Scott Allie Interview
by Pony Express
October 25 2006
"Daring." "Visionary." "Nervous." "Watch out, he bites." These are just a few of the terms that have been used to describe Scott Allie, the editor of Mike Mignola's Hellboy, B.P.R.D., Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity, Conan, oh heck, you get the idea. We had a chance to sit down with Scott and discuss the many great things happening with the Dark Horse Horror line in 2007.
Pony Express: Dark Horse is unique in that it has broken off its horror titles into its own separate line of books. What prompted the decision to create that line of titles?
Scott Allie: We were doing a lot of horror books, we always have done some of the best horror books out there. But they weren't getting the notice of people who were into horror comics. We were being overlooked in favor of lesser books, because those publishers were "horror publishers." So I wanted to group the books we were doing in a way that would make us stand out. It's encouraged us to do more horror books than we used to do, and has segued nicely with a resurgence of horror in terms of mainstream popularity.
PE: What qualifies a DH title to be a part of the horror line? Is it something about the characters or the stories that makes the title worthy?
SA: It's a relatively diverse line, and there are exceptions to any classification I could make, but in general our horror books have at least a little bit of a sense of humor, and feature great, moody art. I think it's a somewhat art-driven line, even though I think we have terrific writers. We really push for the best horror artists, people whose work really speaks to this style, rather than just sticking a typical superhero artist onto a monster-oriented book. And we do focus on monsters. We don't fixate so much on subtle, psychological horror. There's an aspect of psychological horror central to some of our smarter horror titles, we try not to get too far away from the kind of visual punch that comics can lend to the horror genre--again, bringing us back to some of the best horror artists being staples of our line. But the stories themselves generally walk a line, giving the reader the sorts of visual thrill and punch that comics are so good at, while being fairly smart, being somewhat literary--I think most of the people writing books in the line come from a fairly literary background, but not so much that they don't want to have fun with the stuff.
PE: Word on the street is, the horror line is being "re-launched" in January. So what can DH horror fans expect to see in 2007?
SA: Yep, it is. When we started the line in 2003, our flagships were Hellboy by Mike Mignola and Criminal Macabre by Steve Niles. Steve went off and did some other stuff for a while, but he's coming back strong in 2007, and Mignola, who's been here all along, is stepping it up. Steve is bringing Criminal Macabre back in a regular series, and he's teaming with Bernie Wrightson, one of the greatest horror artists of all time, on another series called City of Others. We've got some other things being discussed with Steve, so expect more books down the road. For Mignola, we're taking Hellboy off into the next major stage of his life, with Mike writing and Duncan Fegredo drawing, in a series called Darkness Calls. Mike continues his B.P.R.D. series with John Arcudi and Guy Davis, while launching new books with Jason Armstrong, Paul Azaceta, and Josh Dysart. The first of those new titles is gonna be Abe Sapien, drawn by Jason Alexander, who's one of the young guys who's joining the ranks of stellar horror artists. Jason's doing a series about a homicidal maniac, called The Secret with DH Publisher Mike Richardson before Abe, and after Abe he's onto his own creator-owned horror title. Eric Powell's The Goon, which quickly fell in place as another staple of the line, is currently on publishing hiatus, while Eric works on a graphic novel called Chinatown, which reveals the real key to the Goon's early days. That'll come out in 2007, along with the return of the monthly series, and possibly the most horrific thing to come out of Eric's hillbilly brains. The winner of our 2005 New Recruits program, Steve Morris, has his book Blessed Thistle coming out through the horror line in December--Blessed Thistle is low on monsters, high on twisty psychological situations. And then Kelley Jones and Jason Hall are doing a very twisted adaptation of a new Sam Raimi movie called The Messengers, where the psychological stuff is more treacherous than the inhuman stuff. Anyway, there's a lot going on in the line.
PE: It seems like the horror line has expanded outside of the usual horror comic realm, especially with the addition of a less-literal horror story, Rex Mundi.
SA: How the hell did I forget about Rex Mundi? That book is really close to my heart. It actually falls into a real similar category to one of our best horror titles from 2005, Humberto Ramos and Paul Jenkins's Revelations. Both are pretty literary-minded, but with horror elements buried in there. You're right that they both are less for monsters than the other stuff I'm talking about. And both have something in common with Blackburne Covenant, one of the first titles from the line. I don't know how to describe that category, but it's a real valid one to me, and I think there'll always be room for one or two of those any given year for Dark Horse. A genuinely literary horror fantasy sort of thing, where the horror is mostly in the way that it reimagines either human history or the future of the human race. Rex Mundi, to me, is a massive feat of literary finesse in terms of that type of story. When the book is done, at about thirty-three issues--and we're gonna see it through to the end--we'll have seen these characters go through huge changes, and we'll have come to know them in a nuanced way which is relatively uncommon in comics. I love the scope of the book. Arvid's really using to great effect all the space that he's got in a book of that length. I know how it ends, but I'm still dying to see how it ends.