What do a conflicted bride, her dysfunctional family, a gang of Elvis-themed crooks, and one relentless sheriff have in common? You'll have read Going to the Chapel to answer those questions.
In the meantime, check out our interview with series writer, David Pepose, to find out what went into creating the wedding from Hell.
Diamond: What were some of your inspirations for Going to the Chapel?
David Pepose: GOING TO THE CHAPEL drew from a lot of inspirations, ranging from Die Hard, Dog Day Afternoon and Point Break to Wedding Crashers, Arrested Development and Bridget Jones’ Diary. It’s the story of Emily Anderson, a wealthy bride with cold feet, whose wedding is taken over by a gang of Elvis-themed bank robbers. But when the Bad Elvis Gang’s smash-and-grab derails into a full-blown standoff with the police, Emily’s going to have to become the unlikely ringleader of her own hostage situation to not just get everyone out in one piece, but to figure out where her own loyalties truly lie. If you’re a fan of books like Sex Criminals, Crowded, The Fix or Assassin Nation, you’re going to find a lot to love about our over-the-top comedy that juggles death-defying action, harrowing heists, dysfunctional families, and the leap of faith that it takes to say “’til death do us part.”
But the real-life inspiration behind GOING TO THE CHAPEL came from my ill-fated turn as best man at my oldest friend’s wedding — the bachelor party I planned was particularly cursed, from the trashed Airbnb to me being hospitalized and missing the whole thing. While I sat in the hospital, I thought to myself, “at least this didn’t happen during the wedding.” But of course, my next thought was, “what if it did?” The idea of some bad guys throwing a wrench in the event felt like a fun way to wed crime and romance, but the idea of the bride having second thoughts felt like a rich dramatic arc. I’ve always felt romantic comedies get a bad rap in pop culture, so by infusing GOING TO THE CHAPEL with action, humor and heart, I think we’re going to be able to show readers that everyone is allowed to enjoy romance stories, and that the genre can be just as flexible as superheroes, crime and sci-fi
Diamond: Given your previous work with Spencer and Locke focusing on detective work, how did you approach writing a series that put considerable focus on the other side of the law?
David Pepose: It’s true what they say — bad guys do have more fun! (Laughs) SPENCER & LOCKE was all about pursuing justice to help right the wrongs of your past, but GOING TO THE CHAPEL gets to examine the desperate circumstances that can drive you to the wrong side of the law. As she grapples with her own mixed feelings, Emily is going to make a surprising decision as she teams up with the Bad Elvis Gang to buy herself some time to think — and perhaps more importantly, her ongoing dynamic with head bank robber Tom is going to really inform how both characters evolve and grow throughout the series.
While writing stories about good guys is often a lot more straightforward, there’s a lot of cool stakes and tension that go into writing stories featuring the bad guys. They’ve got everybody gunning for them! And by having characters like Emily try to navigate all their secrets and try to justify the increasingly convoluted twists and turns they’re being forced to make, it really brings these characters to the edge. And not only that, but by having Emily have to choose between the roguish Tom and her straight-arrow fiancé Jesse, we really get to force these characters to make strong choices — of course, some of them might be extremely terrible choices, which only makes the playing field that much more interesting.
Diamond: What were some of the most fun characters to write in this series?
David Pepose: All of them. When you’re juggling 16 speaking roles and then locking most of them in a single location, you quickly realize that every character has to justify themselves fast! The Bad Elvis Gang, led by charming scoundrel Tom, were a fun bunch to write — they each bring some stylish action and some big laughs to the mix. But Emily’s wedding party really steal the show in every scene — from Emily’s sarcastic mother Francine to her extremely off-color Grandma Harriet, every member of this rich, entitled supporting cast brings a larger-than-life personality that never seems to realize just how much danger they’re really in. Imagine if the Bluth family from Arrested Development was caught in a bank robbery, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good sense of how GOING TO THE CHAPEL is going to go down.
Diamond: How did you develop the Bad Elvis Gang, was it difficult to balance their likeable qualities while still making them a threatening presence for the reader?
David Pepose: The Bad Elvis Gang are like a cross between Quentin Tarantino’s gang of criminal misfits in Reservoir Dogs with the stylishness of Point Break’s Dead Presidents, with a little bit of a goofiness to their swagger that’s a little bit of Edgar Wright. Without giving too much away, one of the most compelling elements of GOING TO THE CHAPEL was to see how the Bad Elvis Gang interacted with their offbeat hostages, and showing how quickly the lines between the two groups might blur. Tom, Vegas, Motown and Romero might all consider themselves to be professionals, so it’s very funny to watch them increasingly lose it as their clueless captives start to run rampant all over the chapel. Our tagline may be “love is the ultimate hostage situation,” but as we’re quickly going to learn, the Anderson family might not be locked away with the Elvises — the Elvises might be locked away with the Andersons.
Diamond: Talk a bit about working with the art team, how did everyone work together to capture the stylized cinematic tone seen in Going to the Chapel?
David Pepose: Artist Gavin Guidry and colorist Elizabeth Kramer have been a real dream team for GOING TO THE CHAPEL. Gavin is like a cross between Jamie McKelvie and Doc Shaner — he’s able to shift seamlessly between stylish action and this wonderfully expressive comedy, and his sense of design for all these various characters is just truly incredible. But what might be most impressive is the way that he and I collaborated to create a fully-rendered, three-dimensional chapel, which Gavin could then manipulate as needed from scene to scene. I think that really kept our action choreography feeling tight, and helped establish the chapel as its own character as well.
Meanwhile, I can’t say enough great things about Liz — she brings such a wonderful sense of texture to every page, and she really did an incredible job at making the palette her own. How often does an action movie get to bring that color scheme of orange, pink and gold? Liz just gives GOING TO THE CHAPEL its own kind of Western-era stylishness. Our letterer, Ariana Maher, also deserves a ton of credit for making the series flow as well as it does, and we’ve got an incredibly stacked bench of cover talent as well, ranging from SPENCER & LOCKE variant artist Maan House to cover artists like Submerged’s Lisa Sterle and Marvel Action: Captain Marvel’s Sweeney Boo. With so many great artists to choose from, readers are going to have a tough time picking out which covers they want for GOING TO THE CHAPEL — so it’s a good thing they can order all three! (Laughs)