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Love Conquers All: Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedman Stop By



Hey folks. About a month ago I told you about a great new comic called Undying Love.

For those who missed it, here’s a quick synopsis: John Sargent and Mei are in love. Slight problem. Mei’s a vampire. Clues from the first issue indicate they met after Mei was a vampire. What might’ve drove most men off had no effect on Sargent. I suspect he’d be with her even if there was no cure for her vampirism, but there is. Cut out the heart of the vampire that sired her, burn it and use the ashes to make a special tea. And wouldn’t you know it? The vampire in question is the baddest bad ass on the block, so Sargent is in for a helluva fight to win back Mei’s humanity.

I tweeted about my post and the creators, Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedman, noticed. They thanked me and retweeted. I did some serious happy dancing and after I finished, I reached out and asked if they wanted do an interview.

So without further ado, I bring to you . . . The Interview! (At the end I’ll be giving my thoughts on issue #2, which came out yesterday)

Undying Love is billed as horror/action, (which it has plenty of) but the heart of the story is a romance. What influenced that aspect of the story? Was it True Romance? That’s what the issue one cover reminded me of.

Tomm Coker: True Romance. Sid and Nancy. The Badlands. All of them were big inspirations. Ridley Scott was a huge influence on the look of the book – whether it’s an alien shipwreck or ancient Rome, his images always seem complete and authentic – that became very important when depicting the various locations in Undying Love.

Daniel Freedman: Wong Kar Wai’s Fallen Angels was another that really explored the idea of a toxic romance.

Vampires have never been more popular in the past few years. Was there a lot of competing vampire books being pitched or was Image Comics eager to snatch up your idea?

TLC: I don’t know if there were any competing projects at the time. If there were, Image never mentioned them.

DF: I know there are a couple of new vampire titles coming from Image soon but I don’t know who was first in line. And I don’t know if it would have made a difference when all the books are trying something totally different and there is no connection between creators – other than genre and publisher.

Vampire mythology is constantly being tweaked and I’m happy to see yours are the monstrous variety. What other elements did you keep? What did you drop?

DF: We kept the two universal rules: sunlight kill and human blood feeds. Garlic and crosses went out the window a long time ago,

TLC: We tried very hard to get at the earliest ideas we could find in Romanian folklore. That’s where the vampire cure (burning the heart and consuming its ashes) came from.

DF: And we also modernized certain bits – The historic accounts of killing the undead were written long before modern weapons came on the scene and seeing as how vampires are still flesh and blood a high caliber round is going to take them apart no different than you or me.

TLC: That’s not say they won’t get back up, especially the more powerful bloodsuckers.

DF: Yeah, it’s gonna take a whole helluva lot more than a couple of well-placed bullets to put the top guys down.

It plays into the blood hierarchy – the closer a vampire is to the blood’s source (meaning the first vampire) the more powerful they are. And the further from that source — the weaker and more fiendish tend to be.

TLC: Think of it like a drug — the more you cut it, the less potent its effect — and some of this blood has passed through thousands of veins, being diluted over and over, before getting into its current host.

From the opening action sequence it seems there will much more than just vampires in this world. What else can readers expect to see?

DF: Once we set the story in Hong Kong, Tomm and I did a ton of research into all the Chinese folklore we could find and discovered so many cool things we wanted to include in the story. I think we ended up cutting more than we used, but the goal all along was to create an entire world–

TLC: I never understand it when I read a story or watch a movie and they have a vampire (or any other supernatural phenom) but that’s it – all the other details of their world is exactly the same as ours. To me, it only makes sense that if vampires can exist then so does us everything else — all the monsters and creepy crawlies you can imagine.

DF: Some of the stuff you can expect in upcoming issues: fox spirits, shape shifters, demon prostitutes, fortune tellers, ghosts, a giant, black, mystical Ox and of course more vampires.

Undying Love is going to be eight issues. Is the story complete after issue eight or could it go on? This question is kind of for me because I’ve become a raving nut over this book and never want it to end.

