Scott Allie is a man of many talents. Long time editor, and recently appointed Editor-In-Chief, and writer for Dark Horse Comics with a resume that includes titles like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Solomon Kane, a couple of Star Wars series, B.P.R.D., and the upcoming Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible series, with Mike Mignola. He is a driving force behind Dark Horse and many of the great series we get from them.
RCB: Mr. Scott Allie, welcome and thanks for doing this interview with ReadComicBooks.net!
Scott Allie: Thanks for having me.
RCB: For those that don’t know, you’ve been with Dark Horse Comics for a long time and various capacities—like writing and editing—and this past October you were (finally) promoted to Editor-In-Chief. Was this something that had been in the works, and you knew was coming or did it sort of catch you off guard?
Scott Allie: It was something I pursued, and yeah, it did surprise me when it came.
RCB: This new role, no doubt, came with a ton of extra responsibilities on top of the ones you were already looking after. Have you had to put any stories or projects aside to focus more on the editing end of things?
Scott Allie: I find myself handing over books that I’d prefer to edit myself. I’m greedy, I like having a lot of projects, but I’m finally learning to hand more of them over. In terms of writing, I’m probably writing more now than ever, but I am putting some personal projects on hold until I get on top of this workload.
RCB: For those in the RCB community that are curious, can you run us through a typical day of the Editor-in-Chief of Dark Horse Comics?
Scott Allie: Somewhere in there is a phone call with Mike Mignola, probably a meeting with Sierra Hahn to talk about the Buffy books or other departmental issues. Hopefully some face time with Mike Richardson. A LOT of email. I try to keep my inbox down to around fifty or sixty unresolved things, and that’s tough. If I’m lucky I read a script, I do balloon placements on a book, and I give notes on some penciled pages. But most of that work gets done at home, at night. The days are filled with a lot of meetings with other departments, and one-on-ones with individual editors, about their projects. The best part of any day is talking through stories. Getting to engage creatively with the people I like working with. Whatever comes up in a day that I can’t do by five or so usually comes home with me, as I try not to let too much pile up day to day.
RCB: I recently picked up your two volumes of Solomon Kane, what was it like translating, for lack of a better term, Robert E. Howard’s original material for this mysterious character into a comic series?
Scott Allie: It was a lot of fun. Earlier tonight I did an interview that focused on my Robert E Howard stuff, which I haven’t thought about in a while, so it’s funny you ask. I loved trying to do a modern comic while being totally faithful to the eighty-year-old source material. I love classic horror stories and adventure stories, and Kane blends the two perfectly, in my mind. It was an honor to have a role in bringing Robert E Howard’s work to a new audience.
RCB: Are there any plans to maybe revisit the character of Solomon Kane, especially considering the success of the current Conan the Barbarian series, down the line?
Scott Allie: No immediate plans. Bruce Jones was the last one to write the character for Dark Horse, and I think we would go back to him if we were to bring it back.
RCB: Another world you’ve ventured into as a writer is the Whedonverse; more specifically the Buffyverse. For those that might not be familiar with it, can you tell us what you’ve been doing with Season 9 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
Scott Allie: Yeah, there’s sort of a fad now of doing Season 5, Season 10, etc., of a TV show in comics form, and it started with our Buffy Season 8, I believe. Maybe someone used “Season” in that way before, but when Buffy the TV series ended with Season 7, everyone thought that was the end—but right around that time, Joss and I talked about how to continue it in comics. It took a while, but eventually we did Season 8, which lasted 40 issues, plus side projects. Now we’re wrapping up Season 9, with two parallel series, each running 25 issues. There’s a Buffy series set in San Francisco, and a series called Angel & Faith set in London. I wrote a few issues of Buffy Season 9—I’d previously written most of the climax of Season 8, when Joss got too busy working on The Avengers movie. That was a hell of an experience, turning in scripts and getting notes from Joss. I like to think I learned something from that.
RCB: As you mentioned, this comic series continues what the TV show of the same name started back in the early 2000s. Is there a definitive ending in mind, or is this one of those series that could potentially go on forever?
Scott Allie: It could go on forever, but I don’t think it will. I imagine there’s an end, but I don’t feel like we’re near it yet. Joss will end it when it feels right, and I like to believe I’ll still be working on it with him then. We’ve spoken of it only in the most hypothetical way. Nothing I’m eager to hasten.
RCB: You’re a master of many ‘verses, it seems, so let’s dive into the Mignolaverse. I guess the obvious question is: what is it like co-writing with Mike Mignola? Does he offer up a basic outline and let you do your own thing or is it more of a collaborative effort?
Scott Allie: It varies. Sometimes he’s handed me a pretty tight outline, and then given me very specific notes; sometimes we talk over a general concept, and he leaves me to run with it. He’s mostly hands on, with me or with John, dealing with questions of his mythology. That stuff is very complex, but crystal clear in his mind. I think I’m pretty attuned to that part of his brain, after all these years, but he still needs to spell a lot out for me.
RCB: Aside from co-writing with Mike, you’ve been his editor for a number of years and a number of different projects. Is there a different relationship between you and him when it comes to Scott Allie the editor and Scott Allie the co-writer?
