An Interview with Erica Schultz & Carola Borelli, Creators of The Deadliest Bouquet
We all love seeing a strong woman kick ass. So, what if we multiply it by three? Three strong, ass-kicking women – oh, yeah! But what if those three women were also sisters? Triple-Oh-Yeah! Thats what you’re getting with The Deadliest Bouquet by the creative team of Erica Schultz, Carola Borelli, Gab Contreras & Chefel Peterson, and James Emmett.
Most people that know Erica Schultz know what she brings to the table with her storytelling. She is respected as a person and as a creator. Her latest project is The Deadliest Bouquet on Kickstarter, a thriller murder mystery series swirling around the lives of three sisters. Fraught with secrets and sibling conflict, the first issue comes out kicking.
Comic Book Yeti had a chance to ask Erica and book artist Carola Borelli a few questions about the book.
COMIC BOOK YETI: The Deadliest Bouquet is a great name and idea for a book. It reminds me of a good Sunday Night Mystery Theatre program. Where did this idea come from? How long has it been in the works?
ERICA SCHULTZ: A Deadly Bouquet is a novel that was written 2002. I didn’t want any confusion, so when we launched, we changed the title to The Deadliest Bouquet.
I’ve had this story in my head for a few years. As far as where it came from, I honestly don’t know where any of my ideas come from. I think I blurted it out on the phone with Liana Kangas one day. Once I gave it more thought, I liked the idea of these three generations of badasses and how that puts a strain on themselves.
CBY: How much can you share about it? It looks like a multi-layered mystery story. "Families and the complexities within" is the infrastructure in most of your stories. Why is that?
ES: I tend to write about family because "family" as a concept is something that everyone can relate to. The good, the bad, the ugly of family, be it found family or by blood, there’s a universal connection the audience can make with the characters immediately. You want the reader to connect with the story quickly to formulate who they’re going to root for.
CBY: Who is the audience of The Deadliest Bouquet? It's an interesting idea touching on WWII and the resistance fighters/Nazi-hunters. Do you think as audiences get younger that there is a certain disconnect with the content and weight of that period?
ES: The audience is anyone who likes a good murder mystery/drama. The story takes place in 1998, so I would hope that despite that, it doesn’t limit the people who would want to read this. There is language and sensitive subjects, so it is definitely not a book for kids.
In terms of there being a disconnect with content for certain younger generations, I think if a story is presented well, it can be relatable. The themes of loss, struggle, and family aren’t anchored in any particular decade but are universal.
CBY: You have decent comic cred as a writer; from self-publishing to crowdfunding to established publishers. Why go Kickstarter with The Deadliest Bouquet? This looks like it would have been a very good and successful pitch!
ES: There was a publisher that was involved pre-Covid, but that deal fell through. Since Carola had already started drawing the book, we wanted to continue getting it out there. James Emmett, our editor, has managed multiple successful Kickstarters, so with his endorsement, we chose to go the crowdfunding route.
CBY: The creative team looks great. What I saw makes me think no one else would have worked. What made you assemble these people?
ES: I was familiar with Carola’s work from Destiny: NY, and a fan of her clean lines. Gab Contreras was one of the colorists on the first Kickstarter project I ran for the book, Strange Tails (nominated for a 2020 Ringo Award for Best Anthology). Our editor, James, was part of the team before we had brought the artists on. He and I had worked together on another script that has yet to be produced.
CBY: Can anyone from the team answer what they thought when you approached them with the idea of The Deadliest Bouquet? Would anyone add what about the pitch wanted to make them work on it?
CAROLA BORELLI: I already knew Erica’s work and have always admired it. When she contacted me for this project I was full of expectations, which were not disappointed. When she explained the story of the three sisters to me I immediately thought “I want to be part of it.” It was immediately evident that they were three strong female characters, and I love stories of strong female characters. Not to mention the story, the suspense, everything that surrounds the three protagonists, it was something I absolutely wanted to read.
CBY: Did anyone contribute and expand on your initial concept? Did something bloom from someone in the team? Did Carola add something in drafting the characters up? Did Gab introduce a color idea that blew you away? What does James bring to the table?
