Five Questions with Dan Abnett, writer of THE NEW DEADWARDIANS for Vertigo

Chris Thompson – You’re well known as part of the DnA collaboration with Andy Lanning, but it appears as though you’re starting to do more comics work on your own again. Is this part of a push to establish yourself separately or just a case of differing interests?

Dan Abnett – I’ve always done both, really. Andy and I work together (we have done for 25 years) because it’s fun and it breaks up the otherwise ‘solo’ existence we both have as freelancers. However, we both do other things – Andy inks, and I write novels, and comics on my own. Our schedules simply don’t allow us to collaborate full time. I’ve worked solo for 2000AD for years now, and though this is my first Vertigo Comics work, it’s not at all my first solo US work.

CT – What’s the basic premise for your Vertigo series, The New Deadwardians? Are there plans beyond the first 8 issues if all goes well?

DA – A zombie apocalypse strikes the British Empire in the 1860s, triggering the “Memorial War”, and when the British work out they can never actually win, they take a drastic step to keep the zombies at bay: part of society (the ruling classes) voluntarily become vampires, and – as undead – are invisible to the zombies. By 1910, this layered society has vampires at the top and zombies at the bottom, with working class ‘real’ humans between.

The words ‘zombie’ and ‘vampire’ are never used, and the vampires are very unconventional, trying to live as humans, enduring their new immortality and suppressing their appetites ‘for queen and country’. One of them, Suttle, the last homicide detective in Scotland Yard, gets a murder case to solve … an impossible murder, and he becomes our guide into the strange world of the Deadwardians … it’s a police procedural, really … If it works (and the initial response has been great) we’d love to do more.

CT – The latest Previews has just arrived in store and it’s nice to see a new issue of Resurrection Man listed (without any final issue warning). How difficult is it to keep a book like that afloat, and what would you say to get new fans on board?

DA – It’s hard because Resurrection Man simply isn’t a big DC marquee character like Supes or Batman, and we’re up against the stiff competition of a very big and strong 52 line up. Even if you love ResMan, there are lots of ‘essential’ DC characters whose books you’ll probably want to read each month. We just try to make ResMan as fun, exciting and off-beat as possible, full of twists, and it’s a pretty simple but cool concept: a guy who comes back from the dead, each time with a new super power …

CT – How does the writing process differ when you’re alone as opposed to being in a collaboration? Do you find yourself talking aloud even though no one’s there or second-guessing your ideas?

DA – Doesn’t everyone? 😉

It’s pretty similar. In collaboration you can sometimes be pushed (in a positive way) towards places and ideas you’d never have visited solo, just because a dialogue has created an unexpected fork in the road. The results can be very positive.

CT – Aside from the books we’ve mentioned, what other work do you have coming up? Any teases or exclusives you can send our way?

DA – New Mutants for Marvel Comics, and the forthcoming new cosmic superhero series Hypernaturals, from Boom! Studios which reunites the Guardians of the Galaxy team of me, Andy and Brad Walker on a creator-owned cosmic book, doing all the huge concept SF stuff that would never work, or fit, in the DC or Marvel cosmic universes. A whole new universe!

The first chunk will be the Free Comic Book Day comic from Boom! and it’ll be really generous, because it’s pretty much a full original issue, not a preview of the first issue. It’s a proper issue zero.

Thanks for chatting with us, Dan! You can keep up with all the latest from Dan via his website: www.danabnett.com and follow him on Twitter: @vincentabnett.

The New Deadwardians #1, with art by the amazing Ian Culbard, is out this week (£2.20/$2.99) from DC/Vertigo Comics.