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FVZA Interview with DAVID HINE

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In a world where a deadly disease transforms innocent victims into Zombies and Vampires, only one government task force is tough enough for the job: The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency.

We spoke with writer, David Hine about FVZA.

The Big Bad Wolf: For those who may not be aware, can you fill our readers in on the FVZA?

Vampires and ZOMBIESDavid Hine: Okay. FVZA stands for Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency. The book is based on a web site set up by the writer Richard Dargan, who created a detailed alternative history of the USA, where the vampire and zombie viruses came across from Europe with the first settlers. They spread like wildfire in the years of colonial expansion and were originally dealt with by bounty hunters, then local militias. Gradually that evolved into an official federal agency Ė the FVZA.

After vaccines for both diseases were developed, the undead menace gradually receded until they were declared extinct in 1975 and the FVZA was disbanded. Former FVZA director, Hugo Pecos was convinced they would return and currently runs the web site to keep the public informed and aware of the constant threat. You can also learn all kinds of facts about the history and biology of vampires and zombies. Itís an elaborate and detailed mythology and provides a great base to build the comic book on.

Radical have acquired the rights to produce the original comic book series based on the concept. The story opens in the present day when Hugo Pecos is proved right. Thereís a fresh outbreak of the zombie virus in a small American township and it looks like vampires are behind it, using the zombie virus as a terrorist weapon to further their political agenda, which is ultimately to turn the USA into a unified Vampire State.

The Big Bad Wolf: Who are the main characters?

David Hine: Hugo Pecos and his grandchildren, Landra and Vidal are the main protagonists. Hugo has brought up his orphaned grandchildren alone, educating them in the lore of the Undead and training them to be the perfect warriors to defend their fellow citizens when they return.

Then we have Mandrake, the leader of the younger vampires who are radicalized by him to carry out attacks on the USA. Yaelis, Nephilis and Chaucer are old-school vampires who just want to stay in the shadows and live a quiet life. Some of them have been around for centuries and they are infinitely more dangerous than their younger counterparts.

The Big Bad Wolf: How did you come up with the idea for this story?

David Hine: I'm a big fan of films like Robert Wise's The Body Snatcher and Freddie Francis' The Doctor and the Devils and I wanted to explore the grave robbing trade in a feature film myself. I was also reading books on Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn as well a book called The Italian Boy (A tale of murder and Body Snatching) by Sarah Wise. So the story really came from everything I was reading and even all of the music I was listening to at the time.

The Big Bad Wolf: Can you give us a bit more information on the vampires in this book?

David Hine: Iím interested in exploring how the vampire and zombie viruses gradually erode the humanity of the victims. It isnít a case of being bitten and waking up undead. The process of deterioration is a gradual one and weíll be following that progress as the victims struggle to retain their humanity. The ancient vampires are truly monstrous, having lost all trace of their humanity a long time past. But we also have a young couple, who are Vamps Ė fake goth-style vampires who are into the romanticism of the vampire. When they are transformed they have to face up to the awful reality. They struggle to hold onto their love in a tragic twisted version of the Romeo and Juliet story.

If you want to check out the details of the vampire mythology fvza.org is the place to go. On the site, Hugo Pecos debunks all kinds of myths like Vampires sleeping in coffins, being invisible in mirrors, turning into bats or mist Ė all that is of course tosh and nonsense. But they do drink blood, you can cut out their hearts and theyíll still come at you, and potentially they could live forever, although most of them come to a violent end fairly young, simply because the whole damned human race is out to get them!

The Big Bad Wolf: About the zombies, are these the fast zombies or the traditional slow zombies? Zombies and Vampires

David Hine: Slow. Once infected with the zombie virus the body slowly breaks down. The flesh rots, organs fail, the brain itself gradually disintegrates, so you do indeed end up with shambling, moaning walking corpses. Not too dangerous unless you let one sneak up on you, or unless youíre cornered by huge numbers. Physically they are very much like your standard George Romero zombie. However we are treating them differently, more sympathetically because the disease is degenerative and there is a long period when the brain still functions and they have all the same human feelings. Weíll be following a family, watching as a motherís maternal instincts survive. The zombie Mom does her best to protect and nourish her zombie kids even as she gradually rots and her body becomes host to maggots and worms.

