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Westfield: What can you tell us about the genesis of the Dark Ivory series?
Joseph Michael Linsner: Dark Ivory started off as a visual, a painting I did back in 1999 called "Flight of Ivory". Although I painted a couple of vampiric babes before, I knew right away Ivory was something special, that she had a story. Vampire lore is rich in mythology - I'd already begun exploring that world through my punk-rock vampire character, Esque, "the vampire guy." Ivory seemed like the connection I was looking for, to take that to the next level. (Esque is still around though - he's a central figure in Dark Ivory's story.)
Eva Hopkins: I'd already been working with Joe for a few years at this point, first as his art assistant, then as his co-colorist, on Dawn. Joe bounced ideas for Dawn off of me frequently, and he praised my writing skills. When we both realized Dark Ivory was a natural for the Next Big Project, I was thrilled when Joe asked me to step up as co-creator, to give the series a genuinely female voice.
Westfield: What can you tell us about the story of the mini-series and who are the main characters?
Hopkins: Ivory is a somewhat cynical goth teen, a little too smart and imaginative for her own good. Her home life is rocky, and she invents a very elaborate fantasy world for herself through her writing. By day, she plays the good girl - goes to school, then hangs out with her best friend, an angry young poet named Samson. But by night, she sneaks off on the late-night train to New York City and the dark, glamorous world that awaits her there. But there are dangers lurking in the dark, of course.
Linsner: The characters are fun to play with. Our story opens with Esque, the riffraff anti-Anne-Rice vampire from The Vampire's Christmas. There's Samson de Milo, Ivory's pal - he's a really different character for me to work with. Most comic book protagonists are very attractive people, very pretty. Samson is a chubby, shaved-headed guy working the overnight shift at Borders, trying to get by while working on his novel. I was a big fan of Love & Rockets, where very realistic characters would cross paths with elements of fantasy. I want to bring some of that dynamic to Dark Ivory, and Samson is a large part of that - he is just a regular guy, the most normal, overweight character I have ever drawn. Other major characters include Marie Antoinette as the voluptuous Queen of the "royal" or blue-blood vampires; Dingbat Sally, a BBW club pal of Ivory's and the Blood Angel, a ghostly apparition that appears when Esque is high on a blood rush.
Westfield: If the mini-series does well, do you have more Dark Ivory stories you'd like to tell?
Linsner: Many more. We have discussed broad sweeping storylines that could make up six more separate mini-series, with the second and third being more firmly established at this point. Like the Harry Potter series, we're planting seeds for things that can develop years down the line. Right out of the gate, we know what the ultimate climax will be, but we are going to see what strange detours might reveal themselves to us as we tell more of her story.
Hopkins: I don't think I could ever get tired of Ivory's world - Siouxsie and the Cure; late nights after the club; passionate dancing and writing, dotted with bright red drops of blood. I think the element that excites me most is the unusual love story that we'll be brewing.
Westfield: How do you two work together on the book? Who does what?
Linsner: Well, the process here is different than when we work on Dawn.
Hopkins: Definitely. Dawn is all Joe's, and although I know he values a feminine perspective, Dawn is way more personal and less linear of a story than Dark Ivory.
Linsner: Yeah, on a Dawn book, I say, "Jump, Hopkins!" And she says, "How high?"
Linsner: But on Dark Ivory, it's truly collaborative. We started with loose notes, agreeing on every aspect of her character. We wrote the script together in long face-to-face writing sessions - which is tough to pull off, given that we live across the country from each other. The scripting is definitely intense, getting to know characters as they develop.
Another big difference is that Dark Ivory will be very linear. It is a vampire story, and fits rather nicely into that genre. One of the problems many people have with Dawn was that it has no clearly defined genre, and works on its own dream logic. Dawn was often called a 'Bad Girl' comic, but when you stick her in that genre, she fails miserably.
Too much introspection, not enough blood soaked T&A. Dark Ivory is a vampire story, and by embracing that genre, she will totally kick ass.
Hopkins: Once it's all written and storyboarded, Joe does the line art, turning over to me hi-rez files of inked comic art with the blue lines still in it.
I clean those up, prep them for coloring and printing using unique Hopkins-Linsner Photoshop methods, and pop the flat colors in. Then I send the art back over to Joe for him to do the rendering, which gives it that lush rendered look we all love so much.
Westfield: Are there any other projects you're working on that you'd like to mention?
Linsner: The next thing on deck right after Dark Ivory is celebrating Dawn's 20th Anniversary. That's gonna be huge! Clayburn Moore is releasing a fantastic Sinful Suzi statue, which I am in love with. Right after Dark Ivory, I will be putting out a Sinful Suzi one-shot. But 2009 is all about Dawn - the Year of the Goddess.
Hopkins: As well as Ivory and Dawn, I'm working on my next collection of comic short stories, Hit & Run, featuring Bitter Girl - a character of mine that should be pretty self-explanatory. I'm also putting together a couple of shorts for upcoming Popgun comics anthologies, from Image Comics. Oh yeah, there's gonna be a Dark Ivory statue, sculpted by Clayburn Moore, as well! That should be out by Christmas 2008 for sure, and maybe even in conjunction with the release of Dark Ivory #4 in September.
Westfield: Any closing comments?
Linsner: Dark Ivory has waited eight years to take flight -
Hopkins: - eight long, long years -
Linsner: - and it is sweet to give her wings, at long last.