BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO Comics creator Holly Golightly is best known for her work with Broadsword Comics and Sabrina: The Teenage Witch. When Archie decided to take S:TTW in a new direction, Golightly decided that work for hire wasn't for her anymore,so she quit the company. She felt all her efforts were better off directed into her own projects, so she created an imaginative manga series called "School Bites." Golightly wondered what if there were a school for vampires like there's a school for wizards in Harry Potter. From that thought - and a few others - came the world that would be School Bites.

Golightly's been a fan of anime since childhood. She remembers watching Kimba The White Lion and several other early US offerings. She admitted to being more than a little addicted to the Japanese cartoons. "I guess I've had a natural attraction to it since I was a little girl," admitted the Vice President of Broadsword, Holly Golightly. "I saw Vampire Hunter D when I was about 16 and the more anime became available in the US, the more I snatched up volumes of series. What I like about anime is it just makes you happy when you look at it. There are big eyes, good stories, and you just feel like this is fun. We have the Chobits soundtrack playing constantly, and I'm convinced there are subliminal messages in it for everyone to just be happy. My favorite anime now are Chobits, Magic Users Club, Those Who Hunt Elves, Dragon Half, Super Gals, and Strawberry Eggs."

"My favorite manga are Paradise Kiss and anything by Junji Ito," continued Golightly. "I liked reading Under The Glass Moon, Junko's wacked out fairy tales, and all things cute and furry are good too. I'll pick up one issue of something just to look at it and be inspired."

Golightly said it's all about the "cute-it-tude" when checking out new anime or manga. She defined the word, "It's just when you look at something and the 'aw-w-w-e' factor kicks in," explained Golightly. "It also helps when there's a really good story behind all the cuteness, because it resonates inside your body and when you look at it, it's not just a shallow type of cuteness. Like Chobits, it has this depth to it and you really root for the characters and care about all the situations each is in. There's always a message. One of the things I really dislike in cartoons or anime is when everyone's out there saving the world, but there's no real reason for it or explanation. I'm not too interested in these earth shaking world shattering stories. Sometimes there might be a spin on it that is cute, but, for me, I'm more interested in personal relationships."

Golightly takes all the elements she likes from those mediums and incorporates them into her own works with School Bites, which will be published through Jim Balent's Broadsword Comics. "In my story, the girls and boys are all cute," she began. "I'm focusing on their relationships and how they react to the world around them, rather than writing a story where they all have powers and they save the world. It's been done. Frankly, whenever I read a story like that, it doesn't interest me. When I read I'm always looking at what the characters are wearing, how they interact, what they eat in their bento boxes (boxed lunches) - things like that. I use a lot of character development in my story, a great groovy wardrobe, and, of course, a yummy menu!"

"I came up with the title 'School Bites' after doodling a vampire school girl," continued Golightly. "We put the image on a t-shirt and on the back I has something like 'School Bites' with these neat bloody vampire fangs. I was never a big fan of school and really thought 'it bites!' ... so it just seemed fitting. There's a lot of other things that went into this though. I went to British school since eight grade and had to wear a uniform. My love of fashion comes from the fact that I was a fashion designer from ages 22 - 28. My love of confectionaries comes from my past cake decorator job. So, Cherri expresses a lot of things I experienced. In fact, all my writing has a grain of truth in it and is very cathartic - very cute and cathartic. I also thought, what if there were a school for vampires like there is a school for wizards in Harry Potter?"

Like Harry Potter there's a colorful cast of characters in School Bites. Golightly introduced her leads. "Cherri Creeper used to be a teen named Charlotte Webb," began Golightly, who explained that like Witches take a magick name, her vampires take a vampire name. "She was a first year student in college and was studying with an acting major. She ended up on someone's menu and was left for dead. But, like a lot of students at the Shadow Academy, she was picked up by one of the employees of the Shadow Academy to learn how to be a proper vampire. The school doesn't want a bunch of confused or rogue vampires running around - they're trying to teach them to drink responsibly. My vampires also have a sugar fortified diet to curb blood lust. Cherri has a lot of sides. She likes being dark and mysterious, but also loves being fun, light, and loving. She's very complex."

"I have another vampire who was a Vegan Wiccan, Annie Mia, before she was bitten," continued Golightly. "As you can imagine she's having a really hard time with having to drink blood to survive. So, she's depressed most of the time."

"I also have an African-American vampire named 'Cleo Batra,'" said Golightly. "She's sort of like a rock and roll star. I also have a hyperactive cheerleader vampire named 'Sugar Shock,' she's the only vampire to have pink bat wings. She's really girly and giddy. Rounding out the cast is Fujiko a Japanese vampire who can transform into a cat. The first issue is called 'Orientation' and its just that an orientation. Cherri deals with not being human anymore and starting this new life and school."

The first issue hits stores in August. It will retail for US$12.95 and it's in PREVIEWS now. It's called "Orientation." The story features Cherri finding herself after she was left for dead and realizing she isn't human anymore. If you're interested in checking this out, the DIAMOND ORDER # is JUN042309 for the regular edition. The DELUXE EDITION's order number is #JUN042310. You can learn more about the series at this link.

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