Monday, February 13, 2012

Hook, Line & Sinker

If you've come looking for my Hook, Line & Sinker blogfest entry, it's over at my main blog, Forsaken Stars.

See you there and happy blogging!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The DigiCon September 10th-11th

Hey, gang, I'll be doing The DigiCon the evenings of Saturday, September 10th and Sunday, September 11th from 10pm on. Pop online and say hi or stay for awhile and chat!

What is The DigiCon?

The DigiCon is the first dedicated virtual comic con featuring web and print comic creators, writers and artists. DigiCon brings the Con to you with live video chat, panels, commissions, free sketches and a comics mega store with prints, shirts, books, original art, back issues and more!

How did The DigiCon start?

DigiCon is the brain child of Ryan Fisher of Gin and Comics and Casey Curtis. "We couldn’t make it to San Diego Comic Con this year and neither could a lot of you. We started to realize that there were creators and fans who would never get to attend a con because of where they lived and honestly, that sucks. We’re lucky enough to live in Seattle, home to Emerald City Comic Con, a mecca of geekery and we want others to be able to experience (at least in a small way) the fun of attending Comic Con; meeting creators, sitting in on panels, buying merch. And that’s the experience we’re striving to provide here. September 10-11th, 2011 marks our first full-scale Con and we’re stoked to see where it takes us. We hope you’ll be there!"

And I hope you'll be there too! There was a trial run in July, and I met some cool folks during the chats and got to see the processes of a few of the creators and the possible birth of a new webcomic! So I encourage you to come on down, but before you do that, pass the word along and bring friends! Maybe host a DigiCon party at your place and have everyone bring their laptops, ipads or iphones, LAN-style!

The fun inclueds:

  • Panels

  • Videostreams

  • Sketches

  • Commissions

  • A Comic Megastore

  • And much more!

There are more than twenty creators scheduled for the event so far, including Jeff Courtier of Horde of Neurons, Ran Brown of the end, Dawn Griffin of Zorphbert and Fred, Harrison Pious of my little world and Hushicho of Incubus Tales. Casey Curtis noted on G+ that "The applications are flying in," so more creators are being added to the schedule daily so check back often.

If you're a writer, artist or merchant and would like to join DigiCon, click here to register.

To get the latest updates on The DigiCon, follow them on twitter @digicontweets!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Forsaken Stars at Comic Genesis Reviewed!

So Rob O'Brien, creator of Sh!t Happens R decided to start a webcomic review thread at the Comic Genesis forums. Being my first official review, I asked him if I could link or repost this and he graciously allowed me to repost wherever I liked. Since he reviewed FS on Comic Genesis, I thought it would make the most sense to repost it here at my In Progress Blog, which serves as the blog for FS at Comic Genesis. Anyhow, without further ado, here it is:

Re: Webcomic Above You VI - Return of the Comics

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:25 am

Before I get into the review I'd like to mention that I wrote this review while reading the comic so there is a mix of initial reactions and afterthoughts.

Okay here goes...

Review of Forsaken Stars

- First Thoughts -
First thing one sees when starting on the comic (after something dark and mysterious busts out of a coffin) is the lead character in the shower, now I like non-gratuitous fan-service (and there's plenty here) as much as the next person so this isn't a problem for me however I do think that your Web14 should be above the comic - perhaps on the banner - rather than below it where honestly most people won't scroll to and by the time they've seen the warning it's too late anyway.
Just a little nit-pick here but I'm curious as to why on this page she went past the t-shirt for the little singlet instead? Most girls would grab the quick cover-up of the t-shirt instead in that kind of situation I think.

- The Art -
First impressions are of a callback to the pulp-sci-fi comics of the 50s - and I like it, there's a certain charm to the art that's missing from a lot of modern comic styles - but with just enough tweeks to make in feel new.

The other big first impression is that the blacks just aren't black enough, they're a washed out gray that doesn't quite blend properly with the background fills or the on-page text. I have similar problems with my comic and would suggest you adjust the levels a bit in whatever editing program you use - since you don't have to deal with colour it will be an easy task.
But as it stands the gray linework on mostly white pages makes it difficult to look at for long periods and honestly gets a little boring after a while, which is a big shame because the artwork itself is very well done. The occasional touch of colour does a wonder.

