BY MATT TUCK, BLOGGER SUPREME
FB@ The Comic Blog
Rise of Dracula is on the horizon, and the second chapter of the Cult of Dracula promises to be bigger and bloodier than its predecessor. Wicked Monkey sat down with series creator Rich Davis to talk about the upcoming series.
“Rise of Dracula is the direct sequel to Cult. I always intended for this to be a trilogy,” Davis explained. Rise is the second chapter following on the heels of Cult of Dracula’s success at Source Point Press. The epic vampire tale will wrap up with the Reign of Dracula, and Davis promises twists and turns along the way.
Originally published by Second Sight Publishing, Cult of Dracula was picked up by Source Point earlier this year. When Hollywood came calling to adapt it into a live-action series, the title appeared on the collecting radar. In October, Davis announced that horror icon and original Candyman Tony Todd is in talks to take on the lead role in what will be a prequel to Cult.
When it comes to the independent publishing scene, collectors are on the lookout for the next The Walking Dead anytime a movie studio options a title. In the film business, being optioned means exactly what it sounds like - the studio buys the rights to adapt the property. With the success of comic adaptations in movies and television and the rise of the streaming services, it’s become commonplace for indy comics to get optioned. Many of those never see the light of day, but Cult of Dracula appears to be on the right track. Besides negotiating with Todd, Davis said the studio is looking to film on location in North Carolina, so progress is being made.
When the Cult live-action series airs, it will have lofty investment implications for Rise of Dracula.
With Cult, the story is a modern interpretation of Bram Stoker’s original novel, Dracula, with a new spin on the characters, Davis explained. “When I wrote Cult, I tried to imagine where Stoker's characters would be in the modern world.” Cult, then, focuses on the mythology of Dracula more as a title than a single figure. Dracula becomes a cult leader worshipped by humans and vampires alike, hence the title. In Rise, the stakes, you might say, are much higher.
“Rise takes place 10 years after the Cult of Dracula,” Davis said. “Dracula is more of a title than a name, and Mina becomes Dracula. She has her own ideas of what she wants to do. Once she assumes the role of Dracula, she absorbs [her predecessors’] experiences and knowledge. Mina goes underground during the dark period and starts a movement. During Rise of Dracula, we see that movement for the first time.”
The story will get off to a quick start. Davis said that Rise begins with the complete genocide of Washington, D.C. “Mina leads this movement. She is hellbent on saving the world, and the only way to save the world is to contain the humanity plague. [To Mina] humanity is a virus or a plague. She’s assumed the responsibility of righting the ship. She sets out to reduce the human population to soldiers, food, labor, and pets. The rest, they’re gone.”
As the story moves into its second series, the events and goals become broader, and it starts to build an entire world, Davis said. “Cult was focused on a small, intimate group of people. At the end, we see how big this cult really was. In Rise, we get to explore how powerful this is over world events,” he said. “In the span of 10 years, she is able to raise an army to take over Washington. We see more of vampire society, and we meet five other vampire families.”
Davis said the idea behind the Dracula series is for it to have the feel of a dystopian novel with inspirations taken from films like District 9, Escape from New York, and Strange Days. Each series will be six issues long, culminating with the third chapter, Reign of Dracula. Along the way, Davis wants readers to understand that Mina is not necessarily a villain. Created in the same vein as Magneto, she believes what she is doing is what’s best for both humans and vampires. “She genuinely believes she is saving the world,” Davis said. “You can see her as an antagonist. It’s about perspective and point of view. That’s something we introduced in Cult of Dracula #1; where you are and when you see something is just as important as what you see. They shape our world in a lot of ways. It’s the cool and the challenging thing I’m trying to address. There’s no right or wrong or good or evil. There’s just a hell of a lot of grey. I want to explore the different motivations. Dracula has her motivations, and others have competing goals. [...] What are people willing to do for Charles Manson or Jim Jones? What are people willing to do or willing to tolerate just for safety and security?”
When it comes to collecting, there will be plenty of covers to choose from, Davis promises. Artists Kayla Valero and Antactus handled the A and B covers along with a variety of artists handling the retailer exclusives. “They’re gorgeous,” said Davis. “Kayla and I were able to come up with these very industrial-looking covers. It was really cool to create those. There’s a lot hidden in those. Those covers tell the stories in the issues.”
As an independent comic, the support from local comic shops and retailers has been the backbone of Cult’s success. “[Cult of Dracula] wouldn’t have survived without the support of those very dedicated retailers,” Davis said, “and most of them came back for Rise and did exclusive covers. There’s going to be some gorgeous covers. You’re going to have a lot to love with Dracula.”
Rise of Dracula is due in stores next Wednesday, December 29.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and the Blogger Supreme. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.