FCBD23 Interview: West of Sundown
Mar 01, 2023
A beautiful vampire must flee monster slayers in New York City and reclaim the ancestral soil that restores her undead flesh. But the world has changed since she was reborn in the New Mexico desert, and now Constance der Abend and her loyal assistant Dooley must adapt to life in the rough frontier town of Sangre de Moro, where all sorts of monsters have settled. A western tale of survival starring a cast of literary horrors from the diabolical minds of Tim Seeley, Aaron Campbell, and Jim Terry.
We caught up with series writers Tim Seeley and Aaron Campbell, and artist Jim Terry to learn more about what inspired their extraordinary characters, what were the most fun parts to write and draw, AND to rifle through some really fun rapid fire questions!
Check out the full interview below and be sure to head to your local comic shop on Saturday, May 6 to celebrate FCBD in all it’s glory! To find a participating comic shop near you, use our FCBD Store Locator.
Free Comic Book Day (FCBD): Set up your title for those that might be new to your comic book: What will new readers need to know before diving into your Free Comic Book Day issue?
Jim Terry : That this is a dive-in head first type of deal, right into a world of myth gone rampant.
Tim Seeley: All you need to know is that we’re giving you a Horror-western, which combines great European horror-literature characters with Southwestern folklore
Aaron Campbell: It’s 1870 in New Mexico. It’s the dawn of the wild west and a captivating Vampire has come home. God help everyone in the old town of Sangre de Moro.
FCBD: What are some of the core themes present in your book? What do you hope readers take away from your title?
Jim: My takeaway and what I try to infuse with my storytelling is the idea that redemption can be found, no matter what kind of monster you might think you are.
Tim: This is a story about cultures collapsing….about the old ways being challenged in the face of the overwhelming need to survive. I think, most of all, it’s about the kind of monsters America makes.
Aaron: It’s a classic western tale of unfettered American expansionism draped in the canon of european horror as it confronts and clashed with the myth and legend of the Southwest. It’s Sergio Leone meets Hammer Horror, the Invisible Man meets the Chupacabra, Lovecraft meets La Llorona.
FCBD: What part of the book was most fun to write?
Jim: There are moments of high tension between characters, and drama in their interactions. I gotta say these quietly intense scenes were the most fun for me to work on. Of course, any chance I get to draw something gross and scary is a plus.
Tim: For me, writing the classical characters like Frankenstein’s monster, and Griffin (someday to become The Invisible Man) is a challenge that keeps me really excited, especially their relationship with each other.
Aaron: I’m the history nut. Living in New Mexico I’ve come to deeply love this land and culture. So getting to write a book that indulges my love of history and horror is a true joy.
FCBD: Can you share some of the inspiration behind certain characters, settings, etc.?
Jim:I’m a bit of a film freak, so trying to infuse the spirit of Italian Westerns with Hammer horror and the European artists I’ve so long admired has been at the top of my mind throughout.
Tim: The story is set in the fictional town of Sangre DeMoro, inspired by some of the real settlements in New Mexico. And a lot of this story is inspired by the entire creative team's affection for Hammer Horror Films, as well as the “spaghetti Westerns” of the late 60s and early 70s.
Aaron:Yeah, as Tim said, Sangre de Moro is loosely based on a very particular area of northern New Mexico. It’s the valley where the conquistador Don Juan de Oñate settled and brutally subjugated the native pueblo people in 1598 and later Kit Carson waged his campaign of removal against the Dine people known as the Long Walk. Rosa Naranjo is a descendant of one of those first colonists and a Diné genízaro, an enslaved native american. It’s also the place that spawned the notion of Tres Culturas, the Three Cultures, where indigenous people, latin and anglo settlers clashed and ultimately created the unique culture of New Mexico. It’s during this tumultuous period that our story is set.
FCBD: If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
Jim: Give me an hour, I’ll be long gone and far away. Don’t look for me.
Tim: "Let me buy ya a beer.” It’d only be a nickel, which I can afford
Aaron: What was it like being buried alive?
FCBD:Looking to the future, is there anything you can tease about what’s coming up for the title and its characters?
Jim: I’m excited about the evolution of these characters, I think there’s some interesting things developing that I am looking forward to.
