Before we spoke at New York Comic Con in 2011, I must admit that I was skeptical about “I, Vampire,” as I had only seen the cover of issue #1 and heard the pre-release internet chatter that it was a “Twilight knock-off.” Looking back at that now, that is of course a silly thought, as the tone of “I, Vampire” couldn’t be any further from Twilight. After reading the first issue in preparation for our interview, I immediately added it to my pull list, where it has remained ever since. A big part of that is because the series had a tone that was completely unique and compelling. How important, to you, was nailing the tone of the book early on, and how did you prepare the world in which you told these stories?
Joshua Hale Fialkov: Hugely important. I think that certainly Twilight was the impetus for DC trying the book in the first place, but, I knew from the jump that, first off, that wasn’t a book I wanted to write, nor was I the right one to write, and secondly, that if we did try and go that route, the book would suffer. That being said, my first iteration of the series was much smaller and more intimate than the book ended up being. There was a lot of importance put on adding grandiose set pieces, which, to some degree I agree with, but, I think you can have intimate moments that serve as large set pieces via emotional impact. Hopefully, we got some of those along the way the rest of the series.
The 20 issues of “I, Vampire” seem to tell a complete story – while you would obviously want more time to tell others, do you feel you’ve been able to do the story you wanted to tell?
JHF: Sure. This is pretty much the master plan I had for the series, although at an accelerated pace. It’s always been funny to me how well people have responded to the fast pace and quick turns in story, because that was more a function of sales and trying to keep the book on an upswing (or away from a downswing.)
What were some challenges you faced writing the book?
JHF: The Sword of Damocles thing, which, y’know, I’ve yet to work on a book that I wasn’t to some degree completely terrified about sales and readership on. I actually think that to some degree DC was more comfortable with the prospects of the series than I was initially, and then, somewhere around 9 or 10, we flopped, where I decided to just tell the story I wanted to tell no matter what happened.
How far in advance did you know the series was wrapping up? Did you have any idea that this might be coming, and therefore have a plan in place?
JHF: I’d turned in issue 15 when I found out 18 would be our last, and, then, that got pushed to 19 shortly there after. It was about as much time as you could hope for to wrap up a story. Gave me a whole final arc.
Andrea Sorrentino has been one of the most pleasant artistic surprises of the New 52, and developed a truly distinct look for the book. I was thrilled to see on Twitter that he will be re-joining “I, Vampire” for at least part of the final issue. How integral to the series was Andrea?
JHF: Hugely. I think we learned a ton from each others strengths and weaknesses. I definitely think Andrea’s unique style got a lot of people in through the door, and the combination of Andrea, Marcelo, and I kept them around. I found out he was leaving around the same time I found out the series was ending, and, honestly, if it wasn’t going to end, I might have asked for it to. As great as the guys we’ve had since Andrea have been, the book is really and truly the two of us, and without him, it’s just not the same.
Without spoiling anything about how it wraps up, where would you have taken the book in the third year?
JHF: The stuff we’re seeing now would’ve been more of the third year. The return of Cain and the rebuilding of the Vampire race. Honestly, the only stuff I really regret not getting to do is more of the intimate, self contained “Tales of the Vampires” sort of stuff that you saw a bit of in Issue 4. I have another three scripts or so that were in that vein that got shuffled off due to the “Justice League Dark” crossover. I love all of them so much, and really wish we’d gotten to see them.
You mentioned on Twitter that, theoretically, you’ll be back at DC in a few months. Does this mean that you have an assignment you are working on, are you pitching ideas, or are you just hopeful at a reunion?
JHF: I’m working on an assignment right now. It should be announced in March.
With “Alpha” launching at Marvel this month, what are the biggest differences when working at the different companies?
JHF: It’s tough to answer, really, without sounding like playing favorites. Probably the biggest difference, though, is in terms of scrutiny. DC is very much about the big picture and the meta story that Dan and Bob see for the DCU. Marvel is much more about each individual book and to a degree each individual group. They’re very different beasts.
I will say, though, I’m having a huge amount of fun playing in the Marvel sandbox right now.
“Alpha” is a much more interconnected piece of the Marvel Universe than “I, Vampire” was to DC, mainly because of the Spider-Man connection. What are the pluses and minuses of working on a book that, due to its central character, is more likely to have stronger editorial control?
JHF: There is actually a bit more free reign in the set up of the character than that, I think. Being in the Spider-Office, I have the oversight from Tom Brennan and Steven Wacker to make sure I’m not breaking anything, but, essentially, our focus is on making a great story with this character, and how his relationship with the rest of the MU can help to better define his place in it.
I see that you’ve set “Alpha” in Pittsburgh, my college town, and where you are from, originally. How important is the Steel City as a location for “Alpha?”
JHF: Go Steelers! It was actually Wacker’s idea to set the book there. Part of it is to get Alpha out of Spidey’s shadow, but, it’s also about being minor league. Being not ready to be Big City. Alpha got demoted, and, he starts to learn that maybe that’s a good thing. Which, for me, is a lot of how I feel about Pittsburgh. As a kid, I felt like I was trapped in a tiny sandbox, but, not was an adult, I look back at it as an incredibly lucky thing for me. I was exposed to just enough culture and societal pressure without having The Sunset Strip or the Bowery calling out to me and a life of Rock and Roll and Ruin.
Since its announcement at New York Comic Con this year, not much has been said about your upcoming Dynamite series “The Devilers” – can you give us a little information about the series, as well as who will be providing the art, and when we might be able to buy the first issue?
JHF: Scripts are in, I think we’re still settling on an artist right now. The book is a lot of fun, much more in the vein of “Last of the Greats” for me. I’m definitely doing my best Garth Ennis impression. I’m excited for people to see what we’re up to. I’d guess it’ll be scheduled any month now.
Are there any other projects that you’re working on that you’d like our readers to know about?
JHF: Sure, I’m writing a two issue arc of “Doctor Who” for IDW right now, as well as something incredibly cool for them later this year…and, I’ve got the Origin of He-Man out in a couple weeks from DC…a story in Occupy Comics with Joe Infurnari, (I’m just looking at my work board right now…) and a few more odds and ends here and there. More info at my twitter, @JoshFialkov.