Vampirella's always had the looks, the powers, the mystique. But thanks to Wagner Reiss, she's got something that she hasn't had before: Pants.
Working with writer Eric Trautmann on the Dynamite book (Interview with him here), Reiss is taking a whole new look on the pulp siren of vampiric heroism. What do you do when you change an icon's look so dramatically? Newsarama spoke with Reiss to talk about how he felt with the new change and the designs he's implemented in Vampi's world.Newsarama: So Wagner, how did you end up getting involved with Vampirella?
Wagner Reiss: Well, I'm a beginner in the market with less than 5 published books, and Dynamite gave me the opportunity to grow in what I enjoy and love doing. Although I only produced 2 books (BLACK TERROR #10, BLACK TERROR #11) I had stated my interest to Nick and my agent Klebs in doing something from the beginning where I could develop concepts and was presented with this formidable title, being able to be part of a team formed by great artists such as: Frazetta, José Gonzales, José Ortiz, Tom Sutton... it's formidable. Vampirella has magic and a story to be told to a legion of fans and new readers as well. I try to respect all that, knowing the weight and the responsibility that Vampirella represents.
I was asked to use a darker tone than the one used in BLACK TERROR, so I started playing with the shadows and got more and more involved, we should be ready to discover what hides in the shadows and its drawn by blood.
Nrama: I'm sure you'll be hearing a lot about this -- Vampirella now has pants. I have to ask, when you saw that in the script, what'd you think about that?
Reiss: It was intriguing and scary, how to deal with an icon and all the symbology that her uniform represents? The answer: Eric Trautmann. We'll fear Vampirella surely, but the true fear goes beyond her, it's something between us and the world we live in. Because of that I believe it would be hard to see her using her costume, and Trautmann does this in a formidable manner. Each attitude, each panel, background are described in a way to intensify the personality and the universe of Vampirella.
Nrama: Vampirella's costume has been described as a "space thong with cosmic go-go boots" -- but now that she's suited up, how do you approach the character? Do you have to come up with different visual iconography now that the costume is out?
Reiss: In the first pages I did Trautman and Joe felt something was missing, something that could identify Vampirella and suggested a pendant just like the bird in her swimsuit, so we could identify her in a first moment and I tried to reinforce that with a dark and terrifying feeling and... well, in the final issues of ULTIMATES 2, CAPTAIN AMERICA doesn't even wear his uniform, but his existence and symbolism go beyond that, I think not wearing a swimsuit won't be a problem.
Nrama: Let's talk about the physical fireworks -- namely, this is going to be a much tougher Vampirella, right? How are you looking at some of the fighting that Vampi will be doing?
Reiss: She goes beyond the basic concept of a traditional vampire, Vampirella isn't even from this planet. I think it's a step up, but I notice there is something out of the ordinary with this new breed of bloodsuckers and I don't know what it is, but for sure, it won't be easy for her, I try to express this in the most vibrant and intense manner in the pages where she faces the vampires.
Nrama: How about character design and the villains and the like? Can you say anything about how you're building up the villains that Vampirella might fight?
Reiss: I'm enjoying a lot the variety and the nuances that were presented to me, Dracula, Vlad the impaler, how can I say... he is the man. It's centuries of history, historical moments and no pun intented, a rich life story. Having the opportunity to work on this character is gratifying. There is a scene that describes his ascent and previous conquests that I loved doing, I thought of Gary Oldman, it was amazing. Le Fa Nu, Sofia... Trautmann brings us a universe surprisingly rich in symbology and detail.
Nrama: Lastly, for those who are still on the fence as far as Vampirella goes, what would you say to get them hooked on this book?
Reiss: To everyone, we should surrender ourselves to this rich, fantastic world, darkness has never been so sexy and frightningly... crimson.What do you think of Vampi's new look?