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October 30, 2011

Interview with Tomm Coker & Daniel Freedman of Undying Love

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Written by: Arnab
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Undying Love
Story and Art: Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedman
Publisher: Image Comics

Undying Love is a story about an unconditional love shared between an ex-soldier, John Sargent, and his girlfriend, a Chinese vampire named Mei. With little more than his military training and a little bit of luck, Sargent is attempting to rid Mei of the vampiric curse that has taken control of her life by going after the 1300 year old vampire that made her.

The creative team of Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedman do a fantastic job of incorporating ancient lore into the modern world. Set in China, this book has a unique feel and story with some amazing art to make for an amazing package. As anyone who has met the creators can tell you, they have a strong passion for this book and it definitely shows. The two of them agreed to talk a little more in depth about their book; here’s how it went:

ComicAttack: What do you think differentiates this book from all the other vampire stories out there right now?

Daniel Freedman: Aside from the more subtle differences, the biggest thing separating us from other vampire stories is the inclusion of Chinese folklore and mythos. Undying Love has a lot more then just vampires to offer.

Tomm Coker: We spent months researching Chinese folk tales and legends uncovering an entire world we’d never seen before in the west – and once we dropped the vampires in the middle of it everything just came together in a way we never could have imagined when we started.

DF: Also our vampires bite people and drink blood; that alone seems to separate us right now.

CA: What was the initial attraction to vampire lore?

DF: We wanted to tell a love story and the vampire was the perfect antagonist for the themes we wanted to explore.

TC: When we started writing Undying Love, the vampire was dead and we saw an opportunity to do something new and exciting with a very traditional foe.

DF: Once Twilight hit the whole thing has been an uphill battle.

CA: You have an eclectic cast of characters – what sources were used to help in the creation of the cast?

TC: Some of the characters are directly inspired by Chinese folklore, but for the most part we invented as much as we borrowed.

DF: We also tried to incorporate as much Romanian vampire lore as possible – trying to look at the same stories and sources Bram Stoker used to create the rules of the un-dead.

CA: How does the creative process work between the two of you, with regards to the story and characters?

DF: Lots and lots of coffee. We’ll sit for days, throwing ideas back and forth until we come up with a basic structure. From there we work out the story beats, writing everything down before starting on the art.

TC: That way we know exactly what we’re doing with the books and there’s no, “making it up as we go along”. Instead, we can fine-tune the story as we do the pages.

DF: Tomm will layout the pages, and then we walk through them together before he
finishes the art. Afterwards I step in to add the color.

TC: The final step is tweaking dialogue and rushing the files to the printer. The best part is that the entire process is essentially just the two of us with no one telling us, “change this” or do that”. It’s our vision entirely.

CA: What drew you to Hong Kong and the Chinese Vampire, specifically?

DF: I’m personally obsessed with a lot of Chinese cinema, especially Wong Kar Wai.
That was a big part of setting it in Hong Kong.

TC: We also wanted to do something exotic – something we hadn’t seen a million times – and that led us to China. And once we started the research, the whole thing took off and China became such an integral part of the story—

DF: I can’t imagine it being anywhere other then Hong Kong at this point.

CA: How far do you plan on taking this story?

TC: The current story is 8 issues. The first 4 are out now as the Vol. 1 trade paperback.

DF: And we’re hard at work on the 2nd half now.

TC: There’s also a big sequel we’d love to do if there’s a demand for it.

CA: Is there any new information on the film adaptation?

DF: Nothing we can talk about yet—

TC: But, it’s going better than we could’ve ever expected so far.

_________________________________

A big thanks to both Tomm and Daniel for taking the time to talk about their amazing book. Be on the lookout for the next four issues, set to be released early next year. In the meantime, be sure to get a copy of vol. 1 right now.

Arnab Pradhan
arnab@comicattack.net

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