Initially teased in February, Brian Stelfreeze’s mystery BOOM! Studios project has been revealed, as the acclaimed artist teams with Michael Alan Nelson and Matt Gagnon for “Day Men,” a monthly action epic-in-the-making, set in a world secretly controlled by a network of vampires dubbed the 50 Families. But despite their position of power, the vampire covens still rely on highly trained human soldiers, the Day Men, to protect them when the sun rises.
Best known by comics fans for his dynamic covers, starting with his run on “Batman: Shadow of the Bat” in the ’90s, Stelfreeze’s most recent interior comics work was for his and Walt Simonson’s “Wednesday Comics” story featuring The Demon and Catwoman, and “ICE” from 12 Gauge Comics. With “Day Men,” Stelfreeze returns to drawing a monthly series for the first time since 2005.
Stelfreeze spoke with CBR News about what fans should expect when his noir-influenced take on vampires debuts in July and what brought him back to the challenging grind of monthly comics.
CBR News: Brian, this project was teased before and during Emerald City Comic Con, but now that more details are out, what else can you tell us about your take on the vampire genre? The series is title “Day Men,” but who are they?
Brian Stelfreeze: We’re taking a very simple approach to the vampire mythos. Our vampires are more physical than they are mystical.Â Vampires are like a metaphor for power, and that is what this story is about. Sure, there are fangs and blood but the story is really about the lust for power and control. Our main character, David, is at the epicenter of all these tidal forces. This story bears a stronger resemblance to “Godfather” than it does to “Dracula.”
We think of the Day Men as an ancient order of servants and protectors for vampire families. Something like the Knights Templars, but serving very different masters.
Why vampires? Is this a genre you’ve always wanted to work in?
Â I wouldn’t quite say that I’m a fan of vampires in general, but I’ve enjoyed a few takes on the genre — “Dracula” and “Blade” to name a few. The story and the characters brought me to the table on this one. The story is about contrast — day versus night, strength versus weakness — and what better way to celebrate contrast than film noir? I’m really trying to pull together the classic style of film noir with a modern fashion sense. David is a cool hand in an overwhelming situation, like James Bond and Errol Flynn.
Michael Alan Nelson and Matt Gagnon are co-writing the project. Can you break down the collaboration between the three of you guys?
Matt came up with the premises for the story and later brought Michael in to flesh it out. They kicked it around for a while and later asked me to join the party. Our collaborative process is like a game of hot potato. One person throws an idea out, and the others try to jump in and take it up a notch. It’s a lot of fun!
In your promo video for the We Are BOOM!’ campaign, you mentioned that you gave BOOM! a grocery list of things that would bring you back to creating a monthly series. What were some of the most important things that you needed before you could commit to a monthly book?Â
I find I work best under the conditions of having a great story, working with cool people and having freedom to artistically explore. BOOM! made sure that all of these were accounted for.
How big are your plans for this series, and what are you most excited about bringing to life in its pages?
One of the coolest things about this project was getting involved during the world building stage. Having the opportunity to work on character design, architecture and weapons even before the script was locked in was very exciting. I think it gave us all the chance to know the characters and the world and let them dictate story to us. I’m working out a way to illustrate how vampires move. They are both stronger and faster than humans, so I want their movements to seem otherworldly. I look forward to this and the many challenges Matt and Michael are cooking up for me.
You haven’t tackled a monthly book since 2005. Have you missed the monthly deadlines, and why are you going back to it, instead of focusing on covers or smaller stories, like “Wednesday Comics?”
I really don’t think you can seriously refer to yourself as a comic book artist without working the monthly schedule. It’s a relentless trench warfare against deadlines and doubt, but when the conditions are just right, an amazing thing comes from working in that kind of crucible. You have to work with what you have immediate access to rather than all of what you know. It’s applied intelligence versus knowledge. It’s a true test of if you’re a storyteller or if you just draw pretty pictures.
I’ve worked in just about every field you can imagine as an illustrator, and nothing requires anywhere near the focus of monthly comics. It’s hard work but you get to live in the story, and I love it. The truth is, conditions just haven’t been right since 2005.
“Day Men” debuts in July from BOOM! Studios.