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Interview: Alien Invasions and Vampire Kings with Rodney Barnes

Interview by Troy-Jeffrey Allen

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From American Gods to Winning Time -- producer-writer Rodney Barnes has an IMDB profile featuring some of the most beloved/critically-acclaimed shows of the last twenty-odd years. Inexhaustible, Barnes' creative talent stretches past must-see TV and into the four-color format we call "comics!" Horror comics, in particular. 

In February 2023, Barnes invites readers to experience two very distinct worlds of suspense with the graphic novel Blacula and his new series Monarch. PREVIEWSworld's Troy-Jeffrey Allen hung out with the hardest-working man in show business to find out more about his latest forays into the world of comic books!

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Troy-Jeffrey Allen:  For those not familiar with Zombie Love Studios, what can you tell us about the mission of your studio? What is the hook?

Rodney Barnes:  The hook is simple: to tell really great stories centered on science fiction, mystery, and horror—genre-themed fare coming from various entry points of the human experience. I’d say that more than anything else—the human experience—is the thing we’re always trying to capture.

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TJA:  Let’s get into Blacula first. Catch us up to speed. What is the story about?

Barnes:  This takes place roughly fifty years after the original MGM Blacula film, in which Blacula re-emerges from the grave with a singular goal: to get revenge on the entity that made him a vampire and crushed his dreams: Count Dracula. Along the way, he finds friends, trudges through his dark night of the soul, and eventually, he confronts his maker.

To find out any more, you’re gonna have to get the book!

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TJA:  What can you tell us about Tina and Kross in the story? Why are they both seeking Blacula?

Barnes: Tina is a blogger for her podcast site Dark Knights, which chronicles stories of the macabre, and she’s determined to find out whether or not the urban myth of Blacula is in fact true. Kross is the grandson of one of Blacula’s victims and leads a group of other kids whose parents also fell prey to Blacula—or other vampires Blacula has created—in the South Los Angeles area.

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TJA: Why resurrect Blacula now?

Barnes: The themes found in many of the stories told in the 70s—especially the Blaxploitation films—wrestled with what was happening in society at the time, but also mirrored American society today. I admittedly had issues with the original film, but felt I could sort of extricate them while also bringing the character of Blacula into a new era. I also had a selfish desire because I’m such a huge fan of William Marshall, who portrayed Blacula/Prince Mamuwalde in the original film. I wanted to elevate his stature to that of Bela Lugosi, who was fantastic as Dracula.

Most of all, I really love the character.

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TJA: What made you team back up with Killadlephia’s Jason Shawn Alexander?

Barnes: I love his work, and we know each other so well that I was confident he could effectively capture both the Blaxploitation feel and modern feel, and merge those two things together artistically. He also has a great eye for the aesthetic of South LA.

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TJA: The trade for Blacula is out currently, but then you have Monarch from Image in February. What can you tell us about Monarch without spoiling it?

Barnes: At its heart, Monarch is a love story that disguises itself as an all-out action story between kids and aliens. I love Alex Lins’ art, and I think he beautifully fuses South LA with science-fiction warfare.

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TJA: What made you want to set this story in Compton?

Barnes: It felt like the least likely place I’d ever imagine an alien attack taking place. It was interesting discovering how regular folk would deal with otherworldly phenomena, sort of like War of the Worlds.

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TJA: Is this more of an Independence Day invasion or something much darker?

Barnes: Much darker. These aliens aren’t here to negotiate in any way, shape, or form and aren’t waiting to plan a larger attack. They’re going for it right off the bat.

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TJA: Tell us about your collaborators on the book. Who are the art teams on the two titles?

Barnes: For Blacula, the aforementioned Jason Shawn Alexander handles the art chores. For Monarch, Alex Lins, while Luis NCT does the colors, and both do a fantastic job fusing action and sci-fi elements. It’s truly an honor to work with these fine folks.

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TJA: In terms of audience, who would you say Monarch is for?

Barnes: There’s something in it for everyone. There’s teen angst, a degree of social commentary, action, and romance... Putting kids in a cataclysmic setting allows for a wide range of emotions and tones which I hope resonate with all readers.

