“It’s a nightmarish Romeo and Juliet” 2000 AD creator Pat Mills on cult favourite Vampire Knight Requiem’s digital re-issue
2000 AD creator and all-round British comics legend, Pat Mills is taking the world of digital comics by storm with his new digital imprint Millsverse. Following the success of the darkly terrifying PsychoKiller he is set to release his cult favourite Requiem Vampire Knight on ComiXology this month. We caught up with Pat to discuss his plans to bring this vampiric Romeo and Juliet to a whole new audience.
What made you choose Requiem Vampire Knight as the latest title for your Millsverse digital imprint? Is it one of your favourite books or one with a great deal of fan interest?
PM: Requiem is a best-selling series which really lends itself to a digital imprint. It’s a way of reaching a whole new audience. Within a day of it being announced, Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance tweeted about it and it was favourited over 600 times. It’s therefore reaching that Goth/Emo audience digitally that it’s already connected with in France. At signings in France there would be a strong Goth presence and now we can reach the English equivalent.
For those who are new to the Vampire Knight saga what’s the basic premise?
PM: It could be summed up as “My Vampire Romance”, a nightmarish Romeo and Juliet as a German soldier Heinrich and a Jew Rebecca fall in love during World War Two. Their love is so strong that when they die they find themselves on the planet of Resurrection – Earth turned inside out – ruled over by Vampires. Heinrich becomes Requiem Vampire Knight and looks again for Rebecca. But love is outlawed on Resurrection.
You mention the strong French fan base, was the book previously only available in France?
PM: It’s currently running in France, but there’s no French digital edition. I think the French are several years behind us in terms of digital popularity.
There is a British edition from Panini and there was an American edition from Heavy Metal, but they seem to have faded away. The digital edition is the only way to reach the American audience and we want to reach that ‘Camden’ audience as well – digital is probably the best way to do that.
Have you made any changes to this new digital version to make it work better on a screen?
PM: There are introductions and biographies in the digital edition. The script was tweaked in a couple of minor places. There are xtra features in Requiem Vol 3 and Vol 4, like an artist’s gallery with images previously only seen in the limited French de luxe edition. We should get reader feedback in time to include in Volumes 5 which makes Requiem digital potentially interactive. It’s a high concept world, bigger than Mega City or ABC Warriors’ Mars, so there’s a chance for the readers to give their thoughts, sketches etc on aspects of the world. E.G.Exploring the various races on Resurrection like Ghouls, Werewolves and Zombies. And figuring out what famous people would turn into when they’re sent to Hell!
What about the artwork, has artist Olivier Ledroit tweaked that at all?
PM: Most significantly, the stunning double page spreads are not “pinched” as in the book version. Sometimes art and story gets affected by that central gully or even by the curve on a single page. With digital you get to see the spreads in all their beauty. Many will view on tablets, I like to see Requiem on large screen too. The art can take it! Then you’re really going to the movies!
Your first release PsychoKiller was another dark, horror based story, was it intentional to release two horror books or is that just a reflection of your best work?
PM: Those were the two series that were fastest to turn around. I think Dinosty (Clint Langley) and Brats Bizarre (Duke Mighten) are likely to be next. But there’s also the Requiem spin-off series Claudia Vampire Knight (Tacito)
What can we look forward to next from Millsverse? More classics or some new material?
PM: I’d like to do Sha (also by Olivier Ledroit) and originate. We’ll need to see how feasible it is to start new series. Although it’s anecdotal and early days, I know of one instance where a best-selling graphic novel’s digital sales are the same as paper sales. And on my recent royalty statement, 2/3rds of strong book sales on a graphic novel were digital. This would suggest digital is on a par with or even overtaking paper and the Writing’s on the Screen! Fingers crossed!