Monday, February 18, 2013

Women in Horror Comics: Nancy A. Collins

This feature is part of my Women in Horror Comics series in honor of Women in Horror Month. For more info on WiHM visit

This week’s Women in Horror Comics feature, author Nancy A. Collins, has not only written for a variety of horror comics, she is also a horror novelist best known for her Sonja Blue vampire series. The first book in the series, SUNGLASSES AFTER DARK, won a Bram Stoker award for Best First Novel. Unlike some other paranormal fiction, Nancy’s vampires are as they should be: vicious killers.

Nancy’s fiction is not strictly limited to the horror genre though. She writes the urban fantasy series Golgotham, about a supernatural neighborhood in New York City where magic and mythical creatures exist alongside human beings. She has also written many Southern Gothic short stories and novellas set in a fictionalized version of her hometown. 

In addition to writing for comics like Aliens, Predator and Jason vs. Leatherface, Nancy wrote the graphic novella DHAMPIRE: STILLBORN, and a comic adaptation of SUNGLASSES AFTER DARK. Perhaps the most well known series she has written for is SWAMP THING, her issues running from 110 to 138. She was one of a few writers who took their turn with the elemental swamp creature during the second revival of the series after Alan Moore left. 

In this week’s interview, Nancy was good enough to talk about how she got involved in SWAMP THING, her experience writing and creating comics and some of the horror films that have inspired her:

How did you get involved writing for Swamp Thing? 

I was approached by DC editor Stuart Moore, who previously worked at St. Martin’s Press and had edited my novelette for a Freddy Krueger/Nightmares On Elm Street anthology, about submitting a proposal for a year’s run on the comic.  They were looking to take Swampy back to his ‘horror’ roots, so to speak, and I was one of a handful of horror writers chose to ‘audition’. Luckily, I was a huge fan of the character, going all the way back to the 1970s, so it wasn’t hard to get into the swing of things.

Was the switch from writing short stories and novels to comics a challenge?  

Not really. I quickly learned that writing a comic book is a lot closer to writing a screenplay. Most of the description that would go into creating the world for the readers instead is directed at one person—your artist. I find writing comics to be very easy and a great deal of fun. I’m always intrigued by how the artist interprets what I describe. 

Your first novel, Sunglasses After Dark, also came out in comic form. Did you ever envision it as a graphic novel while you were writing it? 

Sunglasses After Dark was originally intended as a comic book. I even had an artist lined up to work on it, back in the days of the black-and-white indie comics boom, a guy named Richard Ory. However, when Rich left town for a paying gig working for Howard Chaykin on AMERICAN FLAGG, I decided to rework it as a novel. So I guess you could say Sonja Blue walked through the looking glass and back again in that regard. 

You've worked on a few other comics based on genre films, are you a horror movie fan? Do you have any favorites, or films that have influenced you as a writer? 

Oh, yes. I’m a huge film fan. Horror films in particular. Those that have influenced me would have to include The Horror of Dracula, The Brides of Dracula, Curse of the Werewolf, The Haunting (the original, not the god-awful remake), The Howling, The Night of the Demon, Five Million Years To Earth, Bride of Frankenstein, Island of Lost Souls, Peeping Tom, Suspiria, Psycho, Theater of Blood, and Santa Sangre, just to name a few. 

What advice would you give to aspiring comic book writers? 

Go to comic book convention and introduce yourself to the editors. Buy them a drink—coffee, soda, it doesn’t matter—and ask them what they’re looking for. Ask if they mind you contacting them later. Then call them at work—but not on Monday. Call Tuesday or Wednesday, in the mid-late afternoon, after they have their morning meetings and lunch. *Then* pitch them your idea.

Do you have any favorite comics or graphic novels, or is there something you've read recently that you enjoyed?

I haven’t been reading a lot of new stuff lately. Mostly I’ve been picking up collected editions of series I used to follow as a kid, like Herbie and Superman Family, or a teen/young adult—such as Tomb of Dracula or the Steve Gerber run on The Defenders. 

Are there any current or upcoming projects you're working on that we can check out? 

I’m working on the re-colored/re-lettered SUNGLASSES AFTER DARK with artist Stan Shaw. We’re calling it the Full-Blooded Edition and it’ll be coming out as a graphic novel from IDW. Stan’s more than half-finished doing the re-coloring. We hope to have it out in time for the 20th anniversary of its original release. I also have an original eBooks serial being published in six installments from Biting Dog Press called Absalom’s Wake. It’s a dark fantasy version of Melville, about whaling and were-sharks on the high seas. The revised and updated Sonja Blue series in now available in eBook form from Premier Digital Publications, and I’ve been releasing my back catalog of short fiction and novels on eBook via my own imprint, Hopedale Press, via Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and Kobo. Some of them even have audio book versions! My most recent book in print is Left Hand Magic, the second in the Golgotham urban fantasy series, and the third installment, Magic And Loss, should be out later this year.

Thank you for the interview, Nancy! For more from Nancy, make sure to visit her Sonja Blue blog True Blue, her Hopedale Press blog, or stay up to date on her upcoming work through her Facebook page or by following her on Twitter!

Underappreciated Comics: Nancy A. Collins' Swamp Thing via Den of Geek
Nancy A. Collins comic work via Comic Book DB
Nancy A. Collins via Goodreads

Resources for Women in Horror Month


  1. i read nancy's swamp thing run. it was one of the first mature comics i picked up, making the transition from superhero books. i owe her alot in that regard

    to this day, after all i have read, no one did swamp thing like she did

    1. That's awesome! I'd love to read them myself, as far as I could tell they were not collected in a TPB. I'll definitely be looking out for them at the next convention I go to!