[Continuing our Dynamite sponsored series of peer-to-peer interviews, Jim Zub interviews writer Brandon Kerwa about Vampirella #35]
ZUB: When did you first come across Vampirella? Do you remember the first story you read or any particular aspects of the character that stood out?
JERWA: It was almost certainly around 1979 or ’80, so I would have been around 7 or 8 years old. I was really into comics, and I was starting to get into classic horror, thanks to a show called CREATURE FEATURE. There were shows like it all across the country; I grew up in Kansas, so my local version was from Kansas City.
I distinctly remember seeing Vampi, in black-and-white, at an early age. I couldn’t even tell you what the story was. Maybe I was the exception, but I feel confident in saying that I was enjoying the weirdness of the story, rather than just being drawn in by the sexy leading lady. I was sort of obsessed with monsters and the supernatural at an early age, and I’ll never forget moving into a house on 8th Street in Junction City, Kansas, and discovering that someone had written BEWARE OF VAMPIRES in drippy red ink, with small letters, on an interior wall of our garage.
This was definitely the same house where I started watching monster movies, and where I would discover Vampirella.
ZUB: Who are your favorite secondary characters in Vampirella?
Shortly after I learned I’d be taking over the series from Eric Trautmann, I found myself at a big comic dinner in Portland, and Kurt Busiek was there. Kurt and I are friends, and he’s just one of my favorite people to talk to in the world. He had done his fair share of Vampirella work, so I told him the news, and asked if he had any advice.
He pointed me in the direction of the Space Medics: Starpatch, Quark, and Mother Blitz. They were only in a few of the old magazine adventures, but they were favorites of Kurt’s. Once I tracked down the issues and read them, they quickly became favorites of mine, and helped open my mind up to the spacy, more cosmic aspects of Vampirella’s world. This would become very key to the proceedings as I started to forge my overall story for the book.
As the clock winds down on my run, however, I have found that my favorite supporting character is Lilith, Vampirella’s mother. She has bounced from hero to villain and back again, but I think she’s an absolutely amazing character, and I’m happy with what I’ve done with her.
Dear Dynamite, I’d like to write a Lilith series, please!
ZUB: What’s your favorite thing you’ve added to Vampirella in your run on the comic series?
JERWA: I think it’s that cosmic aspect I mentioned earlier. Playing heavily on the notion of Chaos versus Order, predestination, the delicate fabric of time and reality – those are all concepts that have been a part of the character’s history; I just brought them to the forefront. I love having this strong female “horror” character who has a legion of allies that range from armored hardcore Warriors of God, to completely bizarre aliens tooling around in giant flying saucers.
That’s the beauty of Vampirella, as a character: She can be so many different things, and they’re all legitimate parts of her overall makeup. Eric Trautmann had a sophisticated monster-hunting spy motif, under the shadow of a sinister Vatican oversight group; I was able to dovetail out of that, and make a (hopefully) pretty natural hard-right into a prophetic, cosmic-defender riff.
ZUB: Are you a horror movie fan? If so, any recent favorites that come to mind?
JERWA: I am definitely a horror fan, but my tastes tend to run backwards, to 70s and 80s films. That’s not to say that there aren’t any good modern horror films – I like Zombieland, Mama, Shaun of the Dead, and The Ring, to name a few – but I’ll take Halloween, The Lost Boys, or some moody Hammer horror over any of that.
ZUB: I find that some writers use a lot of ‘structure’ while others approach their stories very ‘organically’. How much story/page planning do you do before you start scripting?
I’ll outline the overall story arc, and even go so far as to concoct a rough page breakdown, but I always try to leave myself some room to let the story show me what it needs while I’m writing it. You have to know the beginning and ending…but I think there’s something to be said for leaving space to play around in the middle.
Fabiano Neves Cover
Lucio Parrillo Cover
Writer: Brandon Jerwa
Artist: Heubert Khan Michael
[Jim Zub is a writer, artist and art instructor based in Toronto, Canada. Over the past ten years he’s worked for a diverse array of publishing, movie and video game clients including Disney, Warner Bros., Capcom, Hasbro, Bandai-Namco and Mattel.
His current comic projects include Samurai Jack, a new comic series continuing the award-winning cartoon, Skullkickers, a sword & sorcery action-comedy, and Pathfinder, a comic series based on the best selling tabletop RPG.]
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.