When The Vampire Diaries bi-weekly digital series launches on Halloween, fans of the show will learn untold secrets about the origins and histories of the show's characters and concepts.
Based on the CW show of the same name, The Vampire Diaries is following in the footsteps of hit comics like Smallville and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But in this case, the comic is being released while the TV show is still on the air.
So although the comic can't tough the future of the Diaries universe, the comic will be tapping into the series' still-unknown past. With characters that have lived as long as 1000 years, The Vampire Diaries still has a lot of unexplored territory, despite its frequent flashbacks to key settings from history.
For comic book writers like Colleen Doran and B. Clay Moore, that means there are scores of story possibilities in the past of the Diaries universe that can be explored in the new comic book.
What's the story behind the vervain used on the show? What happened when Stefan was a soldier during World War II? And what was Mystic Falls like when there weren't any Salvatore brothers around to spice things up?
There are also dozens of as-yet-explained supernatural "rules" from the world of the show. Although the story of The Vampire Diaries centers around vampire brothers Stefan and Damon (who are both in love with Elena), the series' greater mythology is filled with other characters and concepts that have been introduced in the show's five seasons — ancient curses, supernatural doppelgangers, vampire hunters, werewolves, spell-casting witches, and powerful rings and artifacts.
And because of the TV show's "anyone-can-die" approach, a lot of now-dead characters have stories that haven't even been touched upon yet.
The Vampire Diaries comic series will be told in short digital chapters first, then will be collected into print comics. Released every two weeks, the stories are being told in one- to three-issue arcs, with a wide variety of creators participating — including Leah Moore, John Reppion, Tony Shasteen and Cat Staggs.
Newsarama talked to B. Clay Moore and Colleen Doran to find out more about why they were attracted to the project, and what readers can expect to learn about Damon, Stefan, Elena and the supernatural story of Mystic Falls.
Newsarama: Colleen and Clay, you're both such respected writers in the comics industry. Why did it appeal to you at this time in your career to write comic stories within the Vampire Diaries universe?
B. Clay Moore: I've always enjoyed working with the editors on the West Coast at DC, and I like the digital format a lot.
But on top of that, my wife and I are big fans of the television show, and it's got a really great mythology that I think is fun to play around with. And I'm kind of curious to see how it crosses over between television fans and the comic book fans. Hopefully, it can bridge the gap.
Colleen Doran: I'm a huge fan of the TV show. And when they called me and asked me to write for the comic, I was just like, "Oh my God yes!"
It's such a rich, rich story, and it's very addictive. I mean, the show is crack. So to be able to watch it and work is amazing! Wow, I'm getting paid for this? OK!
Nrama: The TV show has jumped around in time quite a bit, with flashbacks and stories from the distant past of the characters, since so many of them are immortal. How are you guys choosing where to set your stories? Are they all set in one time period, or are there a variety of stories you're telling within the mythology?
Moore: We're both telling a variety of stories, and the initial stories pick up threads that were dropped in the series about past events.
I just sat down and thought about things that they had mentioned over the course of the series that I was curious about, related to the back-story.
One of my stories deals with the last time the two brothers, Damon and Stefan, might have seen each other before the series began.
And another of my stories — if you watch The Vampire Diaries, they throw these awesome, elaborate parties all the time. I mean, like almost every other episode. It's almost like a running joke in the show, but it's always a fun setting for things. So another story I did, I imagined what it might have been like at one of these parties prior to the viewers meeting the cast.
But mainly what I did was, as I watched the show, they always reference these moments in the past, because they have this 200-year history, and some of them intrigued me and made me want to go down that rabbit hole. So far, that's what I've done, is filled in the blanks as I'd imagine them, related to events that they've referenced in the show.
Doran: Yeah, we're in a position where, it's not like Buffy, where you do a comic after the show is over. [The Vampire Diaries is] still going on. They're still creating their canon. And we've got to make sure that whatever we come up with doesn't interfere with that.
Clay and I have looked for things that haven't been explained, looked for things that are just missing and have never been filled in by the show.
And of course, it helps that I can sit down and write it down, then send it off to see if the powers-that-be like the explanation that I've come up with.
The first story, for example, deals with the background of vervain. There are a couple things that have never been explained in the show. And I think I came up with a good explanation for that.
Most of the stuff I'm working on is going in those directions. I think we're all going there — where the show has not quite gone. But we can't go in the future. We're primarily going into the past.
Nrama: What do you think it is about the show that's so appealing? Is it because it takes the vampire mythology, but then makes it part of this much larger supernatural tapestry, with all kinds of monsters and witches and even powerful rings and tattoos and such? Is it these various branches they have to the story that keeps it interesting and supplies you with room to tell more stories?
