Scott Duvall Slays it with Army of Darkness / Bubba Ho Tep

8 Apr

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Army of Darkness / Bubba Ho Tep (AoD/BHT) is a comic book not to be missed. It brings two fan favourites from the world of cult films into a crazy mix that only writer Scott Duvall and artist Vincenzo Federici can imagine. Issue number three is due April 10th, and for this author, it’s been quite a journey. He will soon celebrate ten years of being in the industry! This Vancouver, BC-based creator has plenty of ideas in the pipeline (including one concerning T-Rexes in World War 3), but when it comes to looking back at how he got to where he is now, he’s a talent to keep an eye on. He described the experience worthwhile. He grew up mostly reading Marvel Comics, but it was Y the Last Man which encouraged him to go into creating his own work.

“I always dreamed about it,” said Duvall, “Friends suggested I hook up with Arcana Comics. Sean O’Reilly helped me publish my first comic, Cryozone, and so I went to San Diego Comic-Con and handed it out to editors–anybody I could talk to. From there I got a Marvel internship.”

He had to move so he can learn from the best, and after he got his foot past the door, the choice in where to live became more flexible. He wrote under a few pseudonyms when he was cutting his chops. He drafted material for Archie Comics and Heavy Metal (to which he’s still contributing to). But it was Narcopolis: Continuum which he received major credit for.

“[The comic] is based on a sci-fi indie UK movie of the same name,” revealed Duvall. “I was introduced to Justin Trefgame, the director by Elliot Cowan (Krypton) and learned he’s a huge comic book fan. He said he was interested in expanding the world and I said I’d love to try my hand. My pitch was an original story which looked at the lives of these characters from a different perspective.”

Trefgame loved Scott’s idea and it helped the young writer get known. While he was working in the comic book industry at a different level, namely PR at Dynamite, his thoughts on what the next big, coming thing should be (like a certain character in The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.) is never far. He’s aware of the many franchise properties this studio outputs. He pitched the idea of Ash from Army of Darkness partnering with Elvis from Bubba Ho Tep some years ago, but back then nobody had the license to the latter. Everything changed when IDW got the rights to adapt one of Jon Lansdale‘s Bubba stories to the sequential art medium. Bubba and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers was printed and Duvall got the light bulb moment get the two companies working together.

“IDW was into it. Dynamite wants to publish it. Joe likes the idea,” said Duvall, “It was a matter of submitting the pitch and once I got approved, things moved fast.”

For finding the right artistic talent, the company showed the author the art of Vincenzo Federici and another [name withheld upon request].

“I felt Vincenzo’s designs really captured the essence more, and he’s really upped the ante with each issue. We’re pushing each other’s limits and challenging each other to make the best crossover possible,” said Duvall, “Rounding out the art team is Michele Monte, whose colours set the perfect tone for every scene, and our letterer Taylor Esposito who brings my words to life and makes them read better.”

When considering the company has many trade paperbacks seeing Ash meet up with characters like Xena and Hack/Slash, the bar is set high for who can he meet next.

What brings Bubba back is that the evil force which creates the zombies Ash fights is never that far away. When it realizes what he is up to, it will bond itself with whatever is close. In this comic’s case, it’s the burned up corpse of Bubba Ho Tep and he gets turned into uber Deadite! Also, there’s more than one Elvis involved since it involves time travel. There’s also a craziness involving the pharaoh suit Elvis loves wearing.

This writer wanted to make this comic book feel like a natural extension of these worlds. “It’s not like how I did it with the Narcopolis series,” mused Duvall. “I wanted that to feel like it complements everything that came before. And so with Ash, it’s really his arc. He’s having a mid-life crisis and realized he’s very close in age as Elvis’ when he checked out at 42.”

In Ash’s mind, he’s asking to himself if he should just keep going, hunting down Deadites, or is the path he’s on going to see him head to the grave sooner than later?

“And so he sees a news clipping about Elvis supposedly still alive in East Texas. He goes to find out of this is true and perhaps also get advice. We’re seeing Elvis at both just how he was presented in the movie Bubba Ho Tep but we’re also flashing back and seeing him a little closer to his prime, during the 70s,” said Scott.

The story readers are witnessing is a throwback to the era and it could be considered a prequel. Duvall wanted to give readers a version of Elvis where it’s good to be king. He can overcome these beasts with ease. Without saying too much about the upcoming issues, issue three is one big fight scene on the jet and issue four takes place in Graceland.

It’s important for creators to make sure the work they’re involved in not only works as a standalone but also offers something new. We’re seeing a different side of Ash and Elvis rarely explored. For Scott to take on the challenge of adding further depth to a familiar character, that’s tough.

While that’s part of Ash’s charm, he has to grow up, eventually. All that sugar he craves has to go somewhere. To compare that to STARZ’s take in Ash vs Evil Dead, this version explores more than daddy issues. As for how it all fits in terms of an overarching continuity, even Duvall admits that’s tough to explain. He tried, but to make sense of it all requires defining into which material is considered canon and non.

This writer believes this character has a long shelf life because he represents more than the everyman tossed into an impossible situation. The Winchester brothers hold no candle to what Ash has to face on a day-to-day basis. While Sam and Dean have each other to help each other out, Ash does not. This writer said, “There are so many stories to tell where there are just as many writers like myself who would love to get a chance to put their stamp on.”

Whether that involves another crossover series or just seeing Ashley Williams finally understanding where his lot in life is, following this franchise is exhilarating.

“This comic really is my love letter to these two franchises that I’ve been very proud to be a part of. I put in a lot of fun Easter eggs and would love to hear from you when you spot them. I enjoyed writing AoD/BHT it because it’s honestly been the most fun I’ve ever had writing in my professional career.”

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