Following up on the critical success of The Butcher of Paris, Stephanie Phillips returns to the historical fiction genre (more appropriately, the alternative historical fiction genre) with a new comiXology’s Originals series entitled We Only Kill Each Other.
Joined by artist Peter Krause and colorist Ellie Wright, We Only Kill Each Other is perfect for fans of gangster stories and noir crime dramas, filtered through a historical perspective at a time when Nazism was not only establishing a foothold in Europe.
Phillips spoke to us about the new series, her experiences with The Butcher of Paris, and her continued work on one of DC Comics flagship characters, Harley Quinn, in this exclusive interview.
What was the genesis of We Only Kill Each Other? What was it about the era that interested you in terms of the historical context and the “real life” characters?
Stephanie Phillips: After growing up Jewish and then abandoning religious practice as I got older, studying history is how I feel connected to my Jewish heritage. We Only Kill Each Other is actually based on a true story of the U.S. government turning to Jewish-American gangsters for assistance dealing with the budding American Nazi movement. While the backdrop for the story is historically situated, our fictional gangsters in the story are struggling with their own connections to religion, morality, and violence. I was really interested in this moment of history because of how all those elements are juxtaposed and interacting. I wanted to bring that to life in a comic book.
You’ve worked in a wide variety of genres, but do you approach historical fiction any differently as a writer?
Phillips: Not necessarily. I think the biggest difference is just having a large amount of research but knowing that not all of that will make it into the pages of the story. The priority needs to be telling a story, or readers could go get something more academic on the subject. I want to create a comic that represents the time period and the moment in history without being an academic paper, which I’ve written many of and curbing that impulse is always tough! I’m a nerd and I love historical facts, so my goal is to weave that into our characters and storylines.
What did you learn from The Butcher of Paris that you applied to We Only Kill Each Other?
Phillips: One of the biggest differences is that Butcher of Paris is historical fiction and We Only Kill Each Other is more alternate history. Butcher has many real-life figures represented in the story, and we stuck very closely to actual events. I felt slightly comfortable using historical figures because of the access I had to documents that allowed me to have the characters talk as authentically as possible without putting words in their mouths. WOKEO, however, has fictional characters and, while the starting point may have been a real-life event, no part of this story is actually true. This is alternate (and, perhaps, wish fulfillment) history.
What is it about Peter Krause’s style that makes him perfect for the comic?
Phillips: I’ve always loved Peter’s artwork. He does such a good job of capturing the time period and he’s an incredible storyteller. I’ve seen him work in different time periods, and he also has a really good sense of creating tense, gritty scenes for crime and noir stories. I knew he’d be the perfect fit, and Ellie Wright’s colors are a great compliment to the line art.
Last we spoke, you just started as the new writer for Harley Quinn. What have you learned about writing the character on your time on the book?
Phillips: I adore Harley and feel really connected to her and her journey. Writing an ongoing is very different from a miniseries, but I love having this runway to keep building out stories and characters in the Harley universe. It’s been a really fulfilling creative experience.
Phillips: Not anything else I can announce at the moment, but I will keep readers posted on social media and through my newsletter!
We Only Kill Each Other #1 is currently available to read on comiXology (and at no additional cost for members of Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited, and comiXology Unlimited, and is also available for purchase on the Amazon Kindle Store and comiXology). The five issue collection will debut in print from Dark Horse Books on April 19, 2022.