Greetings, folks. Ambush Bug here with another interview I conducted at the San Diego Comic Con. Special thanks to AICN’s unsung hero, Muldoon, for transcribing all of these back and forthings. Expect a ton of interviews to be released daily until my interview well is dry (and believe me, it’s going to be a while after this con). One of the highlights of this year’s con was being able to sit with acclaimed author Anne Rice and talk about all things horror with her. Such a great person to talk with, as you’ll see in the interview below…
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): So I’m sitting at the IDW booth and I’m here with Anne Rice. Thank you very much for meeting with me, it’s an honor.
AR: I’m glad to be here. It’s a great pleasure.
BUG: So how many times have you been to Comic Con?
AR: Oh I’ve never been to one this big before. I’ve just been to small Comic Cons in New Orleans where I was for many years and they were a lot of fun, but nothing like this. This is stratospheric, I love it.
BUG: Yeah, it’s a great feeling to be around here, there’s so much energy around here.
AR: It is, it is.
BUG: So tell me a little bit about your collaboration with IDW.
AR: Well they are doing SERVANT OF THE BONES, which is a novel of mine that really has, I think a kind of superhero at the center, Azriel, this spirit, the “servant of the bones,” who is capable of materializing and dematerializing and so forth and all of the delicious stuff like that…(laughs) reading minds and super hearing. They are doing the first comic book adaptation of it that’s ever been done, so I’m very excited to see it. There were other comic book adaptations 20 years ago of my other works, but those companies all went out of business over the years, this is new and this is with a whole new vision and it’s great.
BUG: Were you in collaboration with those older comics?
AR: I always looked at the drawings and commented somewhat, but I found the best thing when you license an adaptation is to kind of sit back and not get too worked up over what happens, you know? So I mean I’m there to answer any questions and IDW has been great about consulting me and asking for feedback. It’s been very smooth, very good.
BUG: Yeah, that’s what I was going to ask about. Comparison-wise what’s different between previous adaptations and this new one?
AR: Oh I think people today are much more concerned to be faithful to the original material. They know now that’s what the fans want. The fans don’t really want an adaptation to spin off into a whole new world. I mean if it’s a new world, it’s got to be a new world built on the old world. They want fidelity. You know, I think that all changed when THE LORD OF THE RINGS was made into movies. I think that’s when Hollywood finally got the message “don’t change it, mangle it, distort it, but do it the way the readers want and you’ll have a great success” and so with graphic novels I think actual graphic novel people probably already knew all of that, but years past there were a few times when artists would brag about not having read my books and just doing the characters the way they wanted to do them. Nobody would do that now. Everybody wants to read the book and do it pretty much the way it…they want you to be happy with it.
BUG: I think that might come from so many comic books being elaborated on and reinterpreted though movies as well, so maybe there’s that kind of mutual respect towards books and graphic novels.
AR: Yeah, the pioneers of twenty years ago were great, but this is an era that’s reaping the fruits of all of those early efforts.
BUG: So let’s talk more about THE SERVANT OF THE BONES. What is the concept behind that one, just for readers who aren’t familiar with the story?
AR: Well SERVANT OF THE BONES takes place in ancient Babylon and it involves a young man who is, against his will, made into the “servant of the bones.” He’s killed in an elaborate story in the book by a sorcerer who sees to it that his spirit stays attached to the bones from his body and they are gilded with gold, so they become these golden bones and he’s connected with those bones and thereafter he is sort of the spirit, slave, or genie of whoever controls those bones and he begins a journey through history. Well, the novel actually begins in the 20th century as he emerges in New York for the first time sort of on his own without the master calling him. He’s called by something that’s happening and he is called to respond to try to prevent a murder. He doesn’t prevent it, but he witnesses it and he avenges it and then he goes to see who has got the bones, who owns him. He sort of emerged from darkness with a kind of strong consciousness. So that’s Azriel, the hero, and really I think he could have a great life as a superhero now even after the whole story is told about how he came to be what he is.
