David Lucarelli writes,
It’s an old cliché.
“It can’t hurt to ask. All they can do is say no.”
But nobody likes asking for favors, especially from strangers.
A few years ago I had an idea. I’d reach out to the Glasgow Comic Con and ask if I could be a guest. Sounds presumptuous, I know. But I had published two graphic novels that were set in Glasgow and inspired by a real-life incident that occurred there. And as the saying goes, “Who dares, wins.”
A little background:
In real life, in 1954 hundreds of Scottish school kids went into the Southern Necropolis cemetery armed with steak knives, torches and sticks, looking for a seven-foot tall vampire they believe had killed a couple of local children. At the time the incident was considered mass hysteria and was blamed on the influence of American horror comics. In fact, the current thinking is that likeliest explanation is that an American comic book story, “The Vampire With Iron Teeth,” may have become conflated with the boogieman like urban legend of the Iron Man of the Gorbals who was said to frequent the cemetery.
That incident inspired The Children’s Vampire Hunting Brigade graphics novels five years ago. Over the course of a couple of years I ran two successful Kickstarter campaigns and published Volumes 1 and 2 in the series through Creator’s Edge Press.
So I contacted the con. To my surprise, they even got back to me! They said they couldn’t pay my flight or lodging, but if I could get there, there was a free table with my name on it.
That was enough for me. I booked the flights and hotels for my family and myself. Would the locals buy my books? I didn’t know. I was scheduled to give a lecture about the Gorbals Vampire Incident. Would they resent a foreigner lecturing them about their own history? I had no clue.
Once there, I had the experience of a lifetime! My first sold-out show.
The lecture was well received and I got to meet my Scottish dialect consultant, George Bell in person, seen here cosplaying as John Constantine!
We stayed in a castle-like hotel that in Volume 3 became the Brigade’s temporary headquarters..
I also got a private tour of the Southern Necropolis Cemetery where the Gorbals vampire incident that inspired the series took place by Colin Mackie.
Colin, a.k.a. “the Happy Reaper,” ended up becoming a character in Volume 3!
I also saw the famous White Lady statue that has an urban legend around it reminiscent of Bloody Mary. Supposedly if you walk around it three times and say White Lady, White Lady, White Lady, she comes alive and kills you. Of course we had to do that. That sparked the idea for the story “The Legend of the White Lady,” which was published in Monsters and Other Scary Shit by Wannabe Press (and is available as part of our current Kickstarter.)
Another feature of the cemetery is the Black Friar’s Circle. In real life Colin Mackie got married in it. In All Souls’ Day it’s a pivotal location.
There was an exhibit in Glasgow about the Southern Necropolis that featured art from the Brigade graphic novels. I got to see that in person. (Yeah, I kind of felt like a rock star with that one!)
In Edinburgh we took the Underground City of the Dead and Cemetery Tour. Naturally these tunnels became a meeting place for the vampires.
While in the cemetery we stumbled upon these vampiric looking actors, shooting promo shots for another tour!
Outside Edinburgh, hidden in a forest on a golf course are the ruins of Yester Castle, which has a legend of its own. Supposedly the castle was built overnight by a necromancer who enlisted Goblins to do his dirty work. The local townspeople filled up the well there with stones, because they believed it lead directly to hell. You better believe all this found it’s way into All Souls’ Day!
I can confidently say that The Children’s Vampire Hunting Brigade: All Souls’ Day is the best graphic novel in the trilogy. Part of that is that Henry and I have been working together for five years. We just had our first nationally distributed comic published, the period crime drama Tinseltown from Alterna Comics about one of the first female officers in Hollywood.
But another large part of it, is that I got to see, hear, taste and smell the cemeteries, castles, ruins and underground tunnels of Scotland.
Most importantly, I got to meet wonderful people of Scotland and make friends with some of them. That lends an authenticity to the graphic novel you just can’t get when you’re studying Google maps from a hemisphere away.
And it all started by taking a chance and reaching out. I can’t promise you that taking a chance like that will yield similar results. Honestly, it was more than a little outside my comfort zone to even ask. But then, that’s where the good stuff happens!
David Lucarelli is the writer of The Children’s Vampire Hunting Brigade Trilogy. All three volumes are available as part of the fully funded Kickstarter which ends on March 30th 11 am Pacific Time.