Since creating the world of American Vampire, Scott Snyder has been adding characters and concepts galore to the hit Vertigo series. For example, this week's American Vampire #26 explores the series' first African-American vampire, with a two-issue story set in the racially divided world of 1950's America.
But this summer, Snyder said the title, which he co-creates with artist Rafael Albuquerque, will feature what he considers to be one of the most important storylines in American Vampire so far: "The Blacklist." Beginning in June, the story arc pairs the title's most popular characters, the diabolical Skinner Sweet and heroic vampire Pearl Jones.
"The best that I can say is it's almost like, if, God forbid, I drop dead at the end of this [summer's story] arc and I never got to tell another story of American Vampire, this would be a great one to go out on," Snyder told Newsarama.
An Eisner Award-winning series, American Vampire is the Batman writer's original story about vampires who can evolve into new species. For example, the older vampires from Europe must stay out of the sun, but descendants of the relatively new vampire Skinner Sweet thrive in the sunlight and have powers that are distinctly American.So far, the series has covered at least 70 years of time, introducing readers to a cast of creepy yet compelling characters who both support and hunt these various breeds of vampire. And the title has even had a successful spin-off mini-series, American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest, and will introduce a new mini this summer titled American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares.
But in the main series, the title is heating up toward a major summer storyline. Newsarama talked with Snyder to find out more.
Newsarama: Scott, before we talk about that shocking scene at the end of issue #25 and how you're going to deal with it in "The Blacklist," what can you tell us about this two-issue storyline you have beginning this week? This is concentrating on Calvin Poole, right?
Scott Snyder: Yeah, we have a two-parter with a new artist, and it's a story in the '50s that follows what happened to Calvin, the African-American soldier who became an American Vampire in the "Ghost World" storyline. Calvin's a character I've been meaning to return to for awhile.
Nrama: Calvin's the first character we've seen created as an American vampire since the '20s. What does he represent to the overall American Vampire mythos?
Snyder: He's someone who matters a lot, because like you said, we haven't created a new American vampire since 1925, so in 20 years [of comic-world time], really. And he's also someone who's extremely interesting, because he's different. He has this experience as an African-American in this extremely difficult time period. And yet he has these incredible powers. His story is one we really wanted to do — and do well, and give some good breathing room in a two-issue story.
Nrama: One of the great things about American Vampire has been the way the stories visit different time periods in American history. You just finished up a storyline in the '50s, but you're staying there for awhile. But it looks like you're exploring a different part of American during the '50s. What's this story's overall theme about?
Snyder: To me, it's really about race relations, and it's also about doo-wop music. And it's about hope in the '50s and the sense of things changing. It really focuses on Calvin in the South as a taxonomist. He's the Vassals' taxonomist for vampires, even though he's one himself. So he's an expert in different species and what's indigenous to the country and what's not. So he's kind of seen it all.And he's getting tired of the idea of going around looking for remnants of old species or new things. He hasn't seen anything new in awhile. And this story is really about the first time he sees something very new. And it also tells you more about his history and secrets about him as well. So I'm really excited about it, you know?
Nrama: After that comes "The Blacklist," and when I talked to Rafael, he indicated this was a pretty important storyline.
Snyder: Yeah, this is a story that Rafael and I have been waiting to get to for a really long time. All these '50s stories are things that we talked about when we conceived the very first stories. Saying, "Oh, wait until we get there with Pearl and Skinner" and stuff like that.
This is the one where it really is going to be... the best that I can say is it's almost like, if, God forbid, I drop dead at the end of this arc and I never got to tell another story of American Vampire, this would be a great one to go out on.
Nrama: I could tell Rafael was excited about it. What does it do for the series?
Snyder: What it is is it brings us full circle for Pearl.
Nrama: At the end of issue #25, Pearl found Henry dying on the floor. That was quite a cliffhanger, and pretty heartbreaking.
Snyder: Issue #25 was one of the best issues of the whole series, I think. The way Travis ended that story was just huge fun. But that epilogue [with Pearl and Henry] really set up the next part of American Vampire.At the end of Calvin's story, you find out what has happened with Henry.
And then "The Blacklist" is really a story that brings them all full circle.
Nrama: Where does "The Blacklist" take place?
Snyder: It will bring them back to Los Angeles, where it all began for Pearl and Henry, in the very beginning. It's all set in the '50s, and it's got a lot about the time period in the story as well. We'll have elements of the Blacklist in Hollywood during that time period. And you'll see big mansions and movie stars and all kinds of crazy, evil vampires lurking around.
Nrama: It's obvious from the cover of issue #28 that Skinner and Pearl play a role in the story. What brings them together?
Snyder: I don't want to give too much away about it. But it puts Skinner and Pearl together on a mission in the city where they first met, while Henry's life hangs in the balance."The Blacklist" picks up with Pearl and Henry, and other characters like Calvin come into it. It brings everyone back to the things they've been afraid of facing for a long time. Part of that is the big abstract truth that Pearl tries not to think about, which is that Henry is getting older and he's going to die someday. And unless they change him into a vampire, he's not going to be around forever.
And yet he's made her promise not to do that, because they decided they would never do that out of fear of losing one another. They'd only do it out of a sense of wanting to begin over again, or something positive and progressive, and not out of just terror of losing one another, because that would cheapen it. So Pearl is at a place right now where, at the end of issue #25, Henry might be dying.
This is a moment that Pearl has been dreading for a really long time. It's also the moment that Skinner has been waiting for, as well, for her to be alone, away from Henry.Henry is desperate to come back somehow from where he is physically. I don't know if there will be a chance for him. His life is really hanging in the balance.
Nrama: Henry's death is something the readers have kind of dreaded too. Every time you think about what might happen to Pearl in, say, the '70s, you can't imagine it because there won't be a Henry.
Snyder: Yeah, well, you'll have to see. There are so many possibilities with him. I mean, Rafael and I know what's going to happen, obviously. But he's a really important character to the series. This arc, "The Blacklist," even though Henry begins it in a hospital bed in critical condition, you're going to see a tremendous amount of the life that he and Pearl have lived together up until this point, so he's going to be a big part of the storyline as well.It's really our opus, this one. It's like "Ghost War" was a year ago. "The Blacklist" is the storyline we're really looking forward to everyone reading. It's really a big game changer. It brings to bear all of the things that we've set up story-wise in the series and thematically, and most importantly, emotionally for the characters. So it's really an epic story for us.
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