Mark Landry writes,
In May of 2013, Bleeding Cool was the first comics news outlet to notice a remote Kickstarter campaign for a creator-owned miniseries called Bloodthirsty: One Nation Under Water.
The project centered on a then-uncommon hero of American pop culture – a mixed-race former Coast Guard rescue swimmer battling demons (both internal and external) after having suffered life-changing loss in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The story’s aim was to focus populist rage surrounding the economic bloodsucking and disenfranchisement of poorer Americans by an increasingly less-empathetic capitalistic (institutionally racist and classist) elite cabal of plutocratic vampires. Written before the George Zimmerman verdict that lit the torch of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Bloodthirsty’s post-modern Ground Zero was New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward and Crescent City Connection bridge in the wake of the storm.
As a project, Bloodthirsty faced an uphill battle: there was no money to fund the book; no publisher on board; and people close to the creators cautioned against attempting to market a non-white comic book hero (again, this was before the refreshing recent move toward racial enlightenment in American media, and Beyoncé had not yet brought us into “Formation”). The one thing the project had going for it was the careful and generous mentorship of industry hero Georges Jeanty (“Buffy,” “The American Way”), who believed enough in the story to publicly endorse the project with his reputation to a level that few professionals would risk.
With Jeanty’s help, and despite the obstacles, nearly 300 Kickstarter backers and friends pledged to raise the funds necessary to hire an up-and-coming artist – Ashley Witter – to begin breathing life into the story via pictures. With Ashley’s stunning artwork underway, the journey to bring the book into existence was just beginning.
The intervening three years have been a roller coaster ride for Bloodthirsty. Every American comics publisher that was approached (more than a dozen) rejected the project, until British publisher Titan Comics saw a preview and enthusiastically jumped on board. For a small, creator-owned project with controversial themes and “unconventional” characters, securing publication with a house as prestigious as Titan was both a major milestone and a vote of confidence in the story’s message.
Titan has been a gracious and capable publisher. They announced their support and intent to publish at last year’s San Diego Comicon, and have given Bloodthirsty equal – if not greater – space in the Previews catalog as comparable creator-owned project. And when artist Ashley Witter could no longer continue on the project due to other commitments, Titan supported a switch to the team of veteran illustrator Richard Pace, along with colorists Sian Mandrake and Justin Prokowich, to finish off the story’s climactic two final chapters in time for print.
Titan also astutely endorsed the idea of providing readers with real-world contextual interviews in the back of each issue – interviews with some of the actual heroes of Hurricane Katrina: Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré (“the black John Wayne”, as former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagan nicknamed him); Coast Guard rescue swimmers Matthew O’Dell and Dave Cadorette; former Coast Guard Captain Roger Laferriere; and Lower Mississippi River Keeper and environmental activist Paul Orr – all of which also appear in the upcoming collected edition. These generous individuals contributed their stories in an effort to keep the conversation about Katrina going, so that we learn the lessons the storm taught us and can avoid making the same mistakes when the next profound disaster strikes.
Bloodthirsty was also lucky to receive three additional enthusiastic contributions from some amazing artists: Georges Jeanty penciled a three-page epilogue and a variant cover for the final issue; Joel Carpenter contributed two painted covers; and fine artist/painter Nick Runge contributed the collection’s ultimate cover (one of his last commercial comic book works before returning to personal projects).
As Bloodthirsty nears the end of this long journey, we would like to thank Titan Comics and Bleeding Cool for their continuing generosity and support in bringing this story to readers.
March 3 is the final order cut-off for comics shops to pre-order the trade paperback/graphic novel collection. We hope that this last, most crucial chapter in the project’s long journey to reach readers will prove its worth in the minds of the men and women who make up a media marketplace that is continuously overflowing with both signal and noise. Interested readers can also find the collection available for pre-order on Amazon.
FINAL ORDER CUTOFF for comics shop pre-orders: March 3, 2016
DIAMOND CODE: STL000776
Virgil is a character that you can really get invested in and care for. The villains in this story have potential to be the scariest kind, the ones that really exist, and who doesn’t love that? This is suspenseful thriller that I can’t wait to drink my fill of.
This is an exciting, well thought out and extremely well executed story that will keep you guessing and coming back for more.
– Reading with a Flightring
The Bloodthirsty series is a perfect example of the high quality of work that is done outside the juggernauts of Marvel and DC.
– Pop Culture Uncovered
Bloodthirsty has it all… shadowy organizations, human sacrifice, and a protagonist who in my head is played by a slightly less bulked up Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
– The Pullbox
An outstanding job of rendering New Orleans in all its mystery and noir-ish glamour.
– Geek Mundo
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