Comic book all-star Scott Snyder can not be tied down to one book, let alone one horror series at a time either. The newest issue of Snyder’s long-running Vertigo series American Vampire sees vampires taking part in the space race and reveals what is really lurking inside of Area 51. We got our hands on some preview art work for the next issue, which can be seen in the gallery at the bottom, but we also had a chance to talk to Scott about the issue, the series as a whole, and his love for underused monsters and the 1950s.
Nerdist: Scott, thanks so much for talking to us again.
Scott Snyder: Yeah, I’m big fan of the site, so thank you.
N: Going into issue 8 for Second Cycle, the story is steeped in the Cold War, the Space Race, and even Area 51. How long have you been waiting to put vampires in space?
SS: Well, it was something we swore we would never do when we started the series. I would get all these jokes from others about “how far are you going to go with it?” in terms of the chronology of it. Wondering if we were going to go all the way into a sci-fi future with vampires in space, and I responded, “Mark my words, we will never put vampires in space.” Then, I realized when we got to the ’60s that wasn’t quite what I meant when I said it originally, and sending them into space as part of the budding space program felt really rather perfect for the series. This arc is really something we have always wanted to do, and it involves the space program, Area 51, all kinds of Cold War conspiracies, nuclear annihilation, and gargoyles and mermaids. So it has everything. It all kind of fits together somehow and we were really excited for the space program part of it.
N: The series goes all over the place in terms of timeline. What would you say was your favorite time period to write the characters into?
SS: [Laughs] Oh! The ’50s is probably my favorite. I linger there a bit in the book and I am a big rockabilly and Elvis fan. I love ’50s country, ’50s blues, ’50s jazz. It was something I wish I could have lingered on more, but I felt like I stuck there for as long as I could at the moment. We did more issues in the ’50s than anywhere else. I have more that I want to do, but the characters from that time period linger in the series. There is one, which is this crazy rockabilly vampire killer who drives a hot rod and puts wooden fangs in his mouth so he can bite the vampires back. He is just a total greaser named Travis Kidd, and he is one of the characters we have big plans for in the next arc. The ’50s kind of linger on in all sorts of ghostly ways in the series.
N: What about a time period you haven’t done yet that you are really looking forward to?
SS: Yeah, the ’70s is a period I’m really fascinated by. We are having a lot of fun in the ’60s, and everyone expected to go all flower power with that story, but we didn’t, and the ’70s is an interesting time. Not so much the disco aspect, though. You will not see Skinner in a disco. I promise that much. It interests me more in being a moment when things felt extremely depressing, scary, decadent, and just strange. People felt tricked and betrayed in several aspects across life and culture, and there was a real sense of skepticism that grew from that. So the plot we are doing at the moment really comes to a head at the bicentennial in 1976. We want to use that time period for the context in which a lot of the things we are building toward. There is so much uncertainty and possibility for things to go wrong, and the ’70s just felt like a great reflection of that. No disco though.
N: In our talk about Wytches, you made mention of basing your stories and monsters you choose off of real-life things that can be terrifying. What is it you feel vampires, and especially the Sixth Breed, represent to people?
SS: I’ve thought about that, actually. I feel like I have a real attraction to classic monsters in what I write, and I think what makes vampires scary, or enduring, is this terrifying core definition of your friends, neighbors, and loved ones come back from the grave to turn you into something as evil as them. It creates this sense of having absolutely no safety in the world. The people you trust are out to get you and turn you into this horrifying thing that you don’t want to be.
That was where we really started with American Vampire. We wanted to bring them back to the this center and then imagine a new breed with different powers that are still meant to be scary. Then what if they had these iconic things that we, as Americans, look to for a type of identity. Whether they are from culture or pop culture, but to have flappers, cowboys, starlets, rockabilly guys, doo-wop men, and gangsters who we all see as a part of our history and have them really be these things that come after us, and turn out to truly be monstrous. That felt like the core of this series to me. Then it blossomed into including things like mummies and gorgons, but that was where we started.
N: How much of a hinderance was Twilight, or other vampire fiction, at the time you were looking to launch American Vampire?
SS: They really weren’t. I think the closest we came to even addressing Twilight when we started was Stephen King wanted to do a poster for the announcement that had Skinner sitting on a pile of dead, handsome vampires saying something like “I don’t sparkle” while giving the finger. I mean, we’ve always had a real tongue-in-cheek approach to it, but my sister likes those books and they show the adaptability that the creature has in storytelling; it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Not my vampire.
However, 30 Days of Night was a big inspiration when we were starting and I love the work Steve Niles does. The Strain is really great, as well as The Passage by Stephen Cronin is great as well. Anytime you can take the core concept I talked about, and keep to it and keep it scary, no matter what else ends up being different, then you have done it well.
N: You’ve done witches, vampires, and even scary mermaids. What other monsters do you want to write about?
SS: [Laughs] Next up, American Mummy! [Laughs] No, I have a few things I am working on but, I can’t really go into that at the moment. What I can say is I tend to really like monsters that haven’t actually had their day in the sun. Things like ghouls and demons. They haven’t really had any proper definition to them and tend to be just shunned off to the side in favor of zombies and vampires. So, I’m looking into that territory a little bit, but I think was fascinates me to no end is why these monsters or figures from folklore have stuck around. What makes them hit these primal fears of ours, and can there be something new about them while staying true to the core of what they are.
American Vampire: Second Cycle #8 is out on shelves tomorrow from Vertigo. Be sure to look out for more from Scott Snyder, as well as see him at the DC booth for San Diego Comic-Con next month.
Don’t forget to head down to the gallery to check out more preview art from American Vampire: Second Cycle #8.
All art provided by DC Comics