Robot6 was nice enough to have me contribute to their Looking Forward, Looking Back article. There, I show off some sweet upcoming DWO art from Antonio Fuso (G.I. Joe: COBRA). Things can move slow in the world of independent comics, where things are done for love and not money. But I do indeed love bringing you the further adventures of Alexandru, Vince, and Mai (and ol’ Drac-stacks is still in the mix). 2013 will see more of this book, come Hell or highwater.

Robot6 was nice enough to have me contribute to their Looking Forward, Looking Back article. There, I show off some sweet upcoming DWO art from Antonio Fuso (G.I. Joe: COBRA). Things can move slow in the world of independent comics, where things are done for love and not money. But I do indeed love bringing you the further adventures of Alexandru, Vince, and Mai (and ol’ Drac-stacks is still in the mix). 2013 will see more of this book, come Hell or highwater.

You fellas think of comics in terms of comic books, but you’re wrong. I think you fellas should think of comics in terms of drugs, in terms of war, in terms of journalism, in terms of selling, in terms of business. And if you have a viewpoint on drugs, or if you have a viewpoint on war, or if you have a viewpoint on the economy, I think you can tell it more effectivley in comics than you can in words. I think nobody is doing it. Comics is journalism. But now it’s restricted to soap opera. — Jack Kirby addressing fans in the late-60’s, as quoted in Sean Howe’s brilliant book MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY. I find so much inspiration in that quote. It reaffirms my aims for DRACULA WORLD ORDER, as well as what I do everyday when I write my own books. Kirby is the eternal inspiration, the guiding light always shining in the sky.
From Twitter user reclaim UC

From Twitter user reclaim UC

Another word for satire: reruns

DRACULA WORLD ORDER is a book about the most powerful people in the world gathering together to grant themselves immense power at the expense of the rest of the population.

Sometimes it feels like a pretty far-fetched idea.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

I’m working on a larger piece about how I feel my work is compelled to be political. In the meantime, enjoy a true rarity…someone running for president speaking their true feelings.

My look at the video game influences on DRACULA WORLD ORDER ends with a leap into the 16-bit world. I had a Sega Genesis first, then swapped it for a friend’s Super Nintendo. I’ve enjoyed many of the games on Genesis, especially the strange and seemingly never-ending game KID CHAMELEON, but my allegiance with Nintendo’s products continued as I still subscribed to NINTENDO POWER, intrigued by the variety and creativity coming from both Nintendo itself and third-party developers who created games just for that console. One place the SNES beat Genesis was in RPGs, thanks most to SquareSoft (now Square Enix) giving Nintendo exclusive access to the Final Fantasy series.

I followed the articles on the original Final Fantasy as well as Dragon Quest but never played the games since my main way of getting games was through renting them. Clearly I was not going to get through these expansive adventures over a weekend. But then my friend Jason got FINAL FANTASY III (as it was dubbed in America, it was the sixth game in Japan) and we got to see this thing the whole way through. My ideas about what video games could do, and the power of storytelling, grew to monstrous proportions all thanks to this game.

I had seen STAR WARS, but I never truly felt it was my epic. Perhaps because it felt like it belonged to a past generations (my dad actually made me watch the trilogy, which I am thankful for now, but it did confirm for me that the films were not “mine”).

Here was something in a strange new medium adults didn’t partake in. Here was something I was an active participant in. This game took place in a strange world where magic and science, past and future, existed as one, nothing like we had ever seen before (we didn’t know the word “steampunk” yet). You never played as just one character. You built a team, so while some of your gameplay was based around strengthening the male hero Locke you also had to keep the damsel-in-distress Terra a vital character on her own. A previous generation had tabletop RPGs to develop team-building dynamics in their storytelling, but I was learning it here. Everyone had to matter, from the aristocratic Edgar to the ninja Shadow.

