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Stephen Bissette, Joe R. Lansdale, Steve Niles, Gail Simone And More

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  • Stephen Bissette, Joe R. Lansdale, Steve Niles, Gail Simone And More

    Stephen Bissette, Joe R. Lansdale, Steve Niles, Gail Simone And More – Nancy Collins Talks Vampirella: Feary Tales

    With the recently announced Vampirella: Feary Tales, Byron Brewer caught up with writer Nancy Collins to talk about the new project and how it fits in with the overall scheme of the classic horror icon.

    BYRON BREWER: Nancy, what was it like to pick and choose the talent that is putting together this all-star salute to one of Dynamite’s signature characters? Tell us about the writing talents assembled for this five-issue miniseries.

    NANCY COLLINS: It was a real blast. I actually contacted several writers besides the ones listed, knowing we would run into schedule constraints along the line and that not everyone I wanted to work on the project might be available or interested. Most of the writers involved are people I consider personal friends or have had working relationships that go back decades. As for who’s on board, I’ll handle things alphabetically, as that might be the easiest way to go:

    Stephen R. Bissette is one of my dearest friends as well as a fellow Swamp Thing creator. Although best known for his award-winning artwork on the classic Alan Moore run of Saga of the Swamp Thing and his creator-owned Tyrant, he is also a gifted writer (he won the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for Long Fiction for his novella “Aliens: Tribes”) and published the groundbreaking horror comic anthology Taboo. As well as being a tireless advocate for creator rights, he is also one of the leading authorities on the history of horror comics.

    Devin Grayson is best known for her work on DC’s Nightwing, Batman: Gotham Knights, Catwoman and Teen Titans, as well as Marvel’s Black Widow and X-Men: Evolution. I made her acquaintance during the pre-production of Dynamite’s Legends of Red Sonja miniseries, and decided she was a natural choice for a Vampirella story.

    Joe R. Lansdale is also another old & dear friend. Comics fans know him for his work on DC’s Jonah Hex and Batman: The Animated Series, but he’s also an award-winning novelist, and has had his work adapted into more than one film. The Sundance Channel has announced it will be airing a series based on his Hap & Leonard suspense novels. Keith Lansdale is Joe’s son, and I’ve known him since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. Keith is a newspaper reporter and screenwriter, having adapted his father’s Christmas With The Dead (2012).

    Elaine Lee is best known as the writer of the long-lived, seminal science fiction comic Starstruck, which she co-created with artist Michael Kaluta. She’s also known for her work on the Vertigo title Vamps, DC’s Ragman, and Marvel’s SaintSinner and Prince Valiant. She’ also a professional actress and was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for her role on the soap opera The Doctors. As one of the few female writers producing comics in the early 1980s, she was a huge influence and inspiration to me, and I was thrilled, years later, when we finally met and became friends.

    Stuart Moore has worked on Marvel’s Namor: The First Mutant, DC’s Firestorm and Teshkeel Comics’ The 99. Stuart was my editor when I worked on Swamp Thing for DC and, before that, was an editor for St. Martin’s Press, where he worked on a Freddy Krueger anthology I contributed to. Now—ha-ha!—the tables are turned!

    Steve Niles is best known for his IDW vampire comic turned movie 30 Days of Night, as well as Simon Dark, The Creeper, & Batman: Gotham County Line for DC, and Criminal Macabre for Dark Horse. His most current work is Dynamite’s Evil Dead-based Ash series and IDW’s Frankenstein Alive!

    Denis St. John is a graduate of the Center of Cartoon Studies and a protégé of artist Stephen R. Bissette. His works include Monster Pie and Monsters & Girls.

    John Shirley is an award-winning science fiction/horror novelist and one of the creators of the Cyberpunk genre, as well as a professional screenwriter. Comics fans may best know him as the co-screenwriter for the original The Crow (1994) starring Brandon Lee. He also provided scripts for such TV series as Timecop, Max Headroom, VR5, Batman Beyond, Star Trek: DS9, and Iron Man: Armored Adventures.

