There is a virtual cinematic pantheon of actors so closely associated with horror and the macabre that they epitomize the medium. While some made their marks through their portrayals of monstrous creatures and supernatural beings, there is an elite group of performers who helped to define the medium through their on-screen presence—a presence that rarely required any makeup or special effects. And one of the most illustrious in that latter group was Vincent Price.
While Price’s half-century-plus career saw him perform in a variety of roles, it was his horror work that made him famous—first for Universal and later for Roger Corman and American International Pictures, among other studios. And while there’s no way to convey that unique voice on the printed page, Bluewater Productions is bringing Price’s name, his prestigious reputation, and some of his cinematic roles to comics in their new line of Vincent Price Presents titles.
Publisher Darren G. Davis explained how Vincent Price Presents came about. “After our success with Ray Harryhausen comics, we wanted to work with another film legend. In addition to continuing our work with the Harryhausen properties, we wanted to try something new. We tossed out some names of people that we liked, and Vincent Price was always at the top of everyone's short list. We find his body of work and presence on film to be really inspirational, so we wanted to recreate his legacy for a new generation of comic book readers. Not only are we developing sequels to his specific films, we are also developing gothic horror stories in the spirit of his legacy.”
The concept advanced from brainstorming to finished proposal very quickly, according to Davis. “Last fall, we decided that we wanted to expand our brand with a series of stories that feature gothic horror elements, but also contain new and innovative twists,” the Publisher said. “Always the main focus was on good storytelling, as opposed to the gore of recent hack and slash horror. I was working with Chad Helder on Bartholomew of the Scissors, which is a forthcoming horror comic with an exciting take on the genre, and we wanted to use the same vision for this new series. The result of the negotiation is the debut of Vincent Price Presents in the Fall 2008.”
The project will encompass a variety of approaches. “There will definitely be prominent story elements running throughout the series, including plots and characters. In some cases, we will extend plots over multiple issue story arcs, but there will also be stand-alone stories.
“At this point, the series features a weird menagerie of stories, including dark tales about a vampire concentration camp, a taxi cab driver who discovers a strange purpose to his fares, a scientist who finds himself trapped inside a mysterious world where horrifying things happen, and a boy who must confront a terrifying dog creature that is chained inside of his father’s dungeon. In addition to these original stories, we’re working on sequels to his film library, like Last Man on Earth, House on Haunted Hill, and The Raven.”
Which creators will work with Davis on Vincent Price Presents? “The lead writer for the series is Chad Helder, who is also working on the forthcoming Bartholomew of the Scissors. Chad brings a unique gothic vision to the series. He has a background in studying the works of Poe, which really contributes to his understanding of Vincent Price’s film legacy; it helps that he is also a huge fan.
“In addition, Bluewater writer Scott Davis, who wrote the sold-out series Ray Harryhausen Presents: 20 Million Miles More, will also be contributing to the series. The vision for the artwork ranges from the avant-garde to the expressionistic to traditional sequential art. We really want to make this book unique and innovative in both artistic vision and storytelling. Some of the contributing artists will be Rey Armenteros, Gio T, and Daniel Crosier.”
The books will also include prose backups, such as memories of her father's career by Victoria, overviews and anecdotes as well. “We plan on all of them,” Davis said. “We want this to be more than just a license featuring pictures and concepts from Vincent Price's past. There are a couple of stories that he developed and did nothing with.”
What role does Vincent Price play in the series? “Vincent Price will serve as a host who introduces the stories, the inspirational muse for the series, and as an iconic player who lingers in the background in some stories, and steps forward as the leading man in other stories.”
Davis found the Price estate to be not only receptive, but enthusiastically supportive of the project. “We’re working with Victoria Price, Vincent's daughter. When we contacted her about doing this comic series, she was really touched and excited about the series because it helps energize her father’s legacy for a new generation. She told us that the estate is planning a big celebration for his 100th birthday in 2010, and this comic series fits into those plans perfectly.”
Will Vincent Price Presents focus only on his horror and macabre roles, or will it expand to touch on his other work as well? “The stories for this series will primarily feature fantastical stories with gothic horror elements, but we will also include themes from his work in the mystery and suspense genres,” Davis said.
Davis offered more information regarding the sequels that he mentioned earlier. “We’re working with Legend films on a couple of sequels,” Davis confirmed. “The first one we are doing is Last Man on Earth. Legend Films is distributing the film in color for the first time ever. As a bonus, they will include the comic on the DVD as a feature. We also have plans for the Vincent Price classic House on Haunted Hill. And we plan on using Vincent's likeness in some of the stories—for instance, Last Man on Earth features his likeness.
“Most of the comics will be re-imagined as sequels, because straight adaptations of the films lack the dynamic and imaginative qualities of Bluewater sequels. These are classic films that left people wanting to know what happened afterwards. These comics will satisfy the thirst for more while also adding imaginative updates for a contemporary audience.”
What is the common link that will define Vincent Price Presents? “All of the stories take place in a slightly skewed, gothic landscape where all sorts of fantastic and unexpected things can happen. In some cases, as we’ve already discussed, the stories are an homage to genre films like Price’s work with Roger Corman. In other instances, the stories are a new fusion of gothic and sci-fi elements. A story for this series needs to be connected to the gothic tradition of Vincent Price, but also needs some new innovative angle that makes the story fresh and dynamic.”
Ray Harryhausen, and now Vincent Price... are there any other celebrity-themed books in the works? “We’re in talks with another major celebrity talking about doing a sci-fi line. This person is a sci-fi legend, but we can’t announce it until we have everything signed. Trust me, this will be huge! Working with some of these celebrities is amazing—it’s like reliving my childhood.
“We’re also working on the Ed Wood classic Plan 9 From Outer Space...Strikes Again. Like the cult classic, this comic will combine campy horror and shocking quasi-absurdity. Tom Corbett: Space Cadet is an old 50's franchise that was on TV and in the bookstores—sort of a kids’ version of Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers. Both of those series will be out in first quarter of 2009.”
Vincent Price Presents will debut from Bluewater Productions in October of 2008.