Environments were varied, and the world itself changed. The villain Kefka takes over the world and your entire map of gameplay is different (a villain takes over the world and the story continues…hmmm, where would I put an idea like that). Every twist, every new corner of the map told me that if I had a heartfelt story at the core, such as Terra and the plight of the Espers, I could go to many different places in a single tale. Also, I didn’t know the Miyazaki and other influences the game was using. One of the great legacies of Nintendo is that it was how millions of kids in the Western world were exposed to Japanese storytelling and imagery. I am still feel tremendously lucky to be there for such a cultural tide shift.  

The entire time this game was unfolding I was putting pen to paper, imagining my own epics that could stand toe-to-toe with this game. Same thing with CHRONO TRIGGER and later, the last game I really spent time with, FINAL FANTASY VII. For whatever reason being an audience to such grandeur compelled to sharpen my creatives knives and craft my own stories. I feel I am still in that mode, and forever will be.

My exploration of the classic video games influences on DRACULA WORLD ORDER continue with this oddity MONSTER PARTY. Much like Castelvania, the appeal was that you got not just one monster but every monster. Here they were from some alien planet (a planet where everyone’s a monster, what shall I do with that idea?) called Dark World. The idea that there’s a place where monsters are “normal” and have their own environment, no doubt with its own systems and laws, intrigued me as a child.

So you have one monster choosing to fighting against his brethren (again, this may be an idea worth exploring). That would be Bert the dragon…thing. He and the human boy Mark fuse together and live in the same body. It’s a bit like Captain Marvel, although I did not know the reference at the time (and I wonder if the Japanese designers did as well). The idea of a boy and a monster living in the same body freaked me out. It was probably my first exposure to something resembling body horror, which remains a fascination to this day. As a kid, I loved being freaked out, and always delve deeper if I was feel uneasy and scared. Now I make horror comics.

There is an overwhelming dream/nightmare feeling to MONSTER PARTY, from the way it starts down to the look of the final boss. Is he a brain thing, like Mother Brain from METROID made even more grotesque? Is he an overgrown face with no skin? The fact that a complete world could be filled with such things made me want to create my own stories as a kid, and that enthusiasm has not let up.

When did you first hear about the classic monsters? Vampires, werewolves, undead creatures and the like? For me it wasn’t movies or comics. I first encountered them in video games.

As a kid I was as rabid a video game fan as I was a comic book fan. I rented NES video games from the local video stores as much as my parents allowed me, but I needed to know what I should be renting and how to beat the games. That’s where the magazine NINTENDO POWER comes in. I had a subscription that lasted years and was able to read about all the new games coming out in detailed walk-throughs. The detailed maps and characters descriptions lit up my imagination as much as the comics I read did, and indeed NINTENDO POWER included manga about METROID and THE LEGEND OF ZELDA, as well as its own comics strip featuring the character Nester.

Now with the news that NINTENDO POWER is ending I want to look back at some of the games that influenced me and the creation of DRACULA WORLD ORDER. Above is video of CASTLEVANIA III: DRACULA’S CURSE.

I know there’s been a billion Castlevania games, but my era of being a gamer covers the 8- and 16-bit years. The Castlevania games were my introduction to the idea of vampires, as you played as a member of the vampire-hunting Belmont clan. But you didn’t just fight vampires. Inside the spooky level designs you had ghosts, werewolves, and even Medusa coming after you. From an early age I associated the use of monsters with the use of all the monsters.

The third installment to the series was ambitious. You could take multiple paths and it had different endings. Also, you could switch characters mid-game. I remember reading that in NINTENDO POWER and being simply fascinated. I didn’t know then by the gears of team dynamics and how to write action for multiple characters was building in my head. Of the new characters were a pirate, a sorceress, and…Dracula’s son. Reading that a vampire, someone from Dracula’s own family, could be a good guy was another big revelation.

