AMERICAN VAMPIRE is back. After issue #34, Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque put the series on hiatus for about a year. This was something they quickly regretted. Without skipping a beat, the two have brought us back to the world they created in AMERICAN VAMPIRE: THE SECOND CYCLE #1. We spoke with Scott to try to find out what happened in the eleven years that have passed in the comic since the last issue and what bigger threats are coming.
COMIC VINE: How’s it feel returning to AV after a year?
SCOTT SNYDER: It feels amazing. I’ve been dying to get back to to the series. I’ve been super-depressed being away from it. I think both Rafael and I thought we needed a break for a little bit and then as soon as we took one, we both missed it within a week. We were talking about coming back right away. I’ve just been dying to get to this. I’m really, really happy and I’ll never never never step away from it, even for a minute, again. I’ve learned my lesson.
CV: Why the jump from 1954 to 1965? Are you going to give flashbacks to what happened in between with Pearl and Skinner and everyone else?
SS: Yeah, we’ll definitely fill in the gaps, especially with Skinner. What we wanted to do was create the feeling that time had passed. It was always sort of the idea to break the series over the midpoint in the century. We got to explore the 50s so thoroughly between Death Race and The Black List. We thought it would be fun to jump a good deal forward and be right in the deep end of the pool, historically. We’d get to start exploring the beginning of the Vietnam War, race relations, and the start of this sort of generational rift, the skepticism over government—the sense of these volatile storm clouds in American culture. That was sort of the idea and we wanted to be able to pick up with the characters with the feeling that they’ve come from new points in their lives.
SS: Well, you’re going to see a ton of them in the next arc actually. It’s all about them, in particular. They’re very affected by the times too. Next issue, not to give too much away, Calvin comes in and plays a big role in issue #2. You’ll get to see him and it gives you a good insight into the state of the VMS. It’s ultimately become kind of counter-culturely ragtag at this moment. While they once had government funding and all kinds of cushy bases around the country, they’ve been turned on, by the government. Now they’re more kind of outlaws in a lot of ways. Calvin has a very fun position, I think. Wait until you see where he meets Pearl. I’m really excited about it. It’s a really fun scene. It’s the opening of next issue.
CV: Is this going to open the door for new characters too?
SS: Yeah, absolutely. Actually, two characters you see introduced in this issue. One you only saw for a split panel, the guy that says, “Show time.” He’s in a country suit. He’s one of my favorite inventions of the series. He’s called the Signal Man. There’s all kind of mysteries included into his suit, that he wears on stage. He’s a country performer. He sends secret messages to other monster hunters. And the Gray Trader, himself, who is really the big bad of the entire series. You got a glimpse of him in this issue and some of his powers. Next issue it really starts to come out—who he is, given our mythology. The scope and breadth of his evil is one of the things I’m most proud of. The scene with him next issue, I think Rafael said he thought it was the creepiest thing we’ve ever done. I’m really really excited about him.
CV: I think you laid out the seeds of him in issue #34?
SS: Yup, exactly. It was issue 34. At the end of the day, I think people could see we were headed towards a conflict in the monster world that would bring all of these characters together. The Carpathians, the Dracula-kind of vampires, for a long time, have been the villains of the series but what we wanted to do with this half was show that there was something even darker behind them. Something they’ve been running from. Something that might have even inspired them with the idea of genocide on their part. So even though they are undoubtedly evil, maybe they’re a species terrified by something that came before them and has been lost to history.
CV: Does that mean the series is getting a little darker?
SS: Well, I don’t know if it’s going to be darker. You can tell from this issue we still like to have a lot of fun. Like I was saying, there’s country singers sending mysteries through their suits. There are demons hidden in storms. There are little kid vampires, jumping on your back. All kinds of stuff. It’s dark because this half certainly deals with the origins of evil and the origins of the very bloodline that’s formed all of the vampires in our mythology. It goes back through very very dark times. The 60s are tumultuous, but ultimately, there’s a lot of fun to be had too, I think.
The series has always been about blending elements that are sort of soap opera and fun colorful Americana, with deeper emotional narratives that go with the characters and the feelings they had over time. You’re going to see all kinds of crazy stuff from gold mining to Haight Ashbury to, in the next arc, Cairo and giant statues and mummies. All kinds of fun stuff. It’s partly pulling from Americana. I’m a huge fan of the Westerns and the stuff that are part of this culture of reimagining genres in the 60s. I think a lot of what we’re going to do is really exuberant and a lot of fun.
CV: Can we assume Pearl and Skinner haven’t had any contact since we last saw them?
SS: They’ve not. They’ve not seen each other or spoken to each other.
CV: How many issues are you guys on this time? Are you here for a bit or going to release issues in arcs?
SS: What we’re going to try to do is stay in the main series for a while. We might do a miniseries down the line. Our goal is to try to get ahead where Rafael could do most of the main story. I’m not going anywhere and he’s not going anywhere either. After this first arc, we’re going to do a single issue to give him time to get ahead. Then he’ll be back and do the second arc and the same thing. The structure will allow him to do the main story lines while giving him breaks to get further ahead and giving other artists a chance to do an issue in between.
CV: In other words, no more hiatuses coming up?
SS: No, no, no. We’ll never take another hiatus. I can’t promise you that we’ll never miss a month or anything like that somewhere down the line. I’m always worried, what if I get really sick or what if he gets sick. But no more hiatuses. We’re going to gun it here right to the end.
CV: You obviously have an end in mind of the series. Has that changed at all since you started?
SS: No, very little. I think the ending was always what it was going to be. It’s written into the outline, which I kind of hope they publish when we do the final part so everyone could see, back in 2008, the ending was written in there when we finish, almost ten years later. At the same time, the path to that ending and the characters have change tremendously. Like the characters and what they boil down to, I have conflict as to who the main players are. Is it the same as it always was? How it gets there and who else is involved and some of the subplots and repercussions, all of that is stuff that changes with each arc.
That’s part of the fun of the comic for me. Between us, and all your readers [laughs], me and you, we planned on having the first half really only be about thirty-six issues. With all the issues and miniseries included, it ended up being about ten or eleven issues longer than that. This half, we thought we’d end at about 76, that was always our goal, to have some centennial number. We plan to be about forty issues but we’ll probably end up being about fifty or sixty. I am ready for the long haul with this series. I just want it to get there the right way. If it takes me down some side paths, we can enjoy it like we did in the first half and not worry about getting to the end faster than we want to because we love playing in this world.
And we love reading about this world. Make sure you pick up AMERICAN VAMPIRE: THE SECOND CYCLE #1, now on sale. Pick up any of the numerous trades if you haven't already, while your at it.