Sitting down to describe Larry Hama’s career it a pretty overwhelming task. Do you talk about his start in comics at the age of 16, his service in Vietnam, his work as a penciller in comics, or his tremendous writing output, spanning decades? Add to that the fact that this all creates a composite portrait of a renaissance man from artist, to soldier, to writer. Throw in acting and music and you might be getting closer to the big picture. One of his most familiar writing projects has been G.I. JOE from Marvel Comics for over a decade, returning in IDW’s imprint of G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO in 2010. Not surprisingly, it’s writing that Hama wants to talk about these days, particularly, and his massive three part self-published vampire novel THE STRANGER is an excellent place to start. Hama released the three parts of the e-book close together in the autumn of 2012, and produced therein a spectacle-laden fusion of action and horror elements steeped in detailed historical research.
THE STRANGER, featuring the intersecting lives of three characters including a vampire hunter, a vampire, and a young film student drawn into the hunt, draws on three first person narratives that vary widely in style and perspective. In fact, the narrative styles vary so much that you’d find it difficult to locate a work of fiction that has pulled off such transitions with such compelling results. If you download the book for its subject matter, you’re just as likely to be transfixed by the prose styles you encounter. The historical sweep of the novel is also impressive and convincing, kicking off in Jerusalem under Imperial Roman Rule, and consisting of flashbacks and informative supplements while maintaining a footing in modern day New York City. Like Hama, the work is so multifaceted that not knowing quite what to expect is part of the fascination, from the supernatural, to the grotesque and the humorous. In a self-published work, Hama has had free reign to craft a story containing some of the elements that he finds most compelling in storytelling, and he has been willing to give us some insight into his personal process behind THE STRANGER at The Beat.