Billy Martin and Brent Allen talk Vitriol!
Tuesday, Feb 19th, 2013
One of the best perks of working for IDW is access to comic books before they hit the stores! One such title, Vitriol the Hunter created by Billy Martin of Good Charlotte fame and co-written with Brent Allen, has all of us at IDW looking over our shoulders for evil vampires; but have no fear, readers, Vitriol is here to protect us from what goes bump in the night, be it vampires of other terrible terrors. Billy Martin and Brent Allen were kind enough to answer some of our questions; we talk influences, music, and what kind of upcoming adversaries Vitriol will brutally massacre! You definitely don't want to miss this!
Who is Vitriol, and what drives him in his quest to vanquish the undead?
BILLY: Vitriol is a product of his father's bad choices. He feels responsible for the city falling victim to the supernatural. His father headed the government organization that was responsible for capturing the creatures, testing on them and eventually releasing them into the city. He wants to make good on his family name and make up for his father's greedy choices, which left him with no family and a city in shambles.
BRENT: Vitriol is a creation of his surroundings. He has nothing in his life except for one single friend. Due to the terrible things that his father has done to Basilika, Vitriol now sees himself as a bit of an outcast and it has forced his hand at fighting for some form of public acceptance. He figures if he wipes out the vampire threat he can get revenge for the death of his family, restore his name and save the one person he cares about.
What was the relationship between Vitriol and his Father? Why does Vitriol feel so personally responsible for his Father's failures?
BILLY: As a child Vitriol looked up to his father, knew nothing but kindness from him. In his early teen's Vitriol's father was put in charge of a team called the Crytpic Mythos Unit and their job was to travel the world capturing supernatural creatures for govt. research. Lord Barthus was captured and spent a lot of time getting into Vitriol's dads head and convinced him if he set him free they could rule the city together. Vitriol's dad let Barthus go out of his greed for power and watched Barthus destroy his way into the city. Barthus never intended on keeping Vitriol's father alive after the years of testing on him. He went to their home and slaughtered Vitriol's family. Vitriol lost his family and the city is falling apart and everyone knows why. So he feels it's his responsibility to make good for the Vitriol family name.
BRENT: Vitriol's family was much like any other normal family. They were close to each other and loved each other deeply, however, they were never aware of the secret "job" that Vitriol's father was working on. When his father's creatures took over the city and his mother and brother were killed, Vitriol couldn't help but grow a hatred for his father. He looks at the monsters stalking Basilika's streets as remnants of his father and the greed that split his family and has killed many of the citizens of Basilika. Vitriol wants to rid the world of that greed and the stigma that has polluted his name. Vitriol looks at himself as though he is guilty by association when it comes to his father's experiments. He wants to eradicate Basilika of any of those wrongdoings so he can bring light to his family's name.
How long has the concept of Vitriol The Hunter been around, and what are some of the influences that helped you create it?
BILLY: The original concept for Vitriol was started in 2008 when I started writing ideas down to design a video game. The game Devil May Cry was a big influence on me. I created Vitriol, originally named Valiant The Hunter, and started designing his weapons and his enemies and the environments he would exist in. I had a bunch of sketches and random ideas in my laptop. Brent and I have been writing scripts and other projects for years and I mentioned the idea of Vitriol and said why don't we try it as a comic book? So from there Brent really dove into the backstory of Vitriol and took my ideas and made a cohesive story line. We created a supporting cast and turned it into a cool story. Influence wise, The Crow's sort of gloomy Goth-ness was a big one. Hellboy's use of supernatural mythos has always appealed to me. Batman and Crimson books were influences as well.
The idea of Vitriol has been around for almost 5 years now. I remember seeing a sketch Billy had done and I asked him what it was. He told me it was an idea for a video game he wanted to create. That idea ended up becoming the very beginning of Vitriol. I'm a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft and wanted to try to produce a claustrophobic feel to Basilika like he has done in some of his stories. This feeling of being compressed along with Billy's art has really created a neat dynamic.
How different is Vitriol from your initial concept in terms of character and design?
BRENT: We always knew that Vitriol was going to be a dark character with many flaws. We wanted to make him as human as possible while also giving him an ability or "power" that is beyond human - something that mortals can look up to. We've gone through a few different designs when it comes to his personality. At some points he was really badass and had quite a few one-liners but that didn't seem to fit the dark past that haunts him. We also didn't want the atmosphere around him to feel dreary and depressed so we carefully crafted his persona into a thin area between being a badass and somebody who has gone through a lot and might not have the best self-esteem. So for the most part he is the character that we originally had in mind, we just had to be very careful with the road that we gave him to get to the person he is now.
