Vampirella, the sultry vampiric siren of pulp history, is making a comeback on her 40th anniversary, in Harris Publication's Vampirella: Second Coming, coming out this week by Phil Hester and Daniel Sampere.
The series, which describes the beautiful bloodsucker as a phenomenon like Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page, pits the legend of Vampirella against a virus ravaging Washington.
But who is Vampirella -- what is her appeal, and what is her place in comics history? Newsarama sat down with Harris Publication's Bon Alimagno to talk more about the series.
Newsarama: Bon, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Considering the cult roots of the character, we guess there's just something about Vampi. How long as she been around, and what do you attribute to her longevity?
Bon Alimagno: Vampirella celebrates her fortieth anniversary this month. People tend to be shocked when I tell them that because they think she first appeared during the "Bad Girl" period of the early nineties. And because of that a lot of people tend to think her sexiness is the only thing that keeps her popular. But there's been a lot of comic book characters over the years who've shown nearly as much skin and maybe a few who've shown more. There's female characters out there that are essentially naked but are colored in such a way that it looks they're wearing skin-tight body suits or just have unusually colored alien skintones and they never receive the grief that Vampirella gets for her costume.
So what's the real reason Vampirella's stuck around for so long? That's something tackled in Second Coming. It's meta-fictional in the way Phil's gone about answering that question. There's characters in the miniseries who talk about her appeal, about why people would dress up like her and get tattoos that bear her resemblance and so on. For them it's about securing personal freedom in a world where their circumstances keep them down and out. For them Vampirella is an icon of freedom and strength, someone who's secure with who she is and doesn't let anyone stop her from doing her thing.
Nrama: For those who don't know Vampirella, what are five things we need to know about the character?
Alimagno: - We've shipped 20,000 copies of Second Coming #1, making it one of the most successful independent comic books this month. I'm not sure if the book has broken into the Top 100 but there's a very good chance of it. If the fans want to help make that happen they should ask their retailer to reorder the issue for them.
- She's been written and drawn by some of the finest in the history of the medium, from Archie Goodwin to Grant Morrison, from Jose Gonzalez to Joe Jusko, from Dean Haspiel to Brian Wood.
- She's been translated into everything from Spanish to Italian to Turkish so her appeal is worldwide.
- We're looking forward to publishing Vampirella online, including original online works.
- We'll be conducting an official model search through Vampirella.com shortly.
Nrama: Now, about this series. There's a Second Coming, based on the title. Could you go a little further about what this book is going to be about?
Alimagno: To add to the above: we didn't just want to celebrate the previous forty years but set the character up for the next forty. Phil leaves the character in a very different place than where she started. She won't just be a specific character anymore but much more than that: an icon, a symbol, an idea that can take on many, many forms. That opens up a lot of possibilities in the future.
It all begins with a virus that unleashes people's most savage desires and needs. A group of women are at first victims of the virus' infected but they soon form the front line against it with the help of Vampirella -- a completely different kind of Vampirella than you've ever seen.
Nrama: All right, now the creative team. You've got Phil Hester and Daniel Sampere -- how did they get involved with this project? What do you think their strengths are for a character like this?
Alimagno: I'd wanted to work with Phil Hester again since he last wrote Vampirella in 2006. That was a self-contained short story printed in our Halloween Special that year. So I wanted to give him a much larger stage to play on, and he gladly accepted the challenge. I personally feel he's one of the best writers working in comics today, someone whose status isn't still fully appreciated or recognized by the larger comic buying audience. They're really going to see him take Vampirella to a whole new level in this mini-series. His ideas are always big and challenging and never, ever dull.
Daniel Sampere was someone I'd been introduced to a few years ago at New York Comic-Con. He's an up-and-comer that I was happy to give the gig too. His powerful expressions and moody linework and inks brought Phil's story to life in a unique way. Unfortunately he had to come off the series in the middle of the second issue due to a health issue, but we were extremely fortunate to get Al Rio to step in and take over to finish the series. We'll be distributing some of Rio's art from the rest of the series shortly and it's truly remarkable. I don't think fans have seen work like this on a Vampirella comic before and I think fans have been waiting forever to see what he would do with the character. We're happy to finally deliver that experience to the fans and Al's really rewarded the fans for their appreciation.
Nrama: What's one thing in particular about this series that you are most excited about?
Alimagno: Forget everything you'd expect to see in a Vampirella comic book. You're not going to see it here. Phil and company break all the rules, overturn all expectations and set the character up in the future for some incredible adventures and stories.