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It’s been nearly two years since Mark Sable and Paul Azaceta first discussed the Image miniseries Graveyard of Empires with me. This time around we’re looking at the project through the rear-view mirror, given that the 128-page trade collection will be released May 1 (Diamond code MAR130502, ISBN 978-1-60706-739-9), featuring a new short story written and drawn by Azaceta. The collaborators were ambitious with this project, which pits U.S. Marines in present-day Afghanistan against the Taliban … and a sudden influx of the undead. It’s interesting to learn the interaction that the creators had with military veterans in the wake of the miniseries’ release, as well as their decision to dedicate the collection to Tim Hetherington.
If you haven’t read Graveyard of Empires, you’re in luck, as Image Comics and comiXology have made the first issue available for free.
In addition to chatting about the upcoming trade paperback, Sable takes time to chat about his current Kickstarter project with Salgood Sam, Dracula: Son of the Dragon. Azaceta also reveals his plans to write more stories when his schedule allows, as well as his upcoming Conan work with Brian Wood.
Tim O’Shea: We first spoke about Graveyard of Empires back in 2011. Now in 2013, the trade paperback is about to be released. How good does it feel to be at this point with the project?
Mark Sable: It feels great. Graveyard of Empires started out as a three-issue miniseries with 22 pages each, grew into four issues with 124 pages of story. In an age where Big Two issues are now 20 pages and often decompressed, that’s like six issues’ worth of content. We wanted to make the trade worth the wait that expansion caused, so we’re not only including the original story and your usual extras like sketches, but an all new short story written and drawn by Paul. It makes his comics writing debut, and I have to be honest, it scares me that he’s going to put me out of a job.
For a dead guy, Dracula sure gets around a lot.
All jokes aside (for now), a comics gem recently popped up on Kickstarter with the official launch of writer Mark Sable and artist Salgood Sam‘s long-hinted-at graphic novel Dracula: Son of the Dragon. Set in the 15th century, it’s one part historical and one part horror, and while it might be shelved next to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, this story isn’t a pop culture mash-up. It’s s an origin story that ties together the historical Vlad the Impaler with the fictional Dracula, beginning with Vlad’s childhood and how he was inducted into the dark arts.
In progress for more than a year now, Sable and Sam are using Kickstarter to raise funds to finance the production of Dracula: Son of the Dragon ‘s 60-page first volume, both in a standard edition and a series of limited edition versions. In addition to various editions offered to people who pledge for the fundraising campaign, the duo are offering original artwork, appearances in the book, and even a script review by Sable himself.
When I first discovered Salgood Sam‘s work, he wasn’t Salgood Sam. Back in the 1990s, he went by his real name, Max Douglas. I found his work in the pages of Clive Barker’s Marvel series Saint Sinner in 1993, when Douglas was one of a select few rising art stars at the publisher in the post-Image exodus. Douglas drew Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme, Midnight Sons Unlimited, Morbius: The Living Vampire and a few 2099 issues before disappearing off the face of the earth. It was only years later that I discovered he had taken a self-imposed sabbatical from comics, unhappy with the situations presented.
After a couple years away, Douglas returned under the new moniker of Salgood Sam and began his second life in comics on the independent scene, doing a mixture of more racy books like Sea of Red and Terminator 3 while creating personal projects like the one-man anthology RevolveЯ. Salgood Sam went on to push his craft with the excellent graphic novel Therefore Repent! and his own long-running webcomic Dream Life. From time to time he steps back to do work-for-hire like an issue of Ghostbusters for IDW Publishing, but the Canadian artist is doing it on his own terms while continuing to established a career with his own work.
Salgood Sam is one of the most fascinating creators working in comics today — at times too mainstream to be indie, and yet too indie to be mainstream. He carries an independent streak that would make most Big Two creators blush, and through grants, government funding and the occasional work-for-hire gig he’s been able to do some mentally explorative comics like Dream Lifeand his RevolveЯ series that gives me a renewed enthusiasm for comics. Enough gushing. Salgood Sam and I have been conducting this interview by email for the past two months, and I’m glad to be able to bring it to you today.