Creative Visions: Jai Nitz & Nate Cosby Talk VAMPIRELLA, Gold Key Lineup
Art from Vampirella: Southern Gothic #3
Today we continue our series with writer Jain Nitz getting the direct writer’s perspective on how Dynamite’s biggest comics are created.
This time, Nitz talks to a man of many hats (figuratively and, apparently, literally), Nate Cosby. Perhaps best known for curating the insane sound effects on Hercules at Marvel Comics (KRAKABATHROOOOM), Cosby has since gone to writing and editing on a freelance basis.
Now, he’s moving from writing chores on Vampirella: Southern Gothic to editing the “Gold Key” lineup for Dynamite. Cosby and Nitz chat about his take on vampires, the rebirth of that line, and which character he most wants to write himself.
Jai Nitz: Nate, you wear a lot of hats.
Nate Cosby: Head's bald. I get cold.
Nitz: I met you when you were an editor at Marvel. Since then you’ve written COW BOY (Eisner and Harvey nominated!), Pigs, Buddy Cops, and now Vampirella: Southern Gothic. You’re also back to editing. Is it hard to keep it all straight in your head?
Cosby: Nah, it's all storytelling. I edited at Marvel for a while, got the itch to write, so I left. Wrote for a few years, got the itch to edit a bit, so now I'm back dabbling in that. It's nice to edit after taking time away from it, like exercising a neglected muscle back to full strength. I've been lucky to be asked by Dynamite, Archaia and a few other places to oversee some stuff, and editing's a great excuse to work with creators I like.
Nitz: Your aforementioned creator owned projects have been all over the comic landscape (Archaia, Image, and Dark Horse respectively). What brought you to Dynamite for Vampirella? Did you pitch them, or did they approach you?
Cosby: Mr. Joe Rybandt over at Dynamite approached me to write a Vampirella mini, and they were pretty open to hearing what I had in mind. I took it as a challenge, because I've never really read or seen anything involving a vampire, outside of a couple episodes of Buffy and the cartoons on the back of Count Chocula boxes. But I always enjoy working on projects that require you to dig under the surface of what's there. After studying Vampirella, I saw at the core that she's a very lonely, confused person...she's got no idea who she is, where she's from. I started to form a story based on that, and tried to put her on a path that would force her to confront her recent past, and question her motivations.
Nitz: Vampirella has a long history and has been pushed in a lot of different directions (mature reader, anime, etc.). How would you sum up Vampirella for a brand new reader?
Cosby: She's a vampire with no idea where she's from, trying to do the right thing. Everything that happens around her is based on that.
Nitz: You’re from Mississippi. This story is set in Mississippi. It’s easy to say you “write what you know” but this seems like more than a stock story. This reads like you had a real plan for the character Vampirella. Tell us about the story choices you made.
Cosby: I remember growing up in Mississippi, and the vast majority of the comics I read were set in Metropolis, Gotham City, New York, etc. And those're great settings for lots of tales, but I remember getting jazzed when stories were set in the south (Impulse being set in Alabama, for instance). There's a whole big world out there aside from the big cities, full of weird, interesting, intelligent characters. I took Vampi down to the South to explore the dichotomy of someone not used to the southern pace, and play her methods and attitude towards people set in their ways. A lot of the story turns come from Vampi not fitting in... which in itself is strange, because she doesn't really fit in anywhere.
Nitz: Your artist is Johnny Desjardins. I worked with Johnny on Silver Star. What does he bring to the table for Southern Gothic?
Cosby: We were lucky enough to have Johnny on the Vampi covers, but the interiors were done by the talented Mr. Jose Luis. Dude's come through in the clutch and drawn every ridiculous thing I've asked, from a store full of running-shoe-wearing demons, to (SPOILER) a killer bulldog the size of a tank.
Nitz: You’re editing the Gold Key titles at Dynamite and you’ve brought in several of your old Marvel cohorts like Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente. Having walked in the freelance shoes, would you say you’re a better editor now? Are you a better freelancer now?
Cosby: I dunno...I've been lucky to have had great working relationships with mega-talents like Fred and Greg, not to mention Jeff Parker (who's doing great work with artist Marc Laming on King's Watch, the crossover series starring Flash Gordon, The Phantom & Mandrake The Flippin' Magician!), and it's been really fun helping develop stuff with the so-talented-I-can't-breathe Mark Waid (on Doctor Spektor), and impressive new guys like Frank Barbiere (on Solar: Man of the Atom). I always try to get "better" as an editor, but the basics of the job never changes: Put the creative team in position to make the best product possible. If that means being extremely hands-on, or essentially doing secretarial duties, whatever's required is what I'm there to do. I'm happy to help, advise, or shut up. Every book's different, every writer, artist, colorist, and letterer needs to be respected, and given the opportunity to give their best stuff.
Nitz: You have to cross over Vampirella and one of the Gold Key characters, and you have to co-write it with the writer on the book. Who do you pick and why?
Cosby: I mean obviously Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, so that Vampi can bite all the dinos and pit an army of Vampirosauruses upon poor lil' T.
Nitz: Where does the line form for pitching Mighty Samson?
Cosby: We've already started thinking about Mighty Samson! It's funny, Samson seems like such a weird guy to have his own book...until you realize I'm back working with Greg and Fred, who tag-teamed on a Hercules book for all those years. Goes to show that no matter how unconventional the premise, a gifted writer and awesome artist can elevate basic ideas into a great story.
So yeah, Samson's in the cooker, along with the other handful of Gold Key properties...(he said relatively ominously)
Nitz: You have a lot on your plate, so what can we expect in the future from Nate Cosby?
Cosby: Ah heck, I've always got ten or eleven things goin' at any given time. Just a bunch of writing and editing and producing, all powered by waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much coffee.