The character designs are nicely done and usually fairly consistent, even if sometimes the facial expressions don't match the mood.
Unfortunately at times Sera's body looks a little masculine due to the lack of hips, even small/athletic women will have more of a curve to them so this is something you might like to look at, however I do appreciate the small boobs (especially in a genre where big is the standard).
The assortment of different beings that make up the council are an impressive array, to be honest I would like to see more of them outside of the council environment but I'll talk about that later on, so the appearance of more aliens later on was a nice treat.
The only character design I have problems with is Azzi, a monster like him should be menacing - and I think you've tried to write him that way - but I just can't look at him and take him seriously. And it just gets worse as the story goes on, he becomes almost muppet-like.

Also something I noticed is that occasionally in long shots like the last frames here the simplified character design clashes with the detail of the rest of the page, including the background of the same frames.

Your action sequences are reasonably well drawn (better than mine that's for sure) but on occasions there is a lack of power and knowledge of fight bio-mechanics, for instance in the page I linked Azzi's arm would be more bent - plus as a tip from a former martial artist his long talons would make an effective fist impossible, I'd suggest a strike with the elbow or heel/blade of the hand.
The space-battles on the other hand are beautiful - I could see full colour wallpaper of that being very popular.

Last word on the art - I'm not sure whether your shading is done with pencil or ink but (aside from a few place where it looks rushed) it works, there's a loose flowyness to most of the linework that I find appealing - I find I lose a lot of the looseness in my art when I ink so kudos to you.

- Story -
I hate to say this - and I'll admit it comes mostly from personal bias - but I did not enjoy the story that much.
Which was a pity because I really like the artwork and the pulp-sci-fi type world - I liked just looking at the pages - I've actually been looking forward to checking out you comic for a while so I was disappointed to not like what I found

I'm not into proselytizing or theological opinioning - which is how Forsaken Stars often reads - and there are many points in the first two chapters (particularly with the council) that this occurs and it became hard to keep reading. In fact the overwhelming theological overtones to the story are a major turn-off.
However, for what it is, it is well enough written and there is definitely an audience out there for it. However I think you've made the opposite mistake to what I myself did - information vomit as opposed to no info - there is just too much trying to be said early on and it's about things that should be the undertone of the story instead of feeling like it is the story itself.
Big themes need to be treated delicately in a medium such as webcomics, where the storytelling is ongoing, unlike books or movies you can't edit the finished product for balance before release.

Now I said it was mostly personal bias, the other problem is that the characters just aren't that likeable, which becomes a bigger problem as it becomes apparent that Azzi's story is one of redemption, for the story to work you need to care about the characters and by the time more of their back-stories come out it takes some effort to care.
The early characterization of Sera makes her seem little more than a spoilt teenager than the captain of a ship that runs less-than-legal missions - a character should be shaped by their experiences - and even though this improves as the story goes on there are still moments where she comes across as a Hollywood cliche character.
In general the characterization improves as the story goes, they're still not quite likable enough - and this has nothing to do with niceness, bastard characters can still be likable - but they're becoming more entertaining which is a step in the right direction.

That being said I found the chapters after their escape from Ohmworld far more enjoyable - even if the light-hearted turn it takes is a bit jarring with the earlier stuff - with those beautiful space-battle scenes, this is where I started paying full attention again.
The addition of Fabius has me intrigued. As does the sudden crispness of the writing - so I certainly won't be giving up on the story (consider it bookmarked & linked) - I hope that you keep it up as it is flowing much better now.

- Final Thoughts -
There is a lot of promise in Forsaken Stars - the artwork alone is worth giving it a try.
Almost all of the problems I had were in the first three chapters, I think Forsaken Stars suffers from the same problem that mine does which is a weak beginning - in your case it's due to lumpy dialogue, the beginning is a real hard slog to get through - but there is something really promising building up in there. So although I didn't enjoy the read through I do have hopes for where it is going.

Also don't forget to darken those blacks.

A final nit-pick, the bunch of fan-art at christmas and other places in the middle of the story kind of ruins the flow, it would be best to archive it or move it to between chapters where a reader can just skip over it.

Keep at it dude.

