Exclusive Interview: Dark Horse Editor Scott Allie Shines A Light On The Dark World Of Abe Sapien
For almost two decades, Scott Allie has been a key player at Dark Horse Comics, editing franchises like Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Allie soon began writing the occasional title and picked up the role of the company’s Editor-in-Chief. These days, Allie has joined Mignola in writing the ongoing series, Abe Sapien.
Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer caught up exclusively with the writer/editor to discuss Abe’s book, the character’s future and working in the “Mignola-verse.”
Cosmic Book News: First, Scott, congratulations on being named the Guest Editor of Honor at the 2012 World Horror Convention. What was that experience like?
Scott Allie: That was great. I had my son with me, we made a road trip of it, hung with Mignola, Joe Lansdale, Mimi Cruz from Salt Lake's Night Flight Comics. It was very different from a comics convention, and a lot of fun. My son really bonded with this couple that were doing a zombie comic.
Scott Allie: Well, absolutely straight horror. Usually in comics, horror is sort of horror adventure, which is not that different from what Howard did with Kane, in particular. But I love it when I can use comics to tell something more traditionally horror, less demands for action.
Scott Allie: It started with the BPRD one- and two-shots we did last year. Mike had some horror stories he wanted to do, different from what he was doing with Arcudi on the regular BPRD series. So we did these less actiony horror stories, Pickens County Horror and The Transformation of JH O'Donnell. With those, we did the sort of downbeat horror stories we wanted to do, with some more old-fashioned supernatural material than what John does in BPRD. We liked that, and then we talked about what was going on with Abe. Abe was in a coma at the time, and we knew he was gonna wake up, and go AWOL from the BPRD. The idea of turning that into a bigger story, a story all its own, grew out of that. The BPRD stories are generally real big-scale, and sort of earth-shattering. We wanted to have room to do smaller stories, see what the end of the world looks like from the ground level. And Abe's story gives us the opportunity to do that.
Scott Allie: I love the artists. Max Fiumara and Sebastian Fiumara are incredible, and it's really exciting writing for them. That's the best thing about the book. But it's really a dream come true to write a story about an inhuman character running around the apparent end of the world running into one bizarre horror story after another. One of the best things in my life is the road trips I'm able to take, sometimes with my family, sometimes solo. This book feels like that. I'm really making the locations part of the fun, trying to bring them to life, and place horrible things there. So I enjoy that aspect. As for Abe, his design, thanks to Mike, is phenomenal. That's incredible. But I think Abe is a really intelligent character, and right now he's really conflicted about who he is, what he's done, and what he's supposed to do next. Sometimes I like darker characters, but I like that Abe is burdened, but essentially just a terribly good person. Or good … something.
Scott Allie: It varies, but on some stories, the plot comes from him, I fill in the details, and then we fine-tune it together. On a lot of it, I pitch him a story in broad strokes, he gives me some specific Mignola bits, and then I script it, with only a little oversight from him. We were talking through a major turning point in the series, sort of the biggest event in the series, and at the end of the call we couldn't figure out who had come up with what. That's the best kind of collaboration. We get that with the Whedon books a lot, too.
Scott Allie: The biggest question for Abe right now is just what the hell is he, and what does he have to do with what's going on in the world. The question of what his soul is made of comes up in this book. That's a big challenge. Perhaps the bigger challenge is a big Ogdru Hem -- that is, a C'thulhu-type monster that he fights. But they're sort of parallel
Scott Allie: I like writing better, but I think that's partly because I do it part time. My time writing is special. If I had to write full time, there'd be a certain grind to it that I think would reduce the pleasure. For the next few years I look forward to sort of getting all my personal creative pleasure from what I can do in the Abe Sapien series, and then just being the best editor I can be on a lot of other books.
Scott Allie: Sebastian blows my mind. We worked with Max on O'Donnell last year, and we knew we wanted to do more with him. Then he said his brother was interested, and we checked out Seba's work, and said, yeah, let's get both these guys busy full time! Seba, like Laurence Campbell on BPRD, brings something really nice to our books. Our books are so stylized, and the world is getting increasingly different from the real world. Laurence and Sebastian help ground it. They help remind readers what this all might "really" look like if this were the real world. I don't normally care about that in comics, but these days in BPRD, while we're bringing about the end of the world, I think we get something out of making things seem a bit more realistic. But then I'm happy we contrast that with James Harren and Max Fiumara and Tyler Crook, etc., who give us more of that Mignola-style distortion.
Scott Allie: So many! A lot of new things are coming from the Mignola-world. We're wrapping up Buffy Season 9 in the next couple months, and laying the foundation for Season 10. But we have a lot of new cool horror books. Victor Gischler, who wrote Spike for Season 9, is doing some new creator-owned stuff, starting with Witch Hunt, a horror comic we're launching this summer. Alex de Campi has a new series, Grindhouse, which is sort of a garish horror anthology -- though of course quite smart, coming from us and Alex. Steve Niles has a new Criminal Macabre series launching, as well as one of the best, most poignant horror stories he's ever done, with Breath of Bones, a comic about the golem in World War II. That's a great one. I've been using it to coach my kid on reading—it's not really a kid’s book, though. I just have interesting parenting techniques.
Cosmic Book News would like to thank Scott Allie for taking time out of his busy schedule during convention season to talk with us, and also thanks to Dark Horse’s Jeremy S. Atkins for helping make this interview possible.
“Abe Sapien” #2 hits shelves May 1st!