It’s Rad! It’s Rough! It’s action personified! It’s..Stakecenter!!
Readers are in store for a wild, blood-spattering barrel of fun with this new book created and written by Paul LaPorte. With the impactful art of Joe Holley and the sharp inks of Reggie Cuvelier, Stakecenter is a book that most action junkies will be dying to sink their teeth into!
StakeCenter takes place in the “near future”, 2023 to be exact. Jay, our protagonist, is trying to claw his way into a talk show geared around a tradition known as “staking,” or seeing who can stake/kill the most vamps at any particular point of the game. Far from your traditional vamp hunter tale, this satirical blood bath of all out action repaints the vampire lore in an entirely different color.
Paul LaPorte (who is quite a gifted writer) has been doing comic writing for little over three years. Joe Holley, on the other hand has been drawing the larger portion of his life. All this has inevitably prepared them for their first independent comic title. And we were fortunate enough to get the scoop, first hand from the creator and artist themselves.
Although top secret in the LaPorte, Holley Camp, Paul did tell us proudly about it’s origin and a little more about the title itself! LaPorte began. “The premise of the story was born out of an idea I had for a table top RPG [role playing game] that never came to fruition. I thought it would be fun to have the players in my game be on a vampire hunting sports team as a departure from the normal, wandering through the back alleyways at night and kill vampires and stuff.” LaPorte said.
But it is not just the authentic writing that grabs us by the shirt-collar and doesn’t let go! The visuals stand out with a unrelenting presence that creates an edgy mysticism that immediately captures the story’s main themes. The art is strong, bold and unforgiving, and more importantly, impossible to tear your eyes from!
“I’ve wanted to draw a comic for a long time and what better way than to try it now! I picture it set in that movie LOOPER. Everything looks modern day but there’s high tech stuff in it. As for my style of drawing, I wouldn’t really know how to describe it really. I guess I would say it’s got maybe a manga feel with a touch of maybe the early 90s. I try to lean away from the manga stuff. I love it and it’s everywhere but I try to develop my own style. I don’t think I’m there yet but I’m trying.”
There is a movement here, a new carving out of what the vampire lore has been. Unlike most vampire comic book stories before this one, Paul and Joe have made a concerted effort to set their story apart from other mainstream story lines. Much of the character development and story arch hinge heavily on dialogue, rather than just the story development itself. Characters are layered here, imperfectly, uncompromisingly, and most importantly, in a real and tangible way.
“My writing style tends to focus heavily on dialogue and story.” Paul exclaimed. “I don’t think I’m good at and particularly enjoy describing settings, which is another reason I was drawn to comic writing. I like to take fantastical ideals and concepts and ground them in a real world in some way. What would the world actually be like if people had super powers?” Paul ask. “Or, in the case of Stake center, what would the world be like if everyone found out vampires were real? Stake center is a parody on sports,” Paul proclaims. “Especially the way athletes are idolized and so many people try to emulate them.”
Needless to say, the project had some bumps along the way. Hectic time schedules, tackling a subject that has been done many times, and overall life responsibilities made this project somewhat daunting. LaPorte exclaims, “From a writing perspective, I had to deal with the definite possibility of vampire “burn out!” It’s such a popular thing these days. The comic actually came out of a short bit I wrote back in 2008 when the vampires were much more popular but not everywhere. To remedy that I tried presenting them in a very different light than what has been recently seen. Vampires in modern culture are sexy and cool, so I wanted the vampire in Stakecenter as monotonous and un-human as possible. But the greatest challenge was finding an artist! Both times there was either an issues with communications or timing that caused me to have to scrap it. I went through two different artists and two different incantations of the comic before I hooked up with Joe and Reggie. Finding Joe and Reggie (inks), two guys who work really, really well together and can get things done on time, was like hitting the lottery. Twice!”
Joe Holley added to the conversation some input of his own, telling us what he liked most about the project. He said, “I like vampires. As far as the characters, I like Jay. He’s ambitious and wants to find his place in the world, so I can relate to him!”
And what does the writer want us to take in relation to the books?
“One of my goals for writing this mini-comic was to get people excited and asking questions about what would be next, and one of the questions I want them to ask is, ‘okay this is the world, but who is it going to be about?’ All I can say right now is that the particular TV show that’s shown in issue zero is a goal that our protagonist are aiming to reach! The question is, why that show?”