In an exclusive interview with Villain Media, writer Scott Duvall talks about the sharp laughs and the horror action within The Army of Darkness: Ash The Author (Dynamite Entertainment and Humble Bundle). Make sure to celebrate Dynamite’s 15th anniversary with their huge bundle of comics, including this Humble Bundle one-shot exclusive.
When Ash makes his way to a book signing to promote his new autobiography, a fan shows up with a different book for him to sign…the kind that is constantly out to get Ash and turn him into a deadite! Ash’s plan to promote literacy becomes a life or death romp through (and under) New York you won’t want to miss!
With the Humble Bundle one-shot exclusive available now, Scott Duvall reveals how he moved Ash from the cabin in the woods to the gritty streets of New York, how Ash’s book agent, Kelley, came about, and how social media influenced the story arc. Check out our review of The Army of Darkness: Ash The Author as we head into the writer’s studio to discuss the craft of storytelling.
Villain Media: Tell me how The Army of Darkness: Ash the Author came about?
Scott Duvall: This has actually been in the works for a little bit. Nick Barucci of Dynamite Entertainment has been working with Humble Bundle over the years and bundling great comic book content into each one. But he’s long wanted to create original content for the bundles as an extra incentive for fans to pick up the exclusive story you can’t get anywhere else. That idea has now become a reality and fans can pick up that story as of right now, which I was fortunate enough to be asked to write.
VM: I really liked the concept of a story within a story. You have the main narrative and you also have the autobiography, “I Could Have Been King: Medieval Dead.” What was challenging about having both stories run at the same time?
SD: Because of the nature of this one-and-done story, I didn’t want to get too caught up with the book’s narrative and have that bog down the momentum. I think that could be quite entertaining actually, reading the events of the Army of Darkness movie, as told by Ash through his filter. It wasn’t so much challenging as it was a fun device to play around with and pull some humor out of the idea that Ash wrote an autobiography. Coming up with story titles is not my strong suit — as you can tell from “Ash the Author” — but I felt pretty satisfied with the title of his autobio.
VM: Tell me about Kelley, Ash’s book agent/assistant. She doesn’t believe in the supernatural but she sees Ash as this cash cow.
SD: Fun fact: Kelley is based on a friend of mine, Kelley Allen of Humble Bundle. The project was actually presented to me as writing an Army of Darkness story and dropping Kelley into it for a cameo appearance. But as soon as I realized she was going to be in it, I expanded her role quite a bit and made it more of a co-starring role. I based her personality on Kelley a bit, so having her play off of Ash, and using her literary background to help inform the story, was too fun. I think she doesn’t care if anything Ash wrote about in the book is real or not. Her primary concern is selling Ash’s book, and she’s not going to let some internet troll get in the way.
VM: This is also the first time Ash has to deal with social media and cyber-bullying. Tell me about how you and letterer Taylor Esposito used hashtags and @ as a running joke.
SD: The idea of Ash having a social media presence seemed like a well of comedy. So seeing Kelley walk this luddite of a man through the process of marketing yourself and your brand to an audience online was a fun opportunity for me to point out some of the ridiculousness that comes with that steep learning curve. And Taylor, who I’ve worked with more than any other letterer, always takes everything I throw at him and makes it better. If I can bring Taylor with me onto any new project, I will! He’s that good!
VM: I really enjoyed how the story is set in New York, but without the traditional landmarks. Tell me about working on this with artists Edu Menna and Jordan Michael Johnson.
SD: New York was the natural setting, the story being set in the publishing world, but the city is merely a backdrop to where Ash is taking us. He’s such a big presence that the city kind of fades into the background, perhaps more than other stories that take the lead character on location to NYC. There are some really standout panels throughout the story that had the Army of Darkness fan in me bursting with joy. I was lucky to be paired up with artists who clearly have a love for this property, same as I do. Being a one-shot issue, the process went by in a bit of a blur, and I’m excited to share what we created together.
VM: From the yellow taxis to Kelley’s red dress to Ash’s subway fight, tell me how you and colorist Salvatore Ailala brought to life a New York story. It’s not the usual Ash “in the woods” setting.
SD: You’re right, not at all a typical place where we would find Ash, which was part of the challenge for me was dropping him in an unfamiliar setting and seeing where that leads us. Plus, the whole story takes place during the day, so less opportunity for creepy shadows and darkness filling the frames to heighten the horror atmosphere. Salvatore did a great job creating a consistent look throughout, and making Ash look groovy throughout, whether under Edu or Jordan’s line art.
VM: How did The Army of Darkness: Ash the Author change you as a storyteller?
SD: I wouldn’t say it changed me as a storyteller, but it served as a good reminder that all I need as a writer is a couple good prompts to get the creative juices flowing, and then a new story presents itself. While I love telling long, epic stories, it’s also good practice to work on more short-form storytelling where the reader is getting one complete story and you don’t need to worry about manufacturing a cliffhanger ending.
VM: What are you working on now?
SD: I have some projects in the works for 2020 that I’m really looking forward to and am unfortunately sworn to secrecy. But my next published work will actually be a prose story I wrote for Ted Adams’ Diablo House anthology from Clover Press. It’ll be my first published work in prose so I’m excited for that, and it’ll still be dipping my toe into darker material that fans of anthologies such as Creepshow and The Twilight Zone should appreciate. Anyone who knows me or my work knows how much I love time travel stories and so naturally this one also features time travel.
Get your Humble Bundle exclusive of The Army of Darkness: Ash the Author here.
[Writer’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Links are highlighted in bold.]