Spilling The Wine: An Interview With The Creators Of ‘The Vineyard’

There’s making sacrifices for your work and there’s making sacrifices to a Greek god. The Vines family have gotten mixed up in the latter in writer, Brian Hawkins, and artist, Sami Kivelä’s, new series, The Vineyard. When matriarch, Maranatha, starts to question whether the price of alcohol might be too high, though, familial tensions start come to a head. With colors by Jason Wordie and letters by Taylor Espositio, find out what Hawkins and Kivelä had to say about the series and the Vines’ ethics in an email interview below.

Rachel Bellwoar: The Vines are a bit toxic when it comes to their family dynamics. Was it fun getting to play against the expected, in terms of their sense of morality?

Brian Hawkins: Absolutely! It’s always an interesting and FUN journey delving into the darker nature of things, especially the human condition and the dynamics of intimate relationships like the familial. What made it fun for me with the Vines was the exploration of right and wrong, good and bad as it pertained to belief versus the moral compass… It’s all a choice but sometimes our choice is influenced by our environment and how connected we feel to it, even pressured to be obedient to it. This is the case for each person in the Vines family and for some, morality causes a questioning of what is and then that leads to a disturbance of the belief; for others, acceptance (if that’s a choice) of what is leads to adverse actions. When those two paths cross there’s friction and a great story to tell, one that can be dark, and like I said, dark is always interesting and fun.

RB: Maranatha may be the most uncomfortable with the arrangement they have with Dionysus, yet she always looks so stylish and put together. What about this contrast appealed to you the most?

Sami Kivelä: Maranatha is the force that holds the Vines family together, and she does all she can to show everyone that all is well and normal in their family and business. She’s like those Instagram people who want their followers to think that their life is glamorous and perfect, although the reality might be far from that. To me her most appealing feature is the love she has for her kids and husband, even though he demands her to handle things she’s not necessarily comfortable with.

RB: Adonis, on the other hand, is almost always wearing his work polo, with the Dionysus logo on it. Given that the label is always the first thing you see on a wine bottle, how important was it to get that logo right?

SK: We show The Vineyard Winery logo quite a lot in the book, so it’s quite important that it’s easy to recognize, even in small size. The logo itself is a crude and cartoony drawing of Dionysus, and it’s presumably drawn by the father of the family, Didache, which was a nice idea from Brian!

RB: None of the names in this series come across as accidental. What made you go with such a direct name as “The Vineyard” for the Vines’ winery?

BH: Sometimes settings/locations are not focused on enough in stories, or better yet, given enough credit as being a part of how the story is told. Quite often, it is the characters that we are most interested in, which is understandable, but one of the things that I love most about horror stories/comics/movies, etc is how IMPORTANT the setting is to the story. Where the characters have to survive and/or fight for their lives becomes critical and going back to the idea of the human condition again, our environment affects who and what we are while also being a catalyst for a lot of our interactions. This makes the setting like a character, and while The Vineyard, in this story, is the major setting, it is very much also like a character, and as readers, we are interacting with it as much as the characters are, some of the characters are literally a part of The Vineyard, and the belief of other characters (which informs their actions) are directly connected to The Vineyard. I would say in many ways, The Vineyard is as alive as any of the characters in the story, and definitely plays a role in the telling of this story, thus the direct naming – “The Vineyard” was the only appropriate way to convey the overall idea and feeling of the story as both the name of the winery and the title of the series.

RB: Contrary to the images that show up when you look up “vineyards” online, the vineyards in The Vineyard look gnarly, not sun kissed. Overall, do you find drawing trees a necessary evil, or is it different with a series like this, where setting is so important?

SK: I think the backgrounds are always as important as the characters. They are the settings where the story takes place, so when readers see them, they should already get some sort of feeling of what the story’s about.

I try to approach every book I’m working on a bit differently and in a way I feel fits the story best. And as The Vineyard is a classic horror book, not a sunny romance drama (although there’s plenty of family drama in it), the vineyard, trees and other settings should look somewhat terrifying, in my opinion. I mean you could draw a horror book with happy and sunny landscapes and settings, but after reading the synopsis for The Vineyard, I felt that this book should have a bit gritty and dirty look and feel.

RB: If The Vineyard was a fine wine, what would it taste like?

BH: Ah geez, um, something that would have a dark and smoldering kind of taste to it, really dry and bitter but so bitter that it would have a hint of boldness as well; the words that come to mind are sublime and daemonic dread. If we could bottle those two words up in liquid form and taste, that would be it.

SK: Earthy, rather oaky and balanced with a hint of blood

RB: Cheers, Brian and Sami, and thanks for agreeing to this interview!

The Vineyard #1 goes on sale Wednesday August 3rd from AfterShock Comics.

There’s making sacrifices for your work and there’s making sacrifices to a Greek god. The Vines family have gotten mixedCOMICONRead More

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