This new comic has the weirdest, wettest, wokest take on vampires yet

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Oct 4, 2017

Every culture and every era has portrayed vampires differently. From Dracula to Nosferatu to Count Chocula to Edward, the bloodthirsty creatures of the night have always reflected the world around them, expressions of the ever-evolving ways that humanity has preyed on one another. The modern world certainly has no shortage of things that are sucking the life out of us, which makes the here-and-now the perfect setting for a new kind of vampire story — and it’s called Dark Fang.

Releasing next month from Image Comics, Dark Fang follows Valla, an aquatically-inclined vampire who returns to the world of humanity after a long time away, and finds a very different world than the one she left. But Valla is cunning, and quickly adapts and begins using the internet in surprising ways to fund her hunt of the oil tycoons who were responsible for the disaster that destroyed her ocean home.

Valla’s one-woman crusade against wanton environmental destruction will be written by Miles Gunter and drawn by Kelsey Shannon, who have created a vampire story that is more wish-fulfillment than cautionary tale, giving readers the treat of seeing someone (at least fictionally) finally do something about seemingly insurmountable issues like global warming.

SYFY WIRE spoke with writer Miles Gunter about the inspirations behind the series (everything from The Abyss to Spawn), it’s connections to past vampire stories, what vampire story he thinks you should read, and much more! Check out the interview below, along with a four-page preview of the first issue in the gallery at the bottom of the page. And be sure to stay tuned to SYFY WIRE all October long for more on the latest and greatest in horror.

Dark Fang touches on quite a few contemporary issues right out of the gate, from environmental destruction, to over-reliance on technology, to pornography addiction, all things that are parasitic — or vampiric — in nature. Did you start out wanting to write about these issues and then the vampire elements fit, or did you set out to do a vampire story first?

Miles Gunter: Vampires and werewolves are always running around in the back of my mind and the issues you mentioned tend to be more in the mental foreground of my day to day. I suppose it was only a matter of time before they met. The catalyst for Dark Fang was thinking about how a vampire would react to the way our country is right now. Once I had that spark, my intuition started lining things up around the theme of appetite which is very much at the center of Dark Fang and is the root cause of things like climate change and technological addiction.

Valla, the main character, was changed into a vampire over a hundred years ago, but has spent most of that time living in the depths of the ocean, thanks to its lack of sunlight, and her not needing air. It’s a pretty clever setting for a vampire that makes perfect sense, but is also not something I’ve seen before. What inspired the idea of an aquatic vampire?

That's what I would do if I was a vampire. It's probably the result of incessantly watching my The Abyss director's cut laserdisc when I was a teenager. I've always been fascinated that there are these vast unexplored areas in the ocean. I'm sure James Cameron would be tempted to become a vampire so he could get down there and map everything.

Why was it important to have Valla be an older vampire who has returned, rather than, say, a newly turned vampire?

I love fish-out-of-water stories. Having Valla disconnected from the modern era was an opportunity to have fun with her reactions to things. More importantly, it gives her a perspective removed from where we currently are. I wanted her to be able to think outside the box in ways that wouldn't occur to a newly-turned vampire that's conditioned to the modern world.
 
As with any good vampire story, this one alludes heavily to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Were there elements of that original novel that you think discussed similar issues to the ones you’re now bringing up in Dark Fang?

Dracula and Valla are both rooted in the past and are initially able to capitalize on man's ignorance and weaknesses to acquire positions of strength. Stoker was cautionary about technology and where it would take us which is something I'm trying to address as well.
 
But the main thing I want to tap into from Dracula is the majesty and allure of the character. People love to fantasize that they are just as magnetic and powerful as Dracula. It's a big part of the reason the character has always been popular. I want Valla to invoke a similar vicarious response where the reader wants to be her.


 

I really enjoyed the character of Valla’s slave, something of a modern-day Renfield, who’s not an insane asylum inmate, but rather a hacker. Why was that the angle you took with him, and what kind of role will he be playing as the series progresses?

It's funny because I didn't realize he was a Renfield surrogate until recently. It was not intentional but vampires are an archetype and I think that the unconscious has a way of surrounding them with the elements they need. Cody is her tech guy who provides a window into the modern world and he's also an avenue for comic relief. Unfortunately to say anything more would spoil what's coming.  
 
I don’t know how much you want to talk about this element of the story just yet, but something seems to be wrong with Valla. It’s an interesting idea to have something infect the creature that’s usually doing the infecting. What can you tease about her titular tooth?

My own dental experience is that if you have a problem with a tooth, it will get worse over time. The tooth is partially inspired by the early days of Todd McFarlane's Spawn, a character who has a finite amount of power. Every time he used it, his power meter would go down and when it eventually reached zero he'd be sent back to hell. Valla is in a similar situation where the clock is ticking.

Since it’s Halloween month, give us one under-rated vampire story (any medium) that you think Dark Fang readers would dig.

Mysterious Journey to the North Sea, a two-part Vampire Hunter D novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi. For those who don't know, D is a vampire version of Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name wandering the Earth 10,000 years after a nuclear war. Mankind lives in these rustic old world European towns where they have laser guns and robot horses and have to contend with all kinds of crazy monster villains. D receives a jewel from a dying woman and promises to deliver it to her sister in a remote fishing village on the shore of the North Sea. This jewel, a small bead, is a McGuffin containing godlike power and all these wild bad guys are relentlessly trying to get it. There's a real breakneck surreal pulp beauty to it which is very much what I'm aiming for in Fang. Yoshiaki Kawajiri, the anime director of the classic Ninja Scroll, has talked about wanting to adapt it into a film. I hope someone at Netflix reads this and reaches out to him.

Dark Fang #1 is on sale November 15 from Image Comics. All art by Kelsey Shannon.