Last February, L.A. Banks' bestselling "Vampire Huntress Legend" series concluded with its twelfth and final book, "The Thirteenth." Fans looking for more are in luck, however, because this July, heroine Damali Richards is back to continue her fight as The Neteru against the evil spawn of The Dark Realms. Focusing on the neverending struggle between good and evil, the "Vampire Huntress Legend" series follows the novels' spoken word artist/supernatural heroine on her quest to protect the Earth from the evil of The Dark Realms. Her most dangerous and deadly enemy from those realms being, of course, vampires. "The Hidden Darkness" continues where the final book left off in a brand new adventure.
This illustrated installment of "Vampire Huntress Legends" has been in the works for some time, well before Dynamite Entertainment's acquisition of Dabel Brothers in December. "It began with a collaboration between me, the Dabel Brothers and ['Vampire Huntress' publisher] St. Martin's Press," Banks told CBR. "I had extra overflowing content, St. Martin's loved the idea of combining images with prose - so much so that they began adding images to the last few novels in that series - and the Dabel Brothers were looking for kick-ass multicultural characters. From there, the Dabels merged with Dynamite Entertainment, and voila! A project was born."
The new miniseries gives Banks the chance to tell more stories, extend the mythology of Vampire Huntress to uncharted territory and use the plethora of extra content she's had bouncing around her head. "I've always had 'between the books' short little vignettes that would crop up after I'd completed the latest book in the series," Banks told CBR News. "Scenes that were not enough to generate an entire novel but that provided interesting content - which is how I wound up with about 300 to 400 pages of original content on my website that cannot be found in the novels. Just go to vampirehuntress.com and click on 'Between the Books' and you'll see what I mean - and that was while I was still writing the series! [Laughs] That said, after I typed 'The End' on book twelve in the series, 'The Thirteenth,' stuff kept coming to me. The best place to put it, I thought, would be in comics, especially since the readers are always asking me to add new images to the website. This solved several issues at once and everybody is happy."
Banks' Vampire Huntress website not only contains heaps of extra content for fans, but also a few preview pieces of art from the upcoming Dynamite miniseries by series artist Brett Booth. "Pick me up off the floor and give me smelling salts!" said Banks. "Brett's work is awesome! I feel so blessed! Actually seeing my characters come to life has been totally awesome."
For the author, the transition to comics for her story was a natural one, considering the direction that visual media is taking when it comes to storytelling. "Everything is going visual media," she said, "with the new technology, the iPad, everything is an explosion of art. To me, it's a natural progression to take super heroes and super heroines into this format from the novels. I think there's room in the market for both, and each genre, if you will, hits a different segment of readers. Some people are very text oriented and want to immerse themselves in the pages of prose, others are very visual and want to 'see' their favorite characters on the pages or on a screen."
Although much of what Banks mentioned had to do with the practicality of bringing "Vampire Huntress Legend" to comics, she also had a few personal reasons for wanting to make the transition, as well. "I am a fan of comics," Banks revealed. "When I was a kid, my favorite male cousin was a collector, and we'd spend hours debating who would win in super hero fights. [Laughs] The only problem was that there were very few heroes or heroines who looked like me or anyone in my family. I vowed that if I ever got a chance to make my mark I'd add in everybody so we all could dream of saving the world. I love art. Period. I so respect people who can render something beautiful or horribly fantastic on the page. The first time I saw my characters drawn, I literally screamed and did the happy dance!"
Banks admitted that readers will absolutely have to already be familiar with the "Vampire Huntress" series in order to fully grasp and enjoy the comic, which is understandable considering the massive amount of mythology and story that the author has built since 2003. However, she does feel that the story is one that most readers should be able to appreciate. "The Neterus and the Guardians have fought to the finish," said Banks of the storyline. "They are in hiding and we are now in the post-apocalyptic New World Order era. Lucifer's minions have been defeated at the Armageddon, but his dark forces are still running the world and hunting those who dared to come against him. Damali and Carlos, as well as the worldwide Guardian teams, are the underground resistance still battling the dark side. Now, something unknown and resurrected from Hell is chasing the Neterus and Damali, whose pregnancy is at risk."
Though an accomplished novelist, Banks did face at least one major challenge when writing for comics: "Length!" she said, laughing. "Oh my God, I had to learn to truncate a story into the 22 page comic format when I had been used to totally freewheeling on a 400+ page canvas." Additionally, the author noted that there are major differences between working alone on a novel and together with the artist on a comic. "In novels, you as the author 'describe' all the scenes and action textually. In comics, you give the art direction and the artist renders your world," she said. "So comics is a very collaborative process, whereas novel writing is a more solo endeavor."
In addition to "Vampire Huntress Legend," L.A. Banks has a number of other series that could do very well if transitioned to comics, especially considering their supernatural skew. "Right now I'm seriously looking at transitioning the 'Crimson Moon' novels, my werewolf series at crimsonmoonnovels.com, into comics," she said. "I just signed a deal with Pocket Books to write an angels & demons type series, which I also think would ultimately translate very well visually."
However, the new miniseries from Dynamite isn't the only exciting news for "Vampire Huntress Legend" fans – the first two installments of the series have been optioned for films. Unfortunately, the author didn't really have any new information beyond the initial announcement. "The wheels of Hollywood, like the wheels of justice, grind very slowly," Banks said. "I haven't heard about next steps at this juncture, so all I can do is keep my fingers crossed that I'll have news soon."