We recently caught up with Chuck Dixon, comic veteran and writer of Liesel’s latest journey, to discuss his career as well as what to expect from Van Helsing vs. The Werewolf.
Zenescope Entertainment: As a veteran in the comic book industry, what keeps you motivated to keep creating?
Chuck Dixon: It’s an itch I have to scratch. I’ve been a daydreamer all my life. It’s in my DNA. So I need the outlet. My enthusiasm for writing and especially for writing in the comics medium has never waned.
ZE: Can you touch on some similarities and differences between writing for the Big 2 on books like The Punisher and Batman versus writing for an independently published book like Van Helsing vs. The Werewolf?
CD: Not much at all, really. Van Helsing may not be as old a franchise as Batman or The Punisher but there’s a framework and established characters and relationships. I’m not here to re-invent Liesel and her story. My task here is to provide entertaining horror action within the framework built by the original creators.
ZE: What is your favorite aspect of Liesel that makes her enjoyable to write?
CD: Probably the same as any character I enjoy writing. She’s a badass. And I like her British-ness and that her life spans several generations. The most fun was coming up with a consistent voice for her, something that “sounds” right to my ear. I have her speaking in a very Edwardian formal manner with more recent colloquialisms thrown in. I’ve also supplied her with a dry, acid wit. She’s fun to write!
ZE: For those who don’t know, you have your own publishing imprint of action novels, Bruno Books. Do you prefer being able to write action that you see come to life through a comic artist, or is it more rewarding to be as visceral as possible through prose and hope that the reader feels the same impact in a novel?
CD: I’m a comic book writer first and foremost. Comics were my final destination not a stepping stone to another medium. I don’t have an unproduced spec screenplay I’ve written. And I never planned on being a novelist even though I’m currently working on my 21st novel!
ZE: As your first book for Zenescope Entertainment, what drew you to the company and to Van Helsing vs. The Werewolf?
CD: Fun material and creative freedom. The editors are leaving me alone to create an international horror action epic with lots of wild scenes and dark humor.
ZE: Who or what are some of your influences when it comes to writing?
CD: My earliest influence in comics was Archie Goodwin. My mom probably thought I was too young to be reading Creepy and the Eerie but she let me but them anyway. Later I discovered guys like Frank Robbins and Harvey Kurtzman. In recent years I’ve learned more and more about early comic writing greats like Carl Barks and John Stanley; the geniuses behind Uncle Scrooge and Little Lulu, respectively. Kind of weird when I think of it. My earliest influences were comics too mature for a ten year old and my most recent are “kid comic” authors.
ZE: I read in an interview where you said, “I feel a comic writer’s task is to be invisible. If you notice the writing then I’ve failed. The artist tells the story. I leave them all the room they need,” which I think is a very interesting and humble outlook. Can you share how that belief came about?
CD: From Archie Goodwin mostly. Archie would write these seamless horror stories that had just enough narration and dialogue to help the art put the story across. Never a wasted word. It took me a while to draw a connection between the stories I liked most (and read and re-read ad infinitum) and Archie’s name in the credits. I decided that the best comics writing is where the writer takes a back seat to the art, guiding the visuals from behind the curtains. I think I was looking for approval from my peers rather than from fans. Archie had a saying common to him whenever he pointed out exemplary work by a comics pro. He’d say, “Do you see what this son of a bitch is doing?” It was him schooling others on the unseen efforts beyond the art that lifted a common comic book story to an excellent one. I have always strived for that kind of quality in my work, a more sublime effect than the “look at how clever I am!” brand of writing.
And it was a decision based on craft. Humility had nothing to do with it.
ZE: Do you have anything else you’d like to say to your fans?
CD: Just to give Van Helsing vs. The Werewolf a chance. If you liked my work on Nightwing, Batman, Punisher or others then you won’t be disappointed with how much trouble I get Liesel and her new allies into.
Van Helsing vs. The Werewolf #1 hits shelves July 2017.