ES: Since this story had been kicking around in my head, I had started and stopped it several times. When trying to attack the story from different angles, I had trouble keeping the focus on the sisters. James was instrumental in finding the through-line and cutting away any excess story that wasn’t serving much of a purpose.
Carola conveys great acting and mood through the characters. It’s one of the reasons why I had wanted to work with her. And Gab always knows what palette to enhance the mood of the story. Kevin Wada’s cover captures the aesthetic of the '90s, and really is beautiful to look at.
CBY: Is The Deadliest Bouquet a one-shot? I can almost see this spinning into another story with these sisters.
ES: As of right now, this is the only arc planned for The Deadliest Bouquet. Because it was originally conceived as a three-arc series, if time and finances allow, I’ll look to exploring Dahlia and Leif’s story. They were the ones who started this all with their work with The French Resistance.
CBY: If The Deadliest Bouquet the Kickstarter fails, what happens to it? Do you try again and/or in another way?
ES: I’m not going to think about if the Kickstarter fails, because putting that kind of negativity out into the world doesn’t help anyone, in my opinion. Put it this way, we’ll cross that bridge if I come to it.
CBY: You have a community of people that know and love your work. You know they will back and support you. But why should the casual person, one that might stumble on this interview, want a copy of The Deadliest Bouquet?
ES: The Deadliest Bouquet is a murder mystery wrapped up in family drama. It’s like Knives Out, but with a smaller family. But don’t take my word for it…Here’s what some other comics pros are saying:
“THE DEADLIEST BOUQUET is the real deal; vivid characters, snappy dialogue, crisply expressive art, and intriguing mysteries. Looking forward to learning more about the sisters’ messed-up childhood…” – Andy Diggle (The Losers, Green Arrow)
“Take a little crime, a little mystery, a little action, and a quest for revenge, mix in some engaging characters and razor-sharp art, you wind up with a winning comic like The Deadliest Bouquet.” – Erik Burnham (Transformers: Beast Wars, Godzilla)
“An incredible tale of intrigue, murder and beautiful bouquets. With such an amazing team bringing their best, this needs to be on your shelf.” – Tríona Farrell (Crowded)
“I love a vendetta story & this is 100% up my alley.” Skylar Partridge (Resonant)
“Dark secrets, deadly skills, and delightful art, absolutely my cup of tea. Seriously! Put the next issue in my hand!” – Yoshi Yoshitani (I Am Not Starfire)
“The Deadliest Bouquet packs quite the punch. Schultz’s script is perfectly complimented by Borelli’s art and Contreras’ colors. A killer concept, dynamic characters, and a plethora of plot twists that had me page-turning with excited anticipation. A must-read.” – Jeremy Holt (Made in Korea, Virtually Yours)
"All families have their own skeletons in their closet. Some are just more literal than others. The Deadliest Bouquet an expertly told story with absolutely gorgeous art about sisterhood, sibling rivalries, and deadly secrets. A neo-noir with a compelling mystery that I have no idea how to solve except by finishing the series." – Eliot Rahal (Knock ‘Em Dead, Midnight Vista)
“Schultz and company have crafted a flowery, razor sharp murder mystery that leaves you dying for more.” – Henry Barajas (La Voz De M.A.Y.O. Tata Rambo, Helm Greycastle)
"Like a stunning floral arrangement, The Deadliest Bouquet perfectly balances elements of story, art and design to deliver an engaging murder mystery that will hook you from the very start!" – Tyler Chin-Tanner (A Wave Blue World)
“Schultz and team have arranged a striking new series. What appears at first glance to be a straightforward murder mystery blossoms into a complex tale of family secrets and (sometimes thorny) sibling rivalries. No flower pun could convey how much I love this book, or how eagerly I await the next issue.” – Eric Palicki (Black’s Myth, Atlantis Wasn’t Built For Tourists)
“Enjoying the attitude and the awesome art.” – Vincent Fiorello (Less than Jake)
"Intriguing and razor sharp, The Deadliest Bouquet does what it says on the tin: lures you in and absolutely slays!" – Ryan K Lindsay (Eternal, Everfrost)
If you are a fan of mysteries, families, history, violence and well-written women, then The Deadliest Bouquet is worth looking at and it's an even better investment. See what all hype is about on the Kickstarter page. And you can read our review of the first issue here.