Thomas E. Sniegoski and Jeannine Acheson took time to be interviewed about their work on Vampiverse. I was privileged to discover the process that went into writing this comic, and the impact of Vampirella on them as creators and as a character. Without further ado, let’s jump right in!
1. You both have dabbled between the worlds of novels and comics. How did you both make that transition from one literary medium to the other? And how did that lead you both to Vampirella?
Jeannine: I’m actually quite new to both worlds! I’m a former middle school English teacher, and since my early retirement in 2021, I’ve been writing with Tom. We started by writing our first novel (still in development!) during the pandemic, and that was an incredible experience for me. Tom introduced me to the comic world by asking if I wanted to write the Vampirella Valentine’s Day special with him, and I figured that since the novel had gone so well, I might as well give comics a try, too!
Tom: Actually, my writing career started in comics. I worked for quite a few of the smaller, independent comic companies before getting work with the Big Two. From there, it was just a matter of time before I dipped my toes in the book writing pond. Since then I’ve traveled between both mediums with equal ease. Vampirella was my first major title when it was still being published by Harris Comics. As you can see, she and I have a long history.
2. When prepping for writing Vampiverse, the multiversal adventure of Vampirella and her multiversal counterparts, what was the process preparing and pitching the concept for this book to come into existence?
Tom: It was right around the time of the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse when my friend and other collaborator, Christopher Golden, suggested that something like that, using Vampirella, could really be fun. I agreed and pitched Nick Barrucci, President of Dynamite Comics on the idea. After getting Nick’s approval, Jeannine and I began the process of coming up with our epic storyline, as well as coming up with the kinds of Vampirellas we would see throughout the fabric of reality.
3. What are the challenges of writing a book collaboratively together? How do you come to agreement with specific story elements? And how did you both manage juggling the multiple characters that appear throughout this book?
Jeannine: Since I’m a newbie when it comes to comic writing, everything is a challenge! But Tom really has been my “Obi Wan” throughout the whole process – he’s got me on a regimen of monthly comic reads that help me see what great comic writing looks like, and he’s incredibly patient when we are plotting, laying out, and scripting our books. He encourages me to make mistakes and never laughs at me when I skip a step or panic and freeze up! We readily agree on story elements because he’s got so much experience in the field that it’d be ridiculous for me to think I know better.
Tom: Jeannine is making it sound as though I’m doing all the work, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. She and I sit and bat around ideas until we come up with something that seems to work, or is so outrageously crazy that we just need to do it. Even though the characters that we were coming up with for Vampiverse are all Vampirellas, each one has unique personality traits that set them apart from each other.
4. You both are longtime Vampirella fans. How did you both get exposed to this character and what story got you hooked on the character since then?
Jeannine: I actually wasn’t familiar with Vampirella until Tom introduced me to his run on the book in the ‘90s at Harris Comics, but it was his most recent Vampirella run – the 25th anniversary series at Dynamite Comics – that really got me interested in the character.
Tom: I’ve been a long-time fan going back as far as the Warren black and white magazines, so getting a chance to write her adventures was really something to me. I’d say that the stories written by Archie Goodwin in the character’s original run were probably my favorites. I used those as a kind of springboard to the stories that I would eventually write.
5. Vampiverse is a celebration of Vampirella and her legacy as a pop culture character. What did you both realize when working on this title? What elements of Vampirella have enhanced your idea of the character?
Tom: I realized that I really like writing the character and that I plan on continuing to write her adventures as long as they’ll have me.
Jeannine: I think the thing that I realized was how much of a part of pop culture Vampirella really is. Tom and I were at a comic book signing this past fall, and a gentleman came in who was a fan of the original Warren magazine run. He told us how he had made a special trip from a neighboring state to the signing just to get copies of the new book. He was just so excited to see that Vampirella was back!
6. Is there any iteration of Vampirella from the multiverse that you both had fun exploring? Will there be any characters that you both plan to go back to and write for?
Jeannine: That’s like asking a parent which kid is her favorite! I think I speak for Tom, too, when I say that all of the Vampirellas from our multiverse are the best. We had so much fun getting to know all of them.
Tom: Honestly, we could do continuing stories on just about every one of the Vampirellas we created for the series, but there are a few that stand out who you might be seeing more of in the not too distant future.
7. Is there any other characters that you both wish made it into the book but couldn’t incorporate?
Jeannine: Because we only had six issues to tell our story, there were quite a few iterations of Vampirella that didn’t make it into the series, and believe it or not, more Vampis keep making themselves known to us still! We’re hoping that another trip to the Vampiverse is in our future.
Tom: SO many Vampirellas, SO little time.
8. Given that this book isn’t just a celebration of Vampirella, but a tribute to one of Vampirella’s creators, Trina Robbins who has a central role within this mini series event. Was there any correspondence with Trina Robbins? And what was the decision that this was the book to incorporate and pay respects to an important figure within the comics medium and pop culture?
Jeannine & Tom: Trina Forrest was roughly based on an amalgam of the two original creators of Vampirella, Trina Robbins, and Forrest Ackerman. And while this character is a nod to those who created this iconic sister of Draculon, we think of our book as more a celebration of the creative process as a whole.
9. Is there any characters that you’d both like to tackle within the publisher, and is there any characters that you’d like to tackle outside of Dynamite?
Jeannine: Good question! Tom and I talked a while back about maybe doing something with Red Sonja – that would be really fun, I think. As of right now, though, I’m really happy playing in the Vampirella universe and focusing on becoming a better comic book writer.
Tom: Red Sonja would be pretty fun . . . bet Jeannine and I could put an interesting spin on her. I’d like to play with some of Dynamite’s pulp characters as well. Outside of Dynamite? Hmmmm. I’ve been a comic book reader for so long, I’d like to take a crack at any of the major characters from the Big Two . . . I’d LOVE to work on one of the Bat books, or maybe a revival of the Creeper!
10. What projects are in the pipeline that your readers should keep an eye out for to pick up?
Tom & Jeannine: We are really busy! We’re currently writing Dynamite’s new Pantha series, which we are super excited about, and we are discussing some spin-offs from the Vampiverse. We also have a creator-owned project that’s picking up some traction, so we’re very much looking forward to seeing what happens with that.