INTERVIEW: Rodney Barnes pits ALICE COOPER against the forces of evil

Dynamite is set to release Alice Cooper #1 this October with writer Rodney Barnes leading the book. The new series features artist Edu Menna, who is known for his work on KISS, Barbarella, and Starfinder.

In this tale, the legendary rocker is up against the demonic forces of evil that are invading everything, including his own fanbase.

Barnes, writer/producer of The Boondocks, My Wife and Kids, and Winning Time: The Story of the Los Angeles Lakers, chatted with The Beat ahead of the comic’s debut this fall.

Deanna Destito: Were you an Alice Cooper fan before taking on this book?


Rodney Barnes: I was! Loved the music and the horror-themed style. Alice hit my radar at just the right time to become a fixture in my music consumption.


Destito: Why is a persona like Cooper such a perfect protagonist for the comic world?


Barnes: His larger-than-life persona! There are so many themes in his music and presentation that fit perfectly in the world of comics.

Destito: What inspired this particular tale?

Barnes: Merging the worlds of music and genre. Having Alice face Satan musically felt fun to me. Truly hoping the fans enjoy the journey as well.

Destito: Do you approach writing characters based on real people differently than those who are completely fictional?


Barnes: I try to incorporate aspects of the real person into the fantasy creation then go from there. With Alice, it was easy because of Neil Gaiman’s great work in establishing a fantasy world prior to me jumping in.

Destito: How has it been working with Dynamite and this creative team?

Barnes: It’s been great! I’ve done Army of Darkness 1979 and James Bond: Himeros so it’s like working with family.

Destito: For readers who may not know anything about Alice Cooper or who may be hesitant to pick up a music/horror genre book. why is this comic something they may like?


Barnes: One word: Fun. There’s comedy, action, and horror themes that don’t take themselves too seriously. So it’s a great jumping-on-point for fans of either genre.



Alice Cooper #1 is slated to release on October 4, 2023.

Black Mask launches new comic anthology to benefit striking writers

GENERAL STRIKE: Calexit & Other Tales of The Good Fight is a new comic book anthology from Black Mask Studios — written by striking WGA workers, with proceeds going to the WGA strike fund. The book will feature stories by Rodney Barnes, a writer/producer on the Boondocks cartoon; Brian Michael Bendis, creator of Miles Morales and Jessica Jones for Marvel as well as the Powers comic book and TV show; Judalina Neira, the WGA’s NBCU lot cordinator, who has worked on The Flash and The Boys TV series; and many others.

Black Mask Studios is run by comics and TV writer Matteo Pizzolo, who has said that the company will pay all of the writers by matching page rates from Marvel/DC books, and then match all those writers’ fees with donations to the Entertainment Community Fund. All of the creators involved will maintain ownership over their own IP as well. As Pizzolo told The Hollywood Reporter:


I’m a WGA member and my wife is in SAG, so we know firsthand the cost of this strike. It’s impacting so many people–writers and actors and their families for sure, but also everyone who works in the community and culture. Hopefully we can use our comics platform to help members of the creative community cover costs during this crisis while also telling badass and inspiring stories about Truth, Justice, and Collective Action.

The campaign is expected to go live some time this week.


GENERAL STRIKE: Calexit & Other Tales of The Good Fight

INTERVIEW: Rodney Barnes lays out what Zombie Love Studios is all about


Rodney Barnes has quickly become a distinctive and innovative voice in comics. Already having a storied career as a producer and screenwriter on shows such as The Boondocks and Everybody Hates Chris, Barnes exploded into the world of comics with his and Jason Shawn Alexander’s Philadelphia vampire comic Killadelphia, easily one of the best ongoing series on the stands today. He had written comics leading up to his megahit, but it was that one that elevated him in the comics work to being a writer you needed to pay attention to.

Barnes has parlayed his success with Killadelphia, as well as on licensed titles like Star Wars and Army of Darkness and on other creator-owned books like Monarch with Alex Lins, into creating his own company, the aptly-named Zombie Love Studios. He kicked things off with a book that found in blaxploitation its resounding first shot: Blacula: Return of the King, also illustrated by Shawn Alexander. It’s based on the fan-favorite 1972 vampire movie of the same name directed by William Crain. In the film, Prince Mamuwalde (the titular Blacula) meets with Dracula to strike a deal that would put a dent on the slave trade, but is immediately betrayed and turned into a vampire. He’s eventually stirred from his slumber after his coffin is sold and brought to LA in the ’70s. Barnes updated the iconic black vampire so it could exist within the racial chaos of today’s America, reflecting how society has reacted to police violence and predatory urban politics.

Blacula: Return of the King was not only a great book, it was a mission statement, a promise on the quality and depth of what’s to come. The story’s been envisioned as a trilogy, according to Barnes, with the other titles yet to be officially revealed. Zombie Love is also preparing for the release of Florence and Normandie, written by Barnes and rapper Xzibit with art from Jon Wayshak and Mar Silvestre, which puts the world’s first alien invasion right in the middle of the 1992 LA Riots (which began after four police officers were acquitted of excessive force charges in the Rodney King case).

