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Horror comics are becoming more and more popular, and Zombie Love Studios is leading the charge. Cherry the Geek TV spoke with writer Rodney Barnes and artist Jason Shawn Alexander at San Diego Comic Con about their work on two popular titles–both dealing with vampires–Killadelphia and Blacula:Return of the King.

Barnes said he started the independent Zombie Love Studios so he could have control. “I wanted to be able to come with an idea…and do it–not have to ask for permission, be able to do it in a specific way, work with people I wanted to work with–just self-expression,” he said. “When you work for other publishers there are other hands that are involved, and the freedom of being able to do it the way that you want it is a great thing.”

One of the duo’s big titles is the Eisner-nominated Killadelphia from Image Comics. That series follows Jimmy, a small-town beat cop who returns home to bury his murdered father, Philadelphia detective James Sangster Sr. What he doesn’t anticipate is digging up a mystery that leads him down a path of horrors–ultimately to vampires. Jimmy has to stop the long-thought dead president John Adams from building an undead army and staging a bloody new American revolution.

The story also deals with corruption, poverty, unemployment, and brutality and Barnes says “the book is about a vampire apocalyptic scenario on the the streets of Philadelphia with people who have typically fallen through the cracks, and Jason and I have great synergy doing that type of thing.”

Alexander spoke about his symbiotic working relationship with Barnes. “As different as we are, creatively I don’t think I’ve found a match this strong in my twenty years of comics. When he writes scripts, I want to convey those images. We can disagree on almost anything in life, but when we come together to make comics, everything just flows and comes together,” he said.

One of their other collaborations is Blacula:Return of the King, a modern-approach sequel to the 1970s blaxploitation film.

“I saw the film as a kid and I loved it because I hadn’t ever seen people of color at the center of a horror narrative before,” Barnes said. “As I got older, I saw some of the more problematic elements within the budget and what blaxploitation was, and secretly hoped that one day if I became a writer, I would be able to update the story in such a way where I could fill in those holes while still maintaining the parts of the movie that i loved. I truly was a big fan of the late, great actor William Marshall, who played Prince Mamuwalde, aka Blacula, and I really just wanted to do it as an homage to him, the nature of the genre and the time it was set in, and bring it into a modern era.”

Alexander commented on his illustrations for Blacula:Return of the King. “It’s been a crazy balance because we wanted to be contemporary, but because the way the story was, we weren’t going to update him. We needed it to be a sequel to the film. So keeping a very classic, very royal Mamuwalde throughout this story was one of the things I was very conscious about all the way through. Honestly, when you see that movie and you see what a prick Dracula is, it’s so good to be able to do a story where it’s Blacula vs. Dracula and you finally get to see some comeuppance.”

You can watch the full interview with Barnes and Alexander by clicking on the link below:

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