The Battle Has Just Begun: An Interview with Jonathan Maberry on IDW's V-Wars

This April, prepare for battle with V-Wars #1 (FEB140326)! When a sniper’s bullet kills the pro-peace Speaker of the House and a terrorist vampire cell takes credit, the Vampire War erupts hotter and bloodier than ever. Join IDW Publishing and New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Maberry as they take readers on a non-stop thrill ride of action, horror and suspense.

Horror lovers -- newcomers as well as those acquainted with the world of V-Wars through the bestselling prose anthology (FEB120398)-- will appreciate Maberry’s fresh, contemporary treatment of a classic horror staple: The vampires people used to believe in weren't charming romantic antiheroes. They were monsters. Each culture had their own legends, and each of these vampires was completely different from the others; and all of them were different from the vampires in pop-culture. We went directly to the source: the myths and legends of vampires around the world and throughout history. Old-school, scary, and complicated.

PREVIEWSworld spoke with author Jonathan Maberry about the February PREVIEWS Gem of the Month from IDW and the Free Comic Book Day book (JAN140040) of the same name available on May 3.

PREVIEWSworld: For those who might be new to your comic book, give a quick rundown. What can we expect to see in terms of story and art?

John Maberry:
V-Wars is a science-fiction approach to visceral horror. A virus is released from melting polar ice that triggers a dormant gene in junk DNA. That gene codes for vampirism. It’s why we have legends of vampires all over the world. But these vampires aren’t supernatural. They’re real. This is weird science in a head-on collision with our view of what defines us as human. No one knows who will become infected or what species of vampire they’ll become. Or if the emerging vampire will be a mindless monster, a calculating predator or even someone who doesn’t want to hurt anyone.

At the core of the story we have Luther Swann, a college professor who used to write books about the ‘myths’ of vampires. Now that mythology is real, and he’s become an unwilling advisor to the U.S. military. The other point of view is through the news stories of jaded reporter Yuki Nitobe, who becomes embedded with the vampire underground.

PREVIEWSworld: What has been your favorite part of book or character to tackle?

John Maberry: V-Wars allows me to indulge in my lifelong love of horror, my deep fascination with science, and an abiding interest in the folklore of supernatural predators. I’ve written six nonfiction books on that subject, and I write weird science thriller novels. Combining those passions with my love of comics is pretty much a dream job for me.

In terms of the actual writing, I love shoving the characters into the path of genuine societal, ethical and political cause and effect. The real world may not have supernatural creatures but it’s full of its own kind of monsters. We explore that. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be a monster? And where do we stand?

PREVIEWSworld: In the announcement of V-Wars, you mentioned that, when it came to vampires, “Each culture had their own legends, and each of these vampires was completely different from the others.” How will this factor into the series?

John Maberry: In V-Wars we’ll encounter dozens of different species of vampires, and for Luther Swann and the soldier of V-8 it becomes an ongoing challenge to scramble to identify which kind they are while in the middle of a firefight. Some vampires are incredibly strong. Some have two hearts. Some feed on blood, others on life essence. Some are shapeshifters. Some are flesh-eaters, much like zombies. A few share characteristics of werewolves. There are vampires who are resistant to injury, even most gunshot wounds; and there are vampires that, if they feed enough, become human again.

Each species has its own dynamic, its own rules. And we’ll explore how these variances in species influence behavior. For example, in some vampire species the drive to kill is overwhelming; in others it can be controlled. That’s a huge difference. Some vampires are deeply influenced by the religion and cultural practices of their ethnic background. Others are atheistic and apolitical.

At no time will the characters in the story feel that they are standing on totally solid ground. It’s a paranoid, frightening and ever-changing world.

PREVIEWSworld: Given the scope of your work as an author of horror fiction and comics, how does V-Wars differ from stories you’ve previously told?

John Maberry
: V-Wars is bridge between the books I’ve written that are straight supernatural horror, like Ghost Road Blues and its sequels, and my weird-science thrillers like Patient Zero and Assassin's Code. I get to play with science –and I am a true science geek—while also exploring a completely new side of monsters. And, this is a more overtly political and socially-relevant story. Despite the vampires, it’s the one with the strongest ties to our own politically and ethically polarized world.

And, unlike the comics I’ve done for Marvel, this is entirely my own storyline. My characters, my rules. That allows me a lot of creative freedom, and it should guarantee that the readers won’t see the hits as they come at them.

PREVIEWSworld: Why they should fans pick your book first on Free Comic Book Day?

John Maberry
: Because this is a comic book that’s open to anyone. If you’re a horror fan, grab it – we have the shocks. If you’re a science geek, climb on – we have the technology. If you love a good story – buckle up. If you want a comic that respects the reader – yup, take V-Wars home with you.

PREVIEWSworld: What other titles would you associated with your Free Comic Book Day book (i.e. If a comic reader likes _______ , they should pick up V-Wars)?

John MaberryV-Wars sits comfortably on the shelf between two of my personal favorites – 30 Days of Night and the new Season 10 of X-Files. There’s enough conspiracy theory and secret agenda stuff to keep you guessing, while at the same time we’re not afraid to go straight for the jugular.

PREVIEWSworld: What’s your favorite part about working in comics?

John Maberry: First off, I’ve been a comic book guy since I bought a brand new copy of Fantastic Four #68 when I was a kid. Yeah, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth and comics were 12 cents. I probably learned to read more because of comics than anything else. Comics helped framed my moral outlook and my worldview. Anyone who doesn’t think that comics are important tools or education or that they’re not literature, needs to actually read them.

That said, I love the team dynamic of comics. The back-and-forth with a good editor. Seeing how the artist takes the script and builds the story into something more through creative visuals. The transformation from idea to pitch, to script, to pencils and all the way through to colors and letters. At each stage a pro is adding his or her touch, and each one brings a certain element to it that makes it bigger/better/faster/more.

PREVIEWSworld: Looking to the future of the book, is there anything you can tease about what's upcoming?

John Maberry:  V-Wars is going to continue to be a dangerous comic. Luther Swann and Yuki Nitobe would hate me because of the things I have planned for them. We have stories coming up that deal with ethnic genocide, government conspiracies, terrorism, personal loss, and murder. And there’s a lot of action between V-8 (the U.S. Military’s anti-vampire special ops team) and several groups of militant vampires.

We’re also cooking up a guest appearance by Joe Ledger, the star of my international bestselling series of weird science/special ops thriller novels. He’s going to join the action for one of the arcs. Fans of the Ledger novels can expect snarky humor, violence, snarky humor and more violence. And later this year we’ll be launching Rot & Ruin, a comic based on my best-selling series of young adult post-apocalyptic zombie novels.


Below is a sneak peek at the interior pages of IDW's
2014 FCBD V-Wars!

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