Last edited by RobboAKAscooby on Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Comic Creators Alliance to fight Human Trafficking Fund Drive Now LIVE

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

Tuesday, January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. In honor of the event, I teamed up with the Comic Creator’s Alliance–a group of over 100 comic book creators (both web and print!) who volunteered our artistic talents to raise money and awareness for this cause. You may not know it, but there are currently 27 million enslaved people worldwide- more than double the number of enslaved Africans during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. UNICEF estimates that 1.2 million children every year are sold into slavery, most of it sexual. The US Department of Justice estimates 16,000 victims of human trafficking are brought into the United States every year. Unlike slavery in the 19th century, what is happening today is happening in secret. It won’t end until awareness is raised, and people like you and me take a stand.

So here’s what we did: each creator contributed an original drawing of one of our own female characters, and combined them into a single image! This year's theme was "The Brady Bunch." There is so much going on in this image--you can look at the wallpaper for a long time and still find something new! All of the artists included in the drive are amazing and some of the fan favorites are: Scott Sava (The Dreamland Chronicles), Adam Hughes (Star Wars, Wonder Woman), Sarah Ellerton (Inverloch), Bryan Glass & Victor Santos (Mice Templar), Beau Smith (Wynonna Earp: The Yeti Wars), Billy Tucci (Shi), Mookie (Dominic Deegan), Crystal Yates (Earthsong), Lora Innes (The Dreamer), Thom Zahler (Love and Capes), and Alison Action (Bear Nuts). View the full listing of contributors here:

Donate today to download this unique, once-in-a-lifetime wallpaper. Or, this year you can buy a print! The Donations Drive will last for two weeks, from January 11th – 24th. All proceeds will be split evenly between Love 146 and Gracehaven House- two organizations working on rehabilitation of victims and prevention of this crime.

To learn more about the CCA and to donate visit To learn more about the problem, visit (Note: contains adult themes and actual accounts of sex slavery.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Nominations for The Webcomic List Awards 2010

If you follow my tweets, or other webcomics, or you're a webcomic creator yourself, then you probably know that on November 8th, 2010, the webcomic list awards 2010 nominations page went live.

"Anybody involved in the creation, distribution or promotion of comics, either online or in print can nominate comics, but you're not allowed to nominate your own comics or comics made by any of this year's judges or organising committee."

There are nine categories, and you can vote for up to three comics per category.

The nominations will close on Monday, December 20th, so there's still plenty of time, if you're a webcomicker, to get your ballot in!

I turned mine in last week, and let me tell you, it was tough. I don't make as much time as I should to read many of the great, great webcomics that are out there, and choosing from the thousands that can be found on the webcomic list, topweb comics, Comic Genesis, ComicPress etc. can be a daunting task. So I asked myself, who deserves it, who works hard, who is new and/or could use a leg up, and what do I like?

I also had some help from my better half, Ali, who has helped tremendously in the development of this website, my work, the Forsaken Stars facebook page, and getting the word out, so if you don't like my choices, blame her. Just kidding. She has a great eye for what's good.

The nomination ballots are secret, but a few creators have posted their ballots to help get the word out and encourage fellow creators to fill out their ballots, and I'd like to follow suit, so, without further ado, here are my nominations:

by Steve "Kloob" Thompson

Menage a 3 story by Dave Zero 1 and Giz, art by Giz

Tinkers of the Wasteland by Rulo Treviño

(since Nov 1st)
by Josh Stratton and Steve Macleod

Apocalypse Meh by Jonathan Westhoff and Bobgar Ornelas

Tribes story and script by Michael Geszel and Peter Spinetta art by Inaki Miranda and color by Eva de la Cruz

by Eldon Cowgur

Blue Milk Special Story by Rod Hannah, Art by Leanne Hannah and 3D Models by Geoffrey Padilla

Sophia: The Awakening by Terrence Bernard

The Princess and the Giant
by Ben Chamberlain

The Marvel: A Biography of Jack Parsons Words by Richard Carbonneau, Art by Robin Simon

Endstone by Anthony Theisen

The Legend of the Knyghtmare
by John East

A Softer World by Emily Horne and Joey Comeau

Crowbar by Derek Paterson

Questionable Content
's Pintsize

Gross of Goblins ' "sort of thing that was the source of that strange fluid that seems to collect at the top of the mustard container."

Tinkers of the Wasteland 's Milla by rulo treviño

Agent X Comics
by Scott Hampson

disquietville by Daniel Spottswood

Treading Ground by Nick Wright

Love is in the Blood
by writer Greg Carter and artist Elliot Dombo

Westward by E.T. Toman

Wayward Sons: Legends by Benny R. Powell

Sandra and Woo
by Powree and Oliver Knorzer

Mansion of E by Robert M. Cook

1977 The Comic by W. Byron Wilkins

Yeah, plenty of these are in my blogroll, and have banners on my comic page, but that's because I follow them and love them and would love for them to be recognized. I did do quite a bit of searching and reading other webcomics before making my decisions. It's my first year voting, so who knows, maybe next year I'll expand my horizons even more. But I have a feeling I could easily nominate several of these again if they continue to keep up the great, great work.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Robert M. Cook Interview (Creator of the Mansion of E)

[Last year, when I started up Forsaken Stars at Comic Genesis, I was almost immediately drawn into a Secret Santa Gift Exchange via their forum, and I was assigned Robert M. Cook's alternate-world fantasy the Mansion of E. Wanting to put my best foot forward, I threw myself into reading the strip, following the adventures of Sylvester, the Earl of E, his brother Mortimer, and warrior companion Rosemary, having no idea that it had been going for the better part of a decade, and that it had a wandering, tangential plot with veritably hundreds of characters. This wasn't just a strip, this was world-building at it's most obsessive, and I spent countless hours trying to develop a single strip that captured the essence of MOE. In hindsight, that's impossible. Any one strip is just the tip of a wondrous, strange iceberg.

Fast forward one year later as I prepared to interview Mr. Cook, and I came to realize a few of his plots have suddenly come together and bear fruit! What's up? I asked myself. What's changed? Or was this planned from the beginning? George R.R. Martin is still trying to figure out how to bring his Song of Ice and Fire novels to a close, maybe he should talk to Robert Cook!

Who is Robert M. Cook? His About page gives us this modest, self-effacing nugget, “Not much to tell. I'm a balding slacking Gen-Xer who lives in the Pacific Northwest and still somehow enjoys drawing cartoons on his computer.” He's a mainstay within the Comic Genesis community, currently hosting a Halloween Costume Swap for the characters of several strips, and he presides over the Mansion of E Forum hosted at He's approachable and friendly, and an eagle-eyed google search will uncover his love for older pc-based games, blogging and even his political views.

Robert recently added Forsaken Stars at Comic Genesis to his Links page in honor of Forsaken Stars' first year online, which in turn brought me to this illuminating, informative and humorous interview covering Mr. Cook and his incredible, minutely crafted and long-running Mansion of E.]

What is your favorite [movie] quote? - If I had to pick just one, it would be this from Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein: "Are you saying that I put an abnormal brain into a seven and a half foot long.. fifty-four inch wide.. GORILLA? IS - THAT - WHAT - YOU'RE - TELLING - ME?!?”

What is your favorite Shakespearean play? - While I understand the importance of his work, I’ve never really been a fan. Again, if I had to pick something.. The Tempest. I’ve actually seen it performed, which helps, and the general weirdness appeals to me.

Describe your evil twin. - He draws a wildly-successful sell-out webcomic starring a big-breasted fan-service bimbo.

If you could time travel, what would be your first stop? - I would go visit my father’s hometown when he was a kid; it was a strange little place evidently, and I could see my paternal grandparents, who I never knew.

What is your creative process? Hardware? Software? Have you updated and upgraded since you began? - I create the MoE entirely on my midrange Windoze computer, using an old copy of Paint Shop Pro, which is like Photoshop without a lot of the bells and whistles, or the huge price tag. I collect all the fonts I use from free sites on the Internet. That’s pretty much how I’ve been doing it from the start, although I’ve learned a few shortcuts over the years to speed up the process.

Did you ever think you would be working on Mansion of E for as long as you have? - Probably not. When I first started, it was more a gag-a-day thing and I had no idea the mass of continuity it would eventually turn into. Even now, while I know (roughly) how the story ends, I don’t know how long it will take to tell it. Or where exactly the best place to leave off is..

