We Only Kill Each Other (and sometimes comics)
Announced today from ComiXology Originals, Stephanie Phillips, Peter Krause, & Ellie Wright are creating a new historical-fiction series about Jewish gangsters in the 1930s.
What did I do during the pandemic? Well, I completed a new limited 5-issue series with artist Peter Krause about Jewish gangsters in the 1930s beating up Nazis in NYC for Amazon’s ComiXology Originals. It’s no secret that I LOVE historical fiction, so this is a return to some really familiar and comfortable grounds for me, but with a new twist. While the story and characters are based on real-life events, WE ONLY KILL EACH OTHER (lovingly referred to as WOKEO by the team!) is also alternate history where events are reconstructed in ways that they didn’t happen in real life (or, at least in our reality).
I’ve been really excited about announcing this new creator-owned series and want to talk a bit about what you can expect from this book and from the amazing art team I was lucky enough to work with to bring this project to life!
WHAT IS WOKEO? When rival mobsters Levi Solomon and Jonas Kaminsky are arrested, the D.A. offers them a chance to clear their records by working together to disrupt the Nazi movement and its leader, Fritz Julius Kuhn, who proclaims to be the American Führer. With World War II on the horizon, Nazi sympathizers and fascists have taken root on American soil in alarming numbers, intending to push the U.S. towards an alliance with Germany. When the lone hope of stopping the American Nazi movement falls to Jewish-American gangsters currently entrenched in a violent turf war, Solomon and Kaminsky find that there’s only one thing they hate more than each other: Nazis.
Based on true events, WOKEO is the story of unlikely heroes working to change the course of American history.
WHO ARE JONAS AND SOLOMON?
Jonas Kaminsky is a newcomer to the NY mob scene and a challenger to Solomon’s crown. Although Jewish by birth, Jonas is less interested in his religious heritage and more interested in making money as quickly and violently as possible. Jonas views Solomon as outdated and believes a true leader should be willing to get their hands dirty, not just give orders from behind a desk.
Levi Solomon is a Polish-born accountant who used his intelligence to become the king of the Jewish mob. During the era of prohibition, Solomon turned his outfit from street thugs to a thriving criminal empire that operated like a business. Branching out into gambling and money laundering, Solomon and his gang have made and solidified their fortunes twice over. Now nearing 60, Solomon has remained a devote practitioner of Judaism his entire life. As our story opens in 1938 with the blossoming of the German-American Bund, a pro-Nazi organization, Solomon is weary of the world outlook and empathetic for his family back in Poland.
WHO IS MAKING THIS BOOK? I’m writing it (though, I think that parts pretty obvious by now!) with artwork by the absolutely incredible Peter Krause. Peter is known for works like The Power of Shazam and Irredeemable, and I’m seriously thrilled to have the chance to work with him. Ellie Wright is lending her amazing colors to the project with Troy Peteri lettering, Phil Smith on book design, Rian Hughes on logo design, and Dave Johnson lending his amazing talents on cover art. I’ve worked with all of the members of this talented team before, so it feels a little like “getting the band back together.” The last time Dave created covers for a book I worked on (Butcher of Paris), he was nominated for an Eisner. I think that needs to happen again. Whew. These covers…
HOW CAN YOU READ THE BOOK? The book will come out digitally with issue 1 on November 16. This will be available on Comixology.com. The entire team is invested in print comics and supporting retailers, so we’re also thrilled to have a print edition available through the ComiXology print line via Dark Horse in April, 2022.
WHY DID I WRITE THIS BOOK? In part, this book is actually based on a true event. Jewish gangsters were asked to disrupt Nazi protests and rallies in the hopes of ridding the U.S. of the growing Nazi threat while keeping the government’s hands officially clean of the mess. Like I mentioned earlier, though, this book is also alternate history where we have taken the initial starting point of asking gangsters to fight Nazis, but the outcome is going to be very different from anything that happened historically.
Like Butcher of Paris, I was drawn to this story because I’m really interested in Jewish history and finding ways to present aspects of that history in ways that audiences haven’t yet seen. Jonas Kaminsky is someone highly conflicted about his religious upbringing, even to the point of dismissing all religion. Jonas’ position is one I highly relate to after growing up Jewish and then stepping away from religion as I got older. Unlike me, however, Jonas actually feels animosity towards his heritage.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? “We only kill each other” is what notorious gangster Bugsy Siegel told a nervous contractor who was hesitant to do work on his home. Bugsy told him to not worry because “we only kill each other.”
THANKS FOR READING!
Thanks for taking the time to learn a little bit more about WOKEO. This is something I’ll definitely talk more about as we get closer to the release date, so make sure you subscribe to the newsletter for more updates.
My store is open to everyone with a few new items added, and one or two items restocked!
Finally, I’ll be at Rose City Comic Con in Portland, OR this weekend. I’ll be at artist alley table R09 on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday at 1:15pm I’m doing a special panel with artist Amy Reeder to talk Harley Quinn! This is my first show back in over 2 years. I’m anxious but excited, and I hope to see some of you there!