That’s the cover image, by Afua Richardson, not to be confused for being the artist of all the rest of it, Jimmy Bott…
Half Dead was a result of us saying: “What people seem to want these days is just people fighting vampires and kicking ass… and vampires that kick ass… What if we just wrote a comic that was nothing but vampire ass-kicking, just to see what would happen and if anyone would want it?”
Everyone wanted it… sort of…
But first, we set about writing THE MOST CHARACTER-DRIVEN, THOUGHTFUL, DEEP… mainstream vampire comic with lots of kicking ass and blood and stuff that we could possibly be allowed to write.
Artist Jimmy Bott from the U.K. drew it, and it got in with an indie company named SPEAKEASY… who then went bankrupt before issue 1 happened.
Then it got picked up by another rising star, a company owned and run by a couple of African American guys called DABEL BROTHERS PRODUCTIONS, who wanted to make it the first flagship of their new creator-owned horror line. In fact, they would let us do it as a self-contained graphic novel instead of five flimsy issues. Great, we said.
Then they made a deal with MARVEL COMICS to co-publish all their comics, including ours. Great, we said.
Well, the day came. There wasn’t a lot of marketing/advertising on the part of the two companies, but it was certainly more than we would have gotten WITHOUT Marvel, so fine.
Then Marvel, um… See, before they met us, the Dabel Brothers got attention by making comics out of already-popular prose novel series, like Anita Blake and Game of Thrones. (This was before the HBO series.) And then… Marvel… said to all those authors, “Hey, why don’t you just come let us handle your properties instead? I mean, c’mon, we’re Marvel Comics!”
So those authors all said “okay” and left the Dabel Brothers.
So the Dabel/Marvel alliance immediately ended. None of the other creator-owned Dabel Brothers scary comics (remember, Half Dead was going to kick off a whole creator-owned horror imprint) ever came out… just Half Dead.
Which put us in a weird place. 7000 copies of Half Dead were printed (that’s kind of a lot for comics, showing the faith that was had in us by the Dabels). About 3800 sold right away (again, this is quite good. Heck, it was almost enough to break even, as I understand it). However, after just a little while, this was interrupted by, as I’ve said, the business relationship between the Dabel Brothers and Marvel falling apart.
Legally, Marvel couldn’t sell the book any more without the cooperation of the Dabel Brothers… who didn’t feel like cooperating about anything anymore. The Dabel Brothers could still sell it by themselves, but they were too busy trying to figure out what the heck they were going to do next with all their other properties gone.
Me, I got 13 comp copies, because I made the Dabel Brothers give me all the spare copies they had, in person, at the New York Comic Con, right before everything fell apart.
So understand, when you read Half Dead, that it is, by design, a mainstream vampire work. Everyone kept telling us “More action! Let’s have even more action!” and we were like “Sure, why not.” Except that we also tried to make it good… but it was kind of an act of subtly making it good, mostly via the dialog (the thing we had the most control over), so that the publishers wouldn’t think it was, like, arthouse horror or anything but vampire ass-kicking.
So yeah… Half Dead was basically sort of our critique of what seemed to be capable of selling, around 2005 or so… and, technically, it got (co-)published by Marvel Comics.
And that is the story of Half Dead.
PRAISE FOR HALF DEAD:
“Intelligently written and well-drawn, this book promises opportunities not only for fast-paced entertainment, but also a darker ironic subtext to the ‘long war’ of the 21st century.” –Jamie Delano (writer, DC Comics’ Animal Man, Hellblazer)
“Half Dead is a cool story with dynamic characters. The Coopers use vampires to tell a very modern story about terrorism, betrayal, and fear and hatred overwhelming the rights of the individual . . . It’s a good reminder that there isn’t always a good and bad guy; sometimes it’s a bad and a worse guy.”
–Dan Grendell, Ain’t It Cool News
“Half Dead is clever, compelling and personal – with a unique narrative and unbelievable images that will haunt you. If Luc Besson and Stephen King had children, Half Dead would be their beautiful, twisted offspring.”
–David Gallaher, writer, DC Comics’ High Moon