This past May, we gave Daily Dead readers exclusive first deatils on Summer Shadows, the upcoming horror comic book mini-series that's billed as an "LGBTQIA+ romance turned deadly mystery." With the first issue coming out in September, I had a chance to catch up with John Harris Dunning, who talks about the origins of the series, working with Ricardo Cabral, and more!

I understand that the inspiration for the story's setting is based on your own summer trips to a Greek Island. Why did you feel this setting was perfect for a vampire story?

John Harris Dunning: I’ve been regularly visiting Greece for a decade now, so it’s like a second home to me. There’s a very strong tradition of vampires or vrykolakas there. Widespread reports of these undead creatures persisted as recently as during the Second World War. Then there’s the Greek fascination with the idea of eternal beauty, something that also relates to vampires. The more I thought about it, the more the story urged me to tell it. 

Was it fun to play with vampire mythology for this sunny setting?

John Harris Dunning: For sure. It’s unexpected - but there’s something about the contradiction that really appeals to me. Nights on the Greece islands are so beautiful. After the bright sunlight and heat of the day, you really welcome the cool shadows of the night… What better place to hunt for delicious flesh? And what better coffin to hide from the sunshine than in an impregnable superyacht? Summer Shadows starts with a tourist going missing, and there was an unsettling resonance this summer when travelers disappeared on various Greek islands during a heatwave. 

What has the creative process been like with Ricardo Cabral? Can you speak to any creative decisions that were enhanced or changed based on Ricardo's artwork and feedback?

John Harris Dunning: Ricardo is a dream collaborator. My job is to give him a good story and to inspire him. When he gets going, he takes the lead. Apart from being a lifelong comics reader, I studied visual arts, including oil painting, drawing and sculpture. And I’m a film school graduate. So, I’ve got a strong sense of how I see the story looking. But I’m not the artist. Ricardo finds my research useful as a starting point, but he always elevates it to a whole other level. He’s incredibly versatile. Our last project for Dark Horse was the Afro-futurist cyberpunk graphic novel Wiper. This story is beach gothic. They couldn’t be more different genres, but Ricardo nailed them both. It’s so exciting to see his pages coming in. His page layout is masterful, and the body language and expressions of his characters lend so much to the storytelling. 

On top of this being a LGBTQIA+ vampire story, it's also a mystery. Can you give our readers a little tease of what they'll see unfold over the course of the series?

John Harris Dunning: Summer Shadows is a romance as well as a murder mystery. It’s about looking for love in all the wrong places… and learning that sometimes the thing we need is the opposite of the thing we want. I hope I’m not being a pain the neck (!!) by not saying more – but I don’t want to spoil the journey for readers!

What are your favorite vampire films and/or literature that you'd recommend to our readers?

John Harris Dunning: For me, novelist Anne Rice remains the undisputed queen of the vampires. Her Vampire Chronicles are a hugely ambitious story cycle. I was lucky enough to meet her years ago and she inscribed one of her novels to me, ‘Keep the faith - write! Don’t let anything stop you.’ Great advice. Her queer presentation of the vampire myth was way ahead of its time and had a huge impact on me as a young gay man. She was very progressive both in terms of gender and sexuality, a real taboo-breaker. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the feature film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire, but I agree with Rice that the casting of the two male leads was off. Lost Souls by writer Poppy Z. Brite (aka William Joseph Martin) is a really transgressive take on the vampire genre, with a queer twist. The urgency and originality of this novel is unmatched in the canon of vampire literature. It’s something of a masterpiece. Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula is an eerie feast for the eyes that I can watch endlessly. It perfectly portrays the seductive and bestial aspects of the vampire, the contradiction of which makes them such fascinating monsters. Christian Ward’s comic book series Blood Stained Teeth with artwork by Patric Reynolds and incomparably colored by Heather Moore is a completely fresh take on vampires – what a ride! 


 "Nick Landry is on the unspoilt Greek island of Avraxos to look for his ex. Anthony was the love of his life, and without knowing why he left, Nick can’t move on. But Anthony isn’t the only one to disappear on Avraxos. Coast Guard officer Alekos Kourkoulos is on the trail of another young man missing on the island. They learn that both of the missing men fell in with the glamorous inhabitants of a jet-black super yacht, the Nyx, before vanishing. As the mystery deepens, Nick and Alekos discover that the brighter the sunshine, the darker the shadows…"

A four-issue mini-series, the first issue of Summer Shadows will be available in comic book stores starting on September 11th and will retail for $5.99. To keep up with all things Dark Horse Comics, visit: