Comics Features

INTERVIEW: Sarah Roark, creator of After Daylight

Here’s our interview with the lovely, snarky and very talented Sarah Roark, creator of After Daylight, an extremely entertaining vampire web comic which is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign for the release of its first volume.
A Place to Hang Your Cape: First of all, can you tell us a little about your project, After Daylight?
Sarah Roark: Well, it arose at least partly out of a pet peeve about the modern-supernatural genre. I love modern supernaturals, but there are so many of them where the setting is a ‘post-revelation’ type setting — i.e., humans have discovered the existence of the supernatural, and are supposedly coexisting (or refusing to coexist) with vampires or werewolves or fae or what-have-you. And often there are all these tantalizing hints about how that society works, but the series is far too busy breaking up the main romance for the nth time or dealing with the breathless action of a kidnapping plot, and so those hints remain just that — maddening hints. Which would frustrate me to no end because to me, that’s story gold. You want to mine that part for all it’s worth! So I decided to do a series where I could explore my own take on the premise, with a twist of humor to it of course because politics is far too important to take seriously. (Just ask Garry Trudeau or Alison Bechdel!)
AP2HYC: You’ve been writing After Daylight for two years now, how do you keep the ideas coming and keep it feeling fresh?
Sarah: Funnily enough, my problem is usually more in the opposite direction, where I have more stuff that I want to do than space to do it in, at least if I want to move the plot at a non-glacial pace! I think a lot of the key is to really do the homework with the character creation and the world building. If you set up a situation where characters, being the people that they are, are naturally at odds with their environment — in other words, I guess, set up your conflicts correctly — then a lot of plot ideas will arise naturally and suggest themselves. Another way to look at it is through one of my big writing aphorisms, which is that writing is basically loving sadism practiced against imaginary people. You’re there to make their lives miserable. Whatever they want? No, you can’t have that yet. Wherever their sore spot is? That’s what you hit. But it’s loving in the sense that often they wind up finding their strengths and being better for the struggle (and if they don’t, then the wreckage will at least be a fascinating wreck).
AP2HYC: What’s the hardest part of writing After Daylight?
Sarah: I guess it’s probably remembering how to use the visual medium for its own kind of storytelling, and resist the urge to act too much like a novelist — relying on walls of narration, for example. Or summaries of action. If you play to the strengths of the medium, comics are actually a wonderfully efficient and satisfying way to tell a story, but learning how to use those strengths has been a journey for me, given my background in prose writing.
AP2HYC: And what’s the most fun?
Sarah: The sadism. Sorry, I mean the loving sadism. There is some part of this that involves quietly rubbing your hands and cackling just imagining how readers will respond to what you’re about to do to their favorite characters. Especially when you get a chance to see or hear their reaction, and all that work and planning paid off with a belly laugh or a tear or whatever you were trying to raise, that’s manna from heaven. So the pleasures of anticipation are many. I also enjoy the expressive aspect of my semi-cartoon-style drawing, how I get to exaggerate emotions and character designs till they’re “more true than true.” And the shading that I do (with grayscale COPIC markers) turned out to be surprisingly pleasurable too. Very meditative almost.
AP2HYC: We know you’re a big fan of vampire fiction, so can you tell us who your favourite vampire is (apart from Cat, of course!) and what they’ve done to deserve that accolade?
Sarah: Overall, if I had to name just one, probably Lestat, even though he does get terribly bratty and tends to sort of bull-in-a-china-shop his way through unlife. At least he’s always trying to live, and taking the bets he probably shouldn’t take. Rice’s fiction awoke me — and a lot of other people, I suspect — to what vampire stories could be. True Blood (the TV series) had some delightful vampire characters, but they tended to be better in pairs — Eric isn’t nearly as funny without Pam to play against, and without Talbot or Steve, Russell is just a psychopathic jerk.
AP2HYC: Where do you hope to take the series next – can you give us any sneaky teasers about what’s coming up in future?

Sarah: Well, it’s the end of Volume 1, and Full Daylight has just hit — that is to say, the genie has officially left the bottle and the secret of the vampires’ existence is now out for good. (Volume 1 is in its Kickstarter for the deluxe print and PDF editions, by the way, and it only runs till November 19th, so do come take a look!) Now is when I get to start really knocking down all those delicious dominoes of What If. How will various groups and factions of humanity react? How will different vampires respond, especially since most of them were not consulted as to their pleasure about this, and the vast majority of “living” vampires have never known an era where they were anything but disbelieved legends? What will the government do (or NOT do)? Does all of this make Cat more likely to bite the bullet and finally ask Lillian out for that date, or less? Let’s just say that many Awkward Moments (as the meme would have it) are in store.

Click here to support Sarah’s Kickstarter for After Daylight or here to check out the website for this wickedly entertaining series!

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Grace Davis

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