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Vampire PA: J. C. Vaughn, Brendon & Brian Fraim

Posted by Tom Mason Categories: Reviews, Independent,

Vampire PA “I finally had the guts to ask Dee-Dee out, but only after she saw me drive a stake through the heart of a vampire.”

That’s Dean Marklin, vampire hunter in suburban Pittsburgh, the star of Vampire, PA, the new 3-issue mini-series from Moonstone. The series is created and written by J. C. Vaughn and illustrated by Brendon and Brian Fraim. Dean’s found himself in the middle of two warring factions of vampires, and one of the vampires, Jocelyn, may be trying to play him for a sucker. Dean’s already killed her once and he may have to do it again.

This “Fistful of Dollars with vampires” set-up delivers the goods, in large part because of the characters. Dean treats his nighttime vampire hunting as a job – a thing that has to be done to clean up his hometown. He goes about it with precision and good-natured humor, and drags along his friend Scuba Dave and girlfriend Dee-Dee. And, except for the wooden stakes and Super-Soakers filled with holy water, he’s got a normal life – he’d like to get married and re-open the town’s aging movie theater. He’s not some super-human guy either – he’s simply doing the best he can to rid his town of these creatures and is still learning as he goes.

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Q&A: Brendon Fraim and Brian Fraim (Vampire, PA)

Posted by Tom Mason Categories: Interviews,

Vampire PAThe comic book industry is like a city with a lot of restaurants. If you want to find something good, you need a recommendation. That’s how I discovered the most-excellent work of the twin brothers Brendon and Brian Fraim.

My friend J.C. Vaughn is not just the Executive Editor and Associate Publisher of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, he’s also a comic book writer. He pointed me in their direction because J.C., Brendon and Brian collaborated on the serialized adventure/mystery strip, Antiques, for The Antique Trader newspaper.

Their new project, Vampire, PA is debuting from Moonstone in June. J.C. wrote it, Brendon and Brian illustrated it and Mark Wheatley is coloring it. There’s a great 8-page preview of the first issue over at Vaughn’s website, Well-Defined Productions.

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Sneak Peek: Vampire, PA From Moonstone Books

Posted by Tom Mason Categories: Editorials,

Vampire PAWhen you think of Pennsylvania, do you think of (1) The Pittsburgh Steelers or the Pittsburgh Pirates? (2) Coal-Mining? (3) Vampires?

If you answered “Vampires,” then you know the realities of suburban western Pennsylvania, a target-rich environment for vampire hunters like Dean Marklin. Dean didn’t used to believe in vampires, but then he met a hot one, and a bunch of not-so-hot ones who keep trying to kill him. Life is hard enough in Vampire, PA without having to carry a wooden stake in your pocket all the time.

From to Dracula and every point in between, vampires are the new Vin Diesel and my pal J.C. Vaughn has come up with an excellent twist on the genre that’s worth a look. He’s written Zombie-Proof, the adventures of Jack Bauer in 24, some nice Shi comics with Billy Tucci, and a host of other stuff, and now he’s reunited with his Antiques co-horts, Brian Fraim and Brendon Fraim for a 3-part full-color series.

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ANTIQUES: J.C. Vaughn, Brendon Fraim & Brian Fraim

Posted by Tom Mason Categories: Reviews,

The antique business was the second-hand smoke of my childhood. Most of my family continues to be involved in it. I have relatives who can look at a chair and tell you what kind of wood it’s made from and approximately when it was made and its brand name. They can also sniff out ceramics made in Occupied Japan and spot a first edition book from 20 yard sales away. I’m not of the antiques persuasion, but I’ve absorbed a lot of it over the years.

Now my friend J.C. Vaughn (McCandless & Company, Zombie Proof, 24) has created a graphic novel adventure set in the antique world: a behind-the-scenes mystery at the world’s largest collectibles auction. Antiques: The Comic Strip collects the weekly strip he wrote for a newspaper called Antique Trader, and that was illustrated by Brendon and Brian Fraim. Antiques is an idea that J.C. had “rolling around in my head for more years than I care to remember.” His career as Executive Editor at Gemstone Publishing gave him “access to many key players in the vintage pop culture collectibles market.” Through his work with Steve Geppi and John Snyder, “I learned a tremendous amount about different niches.”

As luck would have it, his story fell into place late one night at the office and “I got on the phone and called Catherine Saunders-Watson, who was the editor at Antique Trader.” Fortunately for him, she had just come on board and was looking to turn around the publication. J.C. pitched her the idea of doing a regular comic strip with all sorts of real people and tidbits accompanied by real-sounding people set in the world of auctions. Going once, going twice…Sold! “Without anything on paper she took the idea and we were off and running,” J.C. says. He found the Fraims two days later at the Pittsburgh Comic-Con. “I had met Brendon and Brian a few years earlier through a mutual friend, John Petty, and they had done a fantastic cover for me for Overstreet’s Comic Price Review.” After J.C.’s pitch, within an hour “I had a concept sketch of the main characters. I didn’t even want to give it back to them to allow them to ink it.”

Antiques: The Comic Strip tells the story of two cousins, one British and one American, who compete over the attentions of a sexy security expert at the largest pop culture auction the world has ever seen. According to J.C., “there are all sorts of mysteries surrounding the items in the auction, the auction itself, and the cousins.” Noted Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee even makes an appearance.

Antiques: The Comic Strip is a classy 80-page hardcover with dustjacket collecting the entire first story. It’s a two-time Harvey Award nominee (once as a strip and once as a collection). J.C. and pals have packed the book with plenty of extras including the non-continuity Christmas and New Year’s strips, a character key and index, a step-by-step guide to the one character who keeps appearing in disguise throughout the story, and even one strip that has never previously appeared. And you don’t have to bid for this Antiques – copies are available right now. If you’d like an expert peek into the world of collectibles, mixed with a dash of mystery and deceit, great art by the Fraims and real-life cameos, this is the book for you.

Antiques even has its own MySpace page, so you can check out the first five strips. J.C., Brendon and Brian are also working on something else together, a nifty horror project, but I’m sworn to secrecy.
[In the interest of full disclosure, be aware that J.C. named a character in the strip after little ol’ me.]