Moore: Yeah, I think the show has done a fantastic job of building its mythology as it goes along.
I had never read the novels, so my experience is strictly with the show. But it's all really accessible to viewers.
Even in this new season, they've added a new branch of travelers and gypsies to the world they've built. It does add all kinds of different avenues, and the way they weave everything together is always interesting, as it relates to the characters.
And also, in terms of the show itself, I think the characters are all strongly written. And frankly, the cast, I think, is terrific on the show. Without a really engaging cast bringing these characters to life, it wouldn't be so appealing. So it makes it easier as a writer when you've got writers on the show and actors on the show that bring these characters to vividly to life.
Yeah, those are the appeals to me — the mythology that goes beyond what, at first glance might seem like a show about a love triangle. It's really about this larger world that exists, that they've done a really good job of bringing to life.
Doran: Also, hot dudes.
Moore: Yeah, hot dudes. There are hot dudes.
Doran: [Laughs.] Let's be frank.
I mean, what a terrific pool to swim in? I mean, we've got everything. We can go anywhere. There are so many fun things to play with as a storyteller. I never get bored with it. You never know where they're going to go.
And they're fearless! The writers on this show! There are characters that you love for two episodes, and they'll bump them off. You just never know who's going to buy it. It is crack. It keeps me engaged. I keep coming back, week after week after week. And I do marathons. I never get bored with the show. I never know where they're going to go.
Clay and I both hope we're going to be able to bring a little bit more richness to that experience with some of the stories we tell in the comics. We can do things, in some ways, that they can't do in the show. The television show is always going to be purely limited by budget. But if we want to draw the invasion of Normandy, you know? We can do that!
So I'm hoping we'll be able to time warp and jump around and do some elaborate things.
Nrama: Can you tease some of the time periods you know you're going to be visiting in the weekly issues?
Doran: The Civil War, definitely.
Moore: World War II.
Nrama: And how long are the stories? Do they continue? And are they like other digital stories that DC has been doing?
Moore: Yeah, it follows the model that DC has established with their digital comics. They're weekly comics, so if you're viewing them on an iPad, it's 20 screens, which would be 10 pages of a print comic book. They're one- to three-part stories. Beyond the weekly continuation of a three-part story, that's about it, although they kind of weave threads in that exist already in the show.
Nrama: I know you mentioned, Clay, that the actors have brought the characters so well to life. I assume that you do not have to struggle much with writing the voices of these characters, since they've been so well defined over the last few seasons?
Moore: No, not at all. In some ways, it's easier than if you're picking up — if you're doing a work-for-hire comic book about superheroes that have had different writers that have brought such distinct voices to match the themes they want to play around with. The tone of the TV show and the voices are pretty consistent.
And even when the characters have developed, I think the development has been pretty logical. It's always believable when a character takes a turn one way or another.
So no, it's pretty easy to get the voices in my head.
And also, all the hot dudes.
Nrama: The Damon voice particularly, right?
Doran: The Damon voice, yes. Dark, with snark. Then add more snark.
The only thing that I've been trying to keep in mind is, when doing scenes that occur in the past, trying to bring more regional and time-appropriate colloquialisms to their dialogue to show more of the elements of past lives.
Doran: I've now done two stories that reference that Civil War era, and I'm pretty careful about that. And you know, I live in that area. I live where Mystic Falls actually is, in Virginia. There's a map on the TV show, with a little red dot on it, and I saw that and said, "Holy cow! That's uncanny!" So I'm trying to bring a little bit more of that into the stories I'm doing. They're very quirky here — in some ways, it's nuttier than the show, but we don't have any hot vampires —
Moore: As far as you know!
Doran: Hey! There are bats in my attic, but that's as far as we've gotten so far. But you know, I'm trying to bring more Virginia type stuff to the story. Of course, they film the show in Georgia. But it's fun to just inject that a little.
But I think we're both enjoying the heck out of it, aren't we, Clay?
Moore: Absolutely! Definitely!
Doran: We did an interview at New York Comic Con, and we were like a couple of teenagers.
Moore: When got approved to do the stories, it was hard to explain to a lot of my friends in comics, who don't watch the show, why I was so enthused about it. There are some misconceptions about the show. I've kind of steered people toward Netflix, which is great in that regard. But I have to steer some of my friends to the show. It's not just a teenage drama. It's a lot deeper that that.
Doran: A lot of folks think it's a Twilight rip-off, and you explain to them that it pre-dates Twilight a number of years. And it's not Twilight. And we're not ragging on Twilight, but