Kate Leth: A Writer's Commentary on Vampirella #1. Cover is by Chrissie Zullo. Interiors are by Eman Casallos and Valentina Pinto.
Welcome to my commentary for Vampirella, issue 1. I haven't done one of these before, but hopefully it'll shed some light and insight onto choices I made as the writer! So that I don't say it in every single line, please note: Eman's art is great, yay Eman!
So here we are at the beginning of this arc, tentatively titled "disposable extras," ahah. My boyfriend works as an extras casting director in Hollywood, and I mined him for information about how the system works. Santa Clarita is apparently a very popular destination for shooting — and I know from having enough actor friends what a nightmare call times are. Real-life horror!
This is my first horror book, as most people know, despite being a fairly avid reader of horror comics. Naturally, I wanted to kick things off with a bang. This crew and these woods will make a return…
Hard cut to our protagonists. Tristan and Coleridge were two characters from Nancy Collins' run that I absolutely adored. I love the idea of Vampirella having a boyfriend – a character like her in a stable, supportive, but still very sexy relationship is definitely something we don't see often. I think a lot of people worried that I'd somehow take all the sex appeal out of Vampirella – to which I ask, "have you met me?!" I think you get an idea from this page of how these two (Tristan and Vampi) interact.
A friend of mine remarked to me a couple of days ago that from her apartment she can see "a creepy old manor in the hills" here in LA. I suspect it's Vampirella. It's got to be, right? Anyway, here's a werewolf sex joke, because I am absolutely shameless.
Oh, Coleridge, you SCOUNDREL. It's a bit transparent, but here I'm trying to set up for new readers what this relationship is – Tristan and Coleridge don't know each other well and are a bit competitive for Vampi's affections, although obviously Coleridge is more of a maternal figure. Why hasn't Tristan transformed, if it's a full moon? Well, much like Vampirella's 'not that kind of vampire,' Tristan has some ways of fighting his animal side.
And here we see THE CLASSIC COSTUME. This book was a tricky one, because we wanted the traditional outfit to make an appearance, but it was very important to me to have a reason for it. Here she's trying it on with her partner, flirting with him, in this safe space they have together. OR IS IT?
NO, it isn't, because she's being attacked! Oh no!
So here, when we see Vampi fighting with the intruder – she was wearing the costume already. This is, as an aside, one of my favorite of Eman's pages. I love the silhouettes.
Problems abound for Vampi. Who is Slade? Why has she sent an assassin after Vampirella? Who's taking pictures of her in the backyard? Smells like a set-up, doesn't it? I love this panel set-up, too, especially after how freeform the last page is. I'll also note that I made specific instructions about Vampi's manicure. I'm that kind of person.
Things like this don't shake up Vampi and her crew too much, do they? Not enough to stop our favorite couple from helping each other relax…
I'm very proud of the jokes on this page, ahah. Vampi's struggle to get Coleridge to stop calling her Milady will probably never die, I like it too much. As for Vampi's "All my angles are good" – I dedicate that line to Marguerite Bennett. The username bizcazfri is a reference to Homestar Runner that I'm sure 0.01% of people will get but hey, you have to make writing fun for yourself!
THE GOTH CLUB. Also the introduction of Vampirella nicknaming Tristan "Puppy" which may have happened because I was relistening to American Gods around this time, and it's the name Shadow's wife used to call him. It works too well for a werewolf, and it stuck. Goth clubs were one of the things I was most excited about when moving to LA, and though I haven't been to one yet, I sure do keep writing them. We also get to see some of Vampirella's powers of convincing here, when she shows up without ID…
Not much to say here – setting up action, getting ready for a big reveal, and introducing another villain.
I've written "Surprise! Bet you thought you'd seen the last of me!" into too many comics lately, but it's too funny! Here we finally get to see Vampirella in her new outfit, although it'll pop up much more, especially in the latter half of this arc. Another enemy attacks her and then dissolves… Pretty gross, n'est-ce pas?
We meet Juliette Court, who will join us for this arc at the very least – very short, very charming, and very gay. Vampirella doesn't need many things in this world, but maybe a PR agent…? I often describe her in the scripts as "business goth."
Juliette's a character I've kind of fallen in love with while writing this book, which is no surprise. She's named after a friend of mine who looks and acts nothing like her, but it probably helps. Here we get the set-up, the initial reactions, and especially Tristan's distrust… Or is it a bit of jealousy?
Vampire sex jokes! Listen, if you picked up this book and didn't expect supernatural sex jokes, I honestly don't know what to tell you.
We return to our MONSTER. I love Eman's drawing of him here. And yes, it's absolutely intentional that the boy trips and falls while running through the woods instead of the girl.
"I'm not even union!" Is maybe my favorite line from this issue. It's SUCH a Hollywood joke, and as this is meant to be a very Hollywood book, it also helps set the scene. It's been so exciting on this book to get to write blood, gore and action. I haven't really had the chance before, and I love it.
We arrive at our finale and our first cliffhanger. Things are about to get stranger, darker and probably sexier in the city of angels. Next issue we'll find out more about Slade, what she wants, and how Vampi and her agent fit into this new world. Thanks for reading this little synopsis – enjoy Vampirella!