The Beat sat caught up with Barnes at San Diego Comic Con for a quick chat on Zombie Love, its horror heart, and where it’s going.

Ricardo Serrano: Zombie Love started off with Blacula, a character with a peculiar place in horror history. Despite his popularity and dedicated fan base, some still see him as a kind of cult-following type character. What made you settle on Prince Mamuwalde for Zombie Love’s first book?

Rodney Barnes: I really loved the movie when I was a kid. As I got older and revisited it, you could see some of the problems that came with it being a blaxploitation film, along with some of the more problematic narrative elements that came with it given the times it was made in. Coming from a sentiment of nostalgia, I felt like I could update it. It was something that would take me back to my original love of horror. I thought it would be a worthy endeavor. So, I thought about a style and how it would look and then Jason Sean Alexander, my partner, he had a take on how the book could take different route than Killadelphia’s and we went to work.

Serrano: I picked up on that desire to update the character. In the movie, you kind of end up rooting for him for most of it, but then he reminds you he’s a vampire and that he’s, in essence, a predator. He ends up not even being an antihero.


Barnes: I think it’s not his fault. For lack of a better word, he is what he is. There’s the human part of him that remains, but he is a predator. The antihero part, the mixture of a lack of predictability as to who he’s going to be and of what he can be at any given moment is always present. And yet, he was a prince. His nobility is still there. There is a moral throughline even though it’s tempered with his vampiric aspects.


Serrano: There are hints of a shared universe within Return of the King. Is that something you want Zombie Love to focus on, or something you’re just playing around with?


Barnes: Playing around with it for now. When you have your own company, and you work your own stories, a lot of the characters start floating through some of the other works. A lot of those works are still under my control, so you never know when a character can pop up in one world from another. It’s kind of like how Stephen King will put a reference to Cujo in newer books, a hint to let readers know the possibility is there. Or like he does with Salem’s Lot, where you have something so ancient it can’t help but be a part of the larger thing. With me, you never know when Blacula might show up.

Serrano: Is there a specific style or signature that you’re hoping carries through for the studio? Something that gets it recognized immediately as a Zombie Love production?

Barnes: I think of it more about being a voice in horror. You know, places like Blumhouse have done a type of movie that feels like Blumhouse. I think we want to tell a story in a way that feels like a Zombie Love story, in the sense that it has a really clear voice that has some social relevance, but not to the point where it overwhelms the story. I want human stories set in a horrific setting.

Serrano: What can you reveal about the future of Zombie Love?

Barnes: We’ll be having a few announcements coming up, especially leading up to New York Comic Con. We’re already gearing up for Florence and Normandie with rapper/actor Xzibit, which we’re really excited about. We’ll be doing a preview of it at NYCC. It’s shaping up to be an interesting year for us.

KILLADELPHIA Exclusive Cover Reveal Ahead Of November Release


We have a special treat for you today in the form of Killadelphia. It’s a double-whammy on the docket as Image Comics kicks off a full month of “Killadelphia Summer Reading” with a tease of the critically acclaimed series’ return in November and an exclusive cover reveal. But that’s not all, gang. We’re celebrating the upcoming issue 31 with an exclusive cover reveal, plus we have the debut issue for you to read right now.

The ongoing series follows a small-town beat cop who returns home to bury his murdered father, revered Philadelphia detective James Sangster Sr. What Sangster Jr. doesn’t anticipate is unearthing a mystery unlocking a path of horrors that will shake his beliefs to the core. The city once stood as a symbol of liberty and freedom, but has since fallen prey to corruption, poverty, unemployment, brutality… and vampires. (Ok, you had us at “vampires.”)

And if you thought President of the United States John Adams was long-deceased, well, you’d be wrong. Turns out ‘ol Adams is in the throes of building an undead army to stage a bloody new American revolution. It’s up to Jimmy and an “unexpected companion” to thwart Adams’ bloodthirsty plans. Check out some more info about the latest issue and the exclusive Killadelphia Issue 31 cover reveal:

In this latest arc, villains have become heroes, with the line between good and evil blurred beyond recognition. Philadelphia is ravaged by the war between Heaven and Hell, and our heroes are DEAD…But from the ashes of despair comes the spark of hope that will set up a bold new direction for this series…and things will never be the same. To celebrate the upcoming continuation of this sold-out, award-nominated series’ return, here is a chance to start from the very beginning with the first full issue available to read for free!


From writer Rodney Barnes (Marvel’s Runaways and STARZ’s American Gods) and Jason Shawn Alexander (Spawn). Without further ado, we take you back to where it all started. Enjoy Killadelphia chapter 1, and dive into the series ahead of issue 31’s November release.