A Writer’s Commentary: PAUL CORNELL talks VAMPIRELLA #1, on sale NOW!

A Writer’s Commentary: PAUL CORNELL talks VAMPIRELLA #1, on sale NOW from Dynamite!

Page 1:
I’ve always been interested in adding new means of communication to the comic book page. I like how in manga a statement representing a character’s expression, or their emotional state, will hang in the air beside both speech balloons and thought bubbles, and so for Vampirella, which opened last issue [#0] with the character asleep for a long time, I decided on a line underneath the page which would represent her general unconscious thoughts for either all that page, or just at the end of it.

Page 2:
I love the color on this page. Between Jimmy’s pencils and colors, we’ve got a really specific atmosphere going on throughout this title, like some weird Euro-collision between Hammer gothic and Metropolis-style SF. This obviously references material like Modesty Blaise and Barbarella (the movie more than the comics). There’s a lot of 2000AD in here too.

Page 3:
Having the angels speak only in four-letter words was one of those immediate decisions that I made without realizing I’d get a joke out of it. My unconscious sometimes does that to me. I’m beginning to suspect that was only for the joke.

Page 4:
I was aware that we could get away with a slightly higher level of violence in this than in mainstream comics, and I wanted to show Vampirella being willing to use extreme force against those who attack her, and to, against her better judgment, sometimes enjoy it. She’s not a perfect person, and I enjoy that about her.

Page 5:
And there’s that joke my unconscious set up for me. I like that she cracks it while in the middle of inflicting serious damage, staying above it all, while actually she’s now vulnerable. Never admitting vulnerability is a very British thing, an aristocrat thing, and while Vampirella is neither of those things, I think the association of vampirism with both those backgrounds makes that tone suit her.

Page 6:
I originally wrote swearwords into the scripts, but we were told at a very late stage that we couldn’t use them. Fair enough. The blacked-out ‘censored’ boxes are fun to use, and a few issues in I started deliberately going for them. They have a punk impact all their own, more fun than the everyday cursing.

Page 7:
There’s a particular shade of crimson that Jimmy’s decided only to use on Vampirella herself, and I think it works to great effect over the next few pages. That was one thing that contributed to me giving the people of the future unusual blood, in that it wouldn’t be that same shade of red.

Pages 8-9:
It’s such a lovely, clean, rounded, harmless future world. Until you look under the surface.

Page 10:
I wanted us to stay sex-positive, so it’s not the offhand free sex that Vampirella objects to. I note that Jimmy’s art strayed into areas requiring censor strips here too, but that really adds to the look.

Page 11:
His city is all a bit Clockwork Orange, and how lovely it is. I went into this book with my usual hatred of all things retro and nostalgic, but I think we actually ended up grabbing some of that stuff and repurposing it.

Page 12:
I like Jimmy’s acting on this page. We can tell Vicki’s quaking underneath, but on a daily, lived-in basis, and that little fanged smile at the end is excellent.

Page 13:
I wouldn’t call it plain or classy, but that’s the closest Vampirella gets to couture. I like the new hair a lot. And this is our cat, who I’m hoping will one day get an action figure.

Page 14:
Lovely choice of shots on this page, ending up with Vicki literally put in a corner.

Page 15:
Quite an assignment to draw a vast crowd of future people in different clothes. Loads of invention on display here.

Page 16:
Now this is what I mean by 2000AD. I think Jimmy and I both went for that vibe on this page. These guys could live in Mega-City One. And that comic also has a political anger to it that’s reflected in this strip too.

Page 17:
That’s quite a dress, to deal with the sudden appearance of wings. The wings are rather fabulous, though. I’m glad they’re pointy and black.

Page 18:
Being so powerful as to be utterly above sexual molestation is shocking, I think, in a good way, I hope an empowering way, but there is a line. As we see in that last expression of hers.

Page 19:
And that shade of red goes everywhere. Which is great. That shade is kind of her theme song.

Page 20:
Having invented these guys (at least in this future world), I very much enjoyed seeing one of them beaten to death for an entirely plot-driven reason. Or no reason at all would have been fine with me, really.

Page 21:
I like her calmly standing there with her hands clasped behind her. That’s our version of Vampirella, right there.

Page 22:
We wondered for ages about what to do with Vampirella’s symbols, like the V-sign that shows up on her tomb in the zero issue. This is a short-term but rather satisfying solution to that. The next issue line is me pointing straight at a bigger talent than me, which is meant to be not done, a worrying thing, but this is the title in which I try exploring things that scare me. It hasn’t let me down on that score so far.

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