BUG: So this is kind of like an origin story of sorts for this character. Do you plan on having more stories adapted through IDW?
AR: We’ll see. Yeah, we will see if they want to do it. I mean it would be interesting to talk to them about spinning off and doing stuff with them, because I don’t think I’ll be writing any more books with Azriel. I wrote that book quite a long time ago and I’ve moved on to other things and am working on something completely new right now, but I’m not at all closed to the idea that they might want to spin off and do some original SERVANT OF THE BONES stuff. It’s very exciting.
BUG: It sounds like a great concept.
AR: Sure, I mean I want my characters to have life, ongoing life.
BUG: Definitely. What’s it like having written this quite a while ago and then seeing it in a new form now?
AR: I love it, sure, because it was just languishing. I mean it always had readers and it was popular, but it was not as popular as my vampire books or witches books, they were just better known, much better known. And even though it was a best seller at the time, it was very successful book, still I never wrote a whole series with Azriel and never gave him the full treatment, so I’m loving seeing him get this attention now.
BUG: Who is the artist attached to this? Do you know?
AR: Rene De Liz is the pencilist.
BUG: Okay, but seeing them in that form, seeing the pages as they come in, what was that like for you?
AR: Exciting, very exciting. It’s exciting to see it come to life.
BUG: So as far as your other books, is this going to be an ongoing relationship between you and IDW?
AR: I don’t know. INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE now is being done by Yen and they are doing it with a new idea. They are taking one character, Claudia, and doing it from her point of view, so there’s some flexibility in that adaptation, but they are doing a very good job, very true to the original spirit. I’m sort of eager to see my new novel that I’m just finishing go into graphic novels. It’s called THE WOLF GIFT and it’s my first werewolf novel. (laughs)
BUG: Great, and that’s going to be a graphic? I love werewolves. I think that’s such an underused genre.
AR: Yeah, it’s taken me all of this time to do this, but I’m finally into this. I’m almost finished with the book and I’m just psyched about it, my werewolf Reuben and what he experiences and it’s my treatment of it, you know.
BUG: What’s that title of the book again?
AR: THE WOLF GIFT.
BUG: I’ll definitely look for that. Can you tell us anything about it?
AR: It’s about a young San Francisco reporter who’s 23 years old and he is bitten by a werewolf and he becomes one and so most of the novel is his coming to terms with that. It’s very similar to a lot of what I have done with vampires. He’s got to come to terms with what this means morally, physically, and so forth, but as usual I’m doing it in my way. He’s a glamorous and he has a deep soul and heart and he’s a sensitive guy. I can’t wait to go on with it and tell the whole story and get into the whole werewolf mythology in a second volume and everything. I’m just turning it in probably about a week from now I’ll be turning it in and they will do it first, but I want very much to see it become a graphic novel so I want to talk to IDW or Yen or whoever is interested in my stuff about it.
BUG: So how is an Anne Rice werewolf different from an Anne Rice vampire, aside from the obvious distinctions?
AR: Well it’s going to be a whole different physical world, you know? I mean this is a creature who can still eat, drink, make love, which my vampires really can’t, and he certainly walks in the day as well as in the night, but then he changes into a werewolf and when he’s a werewolf he’s highly visibly as this sort of anthropomorphic man-wolf. My vampires were always limited to the darkness, couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink, couldn’t have sex, everything was drinking blood and basically they look the same as everybody else, they can slide through the night like a ghost. Well a werewolf really can’t do that, he kind of announces his presence the minute he lands on the scene. (laughs) So it’s very different, you know, but I’m taking the concept as I’ve inherited it from the movies, from everybody and I just want to get deep into it, just the way I did with vampires.
BUG: How do you do that with so much vampire stuff out there and so much monster stuff out there that’s been written before and everything? You have certainly made your mark in those specific genres or subgenres I guess, but how do you do that without drawing from all of those others?