Tim: The book is always building, adding new characters, expanding the town, and forcing our core cast to change or die. The second arc brings in Dr. Moreau, and a whole bunch of monsters!
Aaron: All i’ll say is there’s gotta be a reason all these classic villains keep turning up in this bloody little town and Dr. Moreau is certainly not the last of them.
FCBD: Many newcomers will pick up comics for the first time on FCBD – what was the first comic you remember reading?
Jim: For me it was The Amazing Spider-Man, it was all over once I realized a super hero could worry about the rent and be completely driven by guilt.
Tim: It was a MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE comic included with an action figure that I got when I was 5 years old. It literally changed my life.
Aaron: It’s actually a stack of comics that my grandparents had at there house. Odds and end collected over the years that they ran a little summer resort in Branson, MO. Ghost Rider 35 (the original run) is the one I’d always grab first when I would visit.
FCBD: What is your favorite part about working in the comic book industry?
Jim: The idea of communicating something, even if it’s the appreciation of a brushstroke or a turn of phrase, is one of the things that has always excited me about the comic industry and storytelling in general.
Tim: The collaboration! Working on books like WES TOF SUNDOWN means I have an excuse to hang out with my friends.
Aaron: I get to do what I love in the best community of any artform.
FCBD: Tell us why everyone should read comic books!
Jim: Everyone should do it all, and comics are as important to the brain as prose, films, or music! Give your brain, your heart and your spirit what it needs!
Tim: Comics are a medium with unlimited reach and imagination. ANYTHING a creator can think of can be executed here–no special effects budgets, no actor contracts—and it’s the best way to see the pure, unrestrained expression of creativity.
Aaron: Comics are a place where creativity lives completely unfettered. There’s no other medium that can so joyful indulge itself in the fantastic and absurd and still connect on such a deeply human level.
FCBD: Now, we have a series of rapid-fire questions for you! They’re, ya know, mostly related to comics... Answer as quickly as you can and try not to over think it!
Do you listen to music while you’re creating?
Jim: Comics are a place where creativity lives completely unfettered. There’s no other medium that can so joyful indulge itself in the fantastic and absurd and still connect on such a deeply human level.
Tim: While drawing, yes! I have a massive song library I’ve been building on my itunes since 2002. Very curated! When I write, I need silence.
Aaron: Yes. Especially when I’m writing I need a soundtrack that establishes the right mood and gets me into the right frame of mind.
What’s your favorite comic book genre?
Jim: Usually something unsettling, and if there are monsters involved, even better.
Are you more productive in the morning or at night?
Jim: I’m generally a morning person for work, but when you’re freelance there’s no time off!
Tim: Nighttime for sure! But I have a three year old so I work in the morning and day no matter what.
Aaron: midday. I need plenty of meandering time in the morning
Do you think you could survive in a zombie apocalypse?
Jim: I sure hope not
Tim: Nope, and I’m happy to do my part to ensure it never comes to that. Bring on the zombie vaccines.
Aaron: depends on the zombies I suppose. But as long as its not spread by an airborne virus sure. Zombies are rotting. I mean hit one with a stick after a few days and they’d just come apart.
Would you rather be invisible or have the ability to fly?
Jim: I can’t think of a use for invisibility other than ones that will get me in trouble, so I’ll take flying.
Tim: I feel like I’m much more likely to get paid to be invisible. Government or corporate gig. Probably pays well. Flying would be a hobby power I think.
Aaron: Invisible, as long as everything I’m wearing becomes invisible. Just imagine the damage I could do with a recording device and group of politicians that have no idea someone is standing in the corner.
If you were a comic book character, would you rather be the hero or the villain?
Jim: I would probably be the frustrated idealist, so it could go either way, right?
Tim: Well, even the villains think they’re the heroes right?
Aaron: Does anti-hero count as hero?
What’s your favorite comic book or graphic novel?
Jim: The one that moved me the most is Will Eisner’s LIFE IN THE BIG CITY, but I will read Savage Sword of Conan or an EC or Warren mag anytime.
Tim: My favorite series of all time is SAVAGE DRAGON by Erik Larsen. It’s been going since 1992 with the same creator at the helm. Inspiring!
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