Who is the MOE character with which you identify most? - Sylvester; he’s a younger, thinner version of me with more hair. He and Rosemary’s relationship was inspired by the one between me and my sister when we were children.

How did you come up with Sundays in Subshaft 44f? - It was my attempt at doing a little less work the one day a week where I get the fewest
visitors anyway, while still publishing -something-. 44f started as a one-time gag involving “scenes around the Mansion”, but I quickly realized I could use these three poor suckers some more. Spoiler: I think I will be switching to something else on Sundays in the not-too-distant future...

MOE has a sometimes frustrating and sometimes whimsical way of meandering and going off on tangents, and it seems as if it's taken seven years to get to some real, mind-blowing, somewhat satisfying payoffs. How much do you enjoy meandering versus planning? - I do the strip because it amuses me, and not because I’m trying to build an audience, but yes, I regret now the meandering, because it’s almost certainly driven people away. If I were starting over, I would stick much closer to Rosemary/Sylvester/Mortimer/possibly Comshaw. Or not do it as a webcomic at all, maybe instead as a website where every room in the Mansion/Basement is depicted, and a visitor can just wander around at will... Failing that, I have made a deliberate effort in recent months to wrap up a bunch of the plot-threads and get the action moving forward.

SPOILER ALERT! Skip the next question if you haven't been reading MOE in the last couple months or so! So go read, then come back to this one!

And how satisfying has it been for you to bring so many threads suddenly together recently? - Again, it felt good to finally move things forward. I had long planned Rosemary and Sylvester’s confrontation with Villipend, for instance, but I admit it, I stalled getting them there, because I kept agonizing over the details.

What works have influenced you? - Douglas Adams. H. P. Lovecraft. The Muppets. The old Infocom text-adventure computer games. Terry Prachett. Isaac Asimov. Robert Sheckley. Stephen King, particularly his Gunslinger novels. Tolkein.

Where do you do your best work? - World-creation, coming up with niddling little background details. Yes, I’m well aware my art isn’t that great. I ever win the lottery, I’m hiring some starving real cartoonist...

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? - I’ve never been anywhere I like better than my current home, the Pacific Northwest..
Good climate, lots of trees and water, no poisonous bugs or snakes, halfway sane politicians..

What is your favorite word? - Sasquatch.

What makes you emotional? - Reading about people being horrible to each other. I’ve deliberately tried to avoid putting any out-and-out villains in the MoE.. Even Villipend was more Horribly Broken than Pure Evil.

What makes you laugh? Comedy influences? - My favorite comedy writer is an American outdoor humorist named Patrick McManus. I like Bill Bryson’s comedic travel books, and I’m also very fond of the Jeeves and Wooster stories by the English author P. G. Wodehouse; Hector the robot is my overt
Jeeves homage.

If you were an animal in the wild, what would you be? - Maybe a seal, something that’s good at swimming; it would be fun to explore the ocean
without having to lug along scuba tanks.

If you could travel back in time, what mistake(s) would you want to correct? - My choice of colleges. I had fun, and it’s a fine school for the right sort of person, but I should have gone somewhere more practical. Like art school.

Is Rosemary based off of anyone you know? - As noted above, she’s an exaggerated version of my sister, both in looks and personality.

If you had only six months to live, what would you do first? - I would like to see New York City once before it or I die.

What are you most proud of in your life? - Drawing two thousand comic strips without cracking up. My biggest claim to Internet fame, however, may be the alternate tile-set I drew for the computer game NetHack. (If you don’t know about it, don’t ask, it can suck away months of your life..)

Do you own any pets, and if so what do you have? - None at the moment.

Who do you admire most? - I’m not much of one for collecting heroes, but I like how Gary Larson did The Far Side, making it funny and smart without being a Great Artist, and knowing when to call it quits.

What person would you like to meet least in an elevator? - Rush Limbaugh. Runner-up, Cthulhu.

Favorite Place to Eat? - Any good seafood restaurant. Another reason to live in this part of the world.

What are some of your favorite Disney or animated films? - The Emperor’s New Groove, which may well be the funniest thing the Disney company
has ever produced. Yellow Submarine is my favorite from non-Disney stuff. Any of Brad Baird’s work, but particularly The Iron Giant and The Incredibles.

