Ash Williams is a larger-than-life character, but is the world ready for more than one of him? Readers are going to find out in Death to the Army of Darkness #1 from Dynamite Comics. Taking place just after the Army of Darkness movie, a bad translation of the Necronomicon is at the heart of the problem, leading to versions of Ash such as the female Ashley Williams, the erratic Lil’ Ash, Dash aka Doggie Ash, Skeleton Ash, and Chainy, Ash’s now sentient chainsaw.
At the helm are writer Ryan Parrott (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Batman: Gates of Gotham) and artist Jacob Edgar (Savage Tales: Red Sonja), with colorist Kike J. Diaz (Sherlock Frankenstein, Ether) and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Red Sonja, Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt) completing the creative team.
The Beat chatted with Parrott and Edgar about the upcoming comedy-horror book.
Deanna Destito: What inspired the premise of this new series?
Ryan Parrott: My editor, Nathan Cosby, actually called me up one day. He’d read some of my work on Power Rangers and was tossing around the idea of doing a “Team Ash” book. Ash is such an iconic character and I loved the idea of trying to surround him with his own team of misfits. At first, we talked about it being Ashes from other realities, but we realized there was already a precedent set for clones and dopplegangers with “Evil Ash” from “Army of Darkness.” And character-wise, we started to really gravitate toward forcing Ash to come face-to-face with different parts of his own personality and it slowly started turning into a story about responsibility and what it means to be “The Chosen One.”
Destito: How big of an Army of Darkness fan are you?
Parrott: Have I read Bruce Campbell’s autobiography If Chins Could Kill? Yes, I have. Have I been playing exclusively with “Ash” for over a year on the horror game, Dead By Daylight? Yes, I have. I actually saw the trilogy backwards in college because of a friend and, I will argue that to this day, there is no better horror hero than “Ash.” Being able to put words in his mouth and add a brick to the legacy wall of a character I love is an insane pleasure.
Jacob Edgar: I came to it late. Right when I took on this project, if I’m being honest. I’ve been familiar with the franchise for a long time, I had seen a lot of Bruce Campbell’s other work (can we do a Brisco County Jr comic next??) but not Evil Dead and Army of Darkness. So immediately after signing on I got to dive in and binge the movies, the Starz show…it’s been a blast. I don’t have the history with it that Ryan does, but I loved it immediately.
Destito: Where does this fall in the mythology and can new fans jump in easily?
Parrott: My approach to nearly every comic series is to try and make it accessible to both hardcore and casual fans alike. And since you can’t guarantee everyone has seen every movie or read every comic series beforehand, I built this story so a person could pick up the first issue only knowing that Ash was the hero of Army of Darkness. Now, since I’m also a fan, there are definitely elements and Easter Eggs for people who are paying attention… but this one is its own story that simply takes place in the world of Army of Darkness.
Destito: Do you find it easier or harder to illustrate something so well known and played by such a distinct, animated actor like Bruce Campbell?
Edgar: I think it’s easier in a lot of ways. Ash as a character is already built for me, that work is done. I know what he wears, I know what he drives, I know what kind of guy he is which informs set design and character acting. I love Bruce Campbell, and I love how expressive Ash is. That’s definitely something I’m trying to translate into our book.
Destito: What was your process for designing each Ash?
Edgar: For Ash himself, I wasn’t ever interested in trying to make a realistic depiction of Bruce Campbell. I don’t think my style lends to that, but also…you really have to nail that EVERY panel, or the panels that are off are going to take the reader out of it. The other thing I wanted to be conscious of was not exaggerating his chin too much, or his build. I think that’s a pitfall sometimes. Ash is fairly fit, but he’s not Batman.
When it came to Ashley, I really wanted her to have a unique look of her own. Reminiscent of Ash, but with some twists. And those twists were never going to be cleavage and booty shorts, which is another pitfall for something like this. Ashley is probably the most tactical and dangerous of the bunch, that’s what needed to come across.
The others are pretty straightforward. Dash is a Boxer dog and we gave him a blue bandana to echo Ash’s shirts. Bones is based on that famous Evil Dead 2 poster, the skeleton with eyes. But I’m getting to add costuming to him in issue #2, which is making him much more fun (and easier to draw!). Then we’ve got Lil Ash who is an exaggerated and extra crazy version of the Ash gremlins from Army of Darkness. I hope readers will love all these weirdos as much as we do.
Destito: How has it been working with the creative team to bring the series to life?
Edgar: This has been especially fun for me because it’s my first time doing multiple issues of something. Ryan’s scripts are a blast to draw and Kike is going to be a superstar colorist, I love the energy he’s bringing. Hassan is one of the best letterers around and I just hope I don’t make his job harder than it has to be. Nate’s been my editor since 2017 and he always gets the best out of everyone, we’re in great hands.
Destito: Of the Ashes, which clone is your favorite?
Parrott: Oh man. I have to tell you which one of my kids is the favorite? This won’t come back to bite me. Oddly enough, it has kinda depended on which issue I’m writing. In the second issue, it was Ashley, Ash’s feminine side because I loved that she wasn’t afraid to call Ash on his tricks. In the third issue, it was Dash, the dog version of Ash, because he started to become the leader, but in the fourth, it became Bones, the walking Skeleton version of Ash, because I started to realize just how in over his head he felt, and that was fun to write. Maybe that’s me dodging your question… but I like the voices of all the characters, it feels almost unfair to choose.
Edgar: At first I was telling everyone Dash, the dog. Because dogs are always best. But I’m really starting to love Bones, the cowardly skeleton. His character is so different from everyone and everything else, he’s really fun to play with.
Destito: What can fans expect in future issues?
Parrott: I think if you love Army of Darkness as much as I do, well… I tried to put in all the hallmarks of the series: Action, adventure, horror and humor. We’ll have Deadite possessions and chainsaw decapitations, and it wouldn’t be complete without a little time travel. For hardcore fans, we’ll get into some of the reasons behind the creation of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis and even the philosophy behind the Deadites themselves. Hopefully, if people like it… this will be the first step into some epic mythological Army of Darkness storytelling, because… we have plans… but if not, I hope people will be happy with a lot of blood, guts and boomsticks.
Death to the Army of Darkness #1 can be preordered at your local comic shop this month. The issue hits shelves in February. For digital, head over to Comixology, Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Dynamite Digital, ComicsPlus, and more.