.
Beyond that, I’ve got a handful of other pitches that I’m in the middle of developing — a couple of sci-fi pitches, a crime book that I’m really excited about, and a post-apocalyptic story that I’m testing to see if it’s got the legs to go the distance. And just finishing up the tail end of my convention season at Long Beach Comic Con, Rose City Comic Con, New York Comic Con, Los Angeles Comic Con, and Baltimore Comic Con, and as many store signings as they’ll allow. Oh, and did I mention I started a newsletter called PEP TALKS? (Laughs) It’s a busy time, but it’s the good kind of busy — hopefully the kind of busy that’ll last a good long time.