Anyone who has dipped their toes in the waters of fandom know that, on the whole, it’s a welcoming group of people, willing to embrace new fans and share their mutual pop culture loves. However, sadly, we also know that there are a small but vocal minority of folks populating fandoms that can only be described as toxic, who feel that they have ownership of a particularly movie or book or TV show.

Joshua Viola, Denver Post bestselling writer, and Bram Stoker Award-winning author Stephen Graham Jones, along with artist Ben Matsuya, tackle this topic in their high-engaging, turn-twisting horror mash-up True Believers from Hex Publishers. In True Believers, cosplayers go too far with their fandom, taking on the persona of a slasher killer named Killr™ that was the focus of a cult-classic film. As the story progresses in the midst of horror con, these “true believers,” as they call themselves, grapple with the harsh realities of their actions. And in addition to the creative team and hook of the tale, True Believers features a bevy of cameos from some of horror’s most well-known icons, from Jamie Lee Curtis to Devon Sawa to Jeffrey Reddick and more!

The Kickstarter for issue 2 of True Believers just launched yesterday, already more than reaching its funding goal. I spoke with Mr. Viola recently about the conceit of True Believers, where we find the characters in issue 2, why he chose to focus on cosplay and horror for the book, the Kickstarter itself, and writing for some of the biggest horror icons in history.


TRUE BELIEVERS #2 Cover A by Ben Matsuya


FreakSugar: For folks not familiar with the comic, what can you tell us about True Believers?

Joshua Viola: True Believers explores toxic fandom as some cosplayers, proudly labeling themselves as “true believers,” take on the persona of Killr™, a bone-chilling slasher character born from a cult-favorite short film. Set at the Colorado Festival of Horror, the story unfolds amidst the festivities, entangling cosplayers in a slasher mystery that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. Their unwavering devotion to Killr™ forces them to confront the dark consequences of their obsession. Each issue unfolds at the con in a different year with a unique approach, balancing moody seriousness with a lot of fun and humor.

FS: Where do we find the cast in issue #2 of True Believers?

JV: A year has passed since the events of the first issue. Killr™ returns to the Colorado Festival of Horror in cosplay form, with a new mystery of who lurks behind the mask. Readers will also meet KK, a troubled teen with a passion for the macabre. Despite her reluctance, KK’s mom insists she help prepare for the con, leading KK to stumble upon a group of teens hatching a nefarious scheme at the convention. Enter Killr™. And this time, the body count and bloodlust are ramped up to 11.


TRUE BELIEVERS #2 Cover C by Skinner


FS: Several famous faces will appear in issue 2. What’s it like writing for icons like Jamie Lee Curtis?

JV: Mind-blowing, to be honest. I still can’t believe this all worked out. Jamie actually appeared in issue 1 (which is available in our current campaign) alongside Jeffrey Reddick (Final Destination) and R.L. Stine. We kept that a secret with only our backers until now. Issue 2 features Trivium’s Matt Heafy, along with a 30-minute original score that he composed, GWAR, and actor Devon Sawa. We’re currently lining up other big names for the third issue now. It’s been an incredible honor to be working with all of them. The fact that Jamie, the first person we reached out to, gave us her blessing to include her in the book is just out of this world. I’m still pinching myself. And she, along with everyone else, has just been so cool and gracious about the whole thing. We can’t thank them enough.

FS: You’re co-writing the book with Stephen Graham Jones and artist Ben Matsuya. What is the collaboration process like with the creative team?

JV: It’s been an incredible journey; we’ve been at it for a little over a year now. We’ve developed a nice, smooth process, and it’s just been a blast of creativity. Currently, I’m working with Ben to finalize the art for issue 2 (we’re about halfway there), while Stephen and I are deep in writing draft 2 of issue 3.

FS: What’s your experience with fan conventions and cosplay? There are so many facets to explore of the workings and people that make up various fan communities.

JV: Since college, I’ve been attending cons, but solely as an exhibitor. I’ve never been on the other side as a fan, but it’s something I’d love to experience some day. My perspective comes from working my booth, trying to engage attendees with what I’m doing, hoping they’ll connect with it. True Believers feels like a therapy session for the wild and varied experiences of cons—the good, the bad, and the downright bizarre.


TRUE BELIEVERS #2 Cover E by Luigi Scarcella


FS: What are some of your favorite horror and slasher tales?

JV: The original Scream is hands down one of my favorite films (hey Neve Campbell, we’d love to feature you in True Believers!). And I think it’s Stephen’s favorite movie of all time. Obviously, Halloween is a must for any slasher lover. But I also have a soft spot for lesser-known titles like The Final Girls, as well as those that really embrace humor like Happy Death Day.

FS: On to the Kickstarter itself, what can you tell us about the rewards available to backers?

