Dallas Casavant’s The V-CARD parodies various vampire sagas while sharing a heartwarming story
Jonathan Von Tuttle has a life relatable to any teenage comic book nerd. He lives with his parents, he adores G.I. Joe, he’s a virgin, and he’s awkward around the opposite sex. Although, he does have a trait none of us do—he’s a 380-year-old vampire and the main character of local author Dallas Casavant’s mini-comic series The V-CARD.
Casavant began creating his comic after accepting a challenge from his then girlfriend.
“Whenever we would watch a movie, I would always criticize it,” Casavant says. “She would always get sick of it and ask me ‘You think you could write a better idea?’”
In the spur of the moment, he did.
“I was like, ‘Okay, let’s say we have this vampire that’s never bit or been with a girl before and the first scene is this Dracula-type vampire about to bite a scantily-clad girl. Then we hear a “pop” and zoom out to a nerdy vampire with a sex doll who lives with his parents and it’s called, “400 Year Old Virgin.”
His girlfriend reluctantly said, “That’s not bad.” Months passsed and Casavant couldn’t shake the idea from his head and began building upon the story.
“I started thinking stuff like, ‘Well what if when they see a girl their fangs started to grow? What if he falls in love with the vampire killer’s daughter?’ Then you’re watching some other crappy show and think, ‘Why don’t I write my own thing?’” he says.
Casavant needed an artist. One that would understand his humour and bring a new element to the series. After trial periods with a few artists, he landed on Calgary’s Nick Johnson who has worked on the independent comic Wolf Hands, which follows a character who has been infected with lycanthropy in his hands.
“Nick’s a professional and has a good sense of humour so it’s working well,” Casavant says. “Sometimes he draws it even better than I wanted.”
The V-CARD follows Jonathan and his best vampire friend Kathleen on his quest to find his “first bite,” but there’s a catch. In this world, whoever your first human bite is resides with you forever in the afterlife.
Once Jonathan meets Talia, a tattooed-human comic-book-loving beauty, his quest is no longer about lust, but love. Although, there’s another catch. Talia is the daughter of the famed vampire killer Chan Haan Sing.
The story is equal parts vampire parody and romantic comedy. Think American Pie meets What We Do in the Shadows, with a bit of The Lost Boys.
Talia is actually based off Casavant’s girlfriend of the same name, Talia Russell.
On a fateful day four years ago, without even meeting her, he approached her and asked if she would like to be the inspiration for the main character’s love interest in his romantic vampire comedy comic.
“I had the final script for the comic in my hand and I saw Talia walking along on Whyte Ave. I was like, ‘Holy fuck, that’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen,” Casavant says.
He saw her a few more times and with the help of listening to his favourite podcaster Duncan Trussell, had the courage to go and talk to her.
“I was like, ‘Excuse me, this may sound ridiculous, but I have this vampire romantic comedy in my hand and I was wondering if you wanted to be the artist’s inspiration for a character?’ She said ‘Yeah.’ And I left before I said something stupid,” Casavant says.
“At the time I was a dancer so men were not a big deal for me,” Russell says. “When Dallas approached me I was really curious, intrigued, and annoyed I couldn’t get him out of my head. I needed to know what goes on in his mind and what motivated him to make this weird vampire comedy.”
Eventually, the two started dating and got engaged at a live Duncan Trussell show.
Talia is not the only character based off a real life person in The V-CARD. Paris, a human all vampires want to sink their teeth into, is based off of Dita Von Teese, and the Kathleen character is actually based off of Casavant’s friend Kathleen McGee, a stand-up comic and podcaster who has opened for names like Hannibal Buress.
“I know Kathleen and she’s funny, but comedy is a tough business. I thought maybe I could help her out by making her one of the characters,” Casavant says. “Maybe this gets turned into a movie one day and helps her out. Production companies are always starving looking for the next idea so they go to conventions to find ideas.”
When reading The V-CARD, you can tell Casavant is a lover of comics and pop culture. The story has many little nods and references to people like the late musician Prince and the golden comedy series Seinfeld. It all comes from Casavant’s “what if” writing style.
“When I first write I’ll have visions in my head and certain beats to make. It’s like working on a sculpture where you have this Frankenstein kind of thing and you take a piece from here or there,” Casavant says. “I start thinking something like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if this scene was in the Seinfeld diner?’ I’m a huge Prince fan so why not have a poster and Talia’s shirt be Prince? Why not put in a little extra effort?’ And then my hairs start standing up and I say, ‘That’s not a bad idea.’”
The story also has a few references to Edmonton peppered in, the most obvious being the Happy Harbor comic book recurring as a location in the series.
With two issues already out, a viewable motion comic made, and a burgeoning Kickstarter to fund the last two issues ending in late October, The V-CARD will be on shelves in Happy Harbor by the end of the month.
“I already have the next issues and bits ready to go. And if the Kickstarter doesn’t work, I’ll go to conventions and it will be in Happy Harbor,” Casavant says. “Do I quit if I run into brick wall? No. I’ll find a loose brick or I’ll just knock down the whole wall. It’s a paper wall, it’s just like writing.”
Until Tue., Oct. 24
The V-Card Kickstarter