BILLY: He is actually almost identical. His look is the same, I have just developed as an artist so I've gotten a lot more comfortable drawing him. Wish I had a better answer, but that's the truth! Haha!
It's been announced that there is a soundtrack that will be included as a free download found within the comic; what went into producing the soundtrack, and how is it different from your previous music endeavors?
BILLY: Well musically it couldn't be more different than what people are used to hearing me do with Good Charlotte. I started remixing and producing for other artists under the name Villain, purely because I wanted people to give it a fresh open listen with out associating it to my band. When you are in a band everything you do is a compromise, you are 5 guys that are all responsible for your part of the song. With this I could create everything all by myself. Everything is programmed aside from some live guitars and bass. I did all the drums, keys, strings, sound effects, etc. I wanted to find a way to tie my love of music and art together and creating a soundtrack to my book seemed like the perfect opportunity. I also wanted the soundtrack to be able to play like an album vs. a bunch of abstract moody sounds. So it's very influenced by the current EDM scene mixed with my love of traditional movie scores. I tried to imagine scenes from the book as movies in my head and think what would the music sound like there. The whole process was really liberating as a musician, I've had years of ideas recorded that just wouldn't make sense for my band, and I finally get to share them now.
Vitriol is a bit of a loner; what's behind the animosity he displays for those trying to help him?
BILLY: Vitriol is a loner by choice because he doesn't want to repeat his father's mistakes. His father let his work consume him and in the end it dragged his family down with him. Vitriol knows anyone he is close to is in danger. He was lucky enough to be saved by his neighbors as a kid, Danion being the only one still alive. So she is literally his only friend or care in the world. But chooses to keep up the hard exterior so he can stay focused on his mission. He sees the defense initiative as a nuisance because they aren't as emotionally invested in this as he is and can't seem to stop the vampires. He feels like it's his responsibility to take it all on his back alone.
BRENT: I think Vitriol looks to be a loner because he is scared to let himself get close to anyone. Ever since he was a child his entire existence has been surrounded by death and that has caused him to put up a wall when it comes to building relationships. Danion is the only person that he cares about and I think he believes that if he doesn't get close to her then she won't die, however, it's pretty easy to see that he cares a ton for her.
What is unique about Basilika City? Who are the citizens and how are their lives affected by the presence of vampires?
BILLY: There is a lot of backstory that we haven't been able to get into in this first story arc. First of all, the name is a hybrid of the Basilica(religion) and the Basilisk(a serpent supernatural creature). The town has lost all forms of religion because the vampires had been targeting their biggest threats. People were holding on to the idea of church and crosses as safety, so Korbius infiltrated the church system before being turned to get the vampires one step closer to domination. Hence, why he wears a Cardinal outfit. The vampires at this point are forcing the citizens into fear by stripping them of all things that keep vampires away. At this point, the city is safe during the day and people try to maintain a normal life. Although there is a strict curfew when the sun goes down, some people don't listen. In this arc Barthus is obsessed with taking over the daytime and devises a plan to create day soldiers to let the citizens know that no time is safe.
BRENT: Basilika is unique because it is the center of where the vampire uprising began, yet it is the only city that is mentioned at all in the story. The citizens literally have nothing to hold on to except for a few hours of daylight. Their families and friends are all dying and their faith has literally been ripped from them. They have nothing, yet they still strive to survive and live on day to day. Perhaps being around such a negative environment has hardened their emotions to where they live day to day and don't look at life in binoculars. I think they are literally relieved they are still alive each morning when they open their eyes.
BILLY: The day soldiers that Barthus creates are Werewolves; although they aren't the typical full moon type. It's another one of the govt. experiments where they created a serum to turn any human into a wolf soldier whenever they need it. In this arc that's all you see, but in future stories we have written we get into some of the other creatures that were involved with the experiments. I guess the werewolf thing is a twist on it's own. We researched Vampires and had to pick and choose which laws applied to ours because there are so many different styles. Such as, we omitted the rule to being "invited in" because that would stop A LOT of the action.
BRENT: I think the future of Vitriol will show quite a few classic monsters. What makes our monsters so much fun is we have some classic villains that we created with a scientific twist. Other stories have monsters battling it out, but those monsters are never explained, it's just like they are a natural occurrence in that world. So far, the monsters in Vitriol aren't natural to our universe. There is scientific proof explaining where they come from. This is where the future of Vitriol gets really exciting!
There you have it folks! Vitriol The Hunter will be in stores and available on-line tomorrow, February 20th. Pick up your copy, and be sure to visit Billy Martin's website www.bloodzilla.com and follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/theBillyMartin and Facebook at Facebook.com/TheBillyMartin and check back at www.idwpublishing.com for more interviews, previews, and content from your favorite comics!