These days, the only thing David Lapham isn't killing on the page is time.
Acclaimed for his indie crime series "Stray Bullets," the writer/artist has recently jumped back into the ongoing series realm with the 20-something action series "Young Liars" for Vertigo (which he's blogging about at the new Standard Attrition site), but since one series chronically the stories of young life on the edge wasn't enough, Lapham will be creating his first vampire comic with the four-issue IDW Publishing series "30 Days Till Death."
"Each issue will be 400 pages long but only 22 of them will be art and story, the rest will be ads so that they can pay me a million dollars... sorry, wishful thinking. Four issues, 22 pages each," joked the creator about his first foray into the world of IDW's blockbuster "30 Days of Night" franchise created by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith.
"I was winding up year one of 'Young Liars,' which I had been working on for almost a year and a half before the first issue came out," Lapham said about balancing the writing and drawing of two series at once. "I was very far ahead and basically in a holding pattern. I was looking around to see what was out there in this big wide teeny little comic book worlds, and [The Beat's] Heidi MacDonald suggested I call [editor] Scott [Dunbier of IDW], thinking we'd be a good match. I did and he asked if I'd be interested in doing a vampire story. Of course! How much fun would that be? I had read the initial series and sent the flick, but it was after I said yes that I read all the other books talked to Steve Niles and really got into the '30 Days' world."
"We've been pretty loose with '30 Days' over the past few years," Steve Niles told CBR of the direction IDW is taking with Lapham's new series. "I've done three novels with Jeff Mariotte on top of like six graphic novels, and I wanted to let some other people have some fun with it. One of the first things Scott Dunbier brought up with me when he came over there was David Lapham. I said, 'Absolutely. That's the way to do it now.' It's a really fun playground to play in, and letting a guy like David at it â€" I'm hoping we're going to do more with other creators."
Lapham is tapping into the full potential of the "30 Days" playground with "'Til Death" as the battle within vampire society bubbles over into all out war. "What I hooked into from the initial series was the idea of a rift between the elder vampires who realize the extreme need to keep things on the down low and the newer breeds who don't," Lapham said. "I had a bunch of ideas, but the two strongest were the ideas of what a vampire has to do to keep his secret and still survive in the real world and the frustration the elders were having with the new vamps. My thought was the elders felt they were getting too much attention and it was time to 'thin the heard.' They send kill squads to America to do this.
"When I talked to Steve he loved this idea. So I ran with it and combined it with my first idea, and what we have is the story of a vampire named Rufus who is one of the few survivors of a massacre by one of these kill squads. Now he's a vamp alone and trying to hide and survive. He takes up in an apartment building in Buffalo, NY and tries to build a life. Sounds simple. But of course it's not, and make no mistake Rufus is a vampire. He's not a nice guy (as much as he sometimes tries to pretend to be)."
While his lead isn't what anyone would call a hero, Lapham is quick to note that with kill squads still on his trail, the main character of "'Til Death" will be eliciting some positive vibes from readers because "despite being a bastard, our vamp Rufus **IS** the underdog." And this on the lamb status mixes well with the creator's crime roots. "I definitely use noir aspects here. There's a lot of serial killer in how Rufus operates. The shocked neighbors 'Such a nice man. He always loved his dog' type stuff. It's not necessarily crime, though â€" no cops or detectives here. It's a survival tale mostly."
On the art side of the equation, while Lapham has plenty of time on his hands to draw the four issues in between the first and second year of "Young Liars," he noted that the look of his mini will fit the "30 Days" universe as much as it fits in with his own previous work. "I'm not Ben [Templesmith]. I can't be Ben, and it would be a disaster if I tried," Lapham said. "I do want to get across that great horror feel Ben gives, and in the action, that vicious, over the top fluid feeling that were being a little more expressionistic than realistic. Those teeth! If I can bring just a hint of that to what I do then I think it'll kick ass. I also think the color pallet will have a similar feel. But overall to open up this universe to other creators, there has to be room for a broader interpretation."
According to Lapham, those new interpretations are the kind of stories that "30 Days" have been preparing for from the start. "The thing about the '30 Days' concept Steve and Ben created is that it's wide open to ideas. The Barrow was just one story," he said. "What I enjoyed about their graphic novels is how brutal and addictive they are. I read them all straight through â€" quick reads, great atmosphere, and solid concepts. It was important to me to do something that expanded upon what those guys have done, and still let me bring my kind of story to it. Look, it's a mean, scary, and vicious, vicious world. It's not a hard to get me on board with that!"
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