Flashforward some twenty years later. Plagued by concerns the eight-year-old me would want nothing to do with, I devise a story using the iconography of monsters to write about a world consumed by greed and corruption. The world would be ruled by Dracula, with Frankenstein taking up arms and leading a revolution. Except Marvel just did the Frankencastle series and DC is doing FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. (both fun comics). So do I chuck the idea? Wait, a minute. What about the old Castlevania game? Where you could play as Dracula’s son… 

As I discuss the inspirations of DRACULA WORLD ORDER it was only a matter of time before I got to this one. Like so many influential works it’s not at the front of my mind when crafting ideas. Instead it’s something deep in the mental library, where my subconscious can rip out pages and piece them back together with hundreds of other texts and produce some strange tapestry. At the end of the process I get a better handle on the original work itself. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about TOMB OF DRACULA lately. 
When the Marvel Essentials line got around to ToD it had already been built up for me by friends. Discovering the series in large black-and-white chunks brought both of its major assets to the fore: Gene Colan’s brilliantly moody artwork and Marv Wolfman’s ever-propulsive pulpy (which I always use as a compliment) plotting. What stands out the most to me now, and what I see as the influence on DWO, is that you have a long-running adventure where the antagonist and protagonists are given equally weight. Dracula must face the real consequence of immortality, that one is cursed with an ever-growing history where decisions can have epic consequences that last decades. He is plagued by Harker, Van Hesing, Drake, and Blade, the descendants of those he hurt (and in Drake’s case, his own descendant). Being undead means living with an extreme burden of history.
This symbiotic relationship, with both Dracula and the vampire hunters never rid of each other, led the book to explore all manners of scenarios and environments. A vampire community was built inside the Marvel universe. Other horror elements were also in play, such as a crossover with Jack Russell from WEREWOLF BY NIGHT and Dr. Sun, one of the characters that exemplifies this melding the horrific and superheroic. 

I found in ToD the potential of stories about people who are bound to each other forever, and what happens when people both push against and give in to those boundaries in their own ways. I started the series mostly for the Gene Colan art, after all he draws the best women of all the early Marvel artists bar Romita, but I got so much more. I found an important lesson in crafting a wide-ranging narrative. It’s still a jolt to read. 

As I discuss the inspirations of DRACULA WORLD ORDER it was only a matter of time before I got to this one. Like so many influential works it’s not at the front of my mind when crafting ideas. Instead it’s something deep in the mental library, where my subconscious can rip out pages and piece them back together with hundreds of other texts and produce some strange tapestry. At the end of the process I get a better handle on the original work itself. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about TOMB OF DRACULA lately.

When the Marvel Essentials line got around to ToD it had already been built up for me by friends. Discovering the series in large black-and-white chunks brought both of its major assets to the fore: Gene Colan’s brilliantly moody artwork and Marv Wolfman’s ever-propulsive pulpy (which I always use as a compliment) plotting. What stands out the most to me now, and what I see as the influence on DWO, is that you have a long-running adventure where the antagonist and protagonists are given equally weight. Dracula must face the real consequence of immortality, that one is cursed with an ever-growing history where decisions can have epic consequences that last decades. He is plagued by Harker, Van Hesing, Drake, and Blade, the descendants of those he hurt (and in Drake’s case, his own descendant). Being undead means living with an extreme burden of history.

This symbiotic relationship, with both Dracula and the vampire hunters never rid of each other, led the book to explore all manners of scenarios and environments. A vampire community was built inside the Marvel universe. Other horror elements were also in play, such as a crossover with Jack Russell from WEREWOLF BY NIGHT and Dr. Sun, one of the characters that exemplifies this melding the horrific and superheroic.

I found in ToD the potential of stories about people who are bound to each other forever, and what happens when people both push against and give in to those boundaries in their own ways. I started the series mostly for the Gene Colan art, after all he draws the best women of all the early Marvel artists bar Romita, but I got so much more. I found an important lesson in crafting a wide-ranging narrative. It’s still a jolt to read.