Dynamite Entertainment (Army of Darkness versus Re-Animator)
Some match-ups were meant to be: Freddy versus Jason. Apollo Creed versus Rocky. Godzilla versus King Kong. Such things fueled the imagination in my youth. I can't tell ya how many times I doodled pictures of Pumpkinhead taking on Rawhead Rex or Snake Plissken duking it out with Mad Max. Okay, so I was a geek, what of it? Regardless of the fact that drawing gruesome, epic battles diverted any attention of the female kind – and that the "versus" movies I cooked up in my brain could never possibly happen due to rights issues – I had hope that perhaps someday we'll see them happen. That said, here's a battle that might catch your fancy: Ash versus Herbert West. Sound great or what? Well, kiddo, it's happening. Not on the big screen but within the pages of Dynamite Entertaiment's Army of Darkness versus Re-Animator.
The four-issue story arc will serve to kick off Dynamite's latest Army of Darkness series which goes monthly this July following the hit titles AoD: Ashes 2 Ashes and AoD: Shop Till You Drop Dead. In the story arc, penned by James Kuhoric and illustrated by Sanford Greene and Scott Kester, Ash is committed to Arkham Asylum where he comes across Herbert West who's obviously been meddling with his re-agent. Dread Central caught up with Kuhoric, Greene and Dynamite's J. Allen to learn more.
Ryan Rotten: First of all, congrats on going monthly...obviously this means the last two Army of Darkness installments went well. Are you surprised at all by the success or did ya always have faith that those hardcore AoD fans were out there to support the book?
James Kuhoric: Well, being one of the hardcore 'Army of Darkness' fans, I had a pretty good inkling that other fans would support a comic series that was true to the spirit - in this case the 'Deadite spirit' - of the ‘Evil Dead' films. The movies took on a life of their own thanks to the incredible performances by Bruce Campbell and vision of Sam Rami. Let's face it, these two guys were horror visionaries and the movies they treated us to are now timeless genre classics. Hey, if you can't appreciate a guy being knocked silly by his possessed hand and then cutting it off with a chainsaw, you probably shouldn't be reading the new Army of Darkness comics. For those of us who prefer our anti-heroes with a big chin and even bigger mouth, come get some.
Sanford Greene: I think it's a little of both. The 'AoD' movies have not been out for about ten years or so, but you mention the 'AoD' or any of the other movies and people all of a sudden start to quote lines from the movies!!! It always seems to amaze me how strong of a following 'AoD' has.
RR: So you guys are kickin' the new series off by pitting Ash versus Herbert West. To horror fans this is like peanut butter and chocolate (if you dig on that combo). I personally think it's a helluva lot better than any Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash idea. How'd the whole crossover come about, by the way?
JK: Ash vs. West – it does go together like the King's peanut butter and bananas doesn't it? After we finished 'Army of Darkness: Shop Till You Drop Dead,' the folks at Dynamite Entertainment were kind enough to give me another opportunity to play in the 'AoD' playground. I pitched a bunch of ideas for Ash's continuing adventures, but the D.E. crew threw out the curve ball. They suggested pairing 'Army of Darkness' with their incarnation of the 'Re-Animator' – it was a simplistically obvious hit! Both properties have the same crazy edge. Set it in Arkham Asylum mental institution with a cultist Ash wannabe and a sexy sorceress and you've got the recipe for destruction in 'Army of Darkness: Ash vs. Re-Animator'!
RR: Was it difficult for you to bring the two concepts together and keep the proper feel for each?
JK: It was extremely difficult. Both properties have such a history and fan following that we wanted to incorporate and treat them with the proper attention. The tone in this story is so important, that we actually completely re-wrote the first issue to make sure it had the perfect mix of Ash & West. The final script should appeal to Lovecraft fans and ‘AoD' loyalists. One thing that really helped to make this project come to life is the fantastic work of artists Sanford Green and Nick Bradshaw. Both guys worked on 'Army of Darkness: Shop Till You Drop Dead' and blew fans away with their imaginative pencils and twisted designs. Nick is penciling the 'Re-Animator' prequel that is available to retailers as an ordering incentive to the first issue of 'Army of Darkness: Ash vs. Re-Animator.' He was really into the story, wait until you see the creepy details he worked into just about every panel! Sanford has been a blast to work with, he's a very dynamic storyteller and has been really enjoying the creatures, critters, and creative dismembering that go into the scripts. This summer, Ash is taking his first step into a bigger world of evil as he discovers that there are other horrors besides Deadites in the pages of the dread Necronomicon...
SG: Not really. I work with some very talented creators who really know their stuff when it comes to both concepts. I became a sponge and just soaked up all the info and ideas to make this look as good as possible.
RR: Both properties have Lovecraftian ties - one more direct than the other. Can you discuss the Lovecraftian origins/elements, and how much they come into play in your story? Will you work any other Lovecraft references into the story?
JK: Absolutely! 'Army of Darkness' is already steeped in Lovecraftian lore from the use of the Necronomicon to the otherworldly spirits. It was great to get to take things a step and really pull the two together. We've got some mysterious characters, evil tomes, weird other dimensional tentacled creatures, and maybe even a few hideous crabmen from Pluto…you never know. The story actually opens in a madhouse, the perfect setting for Lovecraftian horror and 'Army of Darkness' black humor. West is involved in a plot to open a doorway to the Old Ones dimension and usher in a new world order when they return to our world. Ash just wants to find Sheila and get out, but the Chosen One doesn't usually get to take the easy road. I don't want to give everything away, but lets just say that Ash may be asking "Cthul-who?"!
RR: Why the decision to go monthly? You guys must have some confidence that there's enough room out there for an entire series of Ash adventures...
Dynamite Spokesperson J. Allen: Fan response mostly. We have been monthly since the start, we just denoted the first two series as mini-series, but have now decided to still work in arcs, but keep consecutive numbering and continuity.
RR: Is the Dynamite team exploring other avenues of cross-over potential - as in other horror icons - in the AoD series?
JA: Yes, we're working on more horrific things to throw Ash's way in coming issues.
RR: Once this arc is over, what's next for Ash?
JA: We're actually working out those details right now, but we don't want to give anything away. Keep reading!
Army of Darkness versus Re-Animator #1 will feature four different covers by Greene, Nick Bradshaw, J.G. Jones, and Gabrielle Dell'Otto. Check out Dynamite Entertainment's site (linked to at the top) to catch up on past Army of Darkness issues, trade paperbacks and other merchandise!