Define yourself in 3 words - Sheltered weirdo cartoonist.

What is your favorite TV show? - At the moment, probably Mythbusters, with Top Gear being a close second. (Despite my dislike of cars in general.)

What is your favorite place? - I suppose the small lake I grew up on, although I don’t have any real urge to go back there in person, and see it all changed and built-up. The memories are fine.

If you could have one super human power what would you choose? - If I could wave my hand and summon a finished cartoon into existence every day, that’d be cool.

What is your favorite song of all time? - Tom Lehrer’s “The Vatican Rag”. Warning: Catholics will either find it hilarious, or be horribly offended. Mr. Lehrer’s another one I admire, for writing witty and catchy songs and being horribly subversive while he’s at it.

Hat creatures, globules, sneetches, talking, prophetic horned toads, Weirdos, beaver sharks... Tim Burton has nothing on you! Have you ever thought about writing a spec script for MOE as either an animated or stop-motion feature? Or looking into amateur animators to create viral Youtube videos? - Yes, I’ve often mulled over what a MoE film would be like, and who would voice characters and such; and yes, I think a quirky spindly stop-motion work like Burton’s stuff would be the best fit. But seriously? I simply don’t have the fan-base to make such a project feasible.

MOE has such a massive cast of characters, what process do you use to keep track of them? - I have almost two hundred pages of typed notes, and a database listing the details of every single strip, including who appears in them. And yes, I consult them constantly.

Are many of them based on townspeople you've grown up alongside? - I lived out on that lake, a long way from town, so no, not really. However, see below..

Do you have a large extended family? Any strange or kooky favorite family members? - Sadly, there aren’t that many Cooks left in my branch of the family; most of the current generation (myself included) didn’t have any kids, and we’re slowly dying off. Crazy Rhid, however, was heavily inspired by a cousin of mine who loved to play around with explosives and.. died one day doing what he loved. Growing up I had a collection of interesting aunts, one who supplied the name (but not the personality) for Rosemary’s Aunt Eva. Uncle Frederick probably came from them, with a sex-change along the way.

Any juicy tidbits you'd like to share about the next seven years of Mansion of E? The next seven months? The next seven days? - There’s one soon-upcoming revelation that will change things in the Basement in a very fundamental way; I’ve tried to drop a few hints, so I don’t know how big of a surprise it will actually be to readers. After that, the action planned for “tomorrow” may be ranging a little further afield than people are expecting. And very long term.. it’s possible that someday I will end “The Mansion of E” and pick up the plot under an entirely different name... because MoE would no longer be an appropriate title.

Finally, any other projects you're working on or have a hand in you'd like us to know about? - As noted already, I’ve always been proud of the alternate tile-set I created for the ASCI-based game NetHack; it’s gotten fairly good reviews from people who use it. If people really want to fall down this particular rabbit-hole, (at least it’s free) they can learn about the standard game here: and my tileset is here:

Thank you so much, Robert, this interview has been invaluable. It's almost like the advice to new webcomickers glows between the lines! Both what not to do and what to do, and above all enjoy what you do. Anything other advice you'd like to give aspiring or current webcomickers? - "Don't start doing it", I suppose. :-) Unless you absolutely literally -have- to draw; such people exist, evidently. If this doesn't cure you nothing will.

OK, one word of encouragement. Your art doesn't have to be perfect. You can even use stick figures, if your ideas are good enough. That's something else I'd do, if I had to start over, is probably follow the lead of The Order of the Stick...

Yeah, I love Sticknia Comics myself! So good. Thanks again for taking time out to chat with me and I hope your readers and mine found it just as enjoyable.

- Thanks for doing it. It was fun.

To learn more about Robert M. Cook and the Mansion of E, please click on the banner below:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My Favorite Vamps

I thought about following up some of my film lists with my top ten vampire movies, but decided to change it up by putting the focus on my favorite vampire characters, and the actors who played them, from films and television. In no particular order:

Count Yorga, played by Robert Quarry in Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) and its sequel The Return of Count Yorga (1971), always infuriated me because he was that really bad, bad guy that always got away. For me, he was the Jason Voorhees of vampires. [Yeah, I know, quite the ironic statement considering the subject.]