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Keep an eye on PREVIEWSworld.com's TwitterFacebookYouTube, or Instagram for more insight into your favorite creators! 

ZOMBIE LOVE STUDIOS
BLACULA RETURN OF THE KING GN
(W) Rodney Barnes (A/CA) Jason Shawn Alexander
Los Angeles-the City of Angels. Two souls, one is looking for vengeance and one is looking for the truth. They share one thing in common, they are both searching for the legendary vampire Blacula. Tina Thomas is a reporter for the blog Dark Knights, which chronicles all things unnatural, uneasy, and undead. She meets a young man named Kross whose family was forever changed by the vampire. Kross asks Tina to help him kill Blacula. Blacula too is on a mission, he is searching for the one who forever changed his life centuries ago. His name is Count Dracula.
In Shops: Jan 18, 2023
SRP: $19.99
PREVIEWS Page #413

IMAGE COMICS
MONARCH #1 CVR A LINS
(W) Rodney Barnes (A/CA) Alex Lins
SERIES PREMIERE

A new tale of terror and high-stakes science fiction hits close to home!

Growing up in the city of Compton is tough enough as it is, but as Travon has learned all too well, growing up as an orphan in the city of Compton with gang members hunting you down every day is even tougher. But all of that is about to change, because today is the day that aliens make first contact with Earth-and it only spells doom for life as we know it!

Death, devastation, and mayhem-can a single teenage boy rise to the challenge and protect his surrogate family and friends...or will he die trying?

From RODNEY BARNES, the star comics writer behind the Eisner-nominated series KILLADELPHIA and the writer/executive producer of HBO's Winning Time, and up-and-coming Marvel artist ALEX LINS comes a new tale of love, triumph, disaster, and defeat!
In Shops: Feb 08, 2023
SRP: $3.99
PREVIEWS Page #68

IMAGE COMICS
MONARCH #2 CVR A LINS
(W) Rodney Barnes (A/CA) Alex Lins
"STRANGER FROM ABOVE," Part Two
It's Earth vs. Aliens-with one teenage boy standing between them-in this tale of terror and high-stakes science fiction! From RODNEY BARNES, the star comics writer behind the Eisner-nominated series KILLADELPHIA and the writer/executive producer of HBO's Winning Time, and up-and-coming Marvel artist ALEX LINS comes a new tale of love, triumph, disaster, and defeat!

Young Travon has ventured beyond the makeshift shelter of his high school's walls in a desperate search for food and rations for the surviving students-but no heroic act goes unpunished. Travon finds himself captured and at the mercy of these strange beings from another world, but what do they want with him? Why are they attacking Earth? And will he ever see his beloved Daysha again, or is he as doomed as the rest of the world?
In Shops: Mar 15, 2023
SRP: $3.99
PREVIEWS Page #87

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NITA HAWES NIGHTMARE BLOG TP VOL 01 (MAR220113) (MR)
(W) Rodney Barnes (A) Szymon Kudranski, Well-Bee, Patric Reynolds (A/CA) Jason Shawn Alexander
From the team of Image's Eisner-nominated series KILLADELPHIA comes a terrifying new horror series created by acclaimed Marvel writer Rodney Barnes and fan-favorite SPAWN artist Jason Shawn Alexander.
Untold evil lurks the streets of Baltimore, Maryland as the demon Corson surfaces from the underworld to possess a man-once-wronged... and his vengeance will come at humanity's despair! As Gods and Demons clash, humanity's fate hangs in the balance! But paranormal investigator Nita Haweswoman with demons of her ownset out on a quest to root out the evil from her city. Guided by the ghost of her dead brother, she must come to terms with her own past, else she become a victim herself and join her brother in a state worse than death!
Collects NITA HAWES NIGHTMARE BLOG #1-6
In Shops: Mar 15, 2023
SRP: $9.99
PREVIEWS Page #70