JV: The rewards are truly incredible! We’re offering six variant covers for issue 2, along with limited variants of issue 1 featuring Jamie Lee Curtis and R.L. Stine covers. For Jamie’s cover, I’ll be matching the funds raised and donating them to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles care of her charity, My Hand In Yours. Additionally, we have a 30-minute original score composed by Matt Heafy of the Grammy-nominated band Trivium, available in the form of a saw-blade vinyl and cassette tape. Other exciting rewards include a Matt Heafy-signed Les Paul Custom guitar, signed GWAR skateboard deck and drumsticks, latex masks, prop shears, original art, and even an opportunity to get drawn into issue 3, among others!


TRUE BELIEVERS #2 Cover F – Devon Sawa Variant by Matthew Therrien


FS: What are you reading right now?

JV: Honestly, I’ve been swamped with work reading lately. Currently, I’m serving as executive producer alongside Slash of Guns N’ Roses on the Deathstalker reboot film directed by Steven Kostanski, as well as EP on Deathgasm 2. Most of my reading time is consumed by scripts for various film and graphic novel projects. While I haven’t had much time for leisure reading lately, I’m looking forward to diving into Stephen’s The Angel of Indian Lake when I get the chance.

FS: Do you have any other projects down the pike you’d like to discuss?

JV: There are numerous projects I’d love to discuss, but I can’t reveal much at the moment. There’s a slew of movie, graphic novel, and video game projects in the pipeline, many of which will be announced soon. But I can share that this summer I have a new novella titled Stolen Pallor, co-written with Sean Eads, set for release from Blood Bound Books. Additionally, there’s a short story collection, Midnight Vintage, also penned with Sean, slated for release by Crystal Lake Entertainment next year.



FS: If you had a final pitch for the book, what would it be?

JV: True Believers isn’t just a comic—it’s a multimedia experience that immerses you in the twisted world of slasher horror. It offers compelling characters, celebrity cameos from horror luminaries, original music, collectible masks for cosplay, and more. I think True Believers transcends the page to deliver an unforgettable journey into the dark heart of horror fandom.

The Kickstarter for True Believers #2 is live and, as of the publishing of this article, has met its funding goal more than five times over, with more than 22 days left and so much swag available! Any fan of horror, comics and cons will want to check out this unique, layered book!

From the official press release:

Some of the biggest names in horror — iconic actress Jamie Lee Curtis, the band GWAR, bestselling novelist R.L. Stine, screenwriter and film director Jeffrey Reddick (Final Destination), musician Matthew Kiichi Heafy, actor Devon Sawa, and the characters from the cult horror film Deathgasm — will make cameo appearances in TRUE BELIEVERS, a gripping and grisly new comic book mini-series co-written by bestselling Bram Stoker Award-winner Stephen Graham Jones and Denver Post bestselling writer Joshua Viola, featuring artwork by Ben Matsuya. The three-issue series, which delves into the world of cosplay and fan conventions, is set at the Colorado Festival of Horror. A Kickstarter campaign for the second issue features lettering by Jeremiah Lambert and variant covers by Matthew Therrien, Skinner, GWAR’s Matt Maguire, Luigi Scarcella of Half Sumo, and Ben Matsuya, as well as all-new, limited edition variant covers featuring Jamie Lee Curtis and R.L. Stine and Deathgasm by Therrien.

In TRUE BELIEVERS #2, a year has passed since the harrowing events of issue 1, which introduced readers to the bone-chilling slasher character, Killr™. Now a mysterious new figure emerges, adopting the enigmatic Killr™ persona—but is it just another obsessive fan or a new threat on the horizon? Brace yourself for a rollercoaster of suspense and humor with a fresh ensemble of characters. With new mysteries, hilarious gags, and an extra dose of blood, issue 2 promises a thrilling ride for both seasoned fans and newcomers alike.

“We’re incredibly honored to have iconic Scream Queen — Jamie Lee Curtis — featured in our slasher tale,” said Joshua Viola. “As a special treat for fans, we’re offering limited Jamie Lee Curtis variant covers by Matthew Therrien. But it’s more than just a cool cover. For every purchase of her variant, I will personally match that amount and donate it to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, in support of Jamie’s charity, My Hand In Yours. Your contribution to the campaign will make a significant difference in the lives of critically ill & injured children.”

“Nothing better than being at a horror convention, and the Colorado Festival of Horror does it right,” Stephen Graham Jones says. “Only thing better might be . . . I don’t know. Maybe being there and feeling like you’re walking through the panels of a slasher comic book?”

Rewards for the project include a 30 minute original score crafted by lead vocalist and guitarist of the Grammy-nominated band Trivium, Matthew Kiichi Heafy (available in limited blood-red saw-blade vinyls and cassette tapes), a Friday the 13th-inspired samurai latex mask donned by Heafy in the comic, Killr™ prop shears by Oktober Studios, a signed Matt Heafy Les Paul™ custom guitar, signed GWAR skate deck and drumsticks, and more.

For updates, follow Hex Publishers on X and Facebook. To support the project, visit Kickstarter.