[Writer.editor Mariah Huehner is no stranger to vampires, having written a few issues of True Blood fro IDW. Thus when the opportunity to review esteemed horror author nancy A Collins came up, who better to get the scoop on the new Vampirella?]
Nancy A. Collins, the highly acclaimed and prolific horror novelist behind Sunglasses After Dark and Vamps, is returning to comics with Dynamite’s new VAMPIRELLA ongoing comics. Celebrating the character’s 45th anniversary this year, the opening arc, “Our Lady of Shadows” promises to be an exciting new chapter in this iconic characters story.
And who better to talk about Vampirella’s next quest than the author herself? Here’s what Nancy has to say about everyone’s favorite comic book vamp.
HUEHNER: Great to chat with you Nancy, even via email. First off, the most obvious question: what attracted you to Vampirella as a character that you just had to pen this new comic?
NANCY COLLINS: Well, to tell you the truth, she kind of fell in my lap. Gail Simone initially contacted me about doing a Red Sonja short story for the LEGENDS OF RED SONJA 40th anniversary mini-series for Dynamite. Luckily, the editorial team was a huge fan of my run on SWAMP THING, back in the 1990s, which lead to me pitching a Red Sonja one-shot to Nick. And that resulted in Nick asking if there were any of Dynamite’s characters I’d like to write. I named a few–including DARK SHADOWS–but not Vampirella, because I knew there was a monthly series already in place. So I was surprised when Nick offered me the book–contingent on a proposal, which turned out to be OUR LADY OF SHADOWS.
I used to read VAMPIRELLA back when it was a black & white magazine, back when I was a young teen. The chance to write for one of the handful of iconic female characters from my youth was too good to pass up!
HUEHNER: As a horror fan and writer, what do you think draws people to vampires and stories of the dark and weird?
COLLINS: Vampires are versatile monsters. Depending on the writer (and reader), they can represent the romanticism of Undying Love, the toxicity of the Demon Lover, the parasitism of the Ruling Class, the demonization of The Other in society–I can keep going with the analogies.
As for what draws people to such stories–I believe horror fiction (which exists in some form throughout the world) serves a purpose, in that it enables readers to experience the darkness that is part of human nature without exposing them to true danger, not unlike a thrill ride in a carnival.
HUEHNER: Vampirella has such an iconic, unique, look, established by noted herstorian Trina Robbins. Obviously she’s incredibly sexy, but there’s more to her than that.What do you think her most important character traits are?
COLLINS: Her sense of purpose–to save the world and keep Humanity safe, no matter what the cost–is probably her most identifiable character trait.
HUEHNER: What elements are you retaining from her history (if any)?
COLLINS: I’m keeping elements from the Harris run–such as her being the daughter of Lilith, as opposed to being from a planet of vampires–and the fact that she has, at least during her Dynamite incarnation, been recently working with a covert arm of the Vatican to fight monsters and try to avert the Apocalypse. I will also be reintroducing characters from the Warren continuity, albeit re-tooled for a modern readership and to fit into the existing history.
HUEHNER: Since your story has Vampirella working for the Vatican, and her history has included everything from being the daughter of Lilith to dealing with gods of Chaos, will there be a lot of religious and spiritual themes in this story?
COLLINS: I wouldn’t call the storylines we’ll be seeing as having a religious theme, although they might feature characters from biblical pseudepigrapha–unless you consider TV shows such as SUPERNATURAL ‘religious’.
HUEHNER: For those not familiar with the character, what should people know about Vampirella before getting into your story? Or would you say this is a great place fornew readers to jump in?
COLLINS: I think the OUR LADY OF SHADOW arc is as good a “jumping-in” point as any.
HUEHNER: Sex and vampires has become almost a cliché at this point, but we never seem to get tired of it as an audience. Vampirella has a lot of sexual powers, is it something you feel like she struggles with or embraces?
COLLINS: Sexuality and the undead have a long history. Especially since DRACULA is often interpreted as a parable about the spread of syphilis in Victorian society. As for Vampirella, readers will get to see her use her seductive powers for both good and bad.
HUEHNER: As a “good” vampire, Vampirella has to deal with people’s perceptions and assumptions of her, many of which are not true. Since this story will be taking a darker approach, can we expect more of that tension for her as her story progresses?
COLLINS: It’s very easy to portray her as a superheroine with fans, as opposed to a vampire. I want to recapture some of the moral ambiguity that was part of the character in the early Warren years by expanding Vampirella’s definitions of what is (and isn’t) “Good” and “Evil”, and forcing her to rethink her place in both human and vampire society.
HUEHNER: Can we expect some romance in Vampirella’s new adventures?
COLLINS: I have plans for a new beau for her–but I don’t foresee resurrecting Adam Van Helsing yet again.
HUEHNER: What will audiences be seeing from your Vampirella that they haven’t before?
COLLINS: You’re going to be seeing Vampirella making alliances she never dreamed of in the past–as well as taking on responsibilities she never intended to, as a result of that decision, that will refine her world.
HUEHNER: With Dynamite tackling great characters like Red Sonja and Vampirella, engaging female characters with complicated pasts, sexual appetites, and conflicts between good and evil, are you having a lot of fun getting to explore these elements on your own terms?
COLLINS: You betcha! Nick, Joe and Molly at Dynamic Forces have been extremely supportive and are giving me a great deal of creative freedom to work with the character. I’m having a lot of fun writing for the book.
HUEHNER: Finally, if there’s one thing for people to get excited about this new take on Vampirella and her story, what would it be?
COLLINS: In order to save the world, Vampirella throws down against some of the rarest vampires in the world. These ain’t your Daddy’s dracklers, y’all!
VAMPIRELLA: OUR LADY OF SHADOWS is one sale in comics shops in JUNE
Main Cover: Terry Dodson
Variant Cover: Jenny Frison
Variant Cover: Art Adams
Variant Cover: Jay Anacleto
Variant Cover: Joe Jusko
Writer: Nancy A. Collins
Art: Patrick Berkenkotter
Genre: Horror, Fantasy
Publication Date: Jun 2014