Writer Donny Cates (creator of also God Country), alongside artists Lisandro Estherren, Dee Cunniffe, and Skybound Comics, have been hard at work for at their latest work, Redneck. This “Southern-vampire” comic puts a new twist to the already tried storyline, giving something grittier than what was already there. Instead of sex and violence, they give us hardship, carnage, and war. I was lucky enough to ask a few questions of the Redneck’s creator, Donny Cates.
In short, what’s the story on “Redneck”?
Redneck is the story of The Bowman family. A group of vampires living in East Texas. When our story opens they’ve been kind of leading this very isolationist life. Not bothering anyone (They run a cattle farm and live off the blood they take from the cattle they slaughter for the bbq joint their familiars run in town) and minding their business and living in peace with the townsfolk around them.
This is the story of how that peace comes to an end.
Where did you get the idea for Redneck and how long has the idea been brewing?
A few years now. I’ve just wrapped on issue 12 and Lisandro is drawing issue six I think. So we’ve been in production since 2015 or so. As for how the idea came about…god I don’t really know. Honestly? I think I looked at the word REDNECK and decided someone needed to tell a vampire story set in the south with it! Haha, I know that’s a boring answer, but it’s the truth more often than you’d think.
Since that initial thought, though, it’s morphed and evolved into something deeply personal. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to a book.
Southern Vampires? Surely we’ve never heard this before. Why do you think makes the idea of vampires in the deep-South so appealing?
Well, no. It’s been done. But not really like this I don’t think. True Blood being the biggest one I guess, but even in True Blood they were still so pretty and charming. They were connected to the vampire community and all that bullshit. I wanted to do a story about a bunch of good backwoods people who just kinda…happen to also be vampires.
They aren’t pretty. Or charming or even particularly that smart. They’re just a bunch of “people” trying to get by. Trying to raise a family in a world filled with people who hate and fear them.
Often writers feel like they grow close connections with their characters. How are your feelings toward the vampiric Bowman family?
Oh, I’ve grown very close to them. A few characters in particular. Perry, the creepy (and incredibly dangerous) little girl of the family, is my favorite of the bunch. Followed by Bartlett, our main character. He has this kind of old school simple wisdom about him that I just love.
They are all based on real people I know here in Austin, actually. So I’m very close to all of them.
How was the process of getting Redneck off the ground? What were some of your more memorable moments on the project so far?
Honestly, it was one of the most painless things I’ve been through in my career. Skybound reached out and asked if I had anything I wanted to pitch, and I just happened to be working on the pitch to REDNECK at the time so I sent it on over. They were very receptive to it and we got started pretty quickly. It’s been a joy to work with them.
As far as memorable moments go, I’d say getting the first pages in from Lisandro and then seeing them colored and brought to life from Dee…that was surreal. To see these characters that had lived in my head for so long come to life as perfectly as they did…that was a trip.
(I still can’t believe this book is real)
How would you say Redneck compares itself to “God Country?”
Well, certainly they both tell stories of families in Texas. So in that regard, I guess they both came from the same place to a certain extent. Two sides of the same coin really. Redneck is much darker and has really different themes. God Country is about holding on to the things you love and never letting go Redneck is about overcoming the past…it’s about being better than the people who made you.
Where do you see yourself represented in both God Country and Redneck?
Hmmm, well, as a Texan who is also a son and an Uncle and a big Kirby fan…I absolutely see myself in all of these stories haha. Yeah, I mean both of these stories are incredibly personal to me for different reasons.
I don’t think it’s a surprise that when I start doing these projects that are incredibly personal like this, I tend to draw Texas around me like a security blanket. It’s a place I understand. A place I love and feel safe in.
What have been some of your influences as a reader and a writer?
So many. In respects to comics; Jason Aaron, Mark Waid, Bendis, Hickman, Moore…those are the guys for me. Those are the guys who set the bar I’m constantly reaching for. Novels I’m all over the place. I love Cormac McCarthy, Philip Meyer, James S.A. Corey (The Expanse series is unbelievably good) Gaiman (again!) Larry McMurtry, and Stephen King. I think those guys are all big influences on me.
As a writer, what elements would you say is important to your process? (This is intentionally open-ended, HAHA)
Oh hmm, conversation actually. My wife and best buddy Seamus (Who is actually in the book!) are the two people I go to when I need to- break a problem down or I get stuck or need some inspiration. Every now and then I just HAVE to get out of my office and go and talk to someone. It always works too. I start talking things out and magically the blocks fall away and I’m able to get things where they need to be.
Without too many spoilers, anything you want to instruct the readers to watch out for?
If I say literally anything it will be a spoiler haha! So I guess just watch out for the book itself! And ask me this question again after you read the first issue!
When should readers expect Redneck to hit store shelves?
Next month! April 19th! In shops everywhere. Tell your shop you want one because it WILL sell out.
Nicholas Eskey is an avid reader and writer. When not contributing to The Beat, he works on his personal projects, the latest being a fantasy novel called “My Personable Demon.” He lives in San Diego, California, and is frequently bossed around by his cat.