Stefano Raffaele Discovers A Different Kind of Zombie Romance in "Loving Dead"

UPDATE 4/25/14 4:25 PM PT: This article has been updated with additional release information, following the Q&A.

Stefano Raffaele first came to the attention of American comics readers more than a decade ago, illustrating series like "X-Factor" and "Hawkeye" at Marvel and "The Blackburne Covenant" for Dark Horse. Raffaele then stopped working on American comics and turned to European publishers, where he's been drawing multiple books each year. Currently he's working on three series with writer Christophe Bec: "Promethee," "Deepwater Prison," and a prequel to the well-known European comic "Sanctuaire."

"Loving Dead" was published more than a decade ago by DC Comics under the title of "Fragile." With the comic's recent re-release in a new edition by Humanoids, Raffaele spoke with CBR News about the book and his current projects.

CBR News: For people who don't know, what is "Loving Dead?"

Stefano Raffaele: "Loving Dead" is about the love between two zombies (Alan and Lynn) who search to understand what happened to the world. Alan and Lynn are now attached to "life" more than they've ever been before.

Their bodies are rapidly decomposing, and they have a limited amount of time to discover how the world became what it is now. In the process, they discover that love has no physical barriers.

The book was originally released as "Fragile." What do you think of the new title?

I like it, and I think it's a good idea to reach a wider audience. I love both "Fragile" and "Loving Dead" titles.

You, of course, made this comic before the current zombie boom. Where did this story come from?

I love horror and, more than anything, I love zombies, since I was a child.

It was a long time that I wanted to write and draw a story in which the main characters were zombies and, at the same time, I wanted also to write a love story, but I wanted to write it in a particular way.

Combining elements of the horror genre with a genuine love story, I tried to create something fresh and exciting. I thought it would be really interesting to tell a story from the zombies' perspective -- in a way that makes a couple of zombies the good guys.

You weren't interested in telling a "traditional" zombie story where zombies are mindless, but one that's much more complex. What made you interested in approaching zombies like this?

I wanted to write a story that speaks about rebirth and second chances, but most of all, I really wanted to write a story where my favorite creatures were the good guys! So I had to make them think and act like normal people. And it was very fun to imagine life as a zombie!

You worked in American comics for many years on various projects ranging from "Hawkeye" to "X-Factor" to "The Blackburne Covenant." And then you "disappeared" -- or started working in European comics. Why? Was it a question of what you were offered or what interested you?

I still love American comics very much (and I read a lot of them), but the European comics really gave me the opportunity to work in a way I do prefer, from better deadlines to more pages on each book. It gives me the opportunity to better focus on overall quality and storytelling.

Right now, you're drawing two different series that are written by Christophe Bec, "Promethee" and "Deepwater Prison." I was wondering if you could talk a little about these two books.

"Deepwater Prison" speaks about a new model of high security prison, built deep under the ocean water. The situation gets critical when a huge oil platform sinks very close to the prison, and we follow the critic situation after the sinking and at the same time we also follow the life of a small group of prisoners trying to escape. "Deepwater Prison" has dramatic underwater scenes and huge aquatic monsters, with a strong "blockbuster action movie" feeling all over it. I couldn't ask for more!

"Promethee" is a big project telling the story of an alien invasion and how the world reacts to it. It is one of the most -- if not the most -- difficult project I ever did, as it has a huge number of characters, different situations and wide, big scenes of destruction. All the secrets and the mysteries are unfolded by Christophe in a truly masterful way. It's awesome, and I am very proud and grateful to be a part of it. I jumped on board as regular artist with book 4, and I am actually starting to work on book 11.

As you say, you've worked together for many years on a number of projects. What is it that you like about working with Christophe Bec?

Working with Christophe is great. First of all, he is a master writer. It's several years that we are working together, and as a team I think we really "click," as we have the same way of telling stories, and everything runs on the same wavelength.

From "Pandemonium" and "Sarah," up to the latest projects like "Deepwater Prison," to me is a great fun and honor to work with such a great artist.

Will we see you write another comic one of these years?

I would love to be back writing. Between deadlines, I started this year to work on a new project as a writer, but it's too early to speak about it.

You're also working on a "top secret project" which is written by Bec and Philippe Thirault. What can you say about this project? 

It's the prequel of a very famous European comic, called "Sanctuaire," originally written by Dorison and drawn by Bec, edited by Humanoides.

It was a great honor for me to be chosen as the artist on this prequel, as "Sanctuaire" is one of my favorite comics of all times, and it really had an impact on me as an artist.I am doing my best and having a lot of fun on it, and I hope readers will enjoy the final result.

To your knowledge, are we going to see any of these comics come out in the US?

I don't know, but I really hope so! I guess the next ones that should be printed in USA are "Sarah" and the "Sanctuaire" prequel -- once it is finished!

"Sarah" written by Christophe Bec and illustrated by Raffaele will be released in the US this November under the title "The Shadows of Salamanca." Additionally, "Sanctuaire," the original series that Raffaele will be drawing the prequel to, will be released as "Sanctum" in a new hardcover edition this July.

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