Trapped. Scared. Disoriented. Four friends lock themselves in the store room of the corner store. A liquor store that mostly sells candy to neighborhood kids. Is this real? Are people really eating each other? Just on the other side of the freeway, just past downtown, something is happening, something is making people crazy, something is making people feed. Feed on each other. This is the introduction to artist Avy Jetter’s zine Nuthin Good Ever Happens at 4 A.M. Jetter has only been officially doing zines for four years and her work is thoroughly compelling. Midwest BSFA talked to her about her influences and the enduring attraction to zombie narratives.
Midwest BSFA: How did you get into comics?
Jetter: I started making comics in 2012 after a friend showed me her webcomic. I always wanted to participate in SF Zinefest but really didn’t have any zines or comics to show. I decided in March or April 2012 that I would make a comic to be ready for SF Zinefest in September 2012. I didn’t realize how much work went into making comics and what making comics was all about. I dang near killed myself getting the first issue of the comic book done in five months but I did it!
Midwest BSFA: Are you a long-time read? A collector?
Jetter: I had forgotten how as a kid my four older brothers used to huddle in their room and make comics. One brother was the writer, one was the penciler, one did the inking and one did the color. Looking back, I was super influenced by their creativity and writing style.
My mom gave me the Golden Legacy Black History comics as a kid, but I never collected comics. My brothers spent a lot of time collecting and my oldest brother worked in a comic book store for a while so I felt like that was my brothers’ domain although I loved the sights and smells and the family atmosphere of the comic book store.
Because my brothers drew and wrote their own comics I’ve always felt at home with comics although I am not a big superhero fan. There just weren’t any black women in mainstream comics. I was most influenced by Young Adult literature like Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Let the Circle Be Unbroken by Mildred D. Tayler, Slam! and Monster by Walter Dean Myers, and the Wee Pals comic strip by Morrie Turner.
Midwest BSFA: Tell us about your comic.
Jetter: Nuthin Good Ever Happens at 4 A.M. is a zombie apocalypse story based in Oakland, Calif. The story centers around four friends with diverse backgrounds who decide to band together and survive. The friends find food, shelter and other survivors in several issues, which feature the architecture of Oakland as a main character as they explore the city. The friends encounter the beauty and complexity of Oakland in a hellish blend of action, horror and magic. It’s a story of friendship, redemption, survival and triumph. What do you do when you are already counted out? Already live at the bottom of the barrel and all hell breaks loose and things go from bad to worse? Do you cave in and give up? Or do you stand?
Midwest BSFA: That sounds awesome! Why did you choose to focus on zombies?
Jetter: I’m a big horror movie fan. I love action and suspense, killing and gross stuff. I rarely get to see black horror movies. Most mainstream movies the black person dies within the first five to 10 minutes of the movie. I wanted to make something that I would want to read. I wanted to write something I’ve never seen before and something I could relate to and not have to think about race as being the “other.” I like horror and zombies so I made something I would want to see and read. Plus, I’m having an awesome time making the zombies kill people in all types of weird and crazy ways.
Midwest BSFA: Why do you think zombies are such a big part of the horror zeitgeist?
Jetter: I think because there is still a human element to zombies and we can see ourselves in zombies. They are such a great metaphor for many things. Consumerism, corporate greed, social apathy, etc.
Midwest BSFA: What do you hope readers take away from your comic?
Jetter: Fear. Fun. Gross out moments. A feeling of suspense but mostly fun and that the main characters could be their friends. I want the comic to be relatable and easy to read with a splash of gory goodness thrown in there too.
Midwest BSFA: What other projects are you working on?
Jetter: Last year, I started drawing portraits, and head and hand studies in an effort to draw every day. I made a portrait zine last year and this year I’m making a mutant alien zine.
Midwest BSFA: Are you attending MECCACon again this year?
Jetter: As of today, I really don’t think I can take the time off from work but I’d love to see everyone again. Maia “Crown” Williams works so hard to produce the event and I’d love to support that effort. One day, hopefully soon I’ll get back to the Midwest or east coast.
Midwest BSFA: Anything else you want our readers to know?
Jetter: Thanks for reading and please check me out on my new YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr as well as my personal site on Behance. Please check out the Artists Against Police Brutality comics anthology as I have a mini-comic included by Rosarium Press. And if your readers are on the West coast please check out SF Zinefest in September and the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest in December.