The Vampire Diaries comic is taking fans of the television show to character history they've never seen before — with this week's issue traveling to the American Civil War.
In a story focusing on Damon and Katherine, writer Colleen Doran and artist Cat Staggs will be taking the weekly, digital-first comic back in time.
The DC Comics series launched on Halloween last year, telling tales of the unseen history of the show, which airs on the CW. With characters that have lived as long as 1000 years, The Vampire Diaries still has a lot of unexplored territory.
Newsarama talked to Doran and Staggs to find out more about the Civil War story — and found out that Damon's lack of clothes keeps things interesting for the creative team.
Newsarama: Colleen, you've been writing the Vampire Diaries comic for awhile now. What's it like getting to play in this universe?
Colleen Doran: Oh, it's candy. It's catnip. I've really, really enjoyed it, and there are worse things than watching The Vampire Diaries all day as reference! It's really, really a lot of fun. I've thoroughly enjoyed it. It's been one of the most pleasant experiences of my career. It's just super fun. Everybody's enthused and engaged and is enjoying the heck out of it. And I just really like doing it.
Nrama: Let's talk about this story in particular. It takes place during the Civil War?
Doran: Yes. I actually live in the area where the Vampire Diaries would take place if it were actually a real location, in Virginia. So I dug into a little bit of what I knew about history, and local history, and came up with a story that takes place with Katherine and Damon.
I think I came up with a nice little creepy tale.
Nrama: Cat, were you familiar with The Vampire Diaries before you got the job drawing the comic? Or did you have to study up to understand it all?
Cat Staggs: I had heard of the show before. I had never watched the show before. I got the script, and I started reading it, and I was unfamiliar with Katherine altogether. And I thought, wow, I have no idea who these people are. So thank goodness for Netflix. I went on a hardcore binge of the show and caught up to real time.
But it was really a blast. I'm actually glad I got to watch it that way. I think if I had to watch all that in real time, it would have made me crazy in anticipation of what was coming. I really enjoyed it.
And I'm also glad because I was extremely confused about the whole doppelganger thing.
Nrama: The handy thing is that, during the Civil War era, there was only one of them running around.
Staggs: Exactly. Exactly.
Nrama: What was it like delving into the visuals of the Civil War era?
Staggs: Luckily, the show had a lot of material. But Colleen, being the awesome person that she is, supplied me with a lot of material that she has at her fingertips. And that was great, because I'm not as familiar with the Civil War. So it was very educational! A history lesson at work! But I really enjoyed it.
Nrama: Anything fun that you got to draw in this story in particular?
Staggs: Hmmm… Damon's naked! [Laughs.]
Colleen's giving me wonderful things to draw.
Doran: I'm trying to get it into every script. I think we made the editor very happy.
Nrama: And the fans! Colleen, who are the main characters in the story?
Doran: Katherine, Damon, a little bit of Stefan, and then a couple of characters that I came up with, that are seminal to this particular tale. And Emily Bennett. I really like Emily.
Nrama: So Cat, you got to create new characters?
Doran: Yeah. Creating the additional characters for the story was fun. It was a bit of a challenge, because at the beginning of the story, there are a lot of them, all in the same room. And keeping them separate and giving each one their distinctive outfit and their distinctive hair style was important.
With Katherine, she's very expressive and very animated. So I wanted to make sure I captured that with her. She's very mischievous, and there's always something brewing behind her eyes. I wanted to make sure I caught that, because I feel like it's a really important aspect of her character. She's always plotting something else. And I hope I managed to pull that off.
Nrama: Out of all the eras that exist in the Vampire Diaries universe, why did the Civil War interest you?
Doran: Because it's something I know a lot about. It's something that's core to the area where I grew up. My family is full of re-enactors. They collect memorabilia. They collect uniforms. They have a lot of stuff here to reference, if I need anything — right here in the house. And it's just where my brain goes when thinking about Vampire Diaries. I love all the backstory that takes place during the Civil War. I'm very, very interested in it. So it was one of the first story ideas I came up with.
I just find it really interesting. It's fascinating. It's one of the — in my opinion — three most important events in U.S. history, and of course, it's the seminal event for the entire series. So it was fun to go back and explore the characters' relationships, and explore other things that might have happened back then. We have to make it fit with what's already been created, and I think this story fits in there really well.