AR: It is a real problem. It feels very crowded, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. I mean there’s always room for somebody to come along and do it in her own individual way. My vocabulary, the sensitivity of my character, how he deals with it, that’s the kind of lyrical story that I want to tell and yes it’s going to be one among many werewolf stories, but it will be my werewolf story. Werewolves and vampires have become like the western genre, it’s very crowded. There are many, many people writing detective novels, western novels, vampire novels, ghost novels, and so forth, but there’s always room. It’s just like with the detective novel, there’s always room for somebody to come along and use that in a completely new and fresh way. Respecting the genre and carving out his private space… I mean I think even when I did INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE it wasn’t a crowded field the way it is now, but still it was already the stuff of junk midnight movies and there were a million vampire clichés and I thought “okay, well I’m going to go into those clichés and I’m going to say “what does it feel like to be that cliché?” That’s what I’m doing with the werewolf. “What does it feel like” for my guy, Reuben, this young werewolf, “What does it feel like for him to sit on the couch and watch TEEN WOLF?” (laughs) Does it frustrate him? Make him angry? Intensify his loneliness and alienation? Or does he laugh?
BUG: That kind of brings up an interesting point, are werewolves known in this world or is it known just in fiction?
AR: In the world I’m dealing with it’s a secret thing. I haven’t reached the point of Charlene Harris where you know…
AR: …where vampires have their own network channel. You know, that’s very clever and very funny, but my immortals in general, my monsters aren’t that interested in joining society, they mainly want to survive.
BUG: Sure. Okay, well is there anything else you’d like to tell the Ain’t It Cool News audience?
AR: No, just how much I love graphic novels. I think if Charles Dickens were alive today he would absolutely love them too, because they reach so many people and they bring literature and ideas and heroes and metaphors to a huge audience and then that audience will always find their way to Dracula and the other classics and that’s a great thing. I love to see graphic novels really coming into their own. I was interested in them 25 or 30 years ago, but it was very different then. I couldn’t even describe what I was interested in to people, but now everybody knows that they are a great creative vehicle and it’s wonderful and the movies have legitimized them by buying so many superheroes. It’s a wonderful thing.
BUG: Well it definitely has been an honor talking with you. I’ve read your books and have seen interviews with you in the past and it’s great to finally be able to sit down and talk with you.
AR: Well I’ve enjoyed it very much, thank you.
BUG: IDW’s SERVANT OF THE BONES is in stores now. Be sure to check it out!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Mark is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and will be releasing FAMOUS MONSTERS first ever comic book miniseries LUNA in October (co-written by Martin Fisher with art by Tim Rees) Order Code: AUG111067! Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!
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Proofs, co-edits & common sense: Sleazy G
Check out Bug’s panel Horror on the Paneled Page in its entirety from the con!!!
Ambush Bug announces his new werewolf comic LUNA on FAMOUS MONSTERS panel!!!
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Bug sits for a lengthy chat with Marvel CCO Joe Quesada!
SJimbrowski reports from Felicia Day’s THE GUILD and Joss Whedon’s panels!
Bug talks with DC top brass Dan Didio & Jim Lee!
Bug talks with Fear.net’s TODD & THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL star Jason Mewes!
Bug talks with Zenescope’s Ralph Tedesco & Raven Gregory!
Bug talks with writer/artist Menton3 about his new IDW series MONOCYTE!
Bug has his annual chat with Radical Publisher Barry Levine!
Bug talks with Writer of Stuff, Peter David!
Bug talks with the only Caped Crusader that matters, Adam West!
Part one of Bug talks turtles with TNMT creator Kevin Eastman!
Part two of Bug talks turtles with TNMT writer Tom Waltz!
SJimbrowski reports from the CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL & NTSF:SD:SVU panels, plus a review of THE MERCURY MEN Webseries!
Bug talks with Johnny Ryan, the twisted mind behind PRISON PIT!
Bug talks DAMAGED with Sam Worthington, John & Michael Schwarz of Full Clip Productions!
Bug talks about everything from THE GOON to GODZILLA with Eric Powell!
Bug talks about the success of WITCH DOCTOR with series creators Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner!
Keep an eye out for more interviews and special reports from SDCC 2011!