MightyGodKing Interviews Chris Sims About Dracula The Unconquered!

If you’re still craving more information about Drac, you’re in luck!  At MightyGodKing.com, Christopher Bird has interviewed Chris about the upcoming series, how it compares to the classic Tomb of Dracula, and how the universe around him works:

SIMS: I don’t do the big list, at least in the first couple of issues, the way it works in my head is that all your standard vampire powers and weaknesses — super-strength, they drink blood, sunlight burns them up — are common traits among all the vampires. But then you have the cool extra powers that are usually attributed to Dracula — being able to summon wolves and turn into a bat and take the form of mist — are King of the Vampires powers. Those powers are like the magical equivalent of a crown and scepter. They’re bestowed on you when you ascend to that level. So it’s stuff that Dracula used to be able to do, but now he can’t. To balance things out, and to explain anything else that’s come up, I have Dracula as a sorcerer as well. I mean, the guy’s a magical creature who was alive for hundreds of years. He’s picked up some tricks. You’ll see a bit of that in the first issue, too. The way I look at magic, and magical beings like Vampires, is that it’s all based in symbolism. Even the idea of the stake through the heart — it’s not because Vampires are magically vulnerable to wood, it’s because you’re literally nailing them to the ground so they can’t rise up from their graves. That’s how I try to think of it and present it, which I think dovetails with the idea of the powers as a symbol of rulership.

BIRD: Doesn’t giving Dracula magic just give you more to explain, though? Comics fans are notorious for bitching about how magic gets used as a deus ex machina (and also misunderstanding what a deus ex machina is, but you follow my point).

SIMS: In a way, yes. But like I said, it’s there from the start, and I think it fits with what I’m doing. The whole book is rooted in magic. Drac himself is a supernatural being, and like I said, the premise is largely influenced by stuff like Raiders of the Lost Ark. There are magical enemies, magical artifacts that he’s looking for, there’s wizards and spirits and ghosts. And once you establish that this is a world where all of that exists, and that your main character is right at the center of it, why not embrace it? Why wouldn’t a cunning warrior who knows there are people out there who want to kill him not figure out a way to bend that to his considerable will? Especially when he’s got decades to do it.

For more, read the full interview at MightyGodKing, and look out for Drac #1’s release on Monday, October 31!

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Sketchbook: Dracula and Thalia

We are officially two weeks away from the release of Dracula the Unconquered #1, and as we approach the first issue, it’s time once again to take a look behind the scenes.  This time around, we’re flipping through Steve’s sketchbook to see his original designs for Dracula and Thalia!

First up, the Unconquered One himself:

Steve Says:  Drac is heavily inspired by Gene Colan’s iconic take as well as a general fondness for turn-of-the-century gentlemanliness. He seems like the kind of guy who would try to be the best-dressed dude in the room. His poses and gestures are overdramatic, even operatic. He’s very theatrical. I originally envisioned him with longer hair, but Chris suggested a look with short, slicked-back hair, a definite improvement.

Chris Says:  Steve nailed the attitude I wanted to have for Dracula right from the start.  Theatricality and appearance are very important to him as a character, just as they are in the original novel — the monster who builds the illusion of nobility.  I wanted him to have that sense of grandeur in his motion, and Steve gave him exactly that.  My favorite detail:  The bat-winged chain holding his jacket together.

And here’s Thalia:

 

Steve Says: For Thalia, I was inspired both by Beryl Hutchinson (Squire from DC Comics’ British superhero duo Knight & Squire) and my own sister. Thalia’s stocky, chipmunk-cheeked look was designed to contrast with Dracula’s gaunt, somber appearance. The bowler hat was there from the beginning; for some reason I can’t really imagine her without it. I toyed with the idea of giving her pants or breeches, but the long skirt just felt right, both for the character and the time period.

Chris Says:  I love Knight & Squire, so Steve and I were on the same page right from the start with his designs, and the visual dynamic of the two characters.  As for the hat, it cracks me up every time to see her holding it on while she’s running.  It’s got that great Lou Costello physical comedy to it that fits right in with the tone we’re going for.

Keep an eye out for more sketches, and watch for Dracula the Unconquered #1, available right here on Monday, October 31!

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The First Interviews About Dracula the Unconquered!

The release of Dracula the Unconquered #1 on Halloween is still a few weeks away, but if you can’t wait for more information about the comic, don’t worry!  Today, two interviews have gone up with new information about the series!

