(Courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment)
In an exclusive interview with Villain Media, writer Scott Duvall talks about his horror crossover event with Army Of Darkness vs. Bubba Ho-Tep #1 (Dynamite Entertainment and IDW Publishing). Find out what happens when the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll ends up crossing paths with Ash, from S-Mart’s Housewares.
Ash embarks on a soul-searching road trip to Texas on a hunch that Elvis Presley may still be alive and kicking (and supposedly vanquished a mummy)! What follows is a series of universe-spanning events that involve an Elvis jumpsuit with special time-travel abilities, a trip to 70’s Vegas, plus the reveal of an evil new Book of the Dead, the Necronomicon Ho-Tep. Has Ash met his ultimate match when trading barbs with a 4,000-year-old, foul-mouthed mummy who sucks souls? Can his idol Elvis mentor him through a mid-life crisis before it becomes his final crisis?
With the first issue hitting stores on February 13th, 2019, writer Scott Duvall opens up about how the two horror franchises came together, where the story take place after the movies ended, and working with artist Vincenzo Federici. So join me and Duvall as we walk into the writer’s studio and discuss Army Of Darkness vs. Bubba Ho-Tep.
Villain Media: Tell me how you became involved with Army of Darkness vs. Bubba Ho-Tep.
Scott Duvall: I’ve been a fan of both movies for years. They’re the kind of rewatchable movies I keep in regular rotation. Army of Darkness was always high up on my wish list of series to write for, especially with Dynamite keeping Ash popular in comics for all these years and mixing it up with so many other iconic characters along the way. Once it occurred to me that there had never been a crossover between these two classic Bruce Campbell movies, I was determined to find a way to make Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep a reality.
Luckily, my friends at IDW Publishing had acquired the license to publish Joe Lansdale’s prequel story, Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers, and that really paved the way to get us here. Luckier still, both publishers, Joe, and MGM all thought it was a good idea. I’m still in disbelief everytime new art hits in my inbox from Vincenzo, Michele [Monte], and Taylor [Esposito] — dream collaborators all.
VM: What I love about the Evil Dead franchise is that Ash is never depicted in one way. In the first movie, he’s the everyman. In the sequel, he’s a fighter on the verge of going insane. In the third installment, he’s this sarcastic slacker. Was that freeing when adapting Ash into your story?
SD: That’s true, there’s a bit of an evolution to his personality between appearances. I wanted to continue that character arc towards the more seasoned Ash we know today, exploring him at a time when he’s more aware of his age than ever before and grappling with his mortality. I leaned way into Campbell’s depiction of Ash in Army of Darkness, as I honestly feel it’s his best turn as the character, and that informed his dialogue in every situation. Putting words in Ash’s mouth is about as fun as it gets when it comes to writing established characters. It’s such a distinct voice and no matter the quality of the story, if you don’t buy that Ash would say that, it pulls you out of the story, so all those repeat viewings over the years really paid off!
VM: The first issue does a great job recapping what happened in Bubba Ho-Tep, without giving everything away. Tell me about retelling a story for new readers and for people who haven’t seen the indie cult classic.
SD: Thank you! It was a team effort as the visuals really help with those flashback sequences to fill the readers in on some of the backstory. My hope with anything I write is that you don’t need to have any prior knowledge to go into it and still get something out of the story, but for those who have seen Army of Darkness and Bubba Ho-Tep, it’ll enhance your experience with the tributes paid to what came before. It was important to reference Bubba Ho-Tep as well to inform readers that the action takes place following those previous events in the timeline. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a direct sequel to the original Bubba story –Joe Lansdale should have the final say– but it certainly plays like a continuation, building on that world he created.
VM: Tell me about working with artist Vincenzo Federici on this project.
SD: Vincenzo is incredible! I absolutely loved his character sheets from the moment I laid eyes on them, and he’s bringing so much energy to this project, it’s a joy to watch. Every fight scene he excels at and pushes me to find ways to make it even crazier the next time there’s an action beat to play to his strengths. His talent is easily on display, leveling up with each issue, but then he has the nerve to be a super nice guy on top of that. Naturally I can’t wait to work with him again soon!
But we’d be sunk without Michele Monte’s atmospheric colors that fills the reader with dread throughout while also adding a cinematic flair to everything he touches. That goes for Taylor Esposito whose letters make everything I write better. Dig those groovy chainsaw captions for Ash!
VM: What I love about the first issue is how artist Vincenzo Federici brought in the signature trademarks of both franchises, from the POV shots in Evil Dead to Elvis’ white suit in Bubba Ho-Tep. Was bringing the cinematic visual keys into the comic book realm a challenge when writing the script?
SD: I’m glad you picked up on those items! I wouldn’t say that was particularly challenging, as with any time you’re playing in someone else’s sandbox, you want to use as many of the toys at your disposal in order to tell the best story you can. This particular story could only exist using these characters and their environments. And so, it was important to the team that we honor each franchise while also finding a way to make them naturally gel together in a compelling way. There are some easter eggs in there for hardcore fans as well that are more subtle but further ties things to the source material. This is Ash entering Elvis’ world as he’s very much out of his element throughout, but it still feels like an Army of Darkness story through and through.
VM: What I love about these crossover events, like Batman vs. Predator or The Punisher Meets Archie, is the big battle between the main characters. I love that only do we get a confrontation between Ash and Elvis, where there’s a clear winner at the end. Tell me about writing this action-packed sequence and going nuts with Elvis’ martial arts skills.
SD: For those who don’t know, the real Elvis Presley was a student of karate and I wanted to depict him in his twilight years as someone who had mastered those skills long ago and could still take care of himself. You’re right, it’s fun to watch these characters face-off, while also discovering more about them in the process. Without giving too much away about Ash and Elvis’ spar — which is one of my favorite scenes, brilliantly realized by the art team — I wanted the reader to understand the dynamic between these two characters and make it clear who was the master and who was still in need of guidance. Hint: that would be Ash!
VM: How did Army of Darkness vs. Bubba Ho-Tep #1 change you as a storyteller?
SD: Good question! I think it made me a more confident storyteller. The level of trust I received throughout the whole process to handle two separate licenses and bring them together for the first time was incredibly freeing. Getting Joe Lansdale’s seal of approval is particularly confidence boosting. Writing for characters that you didn’t create is a real privilege and you never want to miss the mark and feel like you’re letting fans down, but going into the debut issue, I’m feeling great about what our team has produced and can’t wait for everyone to read it!
VM: What are you working on now?
SD: I have some creator-owned projects on the horizon, but it’s too early to talk specifics other than to say it’s a mix of sci-fi, horror, post-apocalyptic. I have a long gestating Western project with my talented artist friend Ralf Singh who is just wrapping up Zinnober over at Scout (which everyone should check out) so hopefully I’ll have more news on that soon!
Army Of Darkness vs. Bubba Ho-Tep #1 arrives in stores February 13th, 2019.
[Writer’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity. Links are highlighted in bold.]