Writer Paul Cornell and artist Jimmy Broxton have worked together numerous times on titles like Batman: Knight & Squire, Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor and Saucer Country. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the two are re-teaming for a new take on the horror icon Vampirella… but don’t call it a reboot.
DAN WICKLINE: Vampirella has had a rather convoluted past, with her origin changing a few different times. You seem to touch on that in the Zero issue. Who is the Vampirella we meet in this new series and how does she relate to the various incarnations that came before?
PAUL CORNELL: She’s all of them, and that’s all she knows. It’s a mystery we set up, part and parcel of how she got into our dystopian future. I think some characters have been reimagined too many times, and I wanted to do the opposite, bring it all in. She’s a tone of voice, wry and sighing and funny and slightly Goth English, and humane, ruthless, thirsty, afraid.
DW: So far we’ve seen the one image you did of Vampirella wearing the red dress and dripping blood to the cat. Is this the Vampirella of the new series? How do you approach redesigning a character that has been around for over four and a half decades and has such an iconic look?
JIMMY BROXTON: This is more or less how she looks, the hand drawn “bat of blood” being a late addition/revision. This came from Matt and was a brilliant move. Both he and Matt wanted the new look to look more like a real outfit, rather than a “comic book ” costume, something a real woman would actually wear, albeit a kick ass sexy vampire woman. 60s fashions were definitely directly inspirational, I was keen to keep it red, and make it sexy, the previous version is cool, but quite gender neutral, our new Vampy is definitely a gal, sexy, but chic.
DW: We know little about the new series, no idea who she’s going to face, what she’s trying to accomplish, not even when this is taking place. So, what CAN you tell us going into the series? What can fans expect to see when they open that Zero issue?
PC: A far future setting, in which Vampirella is going to wake. She knows very little about how she got there, but we see who wakes her and why. It’s vaguely Euro dystopia, Jimmy doing his most amazing Modesty Blaise/Barbarella, and me trying out a few new storytelling choices. From there it’s rather bloodthirsty Goth SF, as Vampirella attempts to destroy a whole horrifying society.
DW: Besides the new look of Vampirella, what other types of things have you had to design for the new series and what has been some of your inspiration for the look? Is there a type of art style or era you are pulling from?
JB: Going in, Paul and Matt mentioned 60s new wave French comics, Barbarella (the film, more than the comic strip), also Modesty Blaise, and the customers of the Korova Milk bar, that is music to my ears, and very much my cup of tea (or Vellocet, if you prefer). We have all sorts of wild characters and creatures, also the architecture, fashions, technology all come from an imagined retro future, that as kinky as it is crazy, you wouldn’t want to live there, but you’d sure as hell want to visit.
DW: How did you guys get involved with the project? Were you approached as a team or was one of you asked and suggested the other? How did the wooing part go? And what was it that made you say yes to the series?
PC: I’m here because Matt Idelson is one of my favourite editors, and I asked for Jimmy because I immediately saw what he could bring. Matt had the setting in mind, and I liked how different it was.
JB: What Paul said! I was asked, and jumped straight in!
DW: I read the first issue script and noticed that there seems to be a shorthand in the panel descriptions that other artists might not understand. What is the collaboration process like between the two of you and how has it improved from project to project? Do you find you have to communicate less or more because of the familiarity?
PC: I guess I don’t go long on panel descriptions with Jimmy because I can see in my head how he’ll probably do it, so I just lean into that a bit. It usually turns out I only have to say ‘I meant like when you-‘ one or two times an issue, because even when I have it wrong, he’ll have done something I love more instead.
JB: Paul is one of those brilliant writers who lets artists do their thing, as long as it’s consistent with his vision, I can interpret it how I see fit, as long as Paul and Matt are cool with what I do, I get to decide the staging and the angles etc, which is exactly how I like it, unless I screw up of course, in which case they step in and see me right. Ultimately, it’s their world I’m helping to build.
DW: Since the two of you know where the story is heading, step back from it for a minute and look at it from a reader’s perspective. What is it that would get you excited for the new series? And what do you think that your co-creator brings to the series that no one else could?
PC: I like that new readers can start here, and that this is a fun, serious, arty, trashy, new continuation of Vampirella that’s not a reboot. Jimmy brings such acting, design, atmosphere. He’s already presenting us with in-world extras like Clown Police badges.
JB: Well, Paul brings a fully realised vision, with direction, purpose and excitement, all wrapped with wit and wisdom, in a kinky way that only he can, it’s a privilege to be charged with bringing this stuff to life, I only hope I can do it justice.