By Christine Caprilozzi
For horror comic fans and fans of the “B.P. R.D” world, “Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible” #1 is a must read. What lies ahead for Abe? We recently caught up with Scott Allie to tell us more.
Horror News Network: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œB.P.R.D ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ and Abe Sapien fans know the back story of Abe leaving the group and being injured. The first issue of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œAbe Sapien: Dark and TerribleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â does an excellent job of not only summing up the background, but also drawing the reader in. Were you conscious of how you were going to keep current fans excited, while bringing brand new readers in?
Scott Allie: Yeah, that was certainly a conscious effort, but I was also having some fun with the idea of not showing Abe for a while. The most straightforward thing we could have done might have been to open on the conversation between Abe and Panya, which we see in BPRD #105. Instead, I wanted to take the time to establish the state of the world in issue #1, and weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll get a little more of how Abe came to be a hobo #2. In Buffy, weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve done some world-changing things, and readers have complained that we havenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t shown how changed the world is. So I wanted to make sure to do it right in Abe. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll continue to be a theme of the book, this ground level perspective on the end of the world.
Horror News Network: Issue#1 takes itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s time in building up the story and suspense until the ending where Abe finally appears. He appears in a way that really warrants horror comic fans having to get Issue#2. How did you go about laying out the story?
Scott Allie: I wanted to create anticipation for his appearanceÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âshow other charactersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ interest in Abe, while getting the readers anxious to see him. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a gamble, making the reader wait like that, but I hope it works. We saved him up, and then I wrote the scene in the train car with the idea that once readers noticed the guy in the hat and coat, theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢d know it was Abe, but that readers would still respond to the hobosÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ reaction to him. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s important to work to surprise your readers, but also to know when youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re doing something that canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t possibly surprise themÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âlike the main character appearing in his own bookÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âand play it another way. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s still a surprise beat, still a reveal, but itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s more about how the characters react than shocking the reader. In #6 thereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a similar revealÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬ÂAbe is suddenly there, and itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s not the reader whoÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s surprised, but another character is.
Horror News Network: IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve been lucky enough to get a sneak peak at Issue #2. This is where the story starts to focus on AbeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s new journey. He appears not only on a physical journey, but also an internal one. Without giving away too much, what was it like developing, or expanding the character of Abe Sapien?
Scott Allie: AbeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s been a part of my life for eighteen years, and I wrote him once before in a prose story, set in my home town. IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve always loved him as a character, and IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve always found him more relatable than Hellboy. John Arcudi did an amazing job of developing a lot of nuance in him in BPRD, so I have the benefit of that, but also the benefit of what heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s just gone throughÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âthe comaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âto make this a clean start. He is, to some degreeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âto whatever degree Mike and John and I wantÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âa fresh character. HeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s an introspective guy who found out some shocking shit about himself a few years ago, had a rocky road of processing it all, and now heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s realized thereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s probably a lot more to it. Unlike Hellboy, Abe took the question of what he really is head-on. And got answers. But now heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s dealing with the fact that they werenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t all the answersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âand he might be a little bit afraid of what he learns next.
Horror News Network: ThereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a lot going on in both issues, with so many different aspects to the story; the world is going to hell, AbeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s journey, and the GovernmentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s search. With all that, how did you keep it so cohesive?
Scott Allie: Working on Buffy IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve had to juggle a complex character-driven book with like six or seven principle characters at a time. That is hard. This feels easy, to have one protagonist, and then some solid supporting characters. Knowing that ultimately all those scenes, whether AbeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s in them or not, are about Abe, that makes it easy to keep it stuck together.
Horror News Network: What is the writing process like with you and Mike Mignola?
Scott Allie: It varies a bit. On some stuff he is really hands on, and sometimes less so. HeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s spelled out a lot of the big pieces of where AbeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s going, and heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s provided a lot of scenes, and specific ideas. The overall gyst of the first arc was his, although I think it was my idea to spend so much of issue #1 the way we did. The second arc IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m writing was mainly my idea, so I ran it by him, and he plugged in a lot of stuff and defined what it was really ultimately about. So thereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a lot of back and forth, and we talk almost every day. I talk through a lot of it with John, too.
Horror News Network: Why do you think the character of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œAbe SapienÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â is hugely popular with horror comic fans?
Scott Allie: I think itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s because heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s relatable, and very, very human, and flawed, and introspectiveÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âbut more importantly I think itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s his amazing character design. Mike did something so great with AbeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬ÂheÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s really a perfect character, in that way. And I think itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s pretty bold that Mike decided to change him as much as he did, for this seriesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âbut the motifs are still there, and itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s still MikeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s design, so heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s still fantastic to draw.
Horror News Network: Thanks Scott! ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œAbe Sapien:Dark & TerribleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Issue #1 is out now. Issue #2 out May 1st.