Eric Trautmann has won critical acclaim for his stories of intrigue among superheroes in comics like Checkmate, Action Comics and the current Mighty Crusaders.
Now he brings his penchant for war stories and espionage to an unlikely place: Vampirella and Red Sonja.
But don't let the sexy costumes fool you. Although the two characters are well-known for their iconically revealing costumes, Trautmann intends to bring his own sensibilities to their stories, including a new twist on their costumes.
In fact, as Newsarama's recent preview of Vampirella #1 revealed, the character's got a hot new look that's a tad more modest.
His run on Vampirella will relaunch the title after Dynamite Entertainment acquired the character back in March, presumably capitalizing on the public's recent fascination with vampire stories. Trautmann's take on the character will debut in November with art by Wagner Reis and a cover by J. Scott Campbell.
Trautmann's four-issue story in Red Sonja starts with Issue #51 in September, featuring art by Walter Geovani. And according to the publisher, this story marks a good "entry point" for new readers of the series.
Newsarama talked with Trautmann to find out more about how he's handling these ladies. And in this first part of a two-part interview, we find out more about his new look for Vampirella.
Newsarama: Eric, is this series a true relaunch of the character, with a new origin story?
Eric Trautmann: This is a jump on point for new readers. I'm trying to get it back to first principles. I have no intention of going back and doing any retcons of her origin.
All you need to know about Vampirella is that she's a vampire, and she's killing vampires. It's pretty straightforward, to make it accessible to new readers, while not upsetting long-time fans.
I don't really want to go into any details about her origin right now because it's been heavily altered several times over the course of her history, and I think it would be fairly confusing to try to add another layer on top of that. It always bugs me, as a reader, when a new writer comes on board and monkeys with a character's history. If you're going to do that, there should be a dramatic pay-off. If you're just doing it so you can have a clean slate that ignores what came before, that comes across as lazy. I've never been a big believer in that.
So we're starting with somewhat of a clean slate, because we're just jumping into the story without worrying about continuity for now, but no, it's not a retcon.
Nrama: Is your take going to play with how sexy this character is?
Trautmann: Yes and no.
I'm probably going to annoy the fans of Vampirella because I insist on putting clothes on her. You know, I worked with Greg Rucka for so long that folk should know that I generally don't go for titillation.
I think people will be startled at some of the costuming choices we made. I'm not sure if people are going to like it or not. But it will not be a Vampirella you've seen before.
The traditional costume will certainly be featured on the covers. I have no doubt of that. Obviously, the pieces you've seen so far are pretty clearly the familiar Vampirella costume. But you don't actually see that costume in the first issue.
The character is still, obviously, an attractive female. But she's alien. She's otherworldly. She's kind of a terrifying supernatural figure. And men should look at her and see this powerful, statuesque, gorgeous woman, but instinctively have a feeling that there's something that's not quite right here.
In a lot of ways, she's isolated from the people she's fighting to protect. And there's always good drama and pathos from that.
Nrama: What is the story you'll be setting up in Vampirella #1?
Trautmann: The story is called "Crown of Worms," and initially, the goal in issue 1 is to showcase a harder-edged, more "street-level" Vampirella.
Nrama: As a writer, is this a new challenge for you?
Trautmann: It's a nice change of pace from what I've been doing in recent years. But it's along the lines of where I started out, with the Perfect Dark book, which was more of a science fiction story, but it was the same type of character.
I know I'm not well-known for horror stories, and there's certainly a horror unpinning to Vampirella, so that has been a little out of my comfort zone, which is good. Something Rucka told me is that if you're not scaring yourself once a week, you're not doing it right. And look at the creators that have worked on Vampirella and Red Sonya. The bar's been set really high.
So I'm just trying to do a good job and tell a good story, and to do something entertaining that I myself would enjoy reading, and hopefully other people will too.
Check back later this week as we talk to Trautmann about his upcoming four-issue arc on Red Sonja.