Prolific horror writer and director Wes Craven shares the origins behind his new comic book series, "Coming of Rage" that he created along with Steven Niles and artist Francesco Biagini.
About a year ago I had the beginning of an unwritten joke come into my head: A Vampire, a Werewolf and a Zombie walk into a bar.
What was the punch line? Who cares – I just liked the sound of it. My imagination went crazy thinking about what could happen when three such impossibly different characters were thrown together. I’d never seen anything like it, and I wanted to know their story. So, it had to be written.
I met with comic book legend Steve Niles, (30 Days of Night). We hit it off, and decided to beat out the story of a very special young man’s coming of age, and the two unlikely friends who helped him to survive it. After a bit of hard, fun work, a five issue series of comic books was born, telling not only the story of how these three ended up on the run together, but how the central character, Ritchie, lost his innocence and became one of the most powerful vampires in the world.
The three that walked into that bar? They turned out to be more fascinating that we ever hoped. We knew they had to be outcasts, seen as monstrous and worthy of nothing but death by the straight world. But unlike the giant gorillas, winged dragons and creepy extraterrestrials that fill much of our contemporary mythology, vampires, werewolves and zombies are very much human too. In fact they are the “Other,” the outliers, the monstrous dark side of us all. But that’s not a truth many want to look at, so the pitchforks and torches come out fast.
That’s a problem for our three. But not the worst.
These three kids are literally half human. Their special bond is that they all have one parent that is a normal human being. Because of that, they can move like ninjas through one world as stealthily as the other, fighting monsters the rest of us don’t even see, and outsmarting the fat cats at the very top of the human food chain, and robbing them of their moral plunder.
They begin our story in full out flight, of course, but they end up being a fighting trio with a powerful mission – a mission that forms the spine of our story.
It all falls on the shoulders of our central character, Ritchie, the unknowing vampire of the group. His story is constructed in the classic format of the hero’s journey. The one who is basically clueless to who and what he is, is set upon the path towards wisdom and power by a quirk of fate.
What I love about this story is that it affords us all sorts of really strong human angles. We’ll see the world of the super rich, preying on the poor. The world of magic and monsters. The world of authority figures breaking heads and killing for powerful men who pay them to do as they are told – no matter how awful the assignment. And we’ll also see the human side of things. We’ll get to know Ritchie’s human mother, a trophy wife who has come to see what she has married and is horrified. We’ll see the roots of our Hispanic werewolf, his mom and dad, his village in Mexico – and learn the story of the murder of our zombie’s entire family. We’ll find that zombies are people too, just people with a terrible curse, and that many want nothing more than respect.
Ritchie’s rise from idle ignorance to a young man/young vampire with a deep knowledge of the world, both the good and the bad, is fascinating to me. And that he finds his place, his mission to be something we can actually admire. He and his two friends will not be predators of the innocent. But they will be hunters – hunters of evil. And when they ferret it out they will do battle with it to the death, until the world is just a bit safer for the rest of us.
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