This October, we'll be getting to see two fan-favorite horror franchises meet up for the first time as Shawn Aldridge and Rapha Lobsoco bring us Hack/Slash Vs Vampirella #1 from Dynamite Entertainment. I got a chance to talk to Aldridge about bring together the iconic Vampirella and Tim Seeley's horror duo Hack/Slash and just what might make those worlds collide. Cover art by Goran Sudzuka, Jenny Frison, and Carli Ihde.
DAN WICKLINE: You're taking two popular horror franchises and mixing them together. So, let's start with, Vampirella. An iconic horror character that has been around for over 40 years. What do you think makes her such a long-lasting character, and what are the strengths and characteristics that you want to tap into for this series?
SHAWN ALDRIDGE: I think what helps Vampirella be timeless, for lack of a better word, is that she can easily be molded to fit the current tastes in horror without losing her core. She's been a crypt keeper type narrator, a peripheral character in stories, and the center of her own tales. She's evolved as horror evolved, yet never stopped being Vampirella. She's a reflection of our thoughts on horror and to a certain extent our thoughts on society as a whole.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't say her "visuals" have probably helped her longevity. For me, the fact that you can put her in any story, any situation and not lose the core of her is her biggest strength. As a character, she's strong, sexy, and wants to save people, or that's how I've always viewed her. So that's how I portrayed her in this story. There's a running gag with her, Vlad, and her "mesmerizing gaze" that was just hell of a lot of fun to play with.
DW: Now let's talk Cassie Hack and Vlad. This is a beloved comic series that Tim Seeley came up with. What do you think made it resonate so well with comic readers, and what elements from the series do you want to play with in this new series?
SA: Hack/Slash is proof that a well thought out and original concept can resonate for a very long time. The idea of the "last girl" becoming a sort of vigilante battling slashers is brilliant. But any concept is only worth the strength of the characters within it. Luckily, Cassie and Vlad are both strong characters. I think what also helps it resonate or climb above other books at the time it started was that Cassie was a female lead that had some depth to her. She wasn't just a skimpy costume and Playboy poses.
At the heart of all that, also, is the relationship of between Cassie and Vlad. That sibling-like connection they have is what I played with the most in this story. Cassie is very headstrong and sometimes a bit "jump in and figure it out later," while Vlad is a bit more reserved. They balance each other out. A lot of their interactions in the book are very big brother/kid sister.
DW: And the big question: what on Earth, or not on Earth, could bring these two franchises together? What can you tell us about the story we're going to see?
SA: The Blood Red Queen of Hearts is the villain of the book. She also might possibly have the longest villain name in existence. She's an old Vampirella villain who goes around ripping out people's hearts in order to bring the Mad God Chaos to Earth via some ancient ritual. As for the story — while having some downtime in Vegas, Cassie and Vlad catch wind of people having their hearts ripped out. Of course, they figure it's a Slasher. Later, Cassie is looking around a crime scene, when suddenly…Vampirella pops up. Fun times happen. They eventually team up to stop the destruction of mankind.
DW: These franchises come from very different types of horror eras, Vampirella more of a classic gothic style while Hack/Slash is from a new modern slasher film style. How do you blend those two subgenres together?
SA: I ignored the subgenres and just made it a buddy cop movie comic. Haha. Originally, I was approaching this as a rather heavy, dark horror story, but about 10 pages into the first script I realized Cassie, Vlad, and Vampirella had no interest in being a part of that kinda story. What the book ended up being about was friendship and love and three people bonding over hearts ripped from chests. Don't get me wrong — there's still gangster zombies and knives and guts and all that, but the heart of it (unintentional pun) is regardless of how different Vampirella and Cassie seem, they're very similar. Vlad, too. As Tim Seeley put it, There's a lot of character moments in this. Or to put it another way, it's a book about good and bad relationships told against the back drop of demons and Vegas.
DW: You're working with Rapha Lobosco on this series. What does he bring to the table that made him the right choice for the project? Are you crafting your script towards his style, or are you more focused on telling your story and leaving him to work with your ideas?
SA: My editor, Kevin Ketner, suggested Rapha, and I'm so glad he did. Rapha's stuff is just gorgeous to look at. I think, coming off Bond, Rapha was itching to do some horror and it shows. There's a real energy to his art on this. I got really lucky in that Rapha's style fit what I was doing so well, which is a testament to Kevin knowing who would fit. There's a lot of subtle moments and interactions in the book that only work if the facial expressions are spot on. Rapha really nailed those. Toss in Chris O'Halloran on colors and Crank! on letters and the whole thing is just a visual delight.
DW: In a sentence or two, why should readers pre-order this series? What about for the person who has never read either Vampirella nor Hack/Slash?
SA: Well, if the mention of love and friendship hasn't driven them off, I'd say people should pre-order the series because it's the most fun I've had writing a book and I think or hope that comes off on the pages. OR because you've always wonder what Bad Boys would be like with two female leads and been produced by Hammer Films. As for those who've never read Hack/Slash or Vampirella? Have no fear. Everything you need to know is within the pages of this book. No prior knowledge is needed. I know Vampirella's origin and powers can be a bit confusing, so I played that up in the book. She's constantly telling Cassie, "I'm not that kind of vampire."