Post-apocalyptic wastelands. Lovecraftian demons and werewolves. A smarmy sidekick that manifests itself as a talking left hand. Those are just a few of the disparate elements that combine to make "Vampire Hunter D" — one of the most recognizable characters on the Japanese horror scene and one of the earliest to find widespread success in the U.S. thanks to the popular anime adaptations found in suburban America since the 1980s. The property has found continued prominence in the U.S. thanks to the original novels being translated to English courtesy of Dark Horse, along with the anime and Digital Manga Publishing series, and the character is preparing to take his first full step into American comics with the 2009 Devil's Due Publishing series "Vampire Hunter D: American Wasteland."
Announced earlier this summer, DDP added specifics to their licensing of the character with word from the recent Diamond Retailer Summit in Las Vegas that "Jonah Hex" co-scribe Jimmy Palmiotti would pen the American take on the classic vampire slayer. And as for how a writer known for his work on rough and tumble American superheroes landed the gig, it was a simple matter of making friends in the right places.
"I was approached by my friend [Devil's Due Publisher] Josh Blaylock and asked if I had any interest working with him on this project," the writer said. "I remember the animated movies and the character, and went in over a few weeks and read some of the novels and manga reprints to bring myself up to date with the property. The idea here, for me, is working with another creator on a property with a lot of history — fun on a number of levels."
Specifics on the Blaylock-conceived, Palmiotti-scripted series have been closely guarded by the publisher until their plans are set in place, but with a title like "American Wasteland," longtime fans of the sword-slinging monster killer and his chatting left hand can expect D to land on American shores for the first time in his 25-year history. Of course, a new playground doesn't necessarily mean a reinvention of the wheel, either.
"The title says a lot, and there is a lot I don’t even want to get into about what we are going to do because at this point, it’s too early in the game," Palmiotti explained. "Just know that we are going to be loyal to the history of the character and at the same time try to top what came before on some level. Why bother if we aren’t bringing our 'A' game, you know?"
Piece by piece, the writer has been studying up on D history to make sure his series will fit the mold of past adventures, even though the art and presentation will feel a bit more Western than past installments. "Watching the movie made an impact. The novels stirred my imagination in other ways as well because the visuals were not so laid out,” Palmiotti said. “For me, the character is bigger than life and the idea is that the world moves around him.
"Story and tone are key, then we have the characters around him, and finally the landscape that defines the property and the history of the earth. What is already established in all that has come before is the feeling of hope in a hopeless situation and an even more desperate world than most can imagine."
With news of an artist yet forthcoming, an early look at the Devil's Due "Vampire Hunter D" is a way off, but check back with CBR for a complete look at the story to come as soon as it becomes available.