Review Fix chats with Martin Dunn and Derrick Fish, Writer and Artist for Carpe Noctem about the indie comic book series and its goals for the future. more than just your typical vampire comic, Dunn and Fish tell us all about their inspirations and what makes the comic series a special one.
Review Fix: What was the inspiration for the series?
Derrick Fish: While I can’t speak to Drew’s initial inspiration for the concept, I can say that for me I take a lot of inspiration from classic horror comic artists like Bernie Wrightson and Kelley Jones.
Martin Dunn: When Drew first told me of his idea for a working title called “Vampire DJ’s,” I mocked him relentlessly. (laughs) He originally had a different team working on the book, and it was completely different than what we’ve molded it into. When Drew asked us to take the series over, he threw out a few new titles he had in mind; “Carpe Noctem” was the one we all agreed upon. I, myself, took my inspiration from a variety of different things as we always planned to spin tropes on their heads and had every intention to make it the “Kitchen Sink of Monster books”. I drew a lot of influence from Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, and then completely robbed the universal movie monster vaults for everything I could. I also watched a lot of vampire related films and television. I wanted to weave a lore that was both familiar but completely original in its own right.
Review Fix: How is this story different from every other vampire comic book story?
DF: Our vampires are VAMPIRES. They’re killers. They’re the protagonists of the story, but they’re not mopey, angst-ridden soap opera vampires bemoaning their terrible fate.
MD: Well, for starters, to me, it’s not a “vampire story”; it’s a creature feature, a monster book. The main character really is Chelsea; she is the centerpiece. The rest of the cast is just her perception of that story. I think if you asked me how our vampires are different from every other vampire, I’d say Derrick’s answer is pretty much on point. Our vampires, especially Dante, are in no way redeemable characters. You wonâ€™t be seeing a softer side of Dante, a change because he found love, nothing like that. They are killers, no matter how much you may love them.
Review Fix: What has the development and creation process been like?
DF: Martin and I work on the book very much in the mold of the almost mythical “Lee/Kirby” method upon which most of the Marvel Universe was created. We brainstorm ideas. What should happen next? What crisis should unfold or what new monster can we unveil? We collect our ideas and structure them into the basics of a story: beginning, middle, and end. From there, I lay out the pages and hit the drawing board illustrating the story that was roughed out. As a writer myself, I can work out the interactions and drama on the page without dialogue, and then touch base with Martin again at the end of the art to give him my notes on exactly what I was thinking in each scene. From there, Martin takes the pages and finalizes the script.
MD: Pretty much that; I make a lot of notes, and we discuss throughout the art process about scenes and where we think they should go. Sometimes Iâ€™ll randomly think of a new concept and hit up Derrick hoping to catch him before he draws the next page. The dialogue writing is usually compiled from my insane amount of notes. I like to let characters write themselves, and so I spend hours just thinking about what their voice would sound like. The crazy thing is the amount of good ideas weâ€™ve actually cut from this first arc. I can honestly say weâ€™ve left a lot of things on the cutting room floor.
Review Fix: Why do you think vampires are still sexy after all these years?
MD: I think that vampires play with human natureâ€™s obsession with immortality and power. Vampires are appealing because they are a dangerous, beautiful ideal. Â They are always written as these charming, elegant, and sexy creatures. They are literally the monster of choice since forever; they play upon the concept of the â€œforbidden fruitâ€…
DF: — and “The forbidden” will always have an appeal to people. The dangerous lover. The taboo attraction. Vampires are a powerful example of this idea.
Review Fix: What did you read as a kid?
DF: Everything I could. I’ve been a fantasy and comic fan forever.
MD: I have been reading and watching horror my whole life. My mother was a fan of Stephen King and loved scary movies. So I used to sneak and read her books, and when she was working, would watch scary movies or Â â€œCreature Featureâ€ with Dr. Paul Bearer.
Review Fix: How did it play a role in this series?
MD: Â I would say all of those things play a role in the series. I used to love the Tales from the Crypt comics and I was a big fan of Spawn. I always try to capture a bit of that moody feel in the writing. I can say that developing ideas and concepts that play upon the tropes of the horror genre would not be as easy without all of the things that I enjoyed in my youth.
DF: Visually, I want “Carpe Noctem” to play like the comics I grew up reading; heavy on mood and action and visual drama.
Review Fix: Who’s your favorite comic book vampire and why?
MD: My favorite comic book vampire is Hannibal King, Iâ€™ve been wanting to write a â€œTomb of Draculaâ€ story for Marvel forever (wink wink). He fits into my category of what makes a good character; a reluctant vampire, who hates his own kind, and therefore hunts them down.
DF: It’s a bit of a cheat, but my FAVORITE vampire comic was the comic book adaptation of “Bram Stoker’s DRACULA” by Roy Thomas and Mike Mignola followed closely by Ted Naifeh’s “Courtney Crumrin and the Prince of Nowhere”
MD: Since Derrick got a runner -up, I think Iâ€™d say Skinner Sweet from â€œAmerican Vampire.” I love that series.
Review Fix: Bottom Line, why should someone read this?
MD: The series has something for anyone who is a fan of the subgenres of horror. We have drawn much influence from so many things to build this epic world and a fantastic lore. The amount of world building that Derrick and I have done is kind of staggering.
DF: “Carpe Noctem” has it all. It’s scary, funny, exciting and action packed.
Review Fix: What do you think stands out the most about this series?
â€¨MD: I think itâ€™s the characters. They all have a voice, and they let you know they want it heard from the character design to the dialog and interactions. Iâ€™d say itâ€™s the overall feeling that these are real peopleâ€¦ or monsters or whatever. (laughs)
DF: Can I just be an egomaniac and say my art? (laughs). Seriously, though. The comic really shines in the places where it plays with the medium and the various genres at play. When you think it’s an action comic, we bring in interpersonal drama. When it feels like a superhero adventure, we hit you with bone crushing horror.
Review Fix: What’s next?
MD: Weâ€™re gonna introduce magical ponies.(laughs) Honestly, Itâ€™s such a broad question for a story with such a large untold lore. Weâ€™ve got so many things planned, and itâ€™s going to be really great. I canâ€™t really say much elseâ€¦ Derrick?
DF: We’re going to go deeper into the mythology of the ruling class of monsters that run Las Vegas and step back to get into our characters personal lives a bit more. Anything else we tell you would be spoilers.