Luke Herr: How are you doing Chris Sims of The ISB, the twice Eisner-nominated comic news website Comics Alliance, host of the Comics Alliance flagship podcast War Rocket Ajax and creator of several webcomics including Awesome Hospital and the upcoming Dracula the Unconquered?
Chris Sims: I’m doing well! Two cups of coffee’ll do that.
LH: So your upcoming work that you are releasing on Halloween is called Dracula the Unconquered. What can you tell me about that?
CS: It’s an ongoing digital comic book series about that takes place roughly ten years after the events of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1901. I’ve described the high concept before as Indiana Jones starring Dracula, a big adventure story that has this grand villain and his human sidekick, Thalia, traveling around the world and battling against ghosts, monsters, and other vampires.
LH: And is your goal going to be a sort of redeeming of the Lord of the Night or will it be more of a character piece on this Vampire Lord?
CS: There’s definitely an aspect to it that’s about redemption. One of the things that I wanted to do was give people a version of Dracula that they hadn’t seen before — or at least, that you don’t see often — and with so many different takes on him in pop culture, the idea of Drac as an adventure hero is what I came up with. It’s actually directly inspired by the Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge stories, and while it’s definitely a different sort of structure, that’s the kind of feeling I want to get, the big anything-can-happen adventure. But if you’re going to have Dracula as a hero, you definitely have to address the fact that he’s a pretty bad guy. I mean, he literally eats people. So part of it is about showing a different side of him, and part of it is about explaining how this monstrous figure that everyone knows as a villain is in a ruined castle at the opening of the novel, rather than as the grand end-boss we always think of him.
LH: So this is sort of Dracula Getting His Groove Back then? Rebuilding his fortune like Uncle Scrooge in a way?
CS: Ha! Kind of. There’s definitely a structure to it where he’s rebuilding himself, and going around the world to gather various artifacts and confront former allies and enemies.
LH: So this is Dracula/Sandman/Scrooge. It sounds pretty awesome.
CS: Well, I certainly like it!
LH: Now would you consider yourself a vampire expert?
CS: Not really? I mean, I went through that phase that I think a lot of people go through when they’re kids where they have a year where they just love horror and monsters, and I remember checking out these books from my elementary school library that were like picture book explanations of vampires and werewolves using stills from the Universal Movies. I guess I know as much as anyone else does. Mainly, I’m just a fan of Dracula — specifically Dracula in pop culture. The Hammer movies, the Castlevania games, Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula is a huge influence. I hadn’t actually read the original novel until I decided I wanted to do a Dracula comic, and it really shaped the way I think of him, since that original portrayal is so different from the pop culture notion that we all sort of get from how he is in other media.
LH: So I shouldn’t ask you mathematical questions about the limits of blood that Dracula would be able to imbibe because I mathed up that stuff.
CS: Ha! Don’t try to apply math to magic, Luke. If Dracula wants to drink eight pints of blood in one sitting, he will!
LH: Actually a healthy living hu-man can drink 31 pints every day and process it which is about 2-3 humans. I will bring the math down on Dracula. Dracu-Math!
CS: Sounds like I’ve got a new competitor.
LH: So one thing I’ve wondered is where do vampires come from? Not like a cultural origin about them being inspired by Vlad the Impaler but who was like “Gonna make some dead guys drink blood?
CS: That’s a good question, but not one that I’ve really thought about answering in the series. I know where Dracula comes from — my version actually isn’t Vlad the Impaler, that’s an aspect of the character I’ve never liked, so I just did away with it — but as for where they started in general? I’m not sure. I think the example the roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade gave was that they were all descended from Cain, who had been cursed by God to eat naught but ashes and drink naught but blood, or something along those lines. But I got that information secondhand from my time working in a comic and game shop, so I might be misattributing it. It’s a neat idea, though! I think I’m just going to go with “Magic.” It’s a nice catch-all answer.
LH: What about Devil Magic? All the fun of Magic with the bonus of the Devil?
CS: Definitely a possibility.
LH: Now are we ever going to get a CS Universe Crossover comic?
CS: Ha, Chad and I talked about doing a big Action Age crossover with Monster Plus, Solomon Stone, Awesome Hospital and so on, but we never got around to it. I think the closest we came was Matt Digges putting Atnas the Anti-Santa from my Solomon Stone Christmas Special into his Awesome Hospital Christmas special, thus establishing that those two comics exist in the same universe. Maybe I should have Atnas show up to ruin Dracula’s holidays.
LH: Now you also write for Comics Alliance every week day as well as doing the podcast War Rocket Ajax which is now in it’s third year. Anything big coming up for those?
CS: You mean bigger than being the #1 Comic Book Website in America? (Shameless, I know, but I had to say it.)
LH: Chris. You are wrong. CA is the #1 Comic Book Website in the World.
CS: It’s certainly #1… in our hearts.
LH: Is there anything else that you want to plug or recommend to our readers?
CS: Awesome Hospital is usually updated every Tuesday and Thursday, although this week we ran into some unfortunate events that have delayed us for a little bit. Beyond that, I’d just like to point out that Drac drops on Halloween, and it’s $1 for 24 pages of full-color story.
LH: Thanks for being our first interviewee Chris.
CS: Thank you!