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VAMPIRE PA interview with J.C. Vaughn

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Vampires in suburbia? Dean Marklin didnít think so. In fact, he didnít believe in vampires at all. Then he met one. Then he met lots more, and they all wanted to kill him! Now heís a vampire hunter, and heís pursued by a beautiful vampire while he tries to hold onto whatís left of normal life. How do you think thatís working out for him?

We caught up with writer, J.C. Vaughn to talk about his upcoming comic.

Christine Caprilozzi: Vampire, PA is based on a, existing short story of yours. What was it like putting it into the comic format?

J.C. Vaughn: I think I had just finished working on my 2007 mini-series ZOMBIE-PROOF when Dave Ulanski at Moonstone asked if I wanted to contribute to the prose anthology VAMPIRES: DRACULA AND THE UNDEAD LEGIONS.

I thought about it for a minute. Filip Sablik (who is now the publisher for Top Cow Productions) and I have been working on my one and only vampire story, DEAD INSPECTOR, at what one might charitably call a ďglacialĒ pace. Itís a very different sort of vampire story from VAMPIRE, PA. The only element they have in common is location, though one is downtown Pittsburgh and one is very much in suburbia.

At the time, though, I didnít have another vampire story. Nothing sprang to mind. A total blank. So, of course I said, ďSure!Ē Iím a writer, right?

Strangely enough, though, the short story ďVampire Hunter DeanĒ came together very quickly. I think I had the final draft in less than three weeks. Once I turned it in, It took a long time to actually see print, but I was able to put a lot of that time to good use. I started thinking it would make an okay comic. We did a seven-page comic book version as a teaser. It started during the ending of the short story. It worked. Then we did the first issue, which incorporated the teaser and new material. It worked great, and we were off and running.

Christine Caprilozzi: Tell us a little bit about the story / concept?

J.C. Vaughn: There are vampires in Dormont, PA, which is in the suburban Pittsburgh region known as ďthe South Hills.Ē Our very new vampire hunter immediately and somewhat instinctively starts to rid his hometown of the threat. He doesnít even think about how quickly it becomes his new normal. Heís dating a co-worker and they both, along with his boss, are fighting vampires and night. But itís not a paying gig, so they all have to keep working.

Thereís a good bit of dark situational humor. Some of the vampires are pretty weird. But the action is played very straight and itís turning out very cool.

Christine Caprilozzi: Why Pennsylvania?

J.C. Vaughn: And in particular, why the Pittsburgh area, right? Great question. Iím a native. I havenít lived there since I was a teenager, but I still bleed black-and-gold. I still have family and friends there. And visually, itís great area with diverse topography, architecture, and styles. When George Romero made DAWN OF THE DEAD at Monroeville Mall on the opposite side of Pittsburgh from my area, he instilled in all of us that our familiar surroundings could become settings for scary stuff. I grew up one town over from Dormont, in Mt. Lebanon. Now my friends Mt. Lebanon, which is just slightly more upscale that Dormont, asked why I didnít set it there instead. I told them that the only bloodsuckers I knew in Mt. Lebanon were lawyers and we didnít need any more of that particular type of horror.

Christine Caprilozzi: Describe the main character, ďDean MarklinĒ for us.

J.C. Vaughn: Dean is a really calm, nice, physically fit everyman. Heís a successful HVAC repairman. Makes a good living. Enjoys sports and his friends. Heís never had horrible relationships, just hasnít had them work out. Heís sort of into Dee-Dee OíDay, who works for his company, but never has done anything about it. Then he went to a HVAC convention in Miami. He met the stunningly beautiful Jocelyn Elder (not the former Surgeon General of the United States who has the same name). She just about swept him off his feet until she tried to bite his neck. From that point forward, it was on. It involved a lot of on-the-job training. Dee-Dee and Deanís boss, ďScuba DaveĒ Donovan, actually got sucked (so to speak) into the action. Then itís home to Dormont and suddenly Deanís seeing vampires all over the place. Try leading a normal life once you know there are vampires living in the movie theater you went to as a kid.

Christine Caprilozzi: The preview artwork looked really cool, a lot of dark tones. How did you hook up with Brian and Brendon Fraim?

J.C. Vaughn: Thanks. I think the guys are doing an amazing job. I met Brendon and Brian years ago through a mutual friend, John Petty. He introduced them to me at a Pittsburgh Comicon years ago. Iíve worked with them a number of times, and it always seems like they get better page by page. They did the Mister Miracle cover for Gemstoneís Free Comic Book Day 2010 offering, THE OVERSTREET GUIDE TO COLLECTING COMICS, for me. It actually was done a few years ago for a very small publication and Iíve always wanted it to get a bigger audience. The orders were great, so I guess that worked. We also worked together on a short comic story, ďI Know Everything,Ē that ran in ACTOR COMICS PRESENTS, which was a fundraiser for what became The Hero Initiative.

