Seagle's BATULA: A Vampire Story for Kids ... No, Really


Next week from Image Comics, a new 48-page hardcover from Eisner-nominated comic book writer Steven T. Seagle and artist Marco Cinello will tell an all ages story that mixes vampire bites and bats.

Batula, a story about a fruit bat who gets bitten by a vampire, is the third in a series called "big books for little readers," following Frankie Stein by Seagle and Cinello and Douglas Fredericks and the House of They by Joe Kelly and Ben Roman.

The story of Batula centers on a fruit bat named Livingston, who thinks nothing about him is unique. He longs to be different. But after a vampire's bite turns him into a vampire bat, he finds out that being unique might not be everything he hoped it would be.

Seagle is also part of the Man of Action team behind the Ben 10 and Ultimate Spider-Man cartoons. In fact, it was his involvement in those kid-oriented projected that got him interested in writing a children's book.

The writer has a lot of projects in the works right now, having just finished The Red Diary/The Re[a]d Diary, a new graphic novel released in June. And recently, Man of Action announced that Seagle's Eisner-nominated graphic novel Kafka is being prepped for television with the Kenneth Branagh Co.


Seagle also recently told Newsarama that there are other Man of Action projects in the works with Marvel.

Newsarama talked to the writer about his latest project and what motivated him to write a book for kids.

Newsarama: With all the rage being about vampires, it's great to see a vampire story for kids. Where did you get the idea for this story?

Steven T. Seagle: Two places really. One is, I really love the artist, Marco Cinello, who I did the book with. And he works regularly in animation, for younger audiences. He was a SpongeBob guy and Rugrats guy. And I wanted to do something that would really exploit his talent. So we did a book a few years back called Frankie Stein, which is about Frankenstein monster. And another sketch he had done is this bat creature. And I thought it would be funny if it was a vampire bat. So I wanted to develop the story around that image.

And then the other place is just because, as a co-creator of Ben 10, I get asked all the time at conventions by parents, you know, "What of your books can my kids read?" And the answer is usually, "Nothing, because they're kind of 13 and up."


So I really wanted to start building a library of books I could give to kids.

Nrama: Why do you think it is that comic book publishers, and the writers who are so good at creating comics, don't usually write for kids? Why isn't this medium utilized more often for that audience, and do you think it should be?

Seagle: Certainly, it's obvious that comic books are just a way to tell stories. And when you look at, say, films, there are films for kids and films for teenagers and films for adults and films for women and films for men. We don't seem to have a problem saying, "here's a way for me to tell a story for all these audiences."


But comics has really lost that younger audience. Part of it is probably cost. I mean, comics are expensive. These kids books aren't necessarily cheap, but they're hardcovers and they're big and they're really nice production value, and I think they're priced competitively with kids books, so I'm really glad Image gives me the opportunity to do it.

So it's like all things. People see that there's no audience for something, and they don't make that. But if you make product for the audience, the audience will find the product.

Nrama: For kids or parents who might be interested in Batula, is there an overall message or theme behind the story?


Seagle: Yeah, absolutely. Marco and I have been doing these books as children picture books, and so we're trying to really fulfill what those products do in the marketplace, both artistically and creatively. So this book in particular is about a kid's desire to stand apart from the crowd, and then once you do, what makes you stand apart can be both a positive and a negative, depending on what you do with it.

So in this book, this bat doesn't think he possesses anything that makes him particularly special, and then he gets bitten by a vampire, which turns him into a vampire bat. Then he realizes that what makes him different is also something that can make him an outcast.

It's that journey of discovering and beginning to realize that, yeah, that does make him different, but he's able to help his bat colony through what he has become.

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