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Interview: Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson Talk Vampires and DAY MEN

Find out who does the dirty work for the ruling vampire families while they sleep during the day.

In most vampire stories, they are vulnerable to sunlight. That means they are at the mercy of the Earth's rotation around the Sun. What do they do besides sleep during the day? Who watches over them or does their biding? Those are some of the questions we may find out in the new series DAY MEN from Boom! Studios, written by Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson.

Yesterday we saw the exclusive cover reveal for DAY MEN #3. We got the chance to ask the writers some questions about what they have planned for the series.

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Comic Vine: There's been a lot of vampire stories lately. What is it about the genre that appeals to you?

Michael Alan Nelson: For me, I guess it's what appeals to just about everyone who enjoys vampire stories. Sex and death. That's the very simple answer, but it's also pretty accurate. There's something about the seductive power of the undead that I find fascinating. But I also like that all that power and ability comes with some pretty harsh downsides as well. Marry that to the idea of humans being on the second link of the food chain and it makes for some incredible story potential.

Matt Gagnon: There’s also a sense of scope in the vampire genre that I find really appealing from the standpoint of building a mythology. The longevity of the undead allows you to tell multi-generational stories. We present the idea in this series that the Day Men as an order have been around for thousands of years. So we could just as easily be telling stories during the Age of Exploration, or the Revolutionary War--sky is the limit. The way into this story, through our main character David Reid, is very focused. But I like that it’s set against a backdrop with that type of depth and scope.

CV: How will your take be different from other stories?

MAN: For the Day Men, we really wanted to focus on the human element within the vampire world. David is human, and though he may have been specially trained and conditioned to deal with vampires, he is still human and only possesses the abilities of a normal human. There's nothing supernatural or otherwise special about him other than he was trained to peak physical and mental condition. That was important to us because many protagonists in vampire stories have powers above and beyond a normal human. Buffy, Blade, even Sookie all have supernatural abilities. So we thought it would be fun to really see how someone confined to the limits of human ability would fare in a world dominated by vampires.

MG: We’ve been describing DAY MEN as a Vampire Noir, and I think what separates us is that balance of crime and the supernatural. This is a vampire story primarily told through the point-of-view of a human. It’s a human acting in the best interest of his vampire employers. What that means and the complications it presents are something we find very interesting.

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CV: What's the incentive for the "Day Men" to serve the vampires? What makes them loyal?

MAN: Aside from the special training, there's also a sense of duty and honor that comes with being a Day Man. You're being allowed to be part of a world that very few people even know exist. You're being trusted with very special knowledge and if you break that trust, you're in quite a bit of trouble. But Day Men are also employees. It's not unheard of for a Day Man to be hired by one family only to be poached by another. It isn't common, but it happens. So what makes a person loyal to a company like Google? It's much the same thing. Only if you screw up you don't get a nice severance package and a glowing letter of recommendation.

MG: For a lot of Day Men, it’s the only world they know. They’ve literally spent their entire lives training for it. They’d be out of place working a “normal” job, and even if they could, how would they make it out of their current situation? There is duty, and there is honor to the position, but there’s also a sense of finality to the job. As you can imagine, all of these things have to be on David Reid’s mind.

CV: Will we see any of the recruitment or training process for the Day Men?

MAN: There certainly may be some flashbacks to David's training, but we'll get to see his training in action. Matt has this brilliant bit where David is explaining how fighting a vampire is a lot like being a professional quarterback. You don't throw the ball where the receiver is, rather where the receiver is going to be. Because vampires are preternaturally quick, the same priniciple applies. You can't aim a blow at where a vampire is, but where you anticipate she'll be. He's had to learn body language and split second anticipation in the face of life or death danger.

MG: We’ll be revealing some of the...”unique” training that Day Men undertake as the series goes on. It’s something we’ll be peppering in here and there. Training varies depending on who the teacher is. Some camps are noted for their successes and some camps are noted for their failures. All of these things and more go into a family’s decision when hiring a Day Man.

CV: Is it a safe assumption the series will focus on some of the actual Day Men rather than the vampire families?

MAN: Our focus is definitely the Day Man, David, but there is also a rich cast of vampire characters with whom he'll be interacting. The farther down the rabbit hole David goes, the more we'll learn about the vampire family he serves and the family that wants them all dead.

MG: Even though we’re primarily following David there’s an ensemble cast of characters that we’re exploring every issue. We’ll be following storylines from their point-of-view as well. The thing to remember is, David’s part of family. And this is a family that’s very, very complicated!

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CV: Besides protecting their sleeping masters, what other duties are required?

MAN: Duties are varied. Sometimes it could be as simple as delivering groceries or as complex and morally ambiguous as cleaning up a "feeding accident." And that's the true merit of a Day Man. A person who can do whatever it is the family needs taken care of during the day. From taking out the trash to bribing cops, to being the last line of defense against enemy vamps. A Day Man never knows what the daylight will bring.

MG: That’s part of the fun of the story: what will David be thrust into next? He tidies things up during the day, all hell breaks loose at night, and it’s down to him to pick up the pieces when he wakes up. Wash, rinse, repeat. Something happens in the first issue that adds a completely different wrinkle to David’s job, long-term.

CV: Is there any job security or are is there a high risk of losing your job and life?

MAN: A good way to think of the Day Men is much like dogs. They can be doted on or beaten, praised or ignored. If one dies in service to a family, some members might be upset while other roll their eyes and pull out the checkbook. Keep in mind, vampire families live for a very long time. Even the newer families have had a dozen Day Men in their service. So risk to life and limb is just part of the job. But the vampires know that Day Men aren't your average joes hanging out on the street. So if one isn't working out for a particular family, they can always trade, sell, barter for one more suited to their family's needs. It's business with a high body count.

MG: Day Men have those that have come before them and those that will come after them. But it’s similar to a conventional job in that there’s some who have high value and some who don’t. Some are notable, some are infamous, some have dazzling reputations that precede them. Others fly under the radar or haven’t done much to distinguish themselves. As for life expectancy, did I mention this is a Vampire Noir?!

CV: Is this a mini or an ongoing series?

MG: We’re planning DAY MEN as an ongoing series, but as always the market will tell us how much story the fans want to read. Mike, Brian and I have lots of stories to tell in this world!

Be sure to check out DAY MEN #1, on sale in July. Ask your comic retailer to order it with the Diamond Code: MAY13 0935