Our longest association by far, though, was on the weekly Sunday-size strip ANTIQUES: THE COMIC STRIP, romantic comedy-mystery set in the world of collectibles. It ran for a bit over a year in the antiquing trade and then was collected. That was a great experience and I think the Fraims brought a tremendous amount to it. I think thatís probably true of anything they work on.

Christine Caprilozzi: Whatís the process like when working with them?

J.C. Vaughn: I tend to write full scripts. They might even say overly full scripts. Iíll give them some character descriptions. Theyíll work up model sheets. In the case of VAMPIRE, PA, we actually did a reference Bible. Iíll to the script. Then Iíll see pencils, give the okay or make changes, and then see inks. We do everything by email. Iíd guess that better than 90% of the time I donít ask for any major changes. I know lots of other creators who love their work with me, so I think something clicks there.

Our colorist, Mark Wheatley, also deserves a shout out here. Mark created or co-created BREATHTAKER at DC/Vertigo, MARS at First Comics, BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT at Apple, FRANKENSTEIN MOBSTER at Image, and most recently EZ STREET and LONE JUSTICE at ComicMix/IDW. This guy knows every phase of comic book production inside out, and heís a great guy on top of it. How we timed it that there was a hole in his scheduleÖ. if you donít believe in miracles, time to reconsider! Anyhow, not only does he know how to do it, he knows classic horror, too. For Peteís sake, Robert Bloch did the foreword to BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT. And this guyís coloring our book? Look out!

Christine Caprilozzi: What can horror fans expect in terms of gore and guts?

J.C. Vaughn: Great question! I think thereís more action than gore, but both for me are story-driven. I would never do gore for the sake of it, but if itís what the story calls for, weíre there. Thereís definitely some scenes. And wait for the third issue.

Christine Caprilozzi: Since this a 3 part series, do you have the rest of ďDeanísĒ journey already mapped out?

J.C. Vaughn: I have several more specific stories in mind, and I know the broad strokes of several others. I also have a few friends who I would like to see take a turn with Dean and company. It would be great if reader response supported this. As it is, Iím very happy to have a chance to tell this first story. Dean, Dee-Dee, Scuba Dave and even Jocelyn all have an element or two that makes them enjoyable to write.

Christine Caprilozzi: Vampire, PA is set for release in June. Where can our readers find out more about this book and the rest of your work?

J.C. Vaughn: My blog is www.welldefined.blogspot.com and Vampire, PA is now on Facebook. I was really excited when ComicMonsters.com covered the solicitation information on VAMPIRE, PA. It sort of felt like, ďOh, look, someone likes me!Ē even though you guys were just covering everything fairly.

The second issue is scheduled to be on sale in August, and it includes a back-up feature of ZOMBIE-PROOF. I know from my own experience that zombie fans and vampire fans arenít always the same group, but I was itching to get back to Billy Bob Driwahl and company, too. Thereís one back-up in VPA #2 and two short ZOMBIE-PROOF installments in #3.

I say all of that to get to this point: Brendon, Brian, Mark, (Zombie-Proof co-creator) Vincent Spencer, and I all realize that particularly in this economy we all have only so much money to spend on comics. Expenses have forced many of the wonderful small or medium press publishes to raise prices. For me, itís tough to pay $3.99 for an issue when I wonder if itís really going to deliver. Weíre addressing that by pouring ourselves into these issues.

VAMPIRE, PA #1 has 32 pages of story and art. The only ads are on the inside back cover and the back cover. We wonít make anything extra off that. We just want to deliver the most we can for the fanís money. In VPA #2 and VPA #3, the minimum number of story/art pages will be 28. Additionally, as a matter of respect, barring acts of God or nature, we will be on time. VPA #1 has been ready to go to the printer for weeks. VPA #2 is being colored. Itís already lettered. The back-up feature is already done. The back-up features on VPA #3 area almost completed. The proof, of course, will be in whether we deliver or not, but weíre doing everything we can to make it a great experience.

Thereís a new one-shot, ZOMBIE-PROOF: ZOMBIE ZOO, coming soon, too.

And more!

Christine Caprilozzi: Thank you for your time, J.C. Best of luck with Vampire, PA.

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Published on: 2010-04-03 (6922 reads)

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