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Pages of beautiful, nightmarish battlegrounds: A comicbook review

“Every culture has its own stories of night creatures. What if they’re based on fact? Now, the nightmare creatures are returning. And they are hungry.”…

“Every culture has its own stories of night creatures. What if they’re based on fact? Now, the nightmare creatures are returning. And they are hungry.” That’s the basic premise of V-Wars, a series of stories set in a deliciously nightmarish world created by New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry and fleshed out – pun unintended – by a hand-picked team of writers. The book’s increasing popularity also made the comic book industry take notice. IDW, to be exact, with the publisher feverishly working on a series based on the first book in the series.
Bookshelf spoke to David Hedgecock, IDW’s Managing Editor and he said while there were a number of reasons that influenced the decision to bring V-Wars into the world of comics (like the fact that the prose novel of the same name was critically well-received), it was clear that the concept was something special. “I think a lot of what made [the V-Wars] novel special came from the hard-working people that put the book together, including Maberry himself,” he said, adding that continuing the relationship between IDW and the writer simply made sense.
In the V-Wars comic, Maberry’s two POV characters are a reporter, Yuki Nitobe, and a folklore professor, Luther Swann. “I share a bit of personal connection with each,” he tells Bookshelf. The author, who loves investigative reporting, was trained as a reporter and although didn’t write for newspapers, he’s penned over 1200 feature articles for magazines. On the main characters in the comic, he says he relates more to Nitobe, who is trying to stay relevant, balancing actual journalistic procedure with a bit of muck-racking. “She starts off as a bit of a hard person, but the V-Wars comic explores the dynamics of her changing worldview.”
Maberry also talks about Luther Swann, a professor of folklore who he describes as a gentle, intellectual bleeding-heart liberal. “We share some of the same politics,” Maberry says, “Though he is far more optimistic about humanity than I am.” Luther, according to Maberry, is also the Yoda of the story, in that he’s the one who really knows all the stuff, folkloric and historical versions of vampires. “He knows how dangerous they are, but he’s conflicted because these are real people facing what is, to him, a medical crisis. As well as an ethical one,” Maberry beams.
Maberry’s biggest influences as a writer include Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson. “I had the great good fortune to meet them several times as a young teen. I had many chances to talk with them and get advice about writing.” Bradbury, Maberry says, instilled in him a sense of wonder. “He encouraged me to look for the magic in everything, and damn if it isn’t there. You just need to look for it with the eyes of a child, no matter how old you are.” And from Matheson, he got his love of weird science. “His novel, I am Legend, is a landmark book that combines horror with hard science. I believe it’s the first time that’s ever been done. Most of my novels use hard science as the framework for horror or horrific thrillers. Many of my comics, too. And if V-Wars has a ‘godfather’, it’s Matheson.”
So, what does the future hold for V-Wars? Maberry obliged: “I’m wrapping up the editing of the second prose anthology, V-Wars: Blood and Fire, which has powerful stories by my front-line reporters and it coincides with the comic. I’ve already written half of the first arc of the comic and we’re taking some crazy risks. It’s horror, science-fiction, politics and a morality play all at the same time.”
Maberry, a self-confessed social media junkie also says he’ll be pimping V-Wars at comic book stores and cons. But one would ask: What makes the stories in V-Wars different from the pack available in comics, novels and movies today? Hedgecock offered: “Good comics wear their hearts on their sleeves and you can almost see the blood, sweat, tears and joy pouring off every page.”
Hedgecock spoke on the creative process employed in making the V-Wars comic book, which he described as a fairly standard work flow. “I do my best to keep everyone involved at every stage of production,” he says, adding that it’s rare that he has to do anything resembling actual editing because the team is very professional.
Bookshelf got an exclusive look at the art for the comic at various stages, and it appears Alan Robinson and Jay Fotos are doing the most stellar work of their careers. “The art by Alan [Robinson] is perfect, plus we have killer covers by Ryan Browne and Kevin Eastman,” Maberry excitedly revealed.
With pop culture phenomena like The Walking Dead and the success of 2013’s World War Z movie, a Hollywood deal can’t be too far away. IDW recently launched an entertainment division and V-Wars is being actively discussed for a variety of different media exploitations, from games to film and all things in between. “But it’s important to note that the comic is the driving force behind all these things,” said Hedgecock, pointing out that the bible for the entire V-Wars universe is being built right there. “This comic is the ground floor, rock-solid foundation that all things will build from. As you know, there is no better storytelling medium than the comic book form,” Hedgecock added.
V-Wars, available on various e-book platforms, tells stories in a reportorial format and Maberry personally chooses writers he knows very well (he calls them his ‘frontline reporters’), like he did for the prose anthology, V-Wars: Blood and Fire. “When editing an anthology I never go for open submissions, but instead prefer to pick writers whose twists of mind fit with my vision for the book,” he said. So far, his collaborators include Kevin J. Anderson, Scott Sigler, Larry Corriea, Joe McKinney, Weston Ochse, Yvonne Navarro, Nancy Holder and James A. Moore.
Hedgecock feels V-Wars has got a special kind of ‘lightning in a bottle’ quality, with a chance to be great. With what we’ve seen so far, it would appear he’s (un)dead right, pun intended.

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