    Gail Simone is best known for her work on DC’s Secret Six, Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey, Batgirl, Marvel’s Deadpool, and Dynamite’s Red Sonja, not to mention coining the term ‘Women in Refrigerators’. I’ve known Gail from before she started working for Bongo’s Simpsons comics, and was pleased to see how well she had done for herself. She then reached out to me last year to write a story for Dynamite’s Legends of Red Sonja mini-series, to celebrate the character’s 40th birthday, which eventually lead to me ending up taking over the writing chores on Vampirella. I decide to return the favor when it came time to celebrate Vampi’s 45th birthday!

    Eric Trautman got his start working for Microsoft and has since branched out to DC’s Action Comics, Checkmate, JSA vs. Kobra, and Dynamite’s Lady Rawhide. He was also the first writer to script Vampirella after she became a Dynamite character and created the whole Vampi-working-for-the-Vatican angle.

    BB: And the artists, both interiors and covers?

    NC: I don’t know who the artists are on the various stories in advance, or the cover artists—that’s being handled by Dynamite, not me— but I do know that Jack Jadson has been assigned to illustrate my frameworks each issue and my “Sleeping Beauty” story, which will conclude the series. Jadson is from Brazil and he has penciled Dynamite’s Red Sonja: Unchained and Warriors of Mars, and was an inker on DC’s Checkmate, Teen Titans, Birds of Prey and Justice League: Generation Lost. So far he’s done a great job realizing the trippy visuals I’ve scripted for the inter-connecting framework in each issue of Feary Tales.

    BB: This mini almost seems like a homage to the original Warren magazines. Tell us about that.

    NC: It is a tribute to the original Warren Publications horror mags. I used to read Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella every month from Junior High up to when I left for college. In fact, I read all the black & white comics magazines of the day—Tomb of Dracula, Psycho, Haunt of Horror, etc. Vampirella:Feary Tales was conceived as a fond tip-of-the-hat to that era on behalf of me and those writers collaborating on the series who are of “a certain age”.

    BB: Tell us about the concept of this mini and how Vampirella becomes a “Storyteller.”

    NC: The framework for the story has Vampirella being trapped inside a mysterious book of ‘Feary Tales’, where familiar children’s stories have been given a macabre spin. The “Storyteller” is actually a disembodied voice that taunts and torments Vampirella with excruciatingly bad puns while informing her that the only way to escape back to the “real” world is to survive each Feary Tale until she reaches its ‘happily ever after’. Needless to say, what passes for ‘happy’ in this world can be downright gruesome.

    BB: Can you tell us just some of the adventures in which Vampi finds herself?

    NC: She’s going to meet Bluebeard (Devin Grayson), and she’ll have to deal with Cinderella’s Evil Stepmother & Stepsisters (John Shirley), as well as Snow White’s (Stephen R. Bissette & Denis St. John). There’s also a mermaid waiting in the wings (Gail Simone), as well as a certain Big Bad Wolf (Joe R. Lansdale & Keith Lansdale). I don’t what to let too many cats out of the bag on the way to St. Ives, but I will say that there’s an extra-special birthday surprise in store for Vampi at the end of the series.

    BB: How does it feel to work with such a vested character on the occasion of her 45th anniversary?

    NC: It’s been fun. I’ve especially enjoyed seeing other writers’ take on the character.

    BB: Might we see any of these “feary tales” find their way into Vampi’s regular title, which you write?

    NC: See my earlier statement about ‘extra-special birthday surprise’. As for continuity, the events in Vampirella: Feary Tales take place between issues #6 and #7 in the ongoing series.

    BB: Finally, Nancy, I understand #1 contains a story called “Cinderella? Vampirella!” by John Shirley, award-winning horror and science fiction author, and screenwriter for the 1994 cult classic film, The Crow). How did this come about?

    NC: I’ve known John for over 25 years. In fact, he was my mentor. I was an admirer of his early cyberpunk work in the 1970s – 1980s and wrote him a fan letter—we ended up corresponding. He asked to see some of my writing and effectively tutored me through the mail, resulting in my first novel, Sunglasses After Dark. Contacting him about writing a story for the mini-series was a no-brainer.

    For more on Vampirella: Feary Tales #1, click here.
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