There’s never been a better time to see your favorite comic book characters meet on the big screen than right now. However, if you’re a horror fan, now is also a great time to see some of your favorite big screen characters meet on the comic book page. I’m talking about Dynamite Comics’ groovy and gory mashup series, Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep, a horror adventure that brings two of Bruce Campbell’s greatest characters together for a high-stakes battle against the undead.
We got the chance to talk to Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep writer Scott Duvall about horror comics, cult films, and what makes both of franchises so resonant with horror fans. Check out what he had to say below, and once you do, check out the conclusion to Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep, out this Wednesday, June 5th!
“…to see [Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep] become a reality is truly a crazy dream come true!”
Grant DeArmitt for Nightmare on Film Street: How did this comic come about? Whose idea was it to bring Ash and Elvis together and when are they getting their Nobel?
Scott Duvall: I admit, I came up with the idea so to see it become a reality is truly a crazy dream come true! I had approached Dynamite about doing this as a crossover a few years ago shortly after I noticed that two Bruce Campbell characters had crossed paths before in Dynamite’s Army of Darkness/Xena crossover series. That sparked the thought that Ash should meet Elvis from Bubba Ho-Tep and from there the concept was born and I was on a mission. Once IDW got into the Bubba Ho-Tep comics business, courtesy of creator/writer Joe R. Lansdale, it made the dream a little more within reach. I took another stab at it and, luckily, they went for it!
NOFS: What connects the two stories? Has Bubba Ho-Tep been a Deadite all along?
SD: To answer the second question, no, Bubba Ho-Tep, as he was dubbed by Elvis, was a mummy when we met him in the original Lansdale story and movie adaptation, and he died a mummy, so the original story we’re telling here changes nothing of what happened in previous events. But more on Bubba later… After hearing about Elvis supposedly taking down a mummy in Texas, he can’t resist hitting the road to see for himself if there’s any truth to the rumor. So while these two deal in the supernatural, there isn’t anything mystical about their worlds crossing over, they already exist on the same plane of reality.
NOFS: Can you cue us in on the dynamic between Ash and Elvis? What do our heroes think of each other?
SD: I think what connects these two characters and their worlds is the fact that Ash and Elvis encounter some crazy, inhuman, obstacles in their individual journeys, and so they can relate to each other on that level. At first they both question the others’ sanity and so there’s some personality conflicts to iron out, but once they realize they’re both on the same team, it doesn’t take long for them to find common ground, and by issue three they feel like old friends who have always known each other.
NOFS: As for our villain, how did he survive the events of Bubba Ho-Tep?
SD: He didn’t! However, Bubba has risen again, and this time he’s powered by the Evil Force that Ash is real familiar with, making Bubba a half-mummy/half-deadite hybrid, and twice as dangerous, sucking innocent souls left and right.
NOFS: These are two franchises with loyal cult followings. What goes through your mind as you approach writing them?
SD: As a fan myself, I strive to live up to fan expectations and not squander this opportunity we’ve been given to try and tell the best story imaginable of the first meeting of these two beloved franchises. I knew both of these worlds colliding could work, and that when you’re playing with properties that have built-in audiences, you absolutely must take into account the history of the characters and what makes them tick. Particularly when it comes to the way they talk and interact with each other, that was very important to me to get right. Making sure Ash and Elvis sounded like themselves was crucial to getting fans on board because as soon as you lose their voices, you lose the reader, so it had to have that level of authenticity. Listening to them talk on a loop as I viewed the movies back-to-back-to-back during the plotting phase really helped to get their established voices in my head as I dove into the script.
“…not only can [Vincenzo Federici] draw some scary looking mummies, but [he] also injects a lot of visual humor into the work, as well as dazzle with some of the most amazing fight choreography I’ve ever seen illustrated.”
NOFS: As someone who gets to experience these franchises like no one else, what do you think makes a cult classic?
SD: For me, it really comes down to the characters and their enduring personalities. I’ve seen a lot of different fandoms in the time I’ve been involved in entertainment, and the passion these followings have is a pretty powerful thing to witness, especially when you’re near the epicenter of something that’s bigger than yourself. It’s powered by people in large numbers who revolve their lives around something and now conventions and social media are making it easier for these fans to find each other. But again, it comes down to creating characters that people care what happens to them and we never tire of. Ash and Elvis certainly fit that bill.
NOFS: The art in this book is by the fabulous Vincenzo Federici. What makes his art special, and where do you think we see that in this comic?
SD: I got so incredibly lucky with my art team on this book! I really think it’s one of the most distinct looking Army of Darkness crossover comics I’ve ever seen so I’m proud that it stands out, and that’s in part thanks to Vincenzo’s incredible skills. He was really egging me on to keep raising the stakes and try to incorporate some monsters for him to draw, and so I rose to the challenge and the series is so much better for it, which you can really see his influence on the direction we take in issue 3. He not only can draw some scary looking mummies, but also injects a lot of visual humor into the work, as well as dazzle with some of the most amazing fight choreography I’ve ever seen illustrated. Not only did I luck out with Vincenzo, but the colors by Michele Monte are a stand-out too. He brings a lot of intensity to the pages with his striking color palette and the perfect moodiness to each scene. I also am fortunate to be working alongside my friend Taylor Esposito who it’s been said before, is one of the best letterers in comics working today. He brings a lot of personality to the project, catering captions to the characters and giving the reader just a little something extra to add to their enjoyment. We’re all fans so we’re trying to bring our A-game and live up to the source material.
NOFS: The last issue of Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep comes out June 5th. Without spoiling the ending, can you give us a glimpse into the future of Ash & Elvis’s comic book adventures?
SD: The final showdown takes place in Graceland, except Elvis’ private jet just took a nosedive into the dining room and the mansion is now engulfed in flames. I will say for Bubba Ho-Tep fans that a familiar character will pop up during a crucial moment and it’s probably not who you’re thinking!
NOFS: And for the Scott Duvall fans that are born of this book, what other books of yours can Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep readers check out?
SD: The last series I wrote was a sci-fi mini called Narcopolis: Continuum published by Heavy Metal, and I’ll actually be re-teaming with the artist Ralf Singh on another story for Heavy Metal Magazine in the near future which is one of the craziest things I’ve ever written, but Ralf said he wanted to draw a T-Rex. I have a couple other projects in the pipeline, but nothing I can talk about just yet. Stay tuned!
NOFS: Finally, not everyone who wants to get into comics is into superheroes. What horror comics can you recommend, both past and present, to bring horror fans into comics?
SD: Great question! My #1 recommendation for horror comics is Locke & Key. If you haven’t yet checked that out, do yourself a favor and get it. I used to hand my copy of volume 1 to friends and co-workers in order to get them hooked just so I would have someone to talk to about L&K. That series is so well done on every level from the compelling narrative and cast of characters to the beautiful artwork on every page. Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodríguez created a true modern masterpiece!
“The final showdown takes place in Graceland, except Elvis’ private jet just took a nosedive into the dining room and the mansion is now engulfed in flames”
As we mentioned earlier, the conclusion of Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep arrives in stores everywhere this Wednesday, June 5th. You won’t want to miss the conclusion of this epic horror mashup, so head to your local comic book store ASAP!
For more comic book horror, check out NOFS’s interview with Jordie Bellaire, writer of the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer series from Boom! Studios. And if you’ve already checked that out, take a look at our review of indie horror comic Blood and Gourd. We’ve got even more comic book horror content coming up, so be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts for when those pieces come up. And for all your horror interviews, plus news and reviews, keep lurking at Nightmare on Film Street.