Trautmann Pumps New Blood into "Vampirella"

This November, Dynamite Entertainment launches a new ongoing series starring comicdom's most famous vampire heroine - and no, it's not one of Edward Cullen's sisters. After after a hiatus that began in 2007, Dynamite acquired the rights to Vampirella in March of this year and is now ready to sink its teeth into a brand new series starring the leading lady from Draculon.

For those unfamiliar with the vivacious vampiress, Vampirella had an origin not unlike that of Superman. Originally created as the lone survivor of the planet Draculon, Vampirella came to Earth to eradicate the evil vampire forces on our planet. While her origin has changed over the years, the core of the character remains the same, and unlike the traditional vampires of lore, Vampirella has none of the traditional weaknesses such as holy water, garlic or crosses. She's been around since 1969 and has had a number of scribes take her under their wing including Alan Moore, Mark Millar, Grant Morrision, James Robinson, Jeph Loeb, and Warren Ellis.

Joining the roster of those who provide the lifeblood for "Vampirella" is writer Eric Trautmann. While comic fans will likely know Trautmann best from his "Action Comics" run co-written with Greg Rucka, many will already be familiar with his heavy work on the video game story bibles of critical hits "Crimson Skies," "Perfect Dark" and most notably, "Halo." CBR News spoke with the writer about the maiden voyage of Dynamite's newest title and picked his brain on his story plans, his experience in the video game industry and his many plans for the character of Vampirella.

CBR News: Let's start at the beginning, Eric - how did you get involved in writing "Vampirella?"

It was all fairly straightforward. Dynamite Editor Joe Rybandt - whom I've been friendly with for some time - asked me to write a short arc for Red Sonja, and I turned the first issue around pretty quickly. Dynamite seemed happy with it, and Joe almost immediately asked me to start pitching Vampirella. 

What can you tell us about the story you've got in mind for your first "Vampirella" arc.

Eric Trautmann: Well, without giving too much away, it's a sort of in media res reappearance of Vampirella [in the midst of] tracking down her long-term nemesis, Vlad Dracula. Her search for Dracula has led her to the Pacific Northwest and a particularly problematic nest of vampires. Of course, Dracula and his minions well end up being merely the tip of the iceberg.

What is it about the character of Vampirella appeals to you as a writer? Why do you think she's worth writing stories about?

She's a supernatural creature, not terribly dissimilar to the monsters she fights. So, something that appeals to me is the notion that normal humans, when they encounter her, will instinctively shy away - the flight response being triggered by an aura of otherness. Vampirella is consequently quite isolated, even from the people she fights to save and protect. 

There's some real pathos there, and the potential for great drama, which appeals to me as a writer, and hopefully to the reader, as well.  

While you are probably best known in comic book circles for writing "Action Comics" alongside Greg Rucka, devoted video game fans know you as the story bible writer for the multiplayer game "Crimson Skies" and the ever-popular "Halo" franchise. How, if at all, do you feel your experience in creating video game mythology helps you in your career as a comic book writer?

First and foremost, it reminds me that no matter how bad my day is, it could always be worse: I could be working on a video game again. 

All kidding aside, I enjoy the act of world building; story bibles, particularly with the insane level of detail I had to develop, are a lot of fun to put together, if everyone is on the same page. "Crimson Skies" and "Perfect Dark" were a pleasure to research and write; the game designers and developers were amendable and open, made assets available, and generally treated me as a member of the team. 

"Halo," on the other hand, involved a lot of work with a hostile audience that was convinced that everything that came from "outside" (ignoring the fact that we all drew our paychecks from the same source) was inherently stupid and wrong. Three years of that took a fairly significant toll, and I was quite happy to put it all behind me. 

The origin and background of Vampirella is a little bit tricky, involving the planet Draculon and/or medieval Jewish lore - will you be providing a new origin for the character or working with the original?

As a reader, I absolutely hate it when a new creative team comes on a book and goes out of their way to clean the slate and throw away all the work that came before. So, no, I'm not coming up with a new origin or a retcon, because - as you've pointed out - the current backstory is already fairly tricky. 

What's important is how those memories of her past affect how Vampirella perceives her world and her role in it. It's, for my purposes, not terribly important if she's from the planet Draculon, or a realm of Hell, or if her memories are all implanted.  What matters is that she's experienced what happens when vampires drink a world dry, and, real or not, she's determined to not let it happen here.  

Before you were tapped to write Vampirella, were you a fan of the character?

Certainly I was familiar with her, and I've admired the work of many creators who've crafted her adventures. James Robinson, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Kurt Busiek, Archie Goodwin, Forrest Ackerman - that's a decidedly daunting track record, you know? 

I've been fan of certain storylines, for sure. It's like any character; if the writer and artists are crafting a smart, exciting story, then I'm a fan.  

During your time on Vampirella, what aspects of the character and her history do you hope to focus on?

Like I mentioned earlier, I like the sense of "alien" or "other" that she carries with her; I'm hoping to showcase her intelligence and inherent toughness, too, focusing more on a harder-edged, street-level Vampirella.  

For fans of the character and her many incarnations throughout the years, will you be bringing back any old familiar faces in terms of classic Vampirella characters?

Dracula, for sure. Others may appear, but the lead-off arc is designed to showcase Vampirella, first and foremost.  

What are the challenges you face as a writer in bringing this character back for a new ongoing series?

As with any story, the challenge is in making sure it's a good story, and one that is accessible to both new readers and longtime fans, and telling a story I'm personally enjoying.

In the same vein, what do you feel has been most rewarding so far about the experience?

It's been a lot of fun getting to work with Joe Rybandt and Dynamite; it's been very pleasant and welcoming, and they've paired me up with a couple of excellent artists -Walter Geovanni is killing on "Red Sonja," and you've seen the lovely samples of Wagner Reis' "Vampirella" pages. That's probably my favorite part of any comics project I've worked on: seeing the script realized by the penciler.

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