The war is over and the vampires have won. Now the remaining humans are fighting tooth and nail like animals just to survive.
In Heavy Metal's recently debuted Interceptor series, vampires have taken over the Earth after nuclear war -- with the surviving bits of mankind existing on the fringes of space. But when they send a lone scout back to their homeworld, they find that they've left fellow humans behind -- and they're at the mercy of the bloodsuckers.
With Interceptor #1 on stands now and the second issue due out this Wednesday, Newsarama talked to writer Donny Cates and artist Dylan Burnett about a world ruled by vampires and the enigmatic woman named Poli sent to try to change it.
Newsarama: Donny, Dylan, what led you guys to do a book like Interceptor?
Donny Cates: I’ve had this bananas idea in the back of my head for a story about vampires in a nuclear fallout, but I’d put it on the backburner and kind of forgotten about it. Last year I was clearing out my notes in my phone and found this: “what if all the bombs fell and blotted out the sun, and in the darkness the vampires came out to play” like a gift from my past self. It immediately captured my imagination again and I wrapped it up in a story I thought was fun about humanity fleeing Earth to escape the vamps. One thing kind of led to another, and over one steak dinner with a buddy of mine I fleshed out the entire series. I was hooked.
In a bizarre way it’s kind of turned into the most political book I’ve ever written. In a very fun and bloody way, of course.
Nrama: We're going a bit into spoiler territory here for those that haven’t read Interceptor #1, but halfway through there's a massive swerve where it's revealed that some humans survived the nuking of Earth and eek out an existence while trying to avoid vampires. That's one of several major surprises, but can you talk about that one first and what it's like to be human on Earth?
Cates: Well, it sucks. (Get it? Oh lord) the humans we meet in the first arc of the series are rebels, freedom fighters if you will. Like you said they are just trying to survive in a world where they are no longer the top of the food chain. They steel radiation meds when they can, try to free people from the blood farms (huge industrial farms but with…humans) if they want to be freed. It’s not a great life, but it’s livable. Survivable. But yeah… it's horrendous.
Nrama: Readers have met a vampire sheriff, but the cover to #2 shows a vampire band. What's vampire culture like on Earth?
Cates: Awesome if you’re a vampire! That’s one of the things that really excites me about this story. We get to see something with vampires that we’ve never seen before. We get to see them win. We’ve seen so many stories where the vamps are in the shadows and hiding, but this is the ultimate vampire wish fulfillment. They’ve conquered the planet, they have entire cities, entire continents at their feet. And they’ve gone back to an older style of ruling, kings and baroness’s and that kind of thing. Very cruel.
The entire dynamic is shifted, it’s the humans that are now lurking in the shadows and hiding. That is until a lady in a mech suit falls out of the sky and tries to flip their table over. Poli is the wild card in this system. The thing the vamps haven’t planned for.
Nrama: I'm really intrigued by Poli Lehan, the Interceptor of this book. What would you two say she's capable of?
Cates: Anything. Poli has a very rich background with vampires and earth. Her back story will be explored more in later issues, but believe me when I say she has a very personal stake in this war. Oh god, I used stake in a sentence about vampires. I’m losing it.
To put it bluntly, there’s maybe no one else in the galaxy who has a reason to hate these things like Poli does. There’s a reason she volunteered to be the Interceptor. That mech suit you see in the first issue isn’t just something pretty to look at. It’s a promise.
When she puts it on you’ll find out just what she’s capable of.
Dylan Burnett: She’s one of those characters that’s a total question mark until you see them in action. I try to convey that in the art. She’s very contemplative, and you don’t really know what she’s thinking or how she’s feeling, but when she gets amped up the whole book goes with her.
Nrama: And Weep, what's her story?
Cates: She’s a lunatic. Totally bonkers that one. But understandably so, I think. Weep has grown up on this vampire-ridden Earth, it’s literally all she knows. As a result she has little to no fear of these things. She respects them the way we respect wildlife, she stays away from them and gives them their space and whatnot, but if pushed she’s not one to cower, she’ll spit right in a vampires face. She knows what she’s about and where she fits in. And then a lady with a mech suit falls from the sky with stories about a planet without vampires, and a mission to rid this one of them as well. Weep is the first person Poli meets, and they learn from each other a great deal. Weep is a ton of fun to write.
Burnett: She’s super funny and super fun to draw. She’s like one of those kids that has clearly watched too much South Park or played too much Grand Theft Auto 4 from an early age. She’s just this fireball of passion, humor and violence. She’s a hurricane. She rules.
Nrama: Dylan, your art here really pushes the story forward. How much were you involved in the initial inception of the idea, beyond just drawing the pages?
Cates: I’ll let Dylan field this one, but I can’t imagine this book with anyone else at the art helm. Dylan was made to draw this crazy book and I can’t say enough how incredibly thankful I am for him to have joined me on this adventure.
Burnett: I think this book is just as much my baby as it is Donny’s. It’s got big action, so I tried to come out swinging as much as i could. It’s always a collaborative process, but it always starts with Donny’s script. His writing is super easy for me to visualize, so I take whatever reference he gives me a roll with it. Every now and then I’ll have an idea that i just think would be fun to draw and if it fits with the action, Donny is usually on board. This book is the most fun and the most ambitious I’ve been while drawing anything. Even if no one were reading this book, I’d still want to draw it forever.
Nrama: How many issues do you two have planned for Interceptor?
Cates: Right now, Dylan and I are focusing all of our energy on the first five issues. Sales God-willing we want to tell the rest of the story which is currently planned as fifteen issues altogether. Three arcs of five issues each. Readers will see by the end of #5 that we are just scratching the surface of a much larger world (universe, really) and we really want to continue playing in it. Stay tuned.
Nrama: And in the immediate future, what can people expect from this week’s second issue?
Cates: And I would expect a lot of really fun mayhem, a few new characters, another large reveal and some neck tattoo suggestions! It’s a fun one folks! OH! And I would expect it to sell out. Orders on second issues are always lower than first issues, so I would make sure you tell your comic shops to order you some copies before it’s too late.
Burnett: The action and the stakes get kicked up a few notches in Interceptor #2, so you don’t want to miss out. Make sure your local comic shop knows you want one!