The Big Bad Wolf: Can you tell us about the disease that transforms humans into zombies and vampires?

David Hine: They are actually two separate but closely linked diseases. They are virulent and the new variants are immune to the vaccines that were previously developed. Once infected, by bite, scratch or oral contact, you will become infected within twenty-four hours. The majority of victims actually die in that period. The initial symptoms are much like influenza and it has been interesting to watch the spread of Swine Flu even as we are working on the book. Swine Flu so far seems very mild in comparison, but who knows how it may mutate? Surviving the Zombie and Vampire viruses really is a fate worse than death, because the transformation begins very quickly and after the twenty-four hour gestation period there is no cure. Worse, the FVZA is licensed to kill you on sight.

The Big Bad Wolf: What can we expect from this book in terms of blood and guts?

David Hine: Buckets of blood and gore. Iíve worked very hard to build interesting characters and have a very solid plot going with lots of twists and character development but I know that no fan of the genres will be happy without some serious blood-letting and zombie squishing. Roy Martinez is a master of the grotesque horror scene. He totally adores zombies in a fetishistic and troubling way and he has really gone to town on the horror scenes. There will be blood, and brains and guts, limbs will be severed, heads will roll...

The Big Bad Wolf: What has been the best thing so far about writing this book?

David Hine: The chance to develop a whole alternative mythology, not from scratch because the web site provided the background and that is very useful to go to as a text when I need to know historical or scientific detail. But this does feel like virgin territory. An awful lot of my professional work is on established characters, whether at Marvel and DC or for the three years I wrote Spawn. That can be limiting because of the mass of material already in existence. Here I feel like itís all fresh and exciting. I also of course, have a great love for the vampire and zombie genres. Iím enjoying contributing to the festering body of Undead Fiction.

The Big Bad Wolf: How has it been working with Roy Martinez on this book?

David Hine: A delight. Iíve worked with Roy before on Son of M for Marvel and when it came to choosing an artist for this book I jumped at the chance to work with Roy again. He is particularly good at drawing horror and that hasnít been fully exploited until now.

The Big Bad Wolf: Who is the rest of the creative team on FVZA?

zombies and vampiresDavid Hine: Luis Reyes is editor. Iíve worked with Luis before at Tokyopop and I trust him to help sharpen dialogue, spot faults in the narrative structure and question whether a scene is fulfilling its function. In other words, the creative side of editing. Working with an editor can be a joy or a total pain, depending on whether they get where you are coming from. Luis always gets it.

Jeremy Berger is art director at Radical and he found the digital color artist. Kinsun Loh is one hell of a find. He has worked magic on Royís pencils and made him look better than ever. He has a very distinctive, painterly style and I think the man is going to be in demand from the moment this book hits the shelves.

We have some superb covers by John Bolton and Clint Langley. Some of the best covers I have seen on a comic for a long while. They have helped to make FVZA a really stunning package.

Finally we have letters by my old buddies Jimmy Betancourt and Richard Starkingís Comicraft. The best lettering studio in the business. ĎNuff said!

The Big Bad Wolf: When is the release date for the comic?

David Hine: I believe the second week of October.

The Big Bad Wolf: How much is the book?

David Hine: $4.99 for 44 pages. Each issue is double sized and a bargain when many regular monthlies are now $3.99. We originally planned on one double-sized launch issue, followed by four regular 22-page comics but Iím glad we went with the decision to double up. 44 pages makes a much better read.

The Big Bad Wolf: Once this three issue series is wrapped up, would you be willing to return to the world of FVZA again?

David Hine: Definitely. Although the story winds up in a very satisfying way the concept is open-ended and there are a number of the characters I would like to develop.

The Big Bad Wolf: Where can our readers find out more about the FVZA comic?

David Hine: On the Radical web site: www.radicalcomics.com and I can be contacted with any personal questions on my forum at Image Comics.

The Big Bad Wolf: In closing, what would you like to say to our readers about FVZA?

David Hine: I'm going to be perfectly objective about this. FVZA is the greatest vampire and zombie comic ever.

The Big Bad Wolf: Thank you for your time, David! Best of luck with FVZA!

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Published on: 2009-08-10 (2636 reads)

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