CCI EXCLUSIVE: Lapham Contracts Guillermo del Toro's "Strain"

Announced during Comic-Con International in San Diego's Wednesday preview night, Dark Horse will be bringing director Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's "The Strain" novels to comics, with "Stray Bullets" and "Young Liars" creator David Lapham penning the adaptation. The eight-issue miniseries adapting the first novel will begin in December, with art by "Butcher Baker: The Righteous Maker's" Mike Huddleston.

"The Strain" opens with a passenger jet landing at JFK airport in New York and becoming immediately unresponsive. Carrying with it the hallmarks of a terrorist attack, the vessel instead delivers to American shores a biological agent causing a unique -- and highly infectious -- brand of vampirism.

CBR News spoke with writer David Lapham about the series and his thoughts about working with the "Hellboy" and "Pan's Labyrinth" director.

You've been quite versatile as a writer lately, with horror series like "Crossed," superhero dark-humor in "Deadpool MAX," the "Predators" film sequel for comics, and of course your creator-owned work. How does "The Strain" fit into the work you've done and the kind of stories you like to tell?

David Lapham: For starters it's a dark, horror, end of the world scenario mixed with stories of human survival and tragedy. Y'know, all the fun things in life. The only thing it lacks is the funny. Nothing funny here -- just bodies. Unless you find bodies funny. Then, seek help. 

"The Strain" is both a vampire tale and an outbreak drama. To your mind, how do these two threats in particular heighten one another?

The fact that it's not one monster lurking the night. That it's working like a virus, makes it global in scope. It also makes it far less likely you're going to live. Any of you. And by you, I mean you and not me. I take that Airborne stuff. That's gotta protect me, right?
For those who may be coming into this world for the first time, how would you describe "The Strain?" Who are its heroes and villains?

The main hero is a man named Ephraim Goodweather who works for the CDC and naturally gets called in when an viral outbreak is suspected. Abraham Setrakian is the old, old man who has seen this before and has spent a lifetime preparing against it. So, of course, everyone thinks he's nuts. I think everyone's favorite character will be Vasilly Fet, a big working class guy who is an exterminator of rats. Just a straightforward and cool dude. Gus is a gang kid, a screw up, whose role expands significantly as the outbreak worsens. 

The main antagonist is a very old, very old and very large vampire named Sardu. [A] scary as fuck dude. I guess there's not too much to say without revealing too much. But [he's] possibly one of the great villains. 
Are there certain challenges to adapting a novel that are different from, say, adapting a movie or writing a new story yourself?

Yes! Fitting everything!!! Well, actually, you can't. A novel has the luxury of being as expansive as it wants. The trick here is keeping the good stuff, the important stuff and the terrifying stuff and making sure you can bring that together in a way where you're faithful to the book, but you're actually creating something new. Something that's its own work. 
Are there aspects in which you're looking to make this story your own?

Yes. I don't want to just make the Cliff's Notes of these characters. I want to take who they are and the overall plot and create my own pace and feeling. Make them mine, so I can write the best story. Same as a film director interpreting a novel into a film. [Artist Mike] Huddleston and I have to interpret the novel into a comic. 

What has it been like (or, perhaps at this stage, what are you looking forward to about) working with Guillermo del Toro?

So far so good. The feedback to what we're doing has been great and encouraging. 
As you mentioned, your artist for the series is Mike Huddleston. What does his style bring to this sort of horror epic?

He's a guy that can bring it. He can tell the story and make it sing. He's just getting started, but the designs are amazing, and some of the visuals that I was uncertain how they would come off, he's made so fluid and frightening. I can't wait for the bloodletting to start.

Ghost Riders' Johnny Blaze, Danny Ketch Reunite in New Marvel Series

More in Comics