There’s a saying that “when the stars align” to create something unexpected it’s usually due to the divine intervention of God. Holy F*ck, released by Action Lab Entertainment’s Danger Zone label, is less an act of God and more like the works of cats and dogs dry-humping each other in the streets while blood rains from the sky. In other words, it’s unexpected but far from holy. In fact, writer Nick Marino and artist Daniel Arruda Massa take aim at just about every religion over the course of Holy F*ck‘s four-issue run and I loved every minute of it.
Jam-packed with nonsecular parody, this book is an explosion of exploitative humor that goes full throttle from beginning to end. To find out just how they did it, I recently sat down—virtually speaking—with the diabolical duo responsible…
Thanks for joining us, guys. Let’s start with something simple—tell us about yourselves.
DANIEL ARRUDA MASSA: I’m Dutch and live in the Netherlands. My first comic was published in a comics mag when I was ten and ever since that moment I’ve been trying to do this thing as a job. More recently I tried my hands on a weekly webcomic called Dead Mondays and trying to get European publishers to publish my gag strip Zombie Hipsters.
NICK MARINO: I’m American and I currently live in Long Beach, CA. I started self-publishing shitty satirical zines in high school. My shitty zines got me into college in Pittsburgh, PA, where I drew comic strips of highly questionable taste and wrote comic book op-eds for the student newspaper. While working a variety of shitty jobs in my 20s, I started making webcomics and self-publishing minicomics (Time Log, Super Haters, et al) while launching a small podcast network called the AudioShocker. All of that led to Holy F*ck, but just how it happened is the answer to another question!
DAM: My parents are quite conservative born-again Christians.
NM: I was raised Roman Catholic because my mom was really into it. She prayed to the saints, hung crucifixes, and made me go to church almost every week… *sighs* sunday school. My dad, on the other hand, didn’t give a shit about religion but he went along with what my mom wanted.
How did the two of you first meet? Is this your first project together?
DAM: This is our first project together. As a matter of fact, as of now Nick and I have never even met in person! We will meet for the first time in person this summer. As we have never met, I am fully prepared for the worst and have accepted the possibility of ending up as a sex slave in a musty basement.
I like that you aim high with your expectations, Daniel.
NM: So that podcast network I mentioned before? A lot of the AudioShocker’s episodes were about making comics. On one of these shows in 2013, I was talking to my buddy Kaylie McDougal about a project I had on the backburner called The Bible 2. I knew I wasn’t up to the task of drawing it, but I figured the idea was too crazy for me to ever find a willing collaborator!
Daniel had been lurking on the AudioShocker site for a while, listening to our ‘casts without commenting, but he left a comment on this episode that basically said “I’d draw The Bible 2.” Within a week, we were working on the opening scene of the book and retooling the plot from the ground up. And, yes, I have every intention of making him a permanent “resident” of my dank underground sex dungeon.
Well, at least we know you’re a straight shooter Nick. So what the f*ck is Holy F*ck?
NM: My original concept for The Bible 2 was “What if Hollywood made an action movie sequel to the The Bible? How would they fuck up the source material and sensationalize the entire concept?” I started developing this in 2010, but the idea kinda fell to the wayside over the next few years until that podcast episode I mentioned. Daniel and I rebuilt the basic concept together, turning the focus more towards outrageous humor and social commentary than direct Hollywood parody.
I went to a WonderCon panel a few weeks ago that said your pitch should always focus on character, so let me try to sum up our finished story that way: “A devout nun named Maria is tested in her faith when she teams up with two horny hedonists — Jesus and Satan — in an effort to prevent a mob of worship-hungry mythological gods from launching the apocalypse.”
Hold up a sec. Not only are Jesus and Satan on the same side—they’re actually lovers, right? The Almighty can be none too pleased about that.
DAM: That dude has some pretty deep issues.
NM: I haven’t had the chance to ask The Almighty, but I think he’d probably be cool with it.
Speaking of Satan, he’s got a very different look than I’ve seen before. What influences or inspiration did you pull from?
DAM: David Cross.
DAM: [Yeah] sometimes when I get stuck in my character design I pretend I’m making a movie and I cast my character. In this case I decided I wanted to go the complete opposite direction of the big J.
NM: I think my only request for Satan was “Can he have a fanny pack?”
Jesus on the other hand seems to have a real Latin Rambo thing going on. Did you rely on any specific references for him?
DAM: Nah not really. I just tried to make him look a bit Israeli.
NM: I think my only request for Jesus was “Can he be an Arab Jew?”
He seems to be pretty damn near indestructible. I mean, he survives a nuclear explosion, naked—are there any limits to his power? Any hidden weaknesses?
NM: I hesitate to answer this question because it’s a big part of our upcoming sequel, Holy F*cked.
Fair enough. So having read all 4 issues there’s one scene that definitely sticks out in my mind as one of the most outrageous. Any guesses what it might be?
DAM: Ehm… the one with the mirror one the wall?
NM: The scene where Super-Jesus kills Galactus and rides a magical goat unicorn into the center of the sun, emerging from the other side as a Mega-Super-Voltron-Jesus mecha being piloted by the Twelve Apostles?
NM: Oh yeah, I could see the missile f*cking being the apex of the craziness. Ya know, I kinda lose objective perspective on the project after I spend so much time working on it.
It’s pretty obvious that this book doesn’t pull any punches. Were there any lines, artistically or narratively, you weren’t willing to cross?
DAM: In this book I decided I didn’t feel like drawing penises. I have addressed this flaw in my personality and I am compensating for this oversight.
NM: I think the title of the book is the only thing that I willingly censored. And even that wasn’t enough because Diamond asked our publisher to put a CENSORED bar over our logo! But objectively speaking, I don’t think Holy F*ck is that wild compared to old school underground comics or some of the biting editorial cartoons out there right now, so I feel like we only toed the line of outrageousness.
You mentioned a sequel earlier, is there already a new Holy F*ck mini-series in the works or have you both moved on to different projects?
DAM: We are working on a new miniseries! I’ve also been working on a collection of my Zombie Hipsters strips that should be coming out through a Dutch publisher any day now, a graphic novel thingy, and Nick and I have been working on some side stuff together as well.
NM: Holy F*cked is another four issue miniseries coming later this year from Action Lab: Danger Zone! We’re currently finishing up the third issue of that. Plus, Daniel and I are shopping around a new project—which shall go unnamed—to publishers right now and it’s potentially even more outrageous and incendiary than Holy F*ck… mostly because it satirizes an archetypical relationship near and dear to many comic book readers out there.
I also have a graphic novel nearing completion—which too shall go unnamed—that I’m making with my friend Nils-Petter Norlin. We don’t have a publisher yet, but it’s very different in tone from Holy F*ck… it’s a coming-of-age tale about three young super-villains and the story is aimed at a wider age range of readers. Oh, and I finally finished my ultra-lo-fi stick figure cat epic called Stick Cats, but I have no goddamn idea how I want to release it!
Alright fellas, I’m almost afraid to ask, but… what’s the strangest thing you can remember doing as a kid?
DAM: Drinkin’ mah own pee.
NM: Drinking Daniel’s pee. Don’t judge me, okay?! It has a surprisingly light and refreshing flavor.