A Writer's Commentary by Erik Burnham on Vampirella/Dejah Thoris #1

Bleeding Cool presents… A Writer's Commentary by Erik Burnham on Vampirella/Dejah Thoris #1 on sale now from Dynamite.

Hey, folks! Erik Burnham here; welcome to the first of two commentaries I have this week — and I'm writing this one first because, well, it's a first issue. I didn't just arrive at this choice by chance.

As far as projects go, VAMPIRELLA/DEJAH THORIS: A VAMPIRE OF MARS #1 came to me in an interesting way — I got an email that said "Hey, wanna write something?" There was a story mostly in place, so I was being offered the chance to just have fun playing in this sandbox.

One of my first (paid) projects in comics was an adaptation of A Princess of Mars, back in 2008. Got it done (64 pages!) and in good shape, when the publisher decided not to go ahead with that one after all. Ten years later, I got a chance to go back to Barsoom, and I took it.

That out of the way, let's look at the rest of the creative team before we jump in, yeah?

Some killer covers — Jay Anacleto and Rain Berado on Cover A, Carlo Pagulayan and Wil Quintana on Cover B, Stephen Segovia and Elmer Santos on Cover C, Joe Jusko solos Cover D, Covers E and F are cosplay variants, and covers G and H are both by Maria Sanapo and Ceci De La Cruz.

I'm joined on this issue by artist Ediano Silva, colorist Dinei Ribeiro, Troy Peteri on letters, and Amy Jackson and Matt Idelson juggled the editing duties.

Okay, 240 some odd words is enough prelude. Let's get to the comic.


Welcome to Barsoom, and the Great Observatory of Helium. Science without pants!

PAGES 02-03

And now, we go to the court of Jeddak Tardos Mors. A little exposition — a spaceship is coming! — and a little back and forth about what the best course of action might be.

Also, hey look, it's Dejah Thoris with some sarcasm.

PAGES 04-05

But not just sarcasm — Dejah's got a brain, and she's showing it with some sound arguments that sway ol' Tardos Mors' opinion on what should be done. Gur Tus can just go sit on a tack, I guess.


Trying to remember that third "A" in Aaanthor always messed me up. It probably added six months to a year to the writing of this script.

(Okay, more like a half an hour, tops. But it FELT longer.)

This is one of the pages where I actually had to request an art change — Ediano went with a large bird instead of a flying vehicle for Dejah Thoris. It looked cool, but ultimately it wouldn't have worked. (Because it probably would've fled in a later scene, and then how would Dejah get back to Helium? It's a long walk!)


Is Vampi's spaceship design too on the nose? Maybe. But if any poison balloons are released near Gotham City, she'll be SET.

PAGES 08-10

Oh no! A white gorilla!

Luckily it's just a small one — and that Dejah is handy with a sword. (She said she could fight on page 5 — we couldn't just throw that information out there and not follow up, right?)


That's a lot of blood — surely the kind of thing that would attract the attention of a vampire…

But Dejah has other problems to deal with first.


A full-grown ape! It's like Rampage up in here, isn't it? Dejah's at a disadvantage and doesn't have a chance when… splorch.


I was not expecting this to look quite nearly as violent as it did. Thankfully, colors actually helped to tone it down!

You may ask why Vampi didn't just go for the dead ape. Well, that would really shorten our team up, but also because she was driven a little outside of logic at this point. So… kill the biggest, freshest source of blood. That's the answer we're sticking to! (That and the shortened team up thing.)

PAGES 14-15

Yes, both of our heroines have some psychic abilities, and that really helped this scene out. But not as much as the next one!


The crutch of psychic powers helped us to show instead of tell Vampirella's backstory, and it looks great.

PAGES 17-19

All of the rest of Vampi's exposition — the problems her planet had and what left her people to leave their home of Drakulon.

Of course Dejah's going to want to help.

And that's good.


Because the people of Drakulon are on their way!

Great cliffhanger, right?

Be back next month and we'll see what happens next!

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

twitter   facebook square   instagram   globe