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When it was announced in October that Scott Snyder’s new monthly comic book series, “American Vampire” from Vertigo, would feature the contribution of suspense novelist Stephen King, it wasn’t long before the phone started ringing.
“We got all these crazy phone calls from movie producers wanting to know when they could see it, who they should cast in it. … It was nuts,” Snyder said. “It only existed as a script then, and DC and Vertigo weren’t showing it. It hasn’t physically existed until now. … Hopefully, people will still be interested.”
The comic book’s first story arc, which hit shelves last week, centers on two primary characters in two different eras — aspiring actress Pearl in the 1920s and violent cowboy-turned-vampire Skinner Sweet in the 1880s.
So who does Snyder, best known for his short stories, think would best be suited to play the merciless Skinner should the comic be made into a movie?
“I was watching “Half Nelson” the other day, and I thought Ryan Gosling would make a great vampire.”
But don’t worry, Rob Pattinson, your heartthrob status is safe. These vampires aren’t the kind you bring home to dad. They’re more brawny and vicious.
Snyder imagined the series years ago to combat the last “vampire glut” — a time when “Underworld” and “Blade” were all the rage.
“It just seemed like all the vampires were so sort of glamorous in that sort of leather-trench-coat, sunglasses-at-night, aristocratic, exotic way,” he said. “They were so otherworldly and fashion-modelish; it just felt like they were on their way to some exclusive night club. They were always sort of squatting near a gargoyle in the rain against the moonlight.
“To me, it just made me very nostalgic at that point for the vampires I always liked growing up, which were the vampires of something like ‘Salem’s Lot’ or ‘Near Dark‘ or ‘Lost Boys.‘ What makes them appealing or frightening was they always seemed like they walked the same landscape. They were sort of your neighbors or the kids you looked up to. It got me thinking, why there weren’t vampires like the ones I grew up loving in prototypical American landscapes that I like writing about — ’50s suburb, the Old West, the 1920s Jazz Age. I started trying to imagine what kind of vampire would fit that idea.”
The result is “American Vampire.” The series, illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque, is focused on the concept of vampire genealogy. It re-imagines the bloodsuckers as creatures that evolved as bloodlines hit different populations at different times, producing different breeds of vampires. Just don’t expect to see these vampires evolve into the glittery heartthrobs popular today.
“We’re trying to be very faithful to at least the classic vampire,” Snyder said. There are no breeds that are like “Twilight” in ours. There is no sudden offshoot of twinkly vampires. Perhaps that’s the next evolutionary step. That’s not to dismiss “Twilight” or any of the other stuff out there. I’m very glad that all those things exist. It’s fun to see people read vampires in new ways. To imagine them as sort of Tiger Beat pin-ups is very original, and it’s really well done. But at the end of the day, I tend to be drawn to scary vampires … the kind you don’t want to cuddle with or go on dates with.”
HERE’S A SAMPLE OF THE FIRST ISSUE…
Artwork credit: Vertigo
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