SUPER ‘SUCKERS Writer And Binge Books Founder Darin Henry Discusses The New "Vampire Comedy" (Exclusive)
Super 'Suckers #1 launches on September 29, and Binge Books founder Darin Henry (Furturama) talks to us about what fans can expect, the possibility of adapting it for film/TV, The Heroes Union, and more!
The Heroes Union #1 by Roger Stern, Ron Frenz, and Sal Buscema arrives in comic book stores tomorrow, and we were recently fortunate enough to catch up with Binge Books founder Darin Henry by email to discuss the launch of Super 'Suckers #1 (available from Diamond Comics starting September 29).
Published through Binge Books' humour imprint, Sitcomics, the 68-page standalone story comes is penned by Henry (an Emmy-nominated writer who has worked on sitcoms like Futurama and Seinfeld) with art by cartoonist Jeff Shultz (Betty & Veronica).
When college students Jess and Kelly catch a rare STD called "vampire," a sexy but deadly vampire slayer hits town! To stay alive, they must figure out what vampires do out of the shadows with help from their new "suck buddy" Stewart, and Vera, the exhibitionist roommate from hell. With laugh-out-loud Sit-Commercials drawn by Renee Reeser Zelnick, Jason Yungbluth and New Yorker artist Lonnie Millsap, Super ‘Suckers #1 is aptly described as "TV you read."
In this interview, Darin talks to us about the launch of the comic, offering plenty of fascinating insights into the story and why it's such an important part of Binge Comics. He also talks more about The Heroes Union - which launches on August 11 - and whether these comic books are being eyed for potential film and television adaptations (we think you'll find that particularly interesting).
We've seen a lot of different takes on vampirism over the years, but where did the idea come from to make "vampire" an STD?
My whole TV career is coming up with ideas I think are funny and selling them. The same thing happened on Super ‘Suckers, only instead of selling to networks, studios and showrunners, I’m selling to comic book retailers and readers. As for vampires, to me, vampires are the perfect combination of silliness and sexuality. I had female friends in college who’d gotten STDs - not from me thankfully and also unfortunately - so the love triangle with Jess, Kelly and a two-timing vampire boyfriend Dragos just grew out of that memory.
What was it about Jeff Shultz's art style that made him the right fit to join you in telling this story?
Finding a comic book artist is like casting a TV show. The visuals set the tone and you have to either write to the artist or find an artist who matches the tone you want to write. Jeff had the Dan DeCarlo-style of cartoon art I wanted for Super ‘Suckers and more importantly, he makes funny choices with his visuals, the way an actor makes funny choices.
While our readers will know you have a comedy background with shows like Futurama and Seinfeld, what excited you most about putting a comedic spin on vampires in this comic?
It’s all down to what inspires me. The idea of writing about two, hot young promiscuous college women may inspire a lot of writers, but it was only after those two, hot, young promiscuous college women became vampires that I got inspired to build a funny world around them.
Based on the description for Super 'Suckers, it sounds like we're going to meet a unique group of characters, including a "sexy but deadly" vampire hunter, but what can you tease about them?
What’s particularly fun about Super ‘Suckers is that the most normal characters in the series are the vampires. Stewart and Vera may not have fangs and suck blood but they have flaws that make them just as important to the comedy. If you think flaws are what make characters interesting then Super ‘Suckers has the most interesting cast in comics. And every character I put in the book has to justify their presence comedically, so if you see yourself in any of the Super ‘Suckers characters, get ready to feel like we’re making fun of you.
Were you tempted to parody any well-known vampires or vampire hunters from other comics or franchises or was it important to put a fresh spin on the characters featured here?
I never watched Buffy or Twilight for more than a few minutes. I enjoyed Blade and have vague recollections of Interview With A Vampire, but in every vampire drama, there’s always that moment when the vampire shows their fangs and makes that cat-sound which always cracks me up. I find it funny whenever people take stupid things seriously especially when they’re trying to be scary, so vampires definitely qualify as hilarious to me.
What can you tease about the Sit-Commercials illustrated by Renee Reeser Zelnick, Jason Yungbluth, Lonnie Millsap that will be featured in the comic?
Again, it’s casting. You come up with a gag for a fake commercial and you want that visual look to sell the idea almost as well as the words. Renee’s art is perfect for capturing the vibe of a pimple cream ad because it’s so photo-realistic and you feel like you’re looking at a bunch of freeze frames from an actual commercial instead of drawings. Lonnie’s cartoony style is perfect for the rather goofy and sometimes graphic gags in his commercial. They’re totally different but what they have in common is that their styles are perfect for two very different gags.
While I have you, I need to ask about The Heroes Union; given the sort of legendary comic creators you've enlisted for that first issue, and Jeff Shultz's involvement with Super 'Suckers, how important is it for you to have that mix of new and classic talent working on these books?
'Newstalgia' is what I call the combination of new characters and classic art styles. I think both are equally important because there is a slice of the comic market who are attracted to new things but there aren’t enough of them and you’ve got to hook them before the novelty wears off. The nostalgia part is trickier because selling people on anything is like teaching them a language. It’s easier to sell Batman to people who already 'speak Batman.' Nobody speaks Heroes Union, but there is a potential audience of people who “speak” superhero comics or Ron Frenz art. Those aspects will hopefully draw people in long enough to teach them how to speak Heroes Union.
When you're creating these original IPs for Binge Books, are you giving much thought to how they could translate to screen given what we've seen from Millarworld's deal with Netflix, for example?
I certainly don’t see comics as a way to break into TV. If anything it’s the reverse for me. The money I make writing TV gives me the freedom to tell exactly the stories I want to tell in the format that best suits them. The main benefit of turning my comics into TV and movie versions is that it would give me financial freedom to fully realize the publishing company in terms of number of releases and getting them into places where they can be found by the people who would enjoy them, especially kids.
Moving forward, what are your hopes for the Binge Books format and is there anything you can tease about what comes next?
In the short term, bringing in Tom DeFalco, David Michelinie and bringing back Roger Stern to write some upcoming stories allows the Binge Book superheroes to grow in ways they couldn’t if I was the only person guiding their fates. For the humor books, I’d like to get the financial backing to get more of my comedy writing friends a way to get their creations out there, only instead of 120 episodes, they do 120 issues. I can’t control it but I’d love for my Binge Book format of a complete story for an affordable price, to catch on with other publishers, especially publishers who have content that’s accessible to new and young readers. Comics need to break free of the serialized format which made sense with newsstand distribution where comics could be found in drug stores and grocery stores, the places people were already going every week anyway. Going to a comic shop requires making a special trip and if folks feel like what they’re getting at the comic shop isn’t special, they won’t keep making that trip.