First up, Threat Quality Press talks to Chris about his inspiration for the series and where he hopes to go with it:

Dracula is obviously a pretty compelling character — he’s one of the most adapted fictional characters in the English language — but what was it in particular that drew you to him?

Believe it or not, the biggest inspiration for Dracula the Unconquered was Uncle Scrooge.  I was reading through a collection of Carl Barks Scrooge stories, and I was thinking about how amazing they were because he’s such an adaptable character.  The only thing you need for a Scrooge McDuck story to happen is that there has to be something valuable somewhere — it can be anything, real or fictional, anywhere, and you have the ready-made plot device to send Scrooge and Donald and the nephews after it.  He works in any story as long as that’s the core of it, and I love characters like that.  It’s one of the reasons I love Batman, because he has that world-traveling history so that anywhere there’s a crime, he can go fight it.

So I was thinking about other characters that had that element to them, and what came to me was Dracula.  It’s exactly like you said, he’s been adapted so much that in pop culture, he’s completely gone beyond that original idea.  There are stories of Dracula in America, Dracula in the future, there were two comics about Dracula on the moon that came out more or less at the same time!  Even in that original story, he’s a world traveler who ditches Transylvania because the population is too wise to his tricks, so he goes to England to try it on the “modern” society that doesn’t have those superstitions that keep him at bay.  I feel like he’s a character you can do anything with, and because so much has been done, it’s all equally valid.

So for my take, I really wanted to do something I haven’t seen that often:  Dracula as anadventure hero.  The high concept is Indiana Jones starring Dracula, traveling around the world, battling bad guys, gathering up magic and artifacts that he can use against his rivals.  He’s definitely a good guy — I wanted to do a Dracula you’d like, that you could root for — but he’s also a guy with a very dark past.  He recounts a bit of what he did in the first issue, and, well, he’s a vampire, and you don’t get to be the Lord of the Undead without doing a lot of awful things.  But that’s an aspect that I find appealing, too.

Second, Me and You and a Blog Named Boooooooooo keeps its Halloween theme going by talking to Chris about Dracula and his new assistant, Thalia:

Brian: What can we expect from Dracula’s assistant Thalia?  From the looks of her on the cover image with her sly grin, she seems to have a few tricks of her own up her sleeve.

Chris: Thalia has her origins in me feeling like I needed a viewpoint character.  I love Dracula as a character, but he’s also an immortal sorcerer who used to be King of the Vampires, so if you’re following him as a protagonist, that can be pretty hard to relate to.  At the same time, I didn’t want her to be just a prop to have thing explained to her, which is exactly what I was parodying with Minxy in Solomon Stone.

Mark Waid writes a comic called Ruse that I love, it’s a big Sherlock Holmes-style Victorian mystery series, and the detective’s assistant, Emma Bishop, is such a great character.  She comes off as smart even when she’s next to this super-genius, she’s really quippy and active in the story.  She’s great, and since there was a Ruse mini-series coming out while I wrote the first two issues of Drac, I really studied it and tried to reverse engineer how he made this lady sidekick so compelling in her own right.

Find out more information on the series in the interviews, and stay tuned right here for more as we get closer to the first issue!

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Drac #1: The Cover Process

You’ve already seen Steve Downer’s amazing cover all over the website, but in case you were wondering how we got to something that awesome, here’s a look behind the scenes at the process he went through in creating it:

The first step was sketching out some possible layouts for the cover:

Initially, Steve had the idea of doing the cover as the first panel of the story, showing Thalia opening Dracula’s coffin.  The idea of contrasting this kind of image with a title like Dracula the Unconquered was really fun, but in the end, we decided that our first issue should feature a stronger image of Dracula.

In the end, we decided on Option 3, and Steve did a full-size layout:

Since the story takes place in 1901, Steve based the framing border and the scrollwork around the logo on art from books published in the early 20th century.  With the figures in place, he then moved on to full pencils:

Then to inking the art, shading in Dracula’s signature all-black-everything look:

After that, it was time for the colors!  Steve’s done coloring in books from DC Comics, Boom! Studios and other companies, so it’s no surprise that he did an amazing job with it:

Just so you can see how they all compare to each other, we put them all together!  Here’s the process at work:

We hope you enjoyed this look behind the scenes, and if you think Steve’s art looks great on the cover, wait’ll you see the whole issue!

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The Teasers

During the run-up to the announcement, we did a series of teasers that ran on the ISB (Chris’ site), Tumblr, Google Plus, and so on. Here they are all together:

 

 

Hopefully they got you excited about the series!

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