TLC: Right now the story is 8 issues and at once the last one hits the stands this part of the story will be finished. There is more we could tell – both before and after this story – but right now we’re focused on getting these 8 out and seeing what the response is.

DF: What it really comes down to are the fans. It takes a lot to create and produce this type of book, and although we want to do more with Undying Love – we also need to keep the bills paid and put food on the table. That means making money and if Undying Love doesn’t do that then we’ll have to take work that does.

Being a creator owned title, there must have been a ton of leg work on your part to get the book out. How long did it take between inception of the idea and release?

TLC: More than I ever imagined it would be. We wrote the script over the course of two years — about halfway through was when Twilight hit.

DF: After the writing was finished it became a matter of finding the right place in our schedules to actually produce the book. It’s been a long time coming and feels great to finally have on the stands.

How was it different from your Marvel comics and film experience? Any ways it was similar?

TLC: The most important difference is having full creative control. Daniel and I are producing the story exactly how we see fit and that’s almost unheard of in any situation.

DF: Comics are unique among visual mediums – one person can produce a fully realized vision without help or support from anyone else. That’s amazing and I wish more people understood that and read comics because of that.

As co-writers do you guys break up the writing by working on separate scenes or does one handle dialogue while the other writes the action? How does it work?

TLC: We work on every aspect of the writing together.

DF: I write too fast and Tomm writes too slow. In the end we meet somewhere in the middle and the work is stronger because of that.

I have to comment on the artwork. I love the noir-ish look and how the shadowing brings out the emotion on the characters. It reminds me of Sean Philips’ work on Criminal and Incognito. Does this talent come from formal training or did you learn by doing?

TLC: First of all, although I haven’t read the two books you mention above, I am a huge fan of Sean Phillips. His work on Hellblazer informed my approach to inking more than most.

And as far as answering the question – I won’t tell the story of how I learned to draw and got into the business (I’ve told that tale before and it can take a while), but, yes I spent some time in school, after I was a working pro. And, yes, it’s all learned by doing.

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Yes, I know, I could’ve asked those guys questions all day, but I had to give them time to work on more Undying Love. Thank you, Tomm and Daniel for taking the time to share your world with us.

Okay, so issue #1, like any good opener, gave a nice introduction to Sargent and Mei and what their adventure was all about. At the end, upon learning what he must do to cure Mei, it seems Sargent is preparing to kick monster ass all over Hong Kong. Boy does he ever.

The vampire he’s after (Shang-Ji) is the top vamp, so it takes A LOT to get his attention. He’d have to do something loud and violent. Perhaps going after someone in Shang-Ji’s circle would be a good place to start. I won’t blow the crazy action that follows, (because you really have to see it for yourself) but whatever Sargent did resulted in Shang-Ji sending out his shapeshifters. Shapeshifters. As in MANY.

Does this sound like your kind of awesome? Then I URGE you to buy the comics. Independents like these, live and die by individual issue sales. Trade paperbacks are released AFTER the comic has proven itself. So support an indie and grab a copy for yourself or for someone who’d like it. And for you digital fans out there, Comixology, has issue one available as well as a sample to try. Comixology works for your computer, tablet or phone. I have the android app and I love it. But a warning. Tomm said it took a while to get issue one on there and subsequent issues may also take time to be available.

Anything YOU want to ask Tomm and Daniel? Leave it in the comments. Who knows? They could be reading this right now.

Info stuff- Follow my ROW80 progress every Wednesday and Sunday and be here Tuesdays and Thursdays for new posts on me, writing, superheroes, monsters, comics and any other geeky stuff on my mind.

Did you miss my guest post on Jennifer Joseph’s blog? It was about the Avengers and JLA movies and which one I think will be better. If I can give my horn a light toot, I think it was FINE piece.

2 comments on “Love Conquers All: Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedman Stop By

  1. I absolutely love the ideas behind this comic, the illustrations look amazing, and really I love the premise behind Sargent and Mei’s love story. Thanks to Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedman for stopping by, you all have just encouraged me to give a comic a try. I just can’t resist!

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