Ron Marz: On Vampires and Valkyries

Ron Marz: On Vampires & Valkyries

Ron Marz may be best known for his stories about superheroes, but the writer has a couple new projects in the works that dabble in decidedly different areas of comic book entertainment.

And the writer is sharing a preview of both projects with Newsarama readers.

This weekend at Baltimore Comic Con, Marz and artist Lee Moder are previewing Shinku, a new vampire series they're developing [click here or on any of the following two pages to see the preview], while Marz is also working on a new motion comic called Valkyrie for Studio 414, the company that makes the Street Fighter and Voltron motion comics for SyFy, Xbox Live and iTunes.

While motion comics have just started to evolve as a way for existing comics to be translated to digital, Marz is taking the concept a step further by developing original material for the medium. The writer is taking a story he's been developing about present-day high schools kids discover two enemies from World War II, and translating it to motion comics.

"Valkyrie actually starts with a flashback. In the past, we show a battle between a pulp hero of the late '30s, and a Nazi saboteur. And 70 years ago these two were absolutely enemies," Marz said. "The story cuts to the present, where we meet Val, who is our hero, who is kind of the outsider at school. And her opposite number is Roxanne, who is the queen bee of the school.

"The girls eventually end up discovering the respective hidden lairs of the pulp hero and the saboteur," he said. "But the twist is that Val is the one who discovers the not too saboteur's layer, and Roxanne is the one who discovers the long lost headquarters of the pulp hero.

Marz has originally met the Studio 414 motion comic developers back when he was with CrossGen, when that publisher was working on translating comics to DVD. He recently ran into one of them again and struck up a conversation about motion comics.

"They've been doing this for a number of years, and getting a better handle on the best way to produce this stuff, and to do it so that it's actually motion comics rather than just pan-and-scan comics," he said. "So [they] asked me if I had anything original that might be appropriate for what they were doing."

character from Valkyrie

The writer said it was a little different to write a story for motion comic, although he was lucky that he already knew the voice actors the developers had in mind.

"I broke it down into essentially pages, or at least images, so that we had about the same amount of content that you would have in a single issue of a comic. But it's obviously a different process," he said. "It was really just a matter of me keeping in mind what works well in this process, and what is kind of deadly in this process. And the deadly stuff is just pages of talking head. Because if people aren't moving, if there's not anything for the camera to have fun with, it become very static and very dull."

Marz said he specifically created the two main characters, Val and Roxanne, as well as their male friend Brett, because there were existing teenage-sounding voices that fit the roles and already work with Studio 414. "That's how the protagonist ended up being the teenage girl, really," he said. "They said, 'Do you have any stories where the hero or the main character would be a teenage girl?'"

With Shinku, the writer is also exploring a concept that is a hot property in pop culture right now – vampires.

"This is me doing vampires how I like my vampires, which is pretty nasty and ruthless," Marz said. "I come down more on the monster side of vampires rather than the romantic side of vampires, which might not be what's currently in vogue. But I think there's room for everything. At least I hope."

The story is about a clan of vampire hunters who have been opposing a clan of vampires since feudal times in Japan. Through the centuries, the vampires have slowly been winning the battle, until, at this point, there's only one person left from the clan.

"She's carrying on a tradition of trying to stem the tide of the vampires who have worked their way into Japanese society, and are kind of the power behind the power," he explained. "So she's very much fighting a lone battle. And if she fails, obviously, the vampire clan's reach will extend itself even more."

Moder is drawing the comic in black and white with red spot color, to fit the theme of dark vampires and their drink of choice.

"We just decided to go that way because it makes the art look so good. I guess it's a little cheaper to print black and white with spot color, but that's not why were doing it. I just like the look of it," Marz said. "I think Lee's stuff is so strong that the black and white really shows off his work to great effect."

Shinku is something Moder and Marz are developing on their own, but the two are going to have limited edition previews available in Baltimore.

"Both Valkyrie and Shinku are based on ideas I've had in my head for awhile now," Marz said. "I just finally got together with the right people to make them happen."

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