Hellboy editor and Darkhorse writer Scott Allie recently contributed the short story Down in the Flood to the Hellboy fiction collection, Odder Jobs.
Was this your first stab at writing a Hellboy story? How was it?
This was my first stab, and as you may notice, I sort of parried. Without thinking about it, I set my sights on Abe. I think that was less a case of me trying to avoid Hellboy than it was me just being a little more fascinated by Abe, who’s certainly less developed in the comics. It was fun messing around in Mike’s world, though. I’ve been knee deep in it for ten years, so for me it was more than writing his characters. I wanted to get into his mythology and his storytelling, as well. His use of color, for instance.
Down in the Flood takes place in your hometown of Ipswich, Massachusetts. For you, this is probably an ideal setting for a Hellboy story. Why is that?
As a friend once said, it’s a dark town. Ipswich has great history and great atmosphere for a horror story. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be so into horror fiction if I’d grown up somewhere else. Reading Stephen King’s stories as a kid, and later Lovecraft’s, it was easy to believe those stories happened in Ipswich. The only thing that makes Ipswich NOT ideal for Hellboy is that I see it as a very quiet location, so having a big red guy and a fishman walking around clash with the atmosphere I see hanging over the town. It affected how I handled them in the story.
You are a great admirer of Lovecraft, and you have a couple of great tributes to him on your website (www.scottallie.com). How or why does HPL inspire you?
Lovecraft’s imagination was out of bounds, and that appeals to me. The cosmic awe and constant sense of horror that he conveys is something I can, honestly, relate to just enough to want to work in that vein. But also, Lovecraft marks sort of a turning point in American fiction. There’d been plenty of weirdness in American fiction previous to the 1930s. Lovecraft, to me, is where the classic, non-formulaic weird fiction ends, and popular, formulaic horror fiction begins. Lovecraft is more a part of the former tradition, but he’s been adopted and sainted as a part of the new one.
You got to take a swim with Abe Sapien on this story. Where did you want to take the fishman’s character on this adventure?
Innsmouth. My home town of Ipswich is possibly, likely, the town that Lovecraft based Innsmouth on—from “Shadow Over Innsmouth.” That’s the town Lovecraft filled full of fish men. So I wanted to take Abe there, literally, since that’s part of his literary heritage. I figured I was the guy to do it, and a non-canon anthology like Odder Jobs was the place to do it.
What can you tell us about the much anticipated The Island mini-series?
Like a lot of what Mike’s been writing lately, it changes things for his world. Hellboy learns things about himself he hadn’t know, learns things about the history of the world that he hadn’t known. Things readers have wanted to know. Beyond that, this is Mike’s most innovative storytelling. It’s wild. The way he runs separate tracks of plot and flashback and dialogue over each other—no one else could have done it. We haven’t colored it yet. I can’t wait to see how Mike’s color ideas work on this one. Few people experiment with how to tell a story in comics the way Mike does, and this is a stellar example of that.
Is there still a second Devil’s Footprints story coming our way this year? What you can you tell us about that?
Yeah … it’s taking a while. It takes place about six years after the first series, and at the rate we’re going, we’re all gonna have aged as much as Brandon has. We’re doing this one as an original graphic novel, longer than the first one. It’s set in New York City, and involves a demon trying to get born in to the world as a god. Higher stakes than last time.
What other things are you working on right now?
Right now my focus is on another original graphic novel I’m writing for Dark Horse—original graphic novel sounds all lofty, but all I mean is that we’re going straight to the trade paperback format rather than serializing it first. It’s a prequel to an upcoming remake of John Carpenter’s The Fog. I’m a big fan of the original, so I jumped at this. Mignola did the cover for the book, and it’s drawn by a relative newcomer, Todd Herman, who did a story in the upcoming Dark Horse Book of the Dead. Dave Stewart, our Hellboy colorist, is working on the book too. It’s set back around the time of the Civil War, which is a time period I’ve been studying for a couple years for another project—-which is another reason why I took the book. A bunch of Chinese traders are trying to outrun a far east curse, and they run into a pyromaniac who’s running away from the aftermath of something he did down South. The plot gets sort of complicated, but the focus for this is on atmoshere, and trying to really convey some scares in the comics format. A lot of comics that we think of as horror comics are really mysteries with ghosts in them, or adventure stories with monsters. I want The Fog to be straight forward horror, on a slow burn.
This sounds really cool. Is the release of this prequel going to coincide with the “The Fog” remake? Do you know when that is?
The movie comes in October, the book in September, and it’s a very direct tie in. The director and i talked at length about what the back story to the film might be—and it’s much more in depth than the information you might recall from the original Carpenter movie. We’re fleshing the background out a great deal, creating a real mythology behind the fog, something more broad than I think one might imagine.