Readers may have wondered if American Vampire would survive the exit of star writer Stephen King, but the comic is apparently still doing so well that Vertigo has announced a spin-off mini-series.
The comic is also part of the "Jumping-On Points" program, which means DC is including a two-page recap in the front of next month's Issue #13, labeling the title as something fans should check out.
Scott Snyder, who created the "AmVamp" universe with artist Rafael Albuquerque, launched the title last year with the help of King. As this week's issue #12 comes out, the series will take a one-shot break to focus on the original American vampire, Skinner Sweet, before starting its third story arc in March.
American Vampire #13 begins a story that takes place during World War II and features all the major players in the AmVamp universe. Then late spring, Vertigo will release a five-issue mini-series titled American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest with art by Sean Murphy, following a different "front" in the World War II story.
It's a lot of activity for a fledgling Vertigo series, but that's the kind of year Snyder has had. After all, he also began a critically acclaimed run on DC's Detective Comics in November and will soon be co-writing a historical mystery in the mini-series Batman: Gates of Gotham.
In the second installment of our three-part talk with Scott Snyder, we ask the writer about Survival of the Fittest, the future of American Vampire, and whether there's any interest in the series from other media.
Newsarama: Scott, you have an issue coming out that DC is labeling one of its "jumping-on" points. Is it the start of the next story arc?
Scott Snyder: We actually have two great jumping-on points coming for us. One is this week, with American Vampire #12, which is a stand-along story. You really don’t need to know anything to pick it up.
And American Vampire #13 is the beginning of a really big story, and they’ll have a recap in the beginning and the narrative form in the jumping on points. And it's actually going to have a two-page intro, as a lot of DC books have already got. So anyone that hasn’t picked up the series, it should be a great place to begin.
Nrama: What’s this week's American Vampire #12 about?
Snyder: It's is a stand-alone story that reveals a secret, a lost tale of Skinner Sweet. So it actually goes back to the 19-teens and tells a tale of Skinner when he stumbles onto a Wild West show that features some of the people that he used to know in the Old West. But they’re old, and he’s still young. And he’s not very happy with the way he’s portrayed in the show.
And it also reveals some startling things about his character as well, so it’s not just meant to be a story that doesn’t work with everything you’ve read, or you will read. So we wanted to have it be something that’s really relevant, and gives you some sense of who he is beyond what you’ve seen already.
And that stand-alone story has art by Danijel Zezelj, who’s amazing.
Nrama: American Vampire #13 begins your much anticipated World War II arc. Is that also a good jumping-on point?
Snyder: Definitely. It's the start of a story I’ve been dying to tell for a long, long time.
Plus Rafael is back with this story, and he’s actually halfway through this arc already. So I’ve seen these pages, and I can tell you they’re his best by far. He’s on the second issue of it already.
It's five-part arc that brings everyone back into the mix while adding to the mythology of the series. It features Henry, Pearl, and Skinner, and it really focuses on all the conflicts that have been between them up to this point coming to a head.It takes place on the Pacific Front of World War II. Henry volunteers to go overseas with a covert mission to furrow out what might be a nest of vampires. With the backdrop of the war, it’s going to be a big, epic tale.
It really highlights the characters that have formed the backbone of the series, and then it’ll bring in new characters into the fold — and new kinds of vampires as well. New species and characters that will carry forward in the series as well. And the return of a couple characters from the past. So it really is going to be the biggest, most epic story we’re done so far.
Nrama: About the same time, you have a spin-off series coming. What can you tell us about American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest?
Snyder: Yeah, I'll be doing a mini-series with Sean Murphy, who I adore, and I want everybody to cyber-bully him to go on Twitter, and use the internet more. I’ve been a fan of his forever and he and I met a few times and talked about the possibility of working together. I couldn’t sing his praises more. He did the cover for issue #13, and that should give you a sense of how awesome he’s going to be.
Survival of the Fittest is a five-part story that will run toward the end of the World War II arc it’s going to begin. It takes place in the same timeframe, except on the Eastern Front. And it picks up on characters like Cash from the second cycle, and his son, his vampire son. We'll also see Felicia, Jim Book’s daughter. And there will be a lot of the Vassals.
Nrama: The Vassals of the Morningstar we saw this last story arc?
Snyder: Yeah. And they're the group that’s been at war with vampires, the human group that’s been trying to stamp out this bloodline from the very beginning. At this point, they're sort of high-tech and are almost like a black-ops team that have their base in New York City.
So it’s going to fill you in on a lot of who the Vassals are, who they’ve been in the past, and how they’re in the process of coming to America to set up a real base of operations, because they realize now that the vampires are really here to stay.
The mini-series takes place when they send over this young unit, and that’s going to introduce a couple new characters. But it also has a few crossover characters from the story that Rafael and I are going to tell in the main series. So they send this young unit over the Bavarian mounts to investigate undercover whether or not this scientist has actually developed a cure of vampirism, as he claims. They want to see if it’s true.
They all have a personal stake in this "cure" for vampirism. Felicia has a personal stake because something is off about her, and she understands that she the daughter of Jim Book. You'll remember that when she got bitten in the second cycle, the vampire spit out her blood and said, what are you? Something is different about her.
And Cash has an infinite son who was infected in the womb. He's a really ferocious, frightening character who doesn’t grow, who’s still a baby, which you’ll see in that cycle as well.
So they both have a very personal stake in whether or not this cure exists. It’s going to be set among castles in Old Europe, and snow in the mountains, with all kinds of new and very old vampires, with characters that you met in the second cycle, and a couple you’ll meet in the third.
And Rafael is such a power house, and his art on this upcoming cycle is his best stuff by far. He’s doing all washes and I really will stand by that. He’s going to be listed as co-creator from now on, ‘cause nobody deserves it more.
Nrama: Scott, at the end of the first arc, when Stephen King was no longer writing your characters, it had to be a little concerning, whether it would affect sales. But the fact that Vertigo has enough confidence in the sales numbers to support a mini series has got to feel good to you as a creator.
Snyder: It feels great. I mean, DC has been wonderful to me from day one, and I feel extremely lucky for everything that’s come my way. The other day, my friend was joking around and he was like, "Well, who would you like to write if you could write anybody?" I started to think about it, and I thought, well, I’m doing it. It’s Batman, and my own stuff, and there is something very exciting coming down the pipe later on, but it’s like way, way down the line. And that's one I'm really wanting to write.
But anyway, yeah, it feels great. It feels good because, aside from the sales and stuff, it’s fun to be able to get to tell the stories that you want to tell with the people that you like working with. Mark [Doyle], our editor, has become one of my best friends. And Rafael has become a really dear friend too. And Sean as well, for the spin-off, but to be able to do the stories that we talked about months and months ago and we're all excited about and to have that room to do it for now – I feel really fortunate.
And we’d be happy with what we’ve been able to do if we weren’t able to do it a week from now. But hopefully people will keep liking the series.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there any interest in this series at all from TV or movies? Because you’ve created such a rich continuity already in just, what, 11 issues? It seems like it's perfect for an ongoing show.
Snyder: I don’t know, to tell you the truth. They shield me from that stuff. So I’m hoping that there’s interest from people, and that that’s happening, because I would love to see another medium tackle these characters. But I'm glad someone else is handling that kind of thing because we’re just focused on making the best comic we can, and I think DC’s probably right to put those horse blinders on us that way. Just keep writing the comic, and that’s enough. It absolutely is. If it never became anything else, I would still die an extremely happy person.
Check back tomorrow as we talk with Snyder about what's coming up in Detective Comics.