Cullen Bunn, writer of Army of Darkness #4, talks with Troy Brownfield about Blood Queen vs. Dracula #1, both on sale now! Covers by Fabiano Neves and Jay Anacleto
TROY BROWNFIELD: Blood Queen vs. Dracula happened as sort of a logical extension of two other projects that I did: last year's Blood Queen series, and the Prince Dracula novel I wrote for Dynamite. As the first Blood Queen series was closing out, Nick [Barrucci] and I talked about different things that we could do for another mini or one-shot. The first thing that occurred to me, having had Dracula on the brain for so long for the novel, was a meeting between the two. Dynamite has done some different versions of Dracula before, so it seemed like a pretty natural fit.
CB: What do you think sets your version of Dracula apart from others we've seen?
TB: The two things that I really wanted to emphasize with my take on Dracula in this time period were his roles as both patriot and leader. In the original novel, there's a segment where Dracula talks proudly of having the blood of Attila in his veins and how his people fought to keep the Turks out of their lands. I chose to make the ongoing Ottoman conflict a focus, since that would have been a historical concern for both Vlad and Elizabeth Bathory. To that end, it also gave me the ability to depict Dracula in a kind of war-leader setting. To his own people, Vlad was a hero, a staunch defender of Transylvania. Granted, he was a real bastard (one does not accidentally acquire the nickname "The Impaler"), but there's evidence that his subjects loved him for fighting the Ottoman Empire. I thought that incorporating these notions of beloved leader and patriot would change things up from some of the typical depictions.
CB: A centerpiece of the story is Dracula's encounter with Leandra. Have we seen the last of her?
TB: We've seen the last of Leandra, unfortunately, but she's not the last of Elizabeth's students to appear in the story. The first issues also carries a reference to some of the young women joining Helena's Rebellion. Helena was a character from the first Blood Queen series, and I wanted those regular readers to know that she survived Elizabeth's rise to power and that she's still out there fighting. If we're fortunate enough to do more Blood Queen in the future, that's something I'd definitely get back to.
TB: I've done A LOT of reading about Dracula and Elizabeth in the past couple of years. I started on both Blood Queen and Prince Dracula in 2013, so I've amassed a lot of notes. I already had quite a few books in my own library that I could use (books on vampires, horror history, Stoker's books and the annotated Dracula, and so on). For Blood Queen vs. Dracula, artist Kewber Baal and I did some specific research on weapons and arms of the time. The cannon is right out of museum photos. The Ottoman outfits are taken from a combination of then-contemporary paintings, museum sites, and other locations. If I'm setting a story in a particular year, I want to be as accurate as possible. Kewber's done a terrific job. He ran basically every design and sketch for everything by me so that we could double-check each other. He deserves a lot of praise for his commitment to this book.
CB: Will the ratio of horse explosions to beheadings remain constant throughout the series?
TB: Who knew that so many people would mention the exploding horse? In the script I simply wrote "The Mounted Ottoman and his horse take the full brunt of the blast", and Kewber ran with it. When I saw the panel for the first time, I actually laughed because it's really just . . . damn. However, I believe that's the only animal explosion, so the beheading ratio will be uneven. If you were to ask about the ratio of beheading to neck-biting . . . I'd have to go back and count. Dracula's not nearly done on that score.
For more on Blood Queen Vs. Dracula #1, click here.