Writer David Avallone provides a commentary for Legenderry: Vampirella #3 that he did with artist David Cabrera.
Some background thoughts on Chapter Three…
We’re at the mid-point of my five-issue Vampirella epic, set in Bill Willingham’s world of Legenderry.
First, the cover. It is a fine tradition of comic books that the scene depicted does not occur inside. Nonetheless, Sergio Fernandez Davila does beautiful work, and his Vampirella always looks great. Someday, I will meet him and ask about her amazing magic bootlaces, which are a constant delight to me.
Page 1 & 2: I don’t know about you, but after an evening spent investigating conspiracies and fighting killer robots, I need a drink. Here, Vampirella has a romantic dawn cocktail with Rudolf Rassendyll. Rassendyll is the hero of the classic adventure story The Prisoner of Zenda. I sent David Cabrera some photo reference of Stewart Granger, who played the part in the 1950s film version of Zenda. David’s Rassendyll suggests Granger without being a caricature.
Page 3, panel 1: I didn’t have a title for this chapter for a while, and then I came up with this image and the accompanying title. Ian Fleming (and my own father) were big influences on me, particularly regarding titles. So sometimes there will be cheesy puns.
Page 3, Panel 2 is a tableau of Blackmass’ throne room, being used as a staging area for a strike force. We introduce the Van Helsings. Not Bram Stoker’s Van Helsings, but Archie Goodwin’s variation on them: Conrad and Adam. (Confession: a friend had to remind me the great Archie Goodwin created these characters.) This was going to be a silent panel, but about once or twice an issue David C will draw something and it will suggest a line. Here, the Clone looking at Conrad looked funny to me so I gave him a line.
Page 4: In Willingham’s Legenderry, no one ever called her “Vampirella”. Her name was only “Madame Pendragon”, and I’ve continued that tradition here. But I thought it would be funny to have Van Helsing coin the name while coming up with a noun for “female vampire”.
Page 5: The Emperor Jones and Rupert of Hentzau have a chat. Rupert’s another character from The Prisoner of Zenda, though his look is an homage to the 1937 film (and Douglass Fairbanks Jr.’s great performance in the part.) The Emperor Jones is from the Eugene O’Neill play of the same name. In that play he meets his doom, but in our universe he apparently survived and learned a little something about himself.
Page 6: That first panel is my favorite example in the whole series of David C. drawing something and inspiring a line of dialogue. Initially no one was saying anything here, but for some reason it cracked me up that the ladder was a little short. The richest man in town can’t get you guys a bigger ladder?
Page 7: Vampirella has had a variety of origin stories in the past, and I have been a little coy so far about which one (if any) my Vampirella is based on. In Panel Three, we see a painting on the wall of her office: an eerie red landscape, of a planet with two suns. The planet Draculon. For me, her sci-fi origin is one of the things that most distinguishes her from every other “supernatural” hero and heroine out there.
Yes, she keeps her drinkin’ blood in a toaster-oven in a safe behind a painting.
Page 9: References to a couple of 1930s movies on this page, but I’ll leave that one unexplained. That tall hobo is secretly a great man. If I ever get another five issues of this series, he, and this reporter, might accomplish important things together.
Page 11: Vampirella’s assistant, Mercy, is also based on a literary character, but again… I’ll leave that one a mystery. She’s another badass lady, and I love her.
Page 12-20: In this whole sequence I finally deal with the question of “What is Vampirella?”, though the answer is more “What ISN’T she?” She’s not a vampire as Van Helsing and co. understand the term.
Page 21: Archie Goodwin’s Conrad Van Helsing is blind. As Moe might say, “And that’s the origin of that.”
Page 22: In screenwriting terms, we have reached the middle of Act Two. Tune in next time for more sci-fi action, adventure, and more references to public domain Victorian Literature and black & white movies…