Christopher Priest Sits Down With Newsarama and Super Hero Hype

Christopher Priest is continuing the make the rounds talking about his upcoming turn on Vampirella coming this summer. This time he speaks with Newsarama and Super Hero Hype. After reading these two interviews, my fears that I stated earlier have been largely calmed. I don’t know if my interpretation is correct, but it appears that Priest’s motivation for addressing the costume and the so-called sexualization of Vampirella is not to “fix” the character, but rather to defend her. I think he wants to show that Vampirella’s detractors are actually the ones in the wrong, or at least demonstrate that there’s more than one way to look at the issue. One of the ways he wants to do this is to point out the fact that she’s an alien and it only makes sense that an alien race would have different sensibilities when it comes to dress. This is something I’ve been saying for awhile, so I can’t wait to see it on the page.

The Newsarama interview is particularly notable because the interviewer, Chris Arrant, seemed to take issue with some of the things Priest was saying about gender and other current social issues. These were follow-up questions that can be found at the end of the interview. In my opinion, the interviewer’s criticism/challenge of Mr. Priest was totally unfounded, but you can read the interview and decide that for yourself. I want to focus on the things I liked in the interview, starting with this quote:

So, is Vampirella’s wardrobe choice sexist? I don’t know. Vampirella obviously doesn’t think so. As I see her, she comes from a culture much like Star Trek’s Betazed, where people wear little or nothing at all. If anything, Vampi wonders why we humans choose to smother ourselves in so much fabric and why we’re all so bound by self-loathing.

There are hundreds of women who enjoy cosplaying as Vampirella, and maybe hundreds of thousands offended by the character. How do we reconcile all of that for the 21st century?

The one thing I won’t do is cover her up. I accepted the gig: write Vampirella. If you change the outfit, she’s no longer Vampirella. Frankly, her costume is the only thing about her (well, okay, that and her pansexuality) that makes her at all shocking or controversial.

This is pretty much right in line with my thinking on this subject. I like that he’s approaching this with some common sense and not letting the narrative du jour dictate what he does. I feel like many writers in comics, not just Vampirella, simply default to whatever the most acceptable point of view is, as dictated by the media and the loudest voices in society. Vampirella should not be “safe” or even always “acceptable.” It started out as book that was in many ways counter to mainstream comics at the time. I think that counter-culture element should always be a part of the character, and if pushing certain boundaries makes some people uncomfortable that’s probably a good thing.

While this next comment is more about comics in general, it addresses one of my big pet peeves which is when heroes and villains are referred to as “super heroes” and “super villains” in-story, even referring to themselves as such! It happens all the time and it drives me crazy!

It bothers me that, in 2019, DC and Marvel universes are still mostly portrayed in an idealized hyper-reality where the average man on the street simply accepts superheroes as fact and, in fact, refers to them literally as “heroes” or “villains,” which is absurd. There’s no news anchor in the world who would start a broadcast piece with, “Arch-villain Saddam Hussein…” even though that description would be apt.

And now, over at Super Hero Hype:

…I felt, rather than resurrect or redefine characters like Van Helsing or struggle to find a way to make those characters fit, we’d hear new voices.

WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT KATIE, VICTORY, AND STAN THE RAT?

Stan is not a rat. Stan is a Maligenii– an ensnarer demon. He inhabits vermin and spies on Vampirella, among other things. His name is Eustankhios. You can’t kill him, he’ll be around. Victory is an Uber driver and Katie is maybe the most rabid of what will eventually become a legion of Vampirella fans. She’s a lost girl, lost in the terrible social services system who, in Vampirella, finds an unlikely role model.

But I really can’t tell you much about these people, or Benny The Witch, without coughing up plot details.

As much as I would love to see the classic supporting cast return, I’m okay with a new cast of characters as long as it’s good. Vampirella needs a good strong supporting cast that will stick around for a while. Give the character some stability for a while.

Interesting tidbit here about the rat, which is something I was very curious about after reading the Free Comic Book Day issue. I guess we’ll have to wait find out what his motivations are. I’m assuming he has some bad intentions if he’s spying on Vampirella.

YOU’VE MENTIONED THAT YOUR RUN WILL FAVOR VAMPIRELLA’S SCI-FI ASPECTS, SO SHOULD WE EXPECT TO SEE MORE OF LIFE ON DRAKULON? AND WILL ANY OF DRAKULON’S OTHER FAMOUS RESIDENTS DROP BY?

One of the worst things done to Superman was to have all these OTHER survivors of Krypton show up. It erodes the uniqueness of the main character as the last survivor of a doomed race. I’m not nuts about there being other Vampiri running around. I’d rather play Vampirella more like Monty Python’s Life of Brian, where this guy is mistaken for the Messiah. Here, Vampirella is mistaken for being both a vampire (wrong) and evil (wrong). She is an expatriate. She’s stuck here, with us primitive knuckleheads who cast all our superstitious, religious, and prudish issues onto her.

I’ve mentioned already in another post that I’m extremely excited that these scifi elements will be reintroduced to the comic. But I have to take issue with what he said about Superman. I’m a huge Superman fan and I love the Kryptonian characters. Supergirl is a wonderful character in her own right and gives Superman someone he can relate to and also mentor. Zod is an excellent villain. I agree it shouldn’t be over-done but I don’t think Superman should literally be the only Kryptonian. I digress…

I highly recommend you check out the full interviews using the links below. Also be sure to check out the preview pages I’ve posted at the bottom of the post as well!

Newsarama Interview

Superhero Hype Interview

 

2 Comments

  1. There’s also a subtle nod to the costume being useful for shape-shifting. She had to strip her human clothes before sprouting the wings. That adds a bit of credibility to the costume beyond fashion/comfort.

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