CCI: Niles Meets Frazetta, Dracula Meets the Wolfman

Image's successful "Death Dealer" mini-series, based on the famous painting by Frank Frazetta, has led the publisher to announce at this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego more such projects. Spearheaded by Jay Fotos, the books are in the pipeline for 2008.

One of the one-shots announced features "30 Days of Night" creator Steve Niles on some iconic horror characters: Niles spoke with CBR News about "Frank Frazetta's Dracula Meets the Wolfman."

"First of all, it's almost more of a challenge than an assignment," Niles said, "Because I just love that Jay Fotos and is going around asking, 'OK. What Frazetta cover do you want to do a story about?' So I responded, 'you know that one of the vampire and the werewolf ripping each other to shreds? That's the story I want to do. I just wish I could remember the title of the image. It's funny, with Frazetta I know every single image, but then I forget the titles on them!

"It's going to be short, but violent and everything that painting depicts. Basically, it's going to be Dracula and the Wolfman walk into a bar and get into a fight," Niles joked. "It'll be a lot more than that, really, but it's also because other than some very old films, those two ... don't have a lot of crossover. It's going to be fun. Dracula and Frankenstein have an entire history together -- and I do have a Dracula/Frankenstein thing I'm working on with another artist over at Wildstorm actually -- but this will be very visceral and I'm going to attempt to bring the sense of that picture to life. That's really the fun of this whole ride they've embarked on.

"Brutal violence is the first thing that comes to mind," said Niles of Frazetta's work, "But really it's incredibly strong characterization. The one thing that always strikes me, and what makes this project that Jay's is doing so brilliant, is it takes me back to when I was a kid. And I'd sit down with those old Frazetta books, and I'd look through them, and the stories that would come out of them had a huge effect on me. And, in a way, I could liken that to how I learned how to write. Spending that much time staring at just one image had an effect on me.

"There's that one image –- again, I'm bad with the titles –- but there's a creepy cover with a guy working at a table and there's some sort of ghoulish woman coming through a door –- holy Hell! That actually was one of the candidates to do a story on, but I decided I didn't want to burst the bubble for myself because that one haunted me as a kid and if I go and explain it I'll take away one of my good nightmares.

"There's also the famous image of the monster on the hill with the moon behind him overlooking a village. And I remember, as a kid, staring at that and thinking at first here's a monster and he's shown up there to kill. Then, as I got a little older, I thought, what if in fact he was a kid from that village who got turned into a monster and now he's standing there watching the village wanting to return home. Just looking at his paintings your imagination grows and that's what he brings: he jumpstarts your imagination.

"It's not just horror, he also paints scenes of incredible beauty, too.

"Jay's handling this very smartly," Niles said. "They let me pick my own artist. The Frazettas have to approve everything, which is for me surreal in its own way, but I'm really given total freedom. Of course, let's see how much freedom I get if I write a crappy script."

Niles hooked up with Fotos for the Frazetta projects because he has a certain history with the initial Frazetta comic series.

"I was supposed to write 'Death Dealer' –- don't I know the right project to jump off of!" Niles said, laughing. "It goes and sells 60,000 copies and I'm like, 'Yup, that's me! I'm the guy who dropped off that because I'm too busy.' While at the same time, I'm writing books that are selling four to six thousand copies! Oh, well.

"I don't think I've ever laughed as hard as I did when those numbers came in, especially after the rough year I had, that was just a perfect ending! 'Yup, I called that one right!' Seriously, I'm glad Joshua Ortega seems to have gotten a lot out of it and that just thrills the hell out of me."

CBR Executive Producer Jonah Weiland contributed to this story.

Check out all the stories coming out of Comic-Con International 2007 about the expanded line of Frazetta comics:

Discuss this story here on CBR's Image Comics Forum.

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