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AICN COMICS Q&@: Optimous Douche talks with the creators of Image's new vampire noir comic, UNDYING LOVE!!!


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AICN COMICS: Q&@ is our new semi-weekly interview column where some of your favorite @$$Holes interview comic bookdom’s biggest, brightest, newest, and oldest stars. Enjoy this latest in-depth interview filled with @$$y goodness and be sure to look for more AICN COMICS as we gaze into the future of comics every week with AICN COMICS: SPINNER RACK PREVIEWS every Monday and then join the rest of your favorite @$$Holes for their opinions on the weekly pull every Wednesday with AICN COMICS REVIEWS!


Q’s by Optimous Douche!

Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedmen!

Hey Kids, Uncle Optimous is back again with a round of insipid questions and insightful answers with comics’ leading luminaries. This week I had the chance to sit down with two escapees from the Marvel bullpen, Tomm Coker (TLC) and Daniel Freedmen (DF). Most of you will know their sketchy goodness and colored greatness from such titles as DAREDEVIL NOIR, MOONKNIGHT and BLOOD AND WATER. Now the boys have struck out on their own with the ultra-cool vampire tale UNDYING LOVE. What happens when you’re just a regular dude that loves a vampire? What then happens when you try to cure that vampire and the only way to do it is by incinerating the heart of the biggest baddest vampire out there? What then then happens when your only conduit to this world is a wise beyond his years creepy Chinese kid? Well…let’s see if we can find out.

OD: So first the big question, why another vampire series?

TLC: First of all we wanted to tell a love story – they’re simple in design and the emotional stakes are straightforward and easy to understand. We had been working on stories where the motivations were nebulous at best and petty and mean at worst. When you’re dealing with love, vampires are the perfect nemesis; they represent everything – temptation, sex, drugs, etc. – that can cause love to fail.

DF: And the vampire mythos is already established in pop culture; it may have gone soft in recent years, but everyone knows the character of the vampire. That allowed us to craft an incredibly complex world of magic and monsters around a seemingly pretty simple story.

TLC: Also, with UNDYING LOVE, once we’ve acknowledged that one supernatural being could exist in the world we had created -- suddenly any creature could, whether beast or demon or whatever.

DF: That really paid off when we decided to set the story in Hong Kong. We did so much research and the Chinese have this great history of folklore and legends that are almost entirely untapped in Western fiction.

TLC: And let’s not forget that no matter what might be going on with vampires right now – they’re just cool. They drink blood, only come out at night, live forever and are irresistible to the opposite sex or the same sex for that matter.

DF: Yeah, the vampire is the rock star of the monster world and should not be fucked with.

OD: Aside from the action (which there is a ton of), how would you guys differentiate UNDYING LOVE from A) other vampire tales like pussified glistening ones and B) other love stories with pussified snobs like Ryan O' Neil?

DF: UNDYING LOVE has a lot more going on than just vampires. We’re talking about fox spirits, shape shifters, magic, fortune tellers, demons, gods and yes, a lot of vampires but it’s all part of a larger world.

TLC: And going back to what Daniel was saying earlier – part of what got us so excited was once we started researching Chinese folklore we realized this entire world of legendary characters, demons and creatures – both good and bad – could populate our story.

DF: So we placed the vampire in this greater supernatural world and from there it just exploded.

TLC: But our hero is just a guy – he might be a bad ass soldier and he might have spent his entire life fighting and winning, but he was doing it under orders for someone else. And now, when he suddenly finds himself in a situation where he’s fighting for himself and the woman he loves, he’s up against a foe that he can’t possibly beat.

OD: You guys have collaborated on art duty before in the Marvel Bullpen; what was it like shifting gears to also tag team the writing?

TLC: We actually met a few years before the comics collaboration began. I had directed a film for Lions Gate and Daniel was the editor. So we spent nearly a year in the dark, huddled around an NTSC monitor talking out ideas and bouncing stories back and forth.

DF: Tomm and I started writing together before the art -- working on screenplays whileI was editing and Tomm was drawing comics. I came from an art background so coloring the books was a natural progression and it allowed us more time to bullshit and crack stories. Doing our own book and adapting the material we had written together seemed like a no brainer.

OD: Did you guys come up with the idea for UNDYING LOVE in the Bullpen? (Feel free to outright lie for the sake of romanticizing the moment).

TLC: It all started in the bullpen of Timely Publications. I think the year was 1979,I recall chewing the fat with Jack Kirby and Jim Lee when in walked this kid, DanielFreedman, wearing a black fedora, that accented the sparkle in his eyes.

After work (that day it was penciling six issues of FANTASTIC FOUR and creating the NewUniverse) Stan the Man took the entire crew out for tiki drinks and a chance to haze the new guy. Once we were all good and drunk Daniel and I got to talking – typical stuff --cross-hatching, conspiracy theories -- when all of a sudden Sal Buscema leaned over from the next booth and slurred through his fourth or fifth highball, “ what the kids really want are more radiated-monster heroes.”

Well, we ignored Sal and soon enough the conversation turned to vampires. The rest is history.

DF: Ah, those were the days – I guess. In actuality, there is no bullpen, never was, it’s all done by super computers. And as far as UNDYING LOVE is concerned – the story was born out of two bored guys sitting in a dark room together, shooting the shit and trying to come up with something fun and cool.

OD: Talk to us about the writing process. Did you swap pages or double team each one? Is one of you the dialogue master?

DF: I think our partnership works because we each approach the writing process in completely different ways. I tend to write really fast, without thinking too much, just pouring everything onto the page quick as I can.

TLC: And I tend to write really slow – methodically trying to figure out each beat and how to get exactly what I want out of every moment.

DF: So it allows us to meet in the middle and move at a good pace. Dialogue happens the same way. I'll write endless monologues while Tomm will keep coming back to the same line every day until it’s right. I think it reflects our age gap -- Tomm’s a little older and a little wiser where as I'm a bit younger and a bit more impulsive. It works out in the end, the sum of our parts is greater than the whatever, you know what I mean...

OD: Thanks guys. So that’s it for now kiddies, look for UNDYING LOVE to pull out your heart strings and devour their sticky sweet goodness on April 6 from Image Comics.

Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2011 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided bySleazy G

Readers Talkback
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  • June 25, 2011, 11:56 p.m. CST

    Just finished issue 3

    by ewokstew

    Tomm Coker's art is amazing. Yes, it's heavy on photo reference but I actually enjoy that look if it's handled correctly and Coker does it as good if not better than anyone else (Well, maybe not quite as good as Jean Michel Ponzio...but that's just my opinion) I also like the story as it hums along nicely and the characters are decently written. I'll stick with this series and recommend it for as long as it is around.