Scott Allie: Not really. One of my boring, pat interview answers is that I see editing and writing as taking place on a fluid spectrum—that on a project like Exurbia, I wrote the script with little or no input from anyone, and did some of the layouts; on the other hand, when I was editing Groo, I barely had to proofread it. On one end of the spectrum I am very creatively hands on, on the other end, barely involved at all. When Mike is doing Hellboy in Hell, I’m still pretty engaged with the story with him. We talk it through a lot. I don’t insert my own ideas, I don’t try to get the story I want him to tell, but I am involved somewhat creatively in getting his vision across. When writing Abe Sapien, he’s fairly hands off, but I’m still doing my best to get his vision across as best I can. I’m just doing more of the heavy lifting.
RCB: Speaking of Abe Sapien, what can we expect from this third mini-series featuring a character we, really, haven’t seen much of lately?
Scott Allie: Actually, it’s an ongoing series. We incorrectly solicited the first issue as 1 of 3, but it’s a new ongoing. I’m writing most of it with Mike, although issues #4 & 5 are written by Arcudi and Mignola, picking up a piece of the story he’d originally intended to handle in the regular B.P.R.D. title. The series features Abe cruising across the ruined, apocalyptic landscape of America trying to figure out his own role in this end of the world, Hell on Earth business. He’s AWOL from the B.P.R.D., a fugitive, but what he encounters along the way is the real focus, the real horror. When we were working out the concept, Mike likened it to Alan Moore’s American Gothic series in Swamp Thing, one of my favorite runs of comics of all time. So I’m very excited. We’ll see Lovecraftian monsters, homicidal maniacs, creatures from Mayan mythology, zombies, and one occultist who thinks he’s entitled to a bigger part of this whole Armageddon thing.
Scott Allie: Probably not. The other characters will remain heavily involved in what the BPRD are doing, so we don’t want to take more prime characters away from the flagship book. Abe really needed to step away, to not be a part of their main action. They all have big things to do in the main series. Only Abe goes off on his own…
RCB: You recently wrapped up a short arc for B.P.R.D, with James Harren on art that was really well received. Do you have any plans for more mini-arcs under the B.P.R.D banner in the immediate future?
Scott Allie: No, BPRD is all about the ongoing monthly, which will all be written by John Arcudi and Mike for the foreseeable future. My only writing gig in the near future is the Abe ongoing series with Mike.
RCB: How does a project like that end up in your hands? Is it something Mike wants to do, and fills you in or do you get an idea and bring it to him?
Scott Allie: Mike and John and I talk all the time—Mike and I every day, John a little less often. But we talk through things, through the world, in so many different ways, a lot of ideas come up, and they come up in any different way you can imagine. At one point, what we’re doing with Abe was going to happen in the monthly BPRD series. Abe would wake from his year-long coma and run off to the Salton Sea to try to figure out what was going on with him. More or less. John would write that as part of the BPRD ongoing series. But Mike and I were doing these stories like Pickens County, these little horror stories, distinct from the big military battle action of the regular BPRD series. We liked it, and wanted to do more, and the idea of Abe getting his own series doing this sort of thing emerged over time.
RCB: I’ve heard rumors that the Hell on Earth stuff may not get the same treatment that Plague of Frogs has gotten. What factors into a decision to collect, or not to collect, a specific series, even in limited quantities? Is it looked at strictly from a sales perspective, or is this something that Mike Mignola himself has said he’s not sure he wants to do?
Scott Allie: Plague of Frogs only got that treatment when it was over. The format you mean came about when Mike, John, and Guy Davis and I were having dinner in Baltimore a few years ago. Probably Baltimore Comic Con 2008. We realized that with BPRD The Warning we were beginning a massive series, a trilogy of graphic novels, which would radically change the series. Then we realized that if you took the preceding volumes of BPRD in continuity—not the flashback books like 1946—you had a number of books divisible by three. So the math was just there, to bind up three trade paperbacks into nice big hardcovers, and we’d get four volumes. But we only did it because we knew soon the Plague of Frogs story would be done, and something very new would be coming. We don’t know when Hell on Earth will end. I don’t know if there’ll be a BPRD after Hell on Earth—I don’t know that there’ll be an earth. But anyway, we probably would not start doing those fat Hell on Earth hardcovers until after Hell on Earth was over. That’s our answer today, anyway. That’s why there’s no plans to do them, but eventually they will exist, unless all our comics exist only as little chemical imprints on the insides of our eyelids.
RCB: Dark Horse Digital updates direct to your eyes. Better patent that now. Is there anything else you want to tell us about the world of Scott Allie and Dark Horse Comics?
Scott Allie: Just that it is a very nice and fun, if stressful, place.
RCB: Well, Scott, we really appreciate you taking the time to do this. It’s been a pleasure. Hope to have you back sometime. Thanks again.
Scott Allie: Thanks—
Once again, we just want to thank Mr. Scott Allie for taking the time to do this interview with us. Definitely hope to have him back somewhere down the line. We get a lot of love from Dark Horse and it’s great to get to chat with their Editor-In-Chief. Make sure you check out his upcoming Mignolaverse series about Abe Sapien, and definitely follow him (@ScottAllie) and Dark Horse (@DarkHorseComics) on Twitter.
Until next time, Read Comic Books!