IDW Publishing has made a name for itself in the comics industry as a publisher of fine horror comics. With writer Steve Niles leading the way, IDW has become the king of the horror genre in the comics industry.
This April, IDW looks to bring a different flavor to their horror line when they release the first 96-page digest-sized volume of “Dampyr,” a long-running European series making its debut in America. The first volume originally saw publication in Italy back in April, 2000 from European publishing giant Sergio Bonelli Editore. Since then there’s been a new volume published every month and that should continue indefinitely given it’s popularity in Italy as well as other European markets. In America, each $7.99 volume will feature a new cover by artist Ashley Wood. We caught up with editor Kris Oprisko to learn more about the series and how it will play in the American market.
Oprisko began by introducing the series for readers. “The main character, Harlan Draka, is a Dampyr – the product of a union between a human mother and a vampire father,” Oprisko told CBR News. “As such, he possesses the rare ability to kill vampires. Starting out as a con man, Draka slowly awakens to his destiny and begins to battle the forces of evil, aided by Tesla, a female vampire who’s switched sides, and Kurjak, a tough human solider.”
In the first book out this April, we find Draka, haunted by horrible nightmares, walking the countryside trying to make money ridding small villages of what the naive citizens believe to be evil vampires. Draka puts on a front, claiming to be a dampyr while not knowing the truth, until he’s summoned by soldiers who are under attack by real vampires, only to discover that his nightmares are true – he is, in fact, a dampyr.
The series is written by Mauro Boselli and Maurizio Columbo, while a variety of artists provide the disturbing imagery for “Dampyr.” “These stories were and are being drawn by famous Italian artists such as Mario Rossi (known as ‘Majo’), Luca Rossi, Maurizio Dotti, Nicola Genzianella and others. They all are very well known in Europe — Italy in particular — but will be new to the U.S. audience.”
The series was brought to Oprisko’s attention by Ervin Rustemagic of SAF Comics, who controls the rights to “Dampyr.” “He brought the series to my attention and it seemed like a natural fit for IDW,” said Oprisko. “The books have sold tremendously well in Europe and I think they’ll also find an audience in the U.S.
“The scripts are translated overseas and provided with the art to me, so my main job is to go over the scripts and make sure everything makes sense and is grammatically correct,” explained Oprisko. ” The translations have been quite good, so that makes my job much easier! I also commission the covers for the series that Ashley Wood is providing.”
Horror fans know full well that horror stories crafted in America differ greatly from their European or Asian counterparts. Case in point, Japanese horror films have recently seen an increase in American interest due to the success of films like “The Grudge” and “The Ring,” both based on Japanese films. In fact, Italian cinema is well known for excellence in the horror genre with their many “giallo” films. Oprisko says that American readers will notice a different style of storytelling with “Dampyr.”
“I think the biggest difference in Dampyr, vis-à-vis American horror stories, is in the pacing. That’s what marks it as a European product. The pace in which the story plays out is much more leisurely than a typical US comic story. Although in some cases this might be a bad thing, for ‘Dampyr’ it’s perfect. This kind of storytelling really lets the dread sink in and the suspense grow as Harlan Draka nears his prey (or they near him!).”