Viktor, played by Bill Nighy in Underworld (2003), Underworld: Evolution (2006), and the prequel Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009), gave us an immortal that was as bad ass as Vampire: The Masquerade roleplaying game imagined one could be, and I loved how he tossed the Lychans around. Nighy made the character such a powerfully intriguing one that the filmmakers couldn't resist putting him in flashbacks in the sequel, and making him a central villain again for the prequel.

Dracula, played by Bela Lugosi in Universal's Dracula (1931) and Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker's [and Francis Ford Coppola's] Dracula (1992), "across oceans of time." Both gave classic, romantic, gentlemanly performances. Lugosi surrounded by hokey effects and static sets, and Oldman empowered by some of the most stunning and lavish effects and make up of the time, are standouts in a role that has been played by so many and imagined by millions. Everyone has their vision of Dracula, and these are two of my favorites.

Spike/William the Bloody, played by James Marsters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (97 episodes, 1997-2003). If you had a hit series based on a the forbidden love between a vampire slayer and a vampire cursed-with-a-soul, and wanted to break it into two successful shows, would you try to recreate the chemistry of the original show by bringing in another vampire with a soul? I know I wouldn't! But Joss Whedon and his gang of geniuses did exactly that [over time] by bringing in the Billy Idol-esque Spike, first as a major villain, then neutering him with an anti-violence chip in his brain, and then sending him on a spirit quest to gain a soul to become worthy of the slayer with which he fell in lust and then love. Marsters' Spike proved such a writer's dream--saying what most people keep to themselves, and with a British edge to boot--that when Buffy ended its run he was moved to Angel, where he once again became the perfect foil to the brooding titular hero.

Lestat de Lioncourt, by Stuart Townsend and Queen Akasha, by Aaliyah in Queen of the Damned (2002) were sensual, powerful, and deliciously overwrought. Though the filmmakers had more limited budgets and time than the lavish Interview with the Vampire, this sequel did so much with what they had! With the help of Korn's Jonathan Davis, Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, and Disturb's David Draiman, Townsend's Lestat became every bit the Rock Star the story needed for it to work. Of course the story also needed a regal, seductive and horrifying figure in Queen Akasha, and Aaliyah provided that, bringing a certainty and icy grace to the role despite her youth. [The major failing of the film, in my opinion, is the unfortunate miscasting of Marguerite Moreau as Jesse Reeves. With Vincent Perez as Marius and Lena Olin as Maharet rounding out the immortals, Marguerite was simply out of her depth. Maybe I'm out of line saying that, but I found her performance awkward and wooden, but that may have been the filmmakers' intent, as she was a woman trying to find herself. But it didn't work for me. But I digress...]

Claudia, played by Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994). While child vampires weren't exactly unheard of in literature or cinema (Joshua Miller as Homer in 1987's Near Dark comes to mind), Dunst's turn as an eerily beautiful undead living doll was so chillingly perfect she outshone both Brad Pitt's melancholy Louis de Pointe du Lac and Tom Cruise's Master Vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (though he was quite a treat playing the piano in zombie-like tatters).

Ali looked over my list and found my choices to be on the heavy side, and I do so prefer the horrific to the camp, but I did enjoy Chris Sarandon's tongue-in-cheek vampire neighbor Jerry Dandrige in Fright Night (1985), and, God help me, George Hamilton's Count Vladimir Dracula in Love at First Bite (1979) is probably as fundamental to my subconscious vampire ideal as Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker is to my subconscious sci-fi hero ideal! Or as Ralph Macchio is to my subconscious reluctant martial arts fighter ideal. [They all hit me when I was my most impressionable. Timing can be such a bitch.]

There are also a few really scary, not very talky vampires out there, but my favorite vampires are those that seduce, or brood or philosophize, and make us face our greatest fears through their own fall from grace. They are elegant and brutal, sensuous and menacing, conniving and emotive. I myself have played more vampires than I can recount in various roleplaying games, and I reveled in the imagined power, romance, and horror of having to hunt, scheme and kill to remain immortal. There's nothing quite like it.

If I'm in the mood for more fangs, blood and terror than gothic romance, if I feel more like self-loathing than self-indulgence, then I turn to werewolves. But that's a whole other list...