Clay McLeod Chapman Talks About All the Gory Details of ‘Lazaretto’

I don’t know if you know this, but BOOM! Studios has been busting out some great content. There are a number of things you could pick up and read right now, but the one I want to focus on is called Lazaretto and its written by Clay McLeod Chapman with are by Jey Levang. Unfortunately, Jey was not at New York Comic Con when we spoke at NYCC, but I did get the chance to speak with Clay about this awesome new horror series that, especially if you’re a horror fan, you should be reading.

Alright, so just for people who haven’t read the book yet, can you tell me about what the book is about?

Lazaretto is basically Lord of the Flies on your college campus. So, let’s imagine a highly virulent outbreak of the canine flu is sweeping the nation and just so happens to dovetail on these students’ first day of their freshman year at college and it’s not long before they’re quarantined in their college dormitory, and then its not long after that before the laws of civil society start to crumble and things get pretty…icky.

Lazaretto #1 Cover

I have really been enjoying the book thus far. I see the, The Lord of the Flies, element – and I’m definitely going to get to that – but, would you say this is a…zombie story? Or is it…different?

I’d say different. I mean, I almost want to tell a zombie story without the zombies. I think we’re kind of one sneeze away from an epidemic at any point in life. We’re so steeped, as far as pop culture goes, in the zombie mythos and zombie stories, and this, to me, is a more grounded, maybe realistic way, at looking at an epidemic. You know, things getting a little oozy and a little vomity and other “ey’s” like…bleedy, gummy, gooey, grossey…But, they’re not zombies. They’re not flesh eaters. They’re not people who want to eat your brains. They’re human beings who just so happened to have contracted this really, really, REALLY bad bug. The flu bug of your nightmares basically.

As you said, and you can definitely see it in within the books, the elements of Lord of the Flies, is there a reason you made that connection? I mean, why that kind of premise and that kind of story?

Well, when I look at college – my personal college experience and other people’s college experiences – there’s a consistency of social hierarchies and I think when you take those social hierarchies, like freshmen, seniors, those kind of archetype characters that we all remember from our own personal college experience, and you peel away or take away certain social schematics like social media or electricity or running water, and what that does to a very closed off society. College is a bubble and if you pop it, all hell is going to break loose.

I can totally see that. So what inspired Charles and Tamara? Or who? Were they inspired by an experience or just your own creation?

I wanted to think in terms of extremes. I viewed them as opposites of one another, and asking who would be the least likely to be friends, who would are the people that you wouldn’t assume would become friends, and then thrust them into a situation that compels them to understand each other, look past their own personal biases or short comings and connect, really connect.

I feel like your first week of school you make friends with people who you pretty much forget and a month later you’re like, “Oh my gosh, who were those people again?” But I think given the scenario that these two are in, they’re trapped together basically, so they really form a bond and a friendship that’s true. I almost wanted to pit them against one another so that they could come together in an honest, genuine friendship.

I know that issue one and two are out, so is there any, like, little sneak peak tidbit you can tell us about future issues to get more people on board? I’m obviously on board – this book is amazing to me.

Umm…bring your hand sanitizer, maybe? Always keep a tissue handy. I mean, issue 1 was really foundational in my mind. We wanted to introduce the characters, introduce you to the world that you’re going into, and just let the dam break. Issue 2 is really where I think all hell starts to break loose and things just get progressively worse. In my mind, if you’ve warmed up to these characters in issue 1, just know that we’re really going to put them through the ringer starting on Page 1.

For my last question, let’s say there’s somebody who maybe doesn’t read this kind of genre, what would you say to them as a “You should pick up this book”?

Well maybe they shouldn’t pick up this book (haha). I’m just going to warn you now, you’re going to be in trouble…or I’m going to be in trouble. But I think for someone who’s kind of tempted, in my mind it’s a very grounded horror comic. I feel like when we think of that genre we think of “slashers” or “monsters” and I really want to look at real people, real characters, and put them in a scenario that could potentially happen and see how bad things could get. I wanted to ground that element of terror in something that felt possible and real.

Clay McLeod Chapman’s Lazaretto can be found at comic book retailers everywhere or at BOOM! Studios’ online store.