Reach Heaven By Violence: Kill Six Billion Demons [Interview]

IMAGE COMICS: KILL SIX BILLION DEMONS is a pretty effective title, but for those new to the comic, what's it about?

TOM PARKINSON-MORGAN: I'd say the one-sentence elevator pitch is that it's about a totally normal post-grad who accidentally inherits all the power of the king of the universe and must save her boyfriend from the clutches of seven evil usurpers. If that sounds a little ridiculous, it's totally intentional.

IC: What can you tell us about Allison?

PARKINSON-MORGAN: Allison's basically an awkward, kind of hot-headed, but otherwise totally normal person in her 20s with self confidence issues who is thrust into a totally insane situation. In a way the comic is about her coming to grips with the situations she's inherited. I hate the 'chosen one' trope a lot, so I've tried to avoid it. Allison is definitely a reluctant heroine to start, but she is certainly a heroine, and as the series goes on I think we'll see more of that from her.

IC: The in-story reasoning behind the title of the book is explained as the story progresses, but as a creator, what came first, the title, or the story? How'd you come up with it?

PARKINSON-MORGAN: It sounded good. I'm not even kidding. I originally ran KSBD as a choose-your-own adventure type deal on a forum, and the title seemed like just the right kind of fun and over the top. Later, I decided it had a more prophetic meaning.

IC: You've had to create not just another world, but a whole new cosmology and pantheon accordingly. What you've set up is intricate and finely detailed—are you into this kind of worldbuilding? What do you get out of it as a creator?

PARKINSON-MORGAN: I really enjoy world building, as you can probably tell from reading the comic. World building to me is a key part of fantasy and science fiction—the ability to, by partaking in this kind of fiction, immerse yourself in other spaces that are totally alien but also seem totally real. That sense of immersion, discovery, and exploration is very key to good works of fantasy, in my opinion. As a kid, I used to make my own encyclopedias. So that will give you a good idea of the kind of person I am, and the kind of works I enjoy.

That said, I think a lot of fantasy works focus too much on the world. Worlds should only ever serve the story, in my opinion, whether that is in a thematic way or otherwise. The characters and story are far more important.

IC: A character is urged to "reach heaven by violence" in what feels like a really significant way. Do you see fighting your way to heaven as a core idea in the series?

PARKINSON-MORGAN: A lot of old religious texts had layered meaning, and I've tried to include this in my comic too. Violence in this context doesn't always mean literal violence, but rather being decisive, trying your best, and fighting in a metaphorical sense. One of the books I read that I reference in this comic is The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. It's a book of fighting techniques, but a lot of people read it as a book of warrior philosophy and apply it to business, etc.

A core theme of the comic to me is the paradoxical acceptance of struggle as an intimate part of life. I think a lot of the religious overtones of the comic and parts of the world fit it pretty well.

IC: KILL SIX BILLION DEMONS started out as a webcomic. What led to you bringing it to Image Comics?

PARKINSON-MORGAN: It was actually brought to the attention of Image, who then reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to publish. I'm very happy that Image has chosen to publish my comic, because I really admire their philosophy of publishing.