Army of Darkness (as in Evil Dead) returns to the world of comics today with a new first issue. We caught up with Army of Darkness writer Elliott Serrano (who likes to pretend he’s a mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper as the “Geek To Me” columnist at the Chicago Tribune’s Redeye) to talk about Ash, Bruce Campbell and the new series.
The Beat: How many comics-related jobs did you hold before actually writing a comic?
Elliott: Prior to getting my first writing gig I’d interned at Devil’s Due Studios in Chicago… It was an unpaid internship, but it gave me a lot of insight into the production of comics. I was able to read scripts from some noted pros, like Larry Hama, Brandon Jerwa and John Nee Rieber. I was able to familiarize myself with the format, and even see what editors were looking for in a script
Elliott: Not really. CCW was done as a hobby, even though the show took off and attracted a substantial fanbase, I always viewed it as a social experiment. Now, had it generated revenue, I may have viewed it differently
The Beat: Comic book publishers have notoriously thin skin. Did CCW help you or hurt you in your quest to write comics?
Elliott: To be honest, I’m not really sure. I know that several comic pros have seen the show and have expressed that they liked the show, that they found it entertaining… but I’ve yet to hear from any of the editors or publishers from Marvel or DC about any critical comments we may have made on the show. There’s an episode that I hope Joe Quesada never sees…
The Beat: Well, Joe’s not really doing the comics day-to-day at this point, fortunately for you. This will be your second go-round with Army of Darkness?
Elliott: Yes…I’ve been doing mostly mini-series and one-shots…this is my first go at a monthly series all my previous work has been in the AoD Universe… so this has been a nice transition.
The Beat: How did you end up starting out on a licensed property?
b It was a case of right place/right time, I guess. I’d gotten to know Joe Rybandt of Dynamite Entertainment through Brandon Jerwa…Brandon was called on to complete the first Xena/Army of Darkness miniseries, and then was asked to write the sequel. Brandon, knowing my love of the Evil Dead series asked if I’d be intrested in co-writing the mini. Joe agreed and I got my first pro-credit co-writing the book with Brandon… Joe then asked if I’d be interested in doing an AoD one-shot…which turned out to be issue #18… and then came Ash Saves Obama…the critically acclaimed mini-…
I call it that because only the critics read it… and now I’m on the AoD monthly… I’ve pitched for other properties in the Dynamite stable…but AoD is where I’ve had my success.
The Beat: How do you approach working on a licensed property?
Elliott: I’m not sure it’s different from how you approach any property that you don’t own… you have to have a familiarity with the characters and the world they inhabit… but not only that… know how to stay true to the original conceit you almost have to be ready to hit a ‘reset’ button after each story.
The Beat: Returning to the status quo?
Elliott: Pretty much.
The Beat: What kind of leeway do you have to make additions to the mythology. For instance, the giant gunslinging rabbit from the early Star Wars comics will still pop up every once in a while.
Elliott: Joe Rybandt gives me a lot of leeway, but he also has a sense of how he wants the series to go… I’ve pitched some stuff that went ‘out there’ a bit… much like Jaxxon the Rabbit from Star Wars… and Joe will say “I’d like to keep things more grounded.” There’s still a lot of territory to cover, though
The Beat: You’re starting out with a female Ash in the new book?
Elliott: Yes, that actually was proposed by Dynamite Comics Publisher Nick Barrucci… he wanted to add a new character to the mythos… two in fact.
The Beat: The other being?
Elliott: The alien deadite that appears in the first issue… Nick wanted to have a ‘Deadpool’ type character running amok in the AoD Universe. It really got my creative juices flowing…considering all the possibilities that these new characters could introduce. The female Ash has gotten all the attention though…which, quite frankly, has caught me by surprise
The Beat: Actually, I could a similarities between the smack-talking Necronomicon and Deadpool. As to the female Ash… will your expertise as a relationship/sex columnist come into play with that?
Elliott: HAHA! I think to say I have ‘expertise’ would be a stretch… but… I do have some strong opinions about how female characters should be portrayed in comics, so I’ll be leaning on those more so. Then again…I may also use the philosophy Jack Nicholson’s character in “As Good As It Get” used: “Think of a man and remove all reason and accountability.”
The Beat: I tend to think of you more as Jack Nicholson marking territory in “Wolf,” but does this mean (male) Ash will be developing a sense of reason and accountability?
Elliott: Ash has always had that, believe it or not… he’s demonstrated it over the years in the movies and in the books
but what we will be seeing in the new series is that Ash’s sanity may not be as sound as we would like to believe.
The Beat: How many issues will the first arc run?
Elliott: The opening arc with the “female Ash” lasts 4 issues…I have a grander story arc plotted out for the first year
The Beat: Subplots and subtext?
Elliott: A bit. I’m also hoping to pull in some elements from my previous AoD work as well as a character or two from the Evil Dead video games. I consider all the games as part of the AoD ‘canon’… so I’d rather not ignore it.
The Beat: An “extended universe,” so to speak?
Elliott: You could call it that.
The Beat: You’ve been reaching out to Bruce Campbell while working on the book. Has anything come fo that?
Elliott: Not to my knowledge, no. At least not when it’s come to the comic. I’ve interacted with him on Twitter and he’s responded once or twice… I even tweeted a previous interview I did where I made him an offer in exchange for his blessing on the AoD comic… but he’s never addressed it directly. For all I know he’s read the interview but is just disregarding it. that’s his prerogative. I will say again, that I have a tremendous amount of admiration and respect for what he’s done with the movies… and I doubt I would have become such a fan of them if not for him.
The Beat: What should the comics reader know about the new Army of Darkness comic before they go into the shop today?
Elliott: I’ve written the comic so that most anyone who is a fan of comic books can pick it up and enjoy. You don’t need to have read the previous AoD comics, although having at least seen the movie will help with familiarity with the themes and universe. I shared the book with a comic book critic who had never read the books or seen the movie, and she told me she enjoyed it… so accessibility was important for me as I was writing it. I use some old-school Marvel Comics style recaps in my scripts, so I hope that helps.