The five-issue Dynamite series Legenderry: Vampirella is in comic shops now and Byron Brewer caught up with series writer David Avallone to talk about taking the iconic character and putting her in a whole new world… and the important question of "Why is everyone wearing swimming goggles?" Cover art by Sergio Davila.
DAVID AVALLONE: I am. I'm glad it comes across. I'm trying to write a comic I would want to read. And I want to be entertained. I couldn't be enjoying it more.
BB: What has been the most rewarding part of teaming with artist David Cabrera (besides a sharing of same first name, that is)?
DA: David is great. I can't say that enough: I'm very lucky to have him on the book. The most rewarding part is that he frequently comes up with a visual approach that's more interesting and more imaginative than what I put in the script. It's like working with a great actor. You have in your mind what you think is the best way to play the scene, and then they do something fantastic you never saw coming.
BB: Tell us more about this "Bat-Man" that Vampi meets this issue, if you dare!
DA: The idea came organically (no pun intended): I've got Doctor Moreau as one of my villains. In the Wells book and our series, he creates human-animal hybrids. Well, how would a human/vampire (human/Draculon) hybrid turn out? It seemed like an opportunity to engage in a little cheap satire of certain famous caped crusaders. Additionally… as established by Bill Willingham, the Legenderry universe tries to bring all the Dynamite characters together in one continuum, so this is my twisted steampulp version of the Black Bat.
BB: It looks like you are having a blast writing Kurtz. What is it about this character that you find so enjoyable? Is he your fave character in this book?
DA: I don't think Kurtz is my favorite, but I do love him. He's a mashup of two epic, iconic characters, and in Chapter Four he finally gets to deliver a Kurtz trademark line in a very Kane setting. When I first saw the big Kurtz rally scene, as drawn by David C., it made me laugh out loud. I'm hoping some of the readers have the same reaction.
As to my favorite character… I'd have to confess I've fallen for Vampirella. She's irresistible: a composite of all the strong no-nonsense women I've admired and loved my whole life. Second runner up might be Rupert of Hentzau, because he's a fearless coward. That's a fascinating thing.
BB: So I will ask you a question a young reader asked me at my LCS one week: Why is everyone wearing swimming goggles? (laughs)
DA: Believe it or not, this really bugged me and I put a lot of thought into it. I wanted a better explanation than "because Steampunk", and here's what I've arrived at. Fashion is rarely connected that strongly to function. Neckties, for example, have no actual function: they're a weird echo from an earlier time and we don't wipe our mouths on them, nor do we generally use them to display our clan affiliation. I think in the world of Legenderry, they're a fashion trend started by Flash Gordon. The quintessential spaceman crash lands wearing goggles, becomes the biggest celebrity in the world, and now everyone's wearing them. Because they're cool, and Flash Gordon wears them. Flash might have needed them once, but on everyone else they're just like a necktie, or a baseball hat worn backwards. No function, just a world of people who think they look cool.
This explanation appears nowhere in the comic, by the way … but you asked, and now you know. That's why. Goggles are "in" right now.
BB: How this book remains adventurous and funny as well baffles me. Is it a thin line?
DA: That sounds like a compliment, and I'll take it. Thanks. I have very little patience for books, movies, comics, plays, anything that is completely without humor. Because that's just not my experience of life, or the world. When I think of some of the worst things that have ever happened to me… there was always some part of it that was funny, even if it was bleakly funny, gallows humor. I find people who aren't funny to be terribly dull, and I get bored writing them. I like the style you find in movies from the thirties, where even the most minor character would get off at least one great, funny, clever line. I think that's more entertaining. Purely realistic dialogue is highly overrated, but the tricky part… the thin line… is making the dialogue smart and funny and yet still feel real. That's what I aim for, anyway.
For more on Legenderry: Vampirella #4, click here.