Want to see what happens when vampires and characters from Greek Myths start living - and dying together? Sure you do, and luckily, the team of Jim Dougan and Hyeondo Park are happy to help you out: their ACT-I-VATE short comic story, Come The Dawn, premieres today on MTV Geek. We chatted with the team over e-mail about world building for short comics, and the surprising genesis of the story:
MTV Geek: What was the inspiration behind the story? It's an interesting mash of genres.
Jim Dougan: This is going to seem like the most cliched thing ever, but it was inspired by a dream. I had the basic imagery of a beautiful woman entering a ballroom and sweeping up the stairs, and that she was in the company of monsters but yet somehow unafraid. From that kernel I just started working out what the reasons were for that setting, and built the characters and story around it.
Of course, it’s Hyeondo’s absolutely stunning imagination and artfulness that make the sublime out of a story that, in less talented hands, could be maybe a little ridiculous. It’s more beautiful than I could have imagined it, even in a dream.
Geek: I was honestly kind of surprised to find that it was only 10 pages long, given how well fleshed out the world was. How much world-building did you have to do, versus the length of the comic?
JD: Actually, not that much. While we hint at the fact that these characters have a history, it didn’t have to be fully fleshed out to tell the story we wanted to tell, how this one night is the culmination of centuries. I definitely thought about the world and the characters’ place in it, but there wasn’t any Tolkien-style world-building or anything.
Geek: Tell us - what you can, of course - about the main characters.
JD: Gregor is a vampire who’s lived for hundreds of years and is basically getting tired of it – facing an immortal’s existential ennui. His fellow vampires are a decadent lot, and he’s long since felt that such an existence was pointless. At the same time, he’s not exactly a man of action – living forever gives you a lot of time to ponder things and deliberate endlessly, Hamlet-style. Daphne might actually be the Daphne of Greek mythology. (If any readers aren’t familiar with that story, I encourage them to read it.) She’s lived so long as to make Gregor seem an infant by comparison, and she’s lonely and exhausted from being on the run constantly, literally day after day.
Geek: Visually, it seems to be a bit of a Manga influenced style,?though there's certainly more of a Western lay-out. Can you talk about?the process of putting it together artistically?
Hyeondo Park: I guess it came about as an accumulation of what I grew up with and how I was taught. I mostly grew up reading manga in Korea, and first read American comics when I moved to the US in the 90's. I have to say I drew more manga-y before I went to SVA, where I learned a lot about cartooning. It's a good thing I did because there is an old comic of mine somewhere that even I can’t read or follow because I was so bad at it. In a way… I'm trying to pay homage to the styles that influenced me, and hope I'm doing them a just service.
Geek: It was also an interesting choice to have the story told by a?removed, possibly unreliable narrator. Why was this important??
JD: Good question. The story probably started out with an omniscient narrator, because I wanted to try to convey a somewhat poetic sense to the surroundings, and to stretch myself from the largely comedic writing I’d done up to that point (most notably CRAZY PAPERS with Danielle Corsetto). At some point I decided that by providing narration from this character’s point of view, we could reinforce the sense that we were seeing something remarkable, even from the perspective of a creature who’d had centuries of seeing things that you or I would find remarkable.
Geek: To wrap up, what's next for you both? And will we see more stories from the world of this comic?
JD: Right now we are hard at work with our full-length graphic novel in-process, SAM & LILAH, which is a fantasy romance adventure! If you like COME THE DAWN, please give S&L a try. If you think Hyeondo’s art is pretty in black and white, wait till you see it in color! SAM & LILAH got its start on ACTIVATEcomix and has also appeared in part right here at MTV Geek! You can read more about it here, and begin reading the story here. That’ll give you Chapters 1-3. We’re serializing Chapter 4 at ACTIVATEcomix, and when it’s finished, the full chapter will run here at MTV Geek! Also, if you want to be kept up on all the latest SAM & LILAH news, including chances to win prizes, please “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/samandlilah. You can also follow Jim (@shutupdougan) and Hyeondo (@hanaroda) on Twitter!
As far as more stories in the world of COME THE DAWN...probably not. The intent was to hint at a larger world, but the main story we want to tell about the world is in these 10 pages. Never say never, but SAM & LILAH is definitely our focus for the foreseeable future.