History has given is us its own real monsters that horrified humanity and whose legacy continues to do so, yet, it’s also inspired others to create their own monsters and carve out their own legacy as well. While not as famous as Dracula, Elizabeth Bathory paved her own story is the blood of supposedly thousands of young women - which inspired Dynamite's recent Blood Queen series. Now, that queen is facing up against that most famous of vampires, Dracula, in the upcoming mini-series simply entitled The Blood Queen vs. Dracula.
Blood Queen series writer Troy Brownfield is also handling the reins for the mini and we sat down with him to talk about this bloodsucking brawl. Dynamite also gave Newsarama a sneak peek at some of the interior art (that has yet to be colored by colorist Kirsty Swan).
Newsarama:So, Troy, you have Dynamite's Blood Queen being (very, very loosely) based on Elizabeth Bathory and here you have her square off against the original bad boy of blood sucking, Dracula. How is your Dracula different from other comic iterations?
Troy Brownfield: It's interesting, because as you know, I wrote a Dracula novel for Dynamite last year (Prince Dracula, available in paperback and Kindle!). So, clearly, I've got a firm fix on Bram Stoker's vision. However, for this, we wanted to go with a slightly different version since Dynamite has used versions of Dracula in the comic lines before. The story takes place squarely in the 1580s, so Dracula has been a vampire over a hundred years; it's about two years after the events of Blood Queen #6. If Dracula has a defining character trait in this mini, it's curiosity. He's been away from home, using his powers to blunt the Ottoman advance. When he gets back from his latest campaign, he finds out about the rise of the Blood Queen and decides to see this person for himself. Dracula isn't one to suffer threats or regime changes in areas that he considers part of his ancestral lands, so he wants to separate the story from the truth. He gets a little more than he bargained for.
Nrama: Now blood will obviously spill in this mini series, but will sparks fly as well, or are they out strictly out to get one another?
Brownfield: There are some sparks, but there's a lot more blood. As you saw in the Blood Queen series, Elizabeth is quite adept at using her sexuality as a weapon and manipulating others. But this is Dracula, man. Weaponized sex and manipulation are totally his kind of deal. Clearly there would be attraction, but neither one is willing to let that get in the way of what they want.
Nrama: With Blood Queen you have this sword and sorcery comic with some historical intricacies sprinkled in, are you keeping up the lore of Vlad Tepes or more of the mythical monster we are more acquainted with Dracula?
Brownfield: My take on Dracula is a solid amalgam. For what I'm doing, he's definitely Vlad, Son of the Dragon. There are straight up references (and scenes) relating to the customary impaling. There's the acknowledgement of the historical enmity between him and the Turks. And there's an effort on the part of me and artist Kewber Baal, who is killing it, I might add, to depict period authenticity in the clothing, armor and weapons. That said, Dracula is also turning into mist, displaying incredible strength, and possibly making an appearance or two as a bat. He's the best of both worlds.
Nrama: So how do their paths cross? How does Bathory see Vlad initially?
Brownfield: I don't want to give away the exact circumstances of their first encounter, but it's pretty appropriate. Elizabeth immediately sees Dracula as a threat. She knows him by reputation and instantly tries to maneuver him into a direction that suits her best. Her problem there is that she may think a bit too much of herself. Dracula is, after all, Dracula.
Nrama: This is a “vs” title, so why are they at odds with one another? You'd think they'd be able to conquer the world easily as a combined force.
Brownfield: One of the major themes in Blood Queen was Elizabeth's eventual rebellion against patriarchy. There are hints as to what has happened in the two years since Blood Queen #6, but she's comfortable with the base of power that she's established and the things that she's had to do to get there. Dracula would expect her to bend the knee, and that's the last thing that Elizabeth wants. On the other hand, to state that you never see them working together would be incorrect. You'll just have to see.
Nrama: From a process standpoint, how is Vlad different from Bathory when you write them out?
Brownfield: They actually have a lot in common. They're both planners. They both excel at getting others to do their bidding. They have a common enemy in the Ottoman Empire. They both find power in blood. And so on. But they differ in few important ways. As the story opens, Dracula's been a vampire for more than a hundred years. He's seasoned, comfortable in his abilities as a warrior, a leader, and a vampire. He has an almost singular obsession with destroying the Turks, but for reasons revealed in the series, it's difficult for him to take the fight directly to their homeland. But in his own area, Dracula is regarded as more of a heroic presence, a war leader that's brutal by necessity. His people may fear him, but he's not someone that's just going to drain his butler in fit of pique. He has common sense. Elizabeth is much younger, much less accustomed to the level of power that she's acquired, and more rash. Her people fear her outright and she's dealing with issues of rebellion. They wouldn't work well as co-rulers.
Nrama:Troym you're teamed up with some strong talent for this mini. You have Kewber Baal doing the interior art and Kirsty Swan on colors, what's the collaborative process like? Do you guys mesh well? Tell us a little bit about them.
Brownfield: Kewber is great. Fritz Casas was the artist on Blood Queen and he was excellent to work with, but he had another commitment going for Dynamite when that wrapped. Editor supreme Molly Mahan assured me that she would bring in someone awesome, and she did.
Kewber is extremely collaborative. He really invested in getting the period armors and such right, and he's always sharing images and asking for my input. He has a real talent for action, which you know if you've seen some of his other work.
Colorist Kirsty Swan and letterer Marshall Dillon did get to rejoin us from the first Blood Queen series, and I love the work that they do. Kirsty's colors do so much in terms of atmosphere. She makes the conjuring and battle scenes so vibrant. When we got the new mini set-up and Molly filled me in on Fritz, my very next question was literally "Can we get Kirsty and Marshall?".
As for Marshall, he really does a lot for the feel of the book. He creates interesting banners, captions, titling effects, magical language...you name it. Every crazy thing I throw at him (like "magic symbols go here"), he responds with something perfect. I am incredibly happy with this group. We all (me, Molly, Kewber, Kirsty, Marshall) work very well together in my opinion, and I want every member of the team to be recognized.
Nrama: Along with writing vampire-on-vampire violence here in Blood Queen vs. Dracula, you've just done a milestone with your Sparkshooter webcomic and you've reached 100 episodes as it were. That's got to be a feat in itself, right?
Brownfield: Right! Sparkshooter hit 100 pages on January 7th. It's really satisfying to know that we've been do it this long. If readers don't know, the original artist was Sarah Vaughn for chapters 1 and 2 (with a late game assist by Ben Olson). It's been well-documented that Sarah had an injury situation that prevented her from drawing, but she has found success as the co-writer of Alex + Ada. We love her, and we're well pleased. Enkaru came on board as new artist with the beginning of Chapter 3 (page 53) and has been on board ever since. She's terrific.
Sparkshooter tells the story of a band in Indianapolis circa 2003; it's primarily a comedy, but it's also about the relationships and the struggles that happen in those situations. We have a companion feature, Solo Acoustic, that's also written by me and drawn by Ben. It's about to hit its 67th installment. Check 'em out at www.sparkshooter.com.
Nrama: Getting back to our topic at hand, you have both Dracula and your Blood Queen being based off historical figures, who else would you like to do a historical fiction about, if time allowed?
Brownfield: That's a great question. I'd actually probably want to do something that more solidly historical, and would probably also be something to do with music. Although I did just come up with an idea based on your question that is centered on the notion that the Dave Clark Five were actually spies on Her Majesty's Secret Service. Denis Payton's sax would almost certainly be a rocket launcher.