“He’s the best soldier we got,” Campbell says of Sgt. Rock’s appeal. “He has no superpowers, except the fact that he’s courageous, loyal, and smart. He thinks on his feet, and he has an incredible band of dudes that he can take to hell and back and…they love it when they’re in the thick of it…They’re just the right team to put against a bad adversary.”
When asked if he brought any cinematic inspiration to Rock, Campbell recalls his love for classic movies.
“Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, those are all my guys. And so Sgt. Rock, to me was the most old school. He’s low tech. He’s a door kicker. He’s a he’s a face puncher. You still gotta have those guys to win wars. It can’t all be pushing buttons from drones…But in this case, if you want to defeat Hitler and an army of the dead, you’re gonna have to roll up your sleeves and get dirty.”
Campbell, whose career is built on a foundation of horror and other genres, saw an opportunity to put a horror stamp on the character by tying him to one of history’s genuine monsters, as Rock and Easy Company will finally get their shot at Adolf Hitler himself. Campbell looked to Hitler’s known pharmaceutical addiction and his creepy real-life Doctor Theodor Morell, for inspiration on bringing in the more fantastic elements of the story.
“Hitler had probably about eight to 10 drugs pumping through his system… they’d give him amphetamines to give a speech and then had to knock him down to get him out,” Campbell says. “That guy was a walking pharmaceutical. And this quack, Doctor Morel…part of his job at the time was to feed the soldiers amphetamines, so it was no secret that they could fight in battles for two, three days. And they then went over the Ardennes into France in three days, because nobody slept and the other the other soldiers were like ‘what the fuck, we have to stop and take a shit every so often.’ So I just clicked it into overdrive. Hitler’s losing the war. He’s desperate. He’s got nothing but dead bodies lying around. How can we use these resources? So it’s a combination of Hitler and his drugs, with new technology, maybe a little chip to keep the neurons firing. But you know, these are zombies.”
Campbell is paired with Eisner-winning artist Eduardo Risso, whose moody sensibilities are a perfect match for the weird, gonzo violence of the book’s central premise.