IMAGE COMICS
NITA HAWES NIGHTMARE BLOG TP VOL 02 (MR)
(W) Rodney Barnes (A) Szymon Kudranski (A/CA) Jason Shawn Alexander
From the team of Image's Eisner-nominated series KILLADELPHIA comes a terrifying tie-in horror series created by acclaimed Marvel writer RODNEY BARNES and fan-favorite SPAWN artist JASON SHAWN ALEXANDER.
Now that Nita Hawes has bested the demon Corson, she strengthens her resolve to root out the supernatural evils plaguing Maryland. So when a centuries-old murderer returns for revenge in Annapolis, Nita fights to hunt down this vengeful creature known as Jackie the Ripper. But it's more than just a string of bloody killings this time. Deadly visions haunt Nita's dreams, and not even the warnings of her dead brother Jason can save her! Will she succeed in saving Annapolis...or will she become another victim of the night?
Collects NITA HAWES' NIGHTMARE BLOG #7-12
In Shops: Apr 12, 2023
SRP: $16.99
PREVIEWS Page #70

DYNAMITE
JAMES BOND HIMEROS HC
(W) Rodney Barnes (A) Antonio Fuso (CA) Francesco Francavilla
Himeros is the Greek god of sexual desire and one of the Erotes, the winged gods of love. When Aphrodite was born from the sea-foams she was greeted by the twin loves Eros and Himeros.

But when sexual desire goes too far, it takes the legendary super-spy James Bond to bring justice to the most vulnerable among us as he investigates the suspicious death of an accused sex trafficker - one whose ties run deep... and deadly.
In Shops: Aug 30, 2023
SRP: $24.99
PREVIEWS Page #161

IMAGE COMICS
KILLADELPHIA TP VOL 01 SINS OF THE FATHER (MR)
(W) Rodney Barnes (A/CA) Jason Shawn Alexander
Featuring the show-stopping talents of SPAWN series artist JASON SHAWN ALEXANDER and the writer behind such hit shows as Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Marvel's Runaways, and STARZ's American Gods-RODNEY BARNES. When small-town beat cop Jimmy Sangster returns to his Philadelphia roots to bury his murdered father, he stumbles into a mystery that will lead him down a path of horrors and shake his beliefs to their core. The city that was once the symbol of liberty and freedom has fallen prey to corruption, poverty, unemployment, brutality...and vampires. There's a reason they say you can't go home again. Welcome to Killadelphia. Collects KILLADELPHIA #1-6.
In Shops: Jul 08, 2020
SRP: $9.99
PREVIEWS Page #67

ONI PRESS INC.
QUINCREDIBLE VOL 01 QUEST TO BE BEST
(W) Rodney Barnes (A/CA) Selina Espiritu
Invulnerability is a pretty useless superpower if you've only got a one hundred pound frame to back it up. That's what Quinton West's life became when he went from small guy who got beat up to small guy who can't get hurt after the meteor shower dubbed "The Event" gifted him the power of invulnerability but no other powers to compliment it. But there's more to Quin than meets the eye, and Quin realizes that he can use his quirky hobby of creating Rube Goldberg-like devices to outsmart the opposition.
In Shops: May 22, 2019
SRP: $14.99
PREVIEWS Page #348

MARVEL COMICS
STAR WARS MANDALORIAN TP VOL 01 SEASON ONE PART ONE
(W) Rodney Barnes (A) Georges Jeanty (CA) Adi Granov
Din Djarin, the armored bounty hunter better known as The Mandalorian, has been a smash-hit on Disney+ for two incredible seasons. Now, at last, the Mandalorian arrives on the comics page - in the first half of an action-packed adaptation of the show's first season! The bounty hunter has agreed to track down a target for a mysterious ex-Imperial client who offers to pay in Beskar, a rare metal revered by Mandalorians. But when Djarin locates the target - the adorable green toddler known only as The Child - all bets are off! Will Djarin follow his Mandalorian code and turn over the Child? And if he doesn't, what will the consequences be? Prepare for a gritty adventure through the Star Wars universe featuring mercenaries, Blurrgs, mudhorns and more! This is the way!
COLLECTING: Star Wars: The Mandalorian (2022) 1-4
In Shops: Nov 09, 2022
SRP: $17.99
PREVIEWS Page #80

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Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. He is also the Consumer Marketing Manager for Geppi Family Enterprises. Troy's comics work includes MF DOOM: All Caps, Public Enemy's Apocalpyse '91, the Glyph Award-nominated Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Award-nominated Magic Bullet.

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