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The latest title from Vault Comics is an ambitious historical epic — and, according to its creators, “a blood-drenched love letter to samurai fiction.” Audiences might think they know what to expect from the upstart independent publisher, but The Devil’s Red Bride is likely to raise more than a few eyebrows when it debuts this fall.
According to artist and co-creator John Bivens, the series is a “samurai-revenge-supernatural-grindhouse-comic.” Bivens added, jokingly, “I’m not sure if that is a new genre, but I like to think it’s one we haven’t seen that often.”
Sebastian Girner, Biven’s co-creator and series writer, added, “I’ve never been more excited — and disturbed — to write a story as I have this one. Into it flowed a lifetime of my fascination with revenge-as-motivation, of Samurai and Japanese history in general, and sprinklings of dark fantasy and supernatural horror to round out what I hope to be a full comics five-course.”
As might be expected, both are bringing a great deal of research to the project, set in the Sengoku Jidai era of Japanese history, but there’s more going into Red Bride than simply historical accuracy. “Thematically I owe a great debt to Japanese artist, comic, and filmmakers like Masaki Kobayashi [Samurai Rebellion], Kaneto Shindo [Onibaba] and especially the manga of Sanpei Shirato [The Legend of Kamui, Ninja Bugeicho, Sasuke, and countless others] who all created works of samurai fiction laying bare the brutality of these feudal systems, and with a sympathetic — if merciless — eye towards the people who would struggle to resist them, mostly in vain, while retaining their own humanity,” Girner said.
Bivens’ inspirations are perhaps more unexpected. “The movies I think of when drawing these pages are Oni Baba, El Mariachi, and Evil Dead 2,” he explained. “The soundtrack playing in my background is a mix of hard-core noise and Japanese ’70s funk. Moments in the story remind me of reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark for the first time.”
Girner, known for Shirtless Bear-Fighter and Scales and Scoundrels at Image Comics, summed up the appeal of the series succinctly: “It’s grim, it’s bleak, it’s pretty damn bloody. And we hope you enjoy it!”
The Devil’s Red Bride launches this October. Keep reading for a preview of artwork from the first issue, as well as both Bivens’ and artist Nathan Gooden’s covers for the issue.