Interview with Rodney Barnes, writer of Killadelphia

by Jay Hill on May 24, 2020

this interview was done in conjunction with CTG writer, Wes Greer

Hi Rodney, and thanks for joining us here at Comics: The Gathering. We here at CTG have been thoroughly enjoying Killadelphia and are excited to get more understanding of the thought that went into writing it.
Where are you from and where do you currently live?
I’m from Annapolis, Maryland and I currently live in Los Angeles, California.
What was early life like for you growing up?
Quiet. I was an only child, so I spent a lot of time reading (books and comics) and playing sports.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Was there something else you wanted to do first?
I always had a relationship with words. An 8th grade journalism teacher told me I had talent in regards to writing so he planted a seed in my head for a future occupation.
Did you go to school for writing or acting?
I attended Howard University and studied communications.
Have you always had a passion for comics or was it something you got into later in life?
I’ve loved comics for as long as I can remember. My first memories of reading comics were in the public library when I was 5 or 6 years old.
How did you decide to try your hand at comic books vs. writing for TV and movies?
I started writing television in 2000 on the show My Wife and Kids​. Three years ago, I decided to take a crack at writing comics.
You made a name for yourself in the world of television before your foray into comics, which I understand you’ve had a lifelong love for. How have you found creating stories in this medium as compared to writing for television?
Comics were initially tough. My first assignment for Marvel (The Falcon) was a lesson for sure. I had to basically start over and learn the basics of graphic storytelling. I’m still learning, but it’s an exciting ride.
How did you start writing Killadelphia​​, ie., the “drawing board” process from ideas, characters, themes, locations, etc.?
I’ve had the idea since I was 8 years old in one form or another. It evolved as I got older and added elements and layers to it.
What was the process of getting Killadelphia from your mind to a published comic book?
I pitched it to Jason Shawn Alexander, who dug it. I wrote a pitch document and we submitted it to Image Comics. They said “yes.”
Why Image Comics?
I’m a fan of the company.
One aspect of Killadelphia that works so well is the balance of a grounded, real feel to the characters and environment that is juxtaposed by the supernatural happenings of the story. Do you think your experience writing stories that eventually have to involve live actors may have helped or influenced the way you’re able to keep everything feeling “real?”
I’d say the overall practice of writing every day helped. I had a clear idea of the story I wanted to tell, it’s just a matter of sitting down and telling it.
When creating this story, how important was it for you to not only develop an African-American lead character, but also portray the culture correctly in a world that really is not as diverse as most?
I just wanted to tell an honest story and portray the characters and their respective cultures in an honest way.
How has it felt having that character embraced by fans of all backgrounds as well as fans of that same culture?
It always feels good whenever folks appreciate your work.
How did you come to partner with Jason Shawn Alexander as the artist for your script? Any reason you went with him vs. someone else?
We’ve been friends for a while and I love his work.
The art team of Jason Shawn Alexander & Luis NCT is also a big factor in that grounded feel. How do you feel about the more “compact” collaboration of producing comics which involves far fewer people than a filmed/acted production?
There’s more freedom in comics which helps to balance the busy world of film and television.
And, with the feel of realism already there and your business connections, do you see Killadelphia​ making a leap to the screen, big or small?
The book has been optioned for television.
There is no question what goes on in your version of Philly is weird, but current times are giving that weirdness a run for its money. Do you think our current situation makes events like the ones in Killadelphia​      ​ (a corrupt president leading a bloodthirsty cult) easier to understand?
Possibly. That’s not my intent, though. Just trying to tell a good story. No agenda.
Has our current environment affected you creatively, maybe given you inspiration?
Not really. I’m sad for the folks that hurt in the world. Both economically and those directly affected by the virus.
The social ideas in the series sometimes act as an invisible backbone. Did you start with that in mind from the outset or perhaps did crafting the story show you how ripe an outlet this seemingly inconspicuous premise could be?
Everything was planned.
Killadelphia’s characters are a huge draw to the book. James Sangster Sr. and Jr.’s relationship is being delved into nicely, along with the many other characters who shine. Is there anyone you’d like to explore more of in the future, or, given that some of these characters are over 100 years old, are there any past events you’d like to visit? Speaking personally, the brief glimpse of Brittany’s history we were given was quite interesting.
In future arcs of Killadelphia, the plan is to dig further into history; different periods and different circumstances.
With Vampires existing in this world already, is there a chance we may see different monsters or creatures in the future?

With issue 6 ending the first story arc, where can fans expect the story to go next?
Abigail Adams is taking her crack at the helm of things. If I said more, I’d be giving it away.
Anything you would like to say to your readers during this time?
Only that I truly appreciate their support.
And my favorite thing to ask creators, Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Hopefully still writing and making things.

Thank you once again for taking this time Rodney. Issue #6 of Killadelphia is set to be released June 10th by Image Comics; Issues #1-5 are currently available digitally on
. Image Comics has also made issue #1 free to read on their official site. And, you can check out our review of the most recent issue here.