ComicsBeat has posted an interview with Christopher Priest about his upcoming Vampirella series that we got a little peak at on Free Comic Book Day. The interview has quite a few interesting quotes, some of which really surprised me, and frankly put some doubt in my mind about this series.
You may remember a few weeks ago I posted the following quote from Priest which Dynamite sent me:
“Changing her clothes is not an answer. You either want to publish Vampirella or you don’t. This is who Vampirella is, so the challenge becomes how to develop this as a viable premise amid the heightened sensitivity and (appropriately) higher accountability and responsibility of today’s society.”
I was pretty excited by that quote because I felt that it showed that he wasn’t going to shy away from who Vampirella has traditionally been. This new interview from ComicsBeat seems to contradict this somewhat. Here are some of the quotes in the interview that are a bit worrisome to me:
I just wasn’t inspired to go classical or even to sing to the choir. There’s a lot of Vampirella product out there and will continue to be a wide selection of varying interpretations. I guess I wanted to create the interpretation that would interest me, someone who might not necessarily be a regular Vampi fan.
Just what we need, another reimagining of the character because that worked so well the last ten times it was tried.
I’m afraid old fans will firebomb my home. I went through that with Black Panther— die-hard Don McGregor fans screaming at Quesada and Palmiotti, the Marvel Knights showrunners, because we gave T’Challa a bullet-proof costume and an iPhone. Here I’m giving Vampi a smart watch, so I fear for my life.
Let’s hope this is very tongue-in-cheek.
But (not speaking for Dynamite because I don’t know or want to know numbers) it is my assumption that there are not enough die-hard Vampirella fans to make the series as commercially viable as Dynamite would like it to be. It’s 2019, not 1979 (not a dig, I rather enjoyed 1979 to be honest), so how do we reimagine this premise in a way that makes the character relevant and commercially viable in the Me Too BLM MAGA era? The world is a much touchier and less flexible place now, and a semi-nude buxom neck biter is just asking for trouble in this environment.
So the premise needs to evolve. I don’t know that what we are doing is the definitive answer, but it’s our shot at it. I doubt my Vampi run will be as startling a change as my Panther run, but both were developed from the same philosophy: enlarging the tent for the character and the franchise.
And there it is. This is really the part that I feel contradicts the first quote. Changing the costume isn’t the answer, but the costume is the problem? That doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t understand why we need to change the premise of the character to attract new readers in the “me too” era. The premise is an alien from a planet of Vampires now living on Earth. That premise is fine for any era. Maybe he’s just refering to the premise of why she dresses like she does? Well, if he can come up with something good I guess that’s fine, but I always thought the fact that she was an alien was a pretty good reason for her having an odd wardrobe.
This all just sounds so much like what other writers have said in the recent past. From Chris Sebela, Jeremy Whitly, and Paul Cornell dumping on the costume in interviews and even in the very pages of the book, to the revolving door of costume redesigns. To get those new readers it just has to be something totally different than anything that’s come before it seems. I fundamentally disagree. I bet if you took a person who has never read Vampirella before and you gave them a selection of comics to read from each era, the most well received era would be the 1970’s. Yet here we’re being told it’s not 1979 anymore so we have to reimagine the character (for the 50th time in honor of her 50th anniversary). Makes me want to bang my head against the wall.
I don’t want to sound like I’m writing this series off before I’ve even seen it, but I just wanted to share my reservations after reading this interview. There’s also a lot of stuff in there that sounds good too, so definitely check out the full interview and read it for yourself and let me know what you think.