This past summer, BOOM! Studios released the much-anticipated return of Brian Stelfreeze doing interiors once again with Day Men #1. While the issue got mixed reviews, it was an instant sell out as well as garnered a movie option by Universal, but then the second issue never came. Months passed and nothing, until now!
The Hollywood Reporter's Pop Culture blog Heat Vision reports that Day Men #2 is finally slated for release in early December. Series co-writer Matt Gagnon actually wrote a detailed apology letter to fans and retailers explaining the situation and saying that Stelfreeze is "going for broke" on the pages and it's been a "physically and draining process".
As for Stelfreeze, Newsarama sat down with the legendary artist a while back talking about Day Men, his influences on the project, the collaboration process among his fellow creators, and why he feels BOOM! is the perfect place for him right now.
Newsarama: Brian, you've stepped away from sequentials for a while now, so what was it about Day Men that made you want to go back into doing interiors?
Brian Stelfreeze: With sequential art, it really takes up a lot of your time and I've got a short attention span so I like to get in and get out. When I do actual sequential work I really want a story I can get a behind; a story that really holds my attention for like the length of what I'll be working on. Day Men – when I got the concept and first issue script – was something I could get behind and something I could sink my teeth into.
Nrama: Pun intended?
Stelfreeze: Yes. [laughs]
Nrama: Now what made you want to be exclusive to BOOM! Studios? You've done work for hire stuff for years doing mainly cover work, so what was it about them that made you go "yeah, this is what I want"?
Stelfreeze: The funny thing about my situation with BOOM is that I'm not really exclusive to them, but what they're doing is just a great situation for me that I don't really want to do work for a lot of other companies. So it's kind of the best of both worlds. I get to have, sort of, the security of being on a contract but at the same time I don't have the sort of restrictions of being in an exclusive contract. And what's really cool is that Ross [Richie, CEO of BOOM] said "Hey, if you want to do a cover for Batman, that just makes us look good!"
Nrama: Can you tell us a little bit about your process and influences that went into your Day Men pages? Now, you've been doing comic work for almost 30 years now and you come from an advertising background, did you take any of that into the design of Day Men?
Stelfreeze: Yeah, with what I'm doing with Day Men is I'm bringing in a lot of my influences from film noir, which I'm a big fan of. I'm trying to do a juxtaposition and I think my style has a modern flair to it, but film noir has that classic feel to it and that's something that echoes well with vampires. They actually have been around a long time, I mean they're immortal, so what's really nice is doing something that has that different style to it, but at the same time feel classic. That's one of the things that wanted me to do an almost-woodcut feel with the blacks so you really feel that there's something going on in the shadows.
Nrama: Brian tell us a little bit about your colorist you're working with on the book. Do you have a certain say in the palette or was there any sort of collaboration going on because you're known for coloring your own stuff so is it tricky to just let it go at times?
Stelfreeze: It would be, but what's really nice at BOOM! is we had a few different colorist try out and Darrin [Moore, the colorist of the series] just really tore it up and did a fantastic job on the samples. From there, I'm working with him on the first few issues and Darrin really brings a lot ot the table. It's nice because influenced by my stuff, but not actually mimicking what I do.
Every individual on the project really brings something different to it and I didn't want the colorist to just ink my stuff, I wanted them to tell part of their story as well.
Nrama: What went into the design of the characters of Day Men? You mentioned the noir aspect, but was there anything else that guided your hand on any of the characters, especially the main character, David Reid?
Stelfreeze: The nice thing about the vampires is that I'm really bringing some classic influence in on them and so a lot of the girls I'm bringing in my love for the classical Hollywood starlets. With the male vampires, I'm going for a classic feel as well. One of the characters, Titus, I'm just looking at Michelangelo and his sculptures of men and bringing in that sculptural feel to his face because he's a Roman soldier that's been alive for a thousand years. So, I wanted him to have that stoic, made-of-marble feel to his face. I think by making them absolutely so chiseled perfect, and to have David who tries to comb his hair and to slick himself down, but he can't. So I really wanted to created the juxtaposition between the vampires, who are so flawless and to have David a little bit disheveled and not being able to hang with their perfection.
Another thing I wanted to do with David was to make him...unusual. He doesn't really belong in the vampire world but at the same time he doesn't belong in the human world. Matt Gagnon had this great idea of giving him red hair. You usually don't see a male lead character in comics that has red hair, usually that's reserved for the girls. So I thought it was something that would make him sort of different. And not only have we given him red hair, but freckles also. He just looks a little strange compared to everyone else.
Nrama: How did series writers Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson approach you about the project and what's the collaboration process been like so far?
Stelfreeze: What's really cool is Filip Sablik approached me and we had worked together on my last project that was actually interiors which was Hardcore over at Top Cow. He was hanging out with me and getting a feeling of what I liked and didn't like and when he went over to BOOM and he saw the project, naturally, my name came up. So Filip approached me for the project and when I started to work with Matt and Michael, it was really cool because with those guys, what I end up doing is at the beginning of every issue, we have a meeting of what we're planning on doing and I really get a chance of participating in things visually and that's so much fun.
Nrama: The first issue debuted over the summer and was an instant sell out, so going forward is there anything cool you're looking forward to draw or bring up in the title?
Stelfreeze: They say Batman's rogues gallery is what makes him and I think the same thing with Day Men. I think some of the other vampires and some of the other Day Men, like Jacob the Burner, I really love that character and I love getting the chance to draw that character and to show how much of a foil he is for David. I think it's just going to be a lot of fun and also we've just scratched the surface of the Ramses family and in the next issue you're going to see the head of the Ramses family and just what kind of sicko he really is.
Nrama: Is there anything else you'd like to tell your fans about Day Men and what you're look forward to down the line?
Stelfreeze: I look forward to hanging on to this book for a little while and I'm just having a good time with it. The situation over at BOOM is a perfect garden for me to grow in and at the same time I'm getting to be creative.