A webcomic created by two South Philly natives has been nominated for a prestigious comics industry award.
Black Cherry Bombshells, masterminded by Johnny Zito and Tony Trovarello, is in the running for Best Online Comics Work at The Harvey Awards. Voting ends next month, and the awards will be presented at the Baltimore Comic-Con in October.
"We’re against some fantastic talent in our category," Zito said. "It’s an honor to be compared to them in such a positive light."
In the comic, the Black Cherry Bombshells are a gang of "ultra-violent" women, led by the fearless Regina and ex-magician Megan, who battle flesh-eating male zombies in Las Vegas. Their nemesis: A woman known simply as "The King."
The all-female cast was a deliberate choice.
"We’d only ever written men," Trovello says. "The women were always the girlfriend or the mother and it got pretty boring. When we tried to make the lead a female we encountered the same kind of stereotypes creeping in and slowing down the adventure. So we figured the best way to showcase women and female personalities was to get rid of all the men."
"And nothing wipes out half the population like a good ol’ fashion zombie plague," says Zito.
Though set in Vegas, Philadelphia is the inspiration for much of their material.
"Coming up next year we’re introducing the mysterious North East Beast," says Trovarello. "Even the look and the characters are inspired by Roller Girls. Our leads are all tough, tattooed and come equipped with pun-tastic names like Pipi Von Pow, Slamazon and Penny Slain."
The pair are published online by Zuda Comics, the web imprint of DC Comics. Zuda lets comic authors submit pitches -- and readers vote for their favorites. The most popular entries are continued as a series. Once DC started accepting submissions in fall 2008, "we put a pitch together and hit them immediately," Zito says.
Their online gamble has paid off. Black Cherry Bombshells is scheduled to come out in deadwood sometime in 2010. With the Harvey nod, both see the possibilties of future projects.
"Our ultimate goal is to produce a film in Philadelphia some day," says Zito.
"Best crews in the world work out of Philly," Trov adds. "Hollywood and Bollywood are coming here for the talent and we hope to dip our toes in that pool too."