Vince Brusio Talks His New Series Pussycats
Shipping in March, Pussycats is the latest comic series from writer Vince Brusio and artist Mats Engesten, also featuring covers by Ray Lago. The comic features actresses Karen Summer, Priya Anjali Rai, and Tanya Tate. A dark sexy action/thriller, Pussycats reveals how adult movie actresses helped the United States government whitewash identities during the Cold War. Karen Summer was such an actress that could arrange for transportation of “human resources” without causing international incidents. But a recent sting operation proves Karen was not decommissioned after the fall of the Soviet Union. And worse, ghoulish face-painted gunmen killing her friends proves her identity has been compromised, and everyone she knows is being targeted for blackmail.
We got a chance to talk with Vince to find out more about the series, how the three actresses became involved, and what we can expect.
Graphic Policy: For folks who don’t know the comic, how would you describe the series Pussycats?
Vince Brusio: It’s Sin City meets Jennifer Blood, caught in the crossfire of Stray Bullets, late for an audition on the set of Charlie’s Angels which, this time, is directed by Quentin Tarantino. Imagine a dark sexy series that shows beautiful women, fearless, armed with guns, that out think guys which imagine themselves as picture perfect alpha males. It’s proof that the most beautiful women can make the deadliest enemies. It’s fast-paced, cinematic, balls-to-the-wall action and dialogue that’s best summarized as broken glass in a pillow case. It cuts you.
GP: Where did you come up with the idea for the series?
VB: I was sitting in a Bob Evans restaurant when the idea came to me that the most beautiful women would be the best assassins because you’d be too busy gawking at them to notice they’d pulled a knife on you. From there, I linked that to research I’d uncovered from a friend of mine who knew some people in the adult film industry. It turned out that adult films weren’t made legal until 1988. So from the first X-rated film made (I believe it was Mona?) to 1988, these films were made in secret. So here we had content being made that wasn’t supposed to be made yet it was being shipped across the country. Yeah. And all this was happening at the height of the Cold War. So I put two and two together, and came up with the premise for Pussycats: hot women who were in these movies helped the CIA in covert operations that were made possible when the stars “filmed” on location.
GP: How long is the series going to run for?
VB: The #0 issue ships in March, and then a 4-issue mini-series begins in the March issue of PREVIEWS. A TP will collect all 5 issues. After that, it’s hard to tell where the series will go because I’m talking with several interested parties about where the series can go from there.
VB: I found Karen on Facebook. And it was the same day that I came up with that idea sitting in the Bob Evans restaurant. A little imaginary spirit bird from some unknown dimension whispered in my ear and told me to see what Karen Summer was doing these days. Turns out she was heading back to California the same time that I contacted her. She took me for my word that I was honest in contacting her as an old fan of her films, and from there we eventually started talking to each other on the phone, and I told her how I was making this comic, and I thought someone like her might be able to fill in some of the blanks as to what went on in her industry back in the 80s. From there, Karen started becoming interested in being a character in the comic, and before I knew it, her role materialized in a late night conversation. It was Karen who brought on Priya, as she and Priya crossed paths at the end of last summer. Priya took one look at the San Diego ashcan and said she wanted “in.”
In regards to Tanya, we first crossed paths because she retweeted an announcement I made for my Autopsy: Feast For A Funeral comic back in 2012. I never would have thought a goddess like Tanya Tate would have been into a band like Autopsy, but…there you go. After that, I noticed her cosplaying when I was filming interviews at San Diego Comic Con. Early last year I reached out to her on Twitter, and because of my day job she took me at face value. She agreed to meet with me and Karen at San Diego Comic Con to hear the pitch for Pussycats. She signed on after seeing the concept drawings and hearing the direction for the book.
GP: The cast is very international with one being born in the US, one in the UK, and the third in India, was that a specific choice?
VB: Nope. Not a choice at all. It’s luck. Pure luck. What can I say? I guess I’m a lucky guy.
GP: With three women and it being an action thriller, the series has a bit of a Charlie’s Angels vibe about it. What are the series’ influences?
VB: Well, there you go. Charlie’s Angels. A big influence. Beautiful women that kick your ass. I loved it when I was a kid, and I love it today. Also, a big tip of the hat to Scarlett Johansson for what she did playing the Black Widow in the Avengers movie. I thought she stole the show. After seeing her in action, that’s really when the idea for Pussycats started bouncing around in my brain. I absolutely adore that woman. She’s fantastic. Other influences include Sin City, Jennifer Blood, and Garth Ennis’ run on The Punisher.
GP: It’s interesting to me that all three use stage names, much like a superhero has a secret identity. Did that come into play when creating the series?
VB: No, we’re using all three actresses stage names because it keeps the contracts simple. The #0 issue is a licensed comic. Plus, all three women are very well known, so why would I NOT want to use their names in the book? Basic math.
GP: Tanya Tate has a lot of involvement in the comic community already with her involvement with cosplay, toys, and even comic blogger. She even said she took her name after being inspired by Stan Lee. How has she been involved in the series?
VB: Tanya’s great. She lets me do my thing. She basically trusted me with what I did, and took the attitude of “You’re the comics guy. So make a comic.” And she actively retweets the announcements we make, and plugs the book at conventions. I adore this woman. Very professional. Very sweet. And she has a business sense. Again: I’m a lucky guy.
GP: How did artist Mats Engesten come onto the project?
VB: Mats and I have known each other for at least 10 years. We did underground work in the 90s, and then in 2012 we officially started working together when I formed E-Comix with production head, Matt Barham. Mats just knows what I want. I think its telepathy. Plus, when I’m a real pain when it comes to details, he puts up with me. He’s done a volume of work, and has done both the licensed Dying Fetus: Supreme Violence and Autopsy: Feast for a Funeral books with me since 2012. He’s also the artist on Acme Ink’s Rock and Roll Biographies: Slayer comic. So check him out!
GP: Any other projects on the horizon?
VB: Yeah. Sleep. Otherwise, I’m dead the next year. Seriously, though, Pussycats has a lot of people talking to me now. So we’ll see. Also, Mats and I already have another book finished that I’m sitting on. It’s a gory futuristic zombie book, and it looks freakin’ AMAZING. I just have to figure out how to find time to finish it, and where it can fit into a publishing schedule that balances Pussycats.
I never thought exhaustion could be so much fun.