David Tischman, Mariah Huehner and David Messina–the team behind IDW Publishing’s first miniseries based on HBO’s “True Blood” reunite for a second tale of vicious vampires, barely-restrained lust, visceral horror and humor all equally proportioned in “True Blood: The French Quarter.” The six-issue miniseries, debuting in August, finds Sookie Stackhouse, who can read the thoughts of all but vampires, separated from her beloved Bill. Sookie is now set fighting alongside the vampire sheriff Eric, whose droll cruelty both attracts and repels. With Season 4 debuting on HBO last Friday, June 26, CBR News caught up with Huehner for her thoughts on fleshing out the “True Blood” universe.
Huehner, an IDW editor who has also written issues of “Angel” and other series, described her experience working on the first “True Blood” miniseries, “All Together Now,” as “Awesomelyfantasticamazing.” “Between meeting and breaking the story with Alan Ball, co-writing with Tischman, getting artwork from David Messina and seeing the overwhelming fan reaction, I kind of feel like it happened to someone else. It’s been an experience,” Huehner said.
“But I have to say, my favorite part was how collaborative everyone was. David is the most generous co-writer you could have, and he put up with all my questions and fumblings. HBO and Alan couldn’t have been more encouraging and positive. Rewarding would be the best word for it.”
There were some challenges, however, in writing a story set in the world of an ongoing television series. “We had to make sure we weren’t treading on any story points the show was planning on exploring, while still making sure we were telling compelling, relevant new stories about these characters,” Huehner told CBR. “It helped that we got direct feedback from Alan so we knew what was off limits. It was also fun to see the story points we thought of that were similar, which was a good indication that we were thinking of the characters and world along the same lines as the show. I think it helped us feel more confident about what we were doing, knowing we shared the same goals as Alan and the show.”
For “French Quarter,” the third of IDW’s “True Blood” comics series, Huehner and Tischman are pairing Sookie off with Eric, the charismatically aloof vampire sheriff. “Personally, I like the fact that both characters call each other on their bullshit,” Huehner said. “They both get really annoyed with each other, don’t always say the right thing, and like to get under each other’s skin and point out each other’s foibles. But they also clearly want to shag each other’s brains out. That’s always fun to write.”
Sookie and Eric will be up against Guerra, a vampire long thought to be dead who appears to be killing again. “Guerra is a very strange character, someone both Eric and Godric knew a long time ago. Which was an interesting dynamic to play with,” Huehner told CBR. “I loved Godric, and he’s a wonderful counter-balance to Eric. The relationship between the three characters is central to the story, and it shows a side of Eric we haven’t seen much of before.”
Why Guerra does what he does, will remain a mystery for now according to Huehner. “What drives anyone to kill? Guerra is a complex character, and even though he’s a vampire and we expect them to be violent killers, he kind of goes beyond that,” Huehner said. “As for why he’s resurfacing now: Eric. You don’t get to be as old as Eric without making some serious enemies.”
In the first “True Blood” miniseries, the action took place largely in Merlotte’s, the bar owned by Sookie’s friend Sam, but, as the name of the new series suggests, “The French Quarter” will venture out into the wider world. “We really wanted to open the world up, show events happening outside of Bon Temps, and David suggested New Orleans. It’s kind of perfect, when you think about it. It’s an incredible city, you can picture just about anything happening there. It has such a rich history, and it’s beautiful. So it made for the perfect backdrop for the murder mystery,” Huehner said. “We also spend quite a bit of time with Lafayette and Pam at Fangtasia, see how it runs without Eric, and get some more insight into what Lafayette is capable of on his own.”
The miniseries’ artist, once again, is David Messina, joined by Claudia Balboni. Huehner said having them on board lends a degree of trust to the collaboration. “We can completely and entirely trust David and Claudia to turn the script into something visually wonderful,” she said. “I think David’s skill at making likenesses dynamic, fluid and appealing is well known by now. It makes all the difference. That and his attention to detail. With a location like NOLA, David can really have fun and have a beautiful setting to work from. Which makes the story more real and grounded, which then allows it to unfold frenetically and keep readers engaged.”