What does a vampire look for in a woman? Is it the beautiful but misunderstood outsider? The bold, fearless girl with a secret of her own? Or is it, perhaps, something a bit darker? Dark Horse Comics announced earlier today at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo that “Hack/Slash” creator and “Bloodstrike” writer Tim Seeley will introduce a bloodier take on the vampire romance genre with “Ex Sanguine,” a five-issue miniseries debuting in October. Seeley will illustrate the series and co-write with his Four Star Studio partner Josh Emmons. Seeley spoke exclusively with CBR News about the project and his vision of vampires in love.
“It started off as our take on the vampire romance genre, which obviously is very popular, very prevalent,” Seeley said of the projects origins. “We were talking about the kind of people these stories, it’s usually the mopey sad girl finding eternal love with the supportive immortal guy. We thought that relationship would go very differently. If you were someone who spent his entire long existence killing people, you would 1.) get bored, and 2.) you’d be looking for someone to make it exciting and you wouldn’t be able to relate to normal people. The longer we talked about it, we realized the perfect romance would be between a vampire and a serial killer.
“That’s the high concept: it’s a romance between a vampire and a serial killer. But it’s lots of other things,” Seeley continued. “It’s kind of a detective story. And the vampire and the serial killer kind of try to set each other up for a series of murders. But in the meantime, they’re having this twisted romance. Kind of ‘Dexter’ meets ‘True Blood,’ that’s the Hollywood pitch.”
While the concept may lend itself to several different types of story, Seeley said the tone of “Ex Sanguine” would veer toward straight horror. “It’s dark, it’s twisted, but it’s got some lighthearted moments, it’s got some quirky characters. But it’s definitely like a serious horror story. Because part of the thing is, we’re forcing you to relate to two really bad people,” Seeley told CBR News. “Hopefully you come to like two really bad people and see what’s good about them, or what’s redeemable about them, or what isn’t.”
As to those really bad people, Seeley said, “The vampire is a guy called Saul Adams, who has been alive for a really long time and has become a creature of habit.” He emphasized that, far from sparkling, the life of the undead can be anything but glamorous. “Vampires are sort of limited as to where they can travel — during the day, you can’t go anywhere, obviously, it’ll kill you. So he’s taken up residence in a small town, and he’s bored silly. He’s just existing to exist.
“The other character is a waitress named Ashley, who has a zest for life but she’s really messed up,” Seeley continued. “She has a very twisted mission that she’s trying to protect, and she’s not above framing people for it.”
The main drama will take place between Saul and Ashley but, being cold-blooded killers, they also have other people and agencies on their tails. “Basically, they’re dodging each other while trying to escape two detectives who are solving the murder of a PI,” Seeley said, adding that either Saul or Ashley killed this investigator but it wouldn’t be immediately clear who did the deed. “So it’s them against each other against these two very dedicated private eyes. And one of the things we want to play with in the story is that even good, normal people who seem to have everything together often have obsessions. So we’ll see that through these detectives. They may be, in their own way, needing each other and every bit as twisted as the vampire and the serial killer.”
As Seeley has heaped on his writing load of late, he will be co-writing “Ex Sanguine” with studio mate Josh Emmons, whom Seeley said is “doing a lot of the legwork.” “I’m doing a lot of writing right now, but I wanted to draw something, I haven’t drawn anything that I’ve created in quite a while,” Seeley told CBR. “Josh loves minutiae and history. Part of Saul’s background is that he’s been through a lot of historical stuff. Nothing like ‘he was every historical figure you’ve ever heard of,’ he wasn’t actually Abraham Lincoln or anything, but Josh has put together this really twisted backstory for him. It’s something I’ve never seen for a vampire before, so it’s pretty cool. I mean, there are a million vampire stories, but this one was just enough different. It got me really excited.”
Though Seeley described Emmons’ backstory for Saul as unique in vampire lore, unlike many contemporary vampirists, he is not trying to reinvent the wheel. “When people approach a vampire story, they tell you, ‘But ours is different this way.’ They sparkle, or they have translucent skin, or whatever. For ours, we really wanted to do traditional vampire but take out the sort of magic of it,” he said. “Though there is some pseudo-magic with our vampire, it’s basically, you are a thing that has to feed and stay out of sunlight, and you can live for as long as you can feed yourself. As long as you can feed, you can live. It’s almost playing upon how dull the idea of a vampire can be. It’s played as romantic so much of the time, this idea of being immortal. Vampires are a force of habit. They keep feeding because they don’t know what else to do. We wanted to play up the idea that immortality is drudgery — if you’re not living, you’re really bored.”
The blood flows from “Ex Sanguine” by Tim Seeley and Josh Emmons in October.