“David Hine is well known for his work at Marvel on such books as District X, Daredevil: Redemption, and Son of M. But in October, he takes a trip outside of the superhero world with FVZA, also known as the Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency, a taskforce dedicated to eliminating the threat of the undead. In Part 1 of this two-part interview Broken Frontier spoke to Hine about the book and its development.
Broken Frontier: Have you enjoyed working with Radical so far?
David Hine: It’s one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had in comics. The guys at Radical are so respectful of the creative process. After doing work for hire for companies who can treat you as a script machine, it has been very gratifying. No-one is dictating how a story should be told, or how characters should be developed. No-one is arbitrarily re-writing scripts. I’m consulted at every level, from art, to production to the way the book is publicized. A lot of care is taken to make sure every aspect of the book is the best quality we can achieve. I have a great working relationship with my editor, Luis Reyes. At Marvel and DC there is often a feeling that the editor is boss. The better editors will give you a lot of leeway but there is always a point where you are going to be over-ruled. Luis is a demanding editor. He’ll pick up on any weaknesses in plot structure, character, pacing – all the things an editor should be doing, but in the end if I feel strongly about something, it stays in. I guess it’s more like the writer/editor relationship in traditional book publishing.
Radical are also great at looking after their creators on a practical level. The pay is good, I get flown out to San Diego for the convention, signings are well organized and the book is being promoted to the hilt. The ashcan edition we were giving away at the Con was a beautiful thing to behold.
BF: This book is based on the website FVZA.org, which developed a sizable fan following. Why do you think it became so popular? Do you think it has to do with the way it treats the subject matter as if it were real?
DH: Yeah, that’s it absolutely. The FVZA site immerses itself in the history and science to an incredible degree. Richard Dargan created the site and he has literally taken on this alter ego of Hugo Pecos, a former director of the Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency. The agency was dismantled in the mid-seventies when it looked like vampires and zombies were extinct, but good ol’ Hugo is convinced they will be coming back and he wants to keep the world prepared for the worst.
Everything you could possibly want to know about how the vampire and zombie viruses are transmitted and the biology of the victims is there, as well as some things you would probably prefer not to know. There’s a detailed history of the undead from medieval times to the present day, including biographies of famous vampires. The site is constantly growing. Checking it out this week I see we now have a section on the riot at Woodstock after zombies invaded the site and the FVZA tried to cancel the show just before Crosby Stills Nash and Young began their set. And there’s a section on vampires in the Vietnam War. It’s all done completely deadpan. I love it.
There’s a lot of opportunities to interact with the site too, with members of the public submitting their own sightings of the undead from all over the world.”
BROKEN FRONTIER: How do you see the character of Hugh Pecos? He seems like a cross between Van Helsing and Captain Ahab.
DAVID HINE: That’s very good. Yes, he is obsessive and the Undead are his White Whale. He’s willing to sacrifice everything to that obsession, and that includes friendships and family. He’s willing to put his own life on the line but also the lives of others. That’s brutal but it’s the only way humanity will win this battle.
BF: What about the grandchildren? Is there a reason Vidal is more reluctant than Landra?
DH: They are just very different personalities. Landra is the favored child in the sense that she is a natural warrior. Vidal just wants to live a normal life and he’s less than convinced that the Undead are still out there. He gradually comes to believe that Pecos is just a crazy old man who wants to live his past glories vicariously through his grandchildren. The relationship becomes very strained. Once Pecos is proved right, Vidal signs up for the deal, but he is always reluctant. I guess, like any other young guy he would prefer to drink beer and get laid than spend his days wading through shit in some vampire-infested sewer.