Raising the Stakes for Crime Comics - An Interview with ROB HART, ALEX SEGURA, & JOE EISMA
Comic Book Yeti contributor Ty is back with 3 interviews for the price of 1! Ty welcomed Rob Hart, Alex Segura, and Joe Eisma into the Yeti Cave to discuss their ComiXology Originals series Blood Oath, their inspiration for it, the collaborative process, and adding vampires to an already bloody period of history.
COMIC BOOK YETI: Thank you, Rob Hart, Alex Segura, and Joe Eisma for joining me for this interview, featuring your new project Blood Oath! This was a fantastic read, which features vampires, gangs, quite a bit of action, and the hiding of certain liquids during the Prohibitionary time period on the coastal side of New York. What made you all really excited to create a story such as Blood Oath?
ALEX SEGURA: I think, for me, it was the chance to not only collaborate with Rob, Joe, Heather, and the entire team - but to blend some of the things I love in fiction, namely organized crime stories and vampires. It felt like such a natural fit, that once we started rolling with it the ideas came fast.
ROB HART: I’ve always wanted to write comics, and this was a chance for me to learn from a bunch of folks who really know what they’re doing. Plus this is just a fun story with the potential for some incredible visuals.
JOE EISMA: I came into this project a little later after Rob and Alex had done some development on it, and I was super stoked to be involved. They’d really crafted an exciting tale. I’ve never done a story set in this time period, and I always enjoy drawing horror, so it was a perfect match.
CBY: During this time, the Volstead Act had already taken effect, triggering over a decade of mob-rule in Staten Island as well as the surrounding areas. When creating this book, did you reference any events or people in history to give light to certain characters and/or events within your story?
AS: I’d read about the era pretty heavily over the last few years so I felt like I knew it well enough to riff on it - once we thought of the vampires as their own gang, trying to gain purchase while the other gangs of New York carve up the city...it all fit pretty easily into history. And those kinds of stories fascinate me – creating fiction out of the existing history that is often stranger than fiction itself.
RH: Exactly what Alex said. We’re crime fiction writers by trade so we have a level of comfort writing about this stuff. Throwing vampires into the mix was certainly a way to make it a little more exciting.
CBY: In reading through the first issue of Blood Oath, it’s easy to notice how well the art helps amplify the writing. Also, it’s easy for the reader to notice the smooth flow and chemistry between the three of you throughout the first issue. Which past projects do you credit for preparing you to create such a fun, action-packed book like Blood Oath?
AS: I’ve known artist Joe Eisma for a long time - he handled art chores for The Archies, which I co-wrote with Matthew Rosenberg, and that was a fun romp through music history. Joe’s so versatile and talented that I knew he’d be able to adapt to whatever we threw at him, and I think he’s probably the one artist I’ve worked with the most in comics. He’s a pro and great at pacing and designing a page. I really love how his line art blended with colorist Hilary Jenkins’ painterly palette – adding a depth and nuance to Joe’s art that felt new and a perfect fit for the book we were writing.
RH: Me and Alex have worked together before, and we’re both former journalists, so we know how to collaborate, and how the story has to win in the end. I’m used to working with other people but then working with a full team like this – it felt like a natural extension of that. It was so cool for me and Alex to do our part, and then to hand it off to Joe to see what kind of spin he would put on it.
JE: As Alex said, we go way back! We already have a working rhythm, and Rob fit right in with our collaborating style. Even though the work Alex and I had done together at Archie was completely different, tonally, there were still some stylistic techniques that we carried over into Blood Oath. In particular, I love doing montage pages with Alex – that was something we’d started with The Archies, and we used it here to great effect.
CBY: The first issue of Blood Oath creates the need to read past issue one, simply due to how well the characters and events were designed and carried out. What about Blood Oath sets it apart from other vampire-centric titles of recent and old?
AS: I think, most importantly, we treat the vamps like monsters. Could they be regal? Could they be conniving? Could they be intelligent? Sure. But they are monsters and they can really do some damage. These vampires don’t sparkle.
JE: It really comes down to our characters, I think. That’s what attracted me to the pitch for this, and in the final product, our characters are what makes this story stand out from your standard vampire tale.
CBY: We find out in Blood Oath that all gangs aren’t always what we expect them to be. Was it easy for all three of you to agree on including vampires within this book?
AS: I forget which of us came up with it. But yeah, once the idea was on the table, it was a given that it’d be the heart of the story.
RH: Once it clicked, it clicked.
CBY: To follow up on the prior question, can you disclose whether there will be monsters other than vampires within this story?
AS: Not out of the gate – but it’s something we have considered exploring in future arcs, which we’ve mapped out in some detail!
RH: That’s the fun part about this: once you introduce something like vampires, the sky’s the limit.
JE: I’m always down to draw more twisted and monstrous beings!
CBY: When it comes to vampires alone, what motivated you to create them the way you did within Blood Oath?
RH: We definitely tried to tweak the mythology a little – we added some fun elements to create our own version of vampire lore. Which is the best way to keep this interesting; why do it the same way as everyone else?
JE: I’m definitely of the ‘vampires are horrific and not pretty’ persuasion, and the freedom to depict them as such is one of the things that made this book so enjoyable to draw. If we get to do more volumes, I can’t wait to expand upon them.
CBY: The art in Blood Oath really seems to cater to the time period. Were there any preferences made by the writers and/or references used by Joe to give the art that particular look?
JE: Alex and Rob gave me some stylistic touchstones to bear in mind, which were immensely helpful. I know Peaky Blinders and Boardwalk Empire were suggested. I definitely did a deep dive in researching fashion and vehicular designs of the era. One facet I particularly enjoyed was designing everyone’s hairstyles–something about that time resulted in some very unique and interesting styles.
CBY: Are the three of you working on any other projects currently and are you able to disclose any future works that aren’t quite off the ground yet?
AS: Joe, Rob and I are actively brainstorming our next thing - which will hopefully be a Blood Oath sequel, but could also be anything, really. They’re both super-easy to work with. In terms of other work, we launched The Black Ghost’s second season at the same time as Blood Oath, and I also just announced I’m writing an Araña/Spider-Man 2099 novel for Marvel, and a short White Tiger story in Marvel’s Voices: Comunidades one-shot hitting in late September. I have a Superman short story in the Superman: Kal-El Returns #1 Special hitting in November from DC Comics as well. My Scarlet Sisters one-shot from Dynamite is hitting next month and I’m finishing up The Rejects for Interpop with co-writer Chantelle Aimée Osman. And plugging away on The Awakened for Zestworld and putting the finishing touches on The Dusk Kickstarter.
RH: I’ve got a couple of things I’m working on… none of which I can talk about at the moment! Hopefully soon…
JE: Alex, Rob and I have discussed a couple of ideas, one of which being more Blood Oath–so we’ll see what happens there. I’ve also got a story in Star Trek #400 coming up written by Wil Wheaton, as well as a couple of new series for 2023 that I can’t reveal just yet.
CBY: Where can readers find you online?
AS: My website, alexsegura.com, or on Twitter at @alex_segura.
RH: I’m at robwhart.com, and on Twitter at @robwhart.
JE: I’m across the socials at @supajoe
CBY: I really appreciate your exquisite work in Blood Oath #1. Being someone that isn’t a fan of reading about vampires, this book really interested me and made me want to read more! I wish you all so much luck with this project and hope that all other readers feel the same way! Blood Oath will be available to read as a Comixology Original on Comixology.com and the Comixology smartphone application on August 30th!
AS: Thanks for having us!