Nancy Collins Says Writing Horror And Comedy Are Both About Building Tension

Dynamite has sent us the other half of the Writer 2 Writer interview we ran over this weekend. This time Corinna Bechko, writer of Miss Fury #3, talks with Nancy Collins about Army of Darkness: Furious Road #4. Cover is by Gabriel Hardman, interiors by Kewber Baal.

AODFuriousRoad04-Cov-A-Hardman-9c416CORINNA BECHKO: I know you write a lot of horror, but Army of Darkness has a lot of comedy elements woven into it as well. Is your process any different for a property like this?

NANCY COLLINS: It is said that the difference between drama and comedy is inflection and timing. The same can be said for horror and comedy. Horror creates tension in its audience that is ultimately released via a scream, while comedy builds to create a "punch line" for the audience that results in laughter. It is like being on a roller coaster, where you scream and laugh at the same time. Horror-comedy like Army of Darkness relies, largely, on using the standard tropes of the horror movie genre to set up the story, then subverting it through over-the-top dark humor that walks the line between gross-out and extreme physical slapstick. As my mother used to say: "There's nothing so sad you can't find something to laugh about, and nothing so funny it can't make you cry; it just depends on how you look at it."

CB: There's a lovely twist at the end of this issue. How tightly do you outline arcs before you start into actually scripting? Do you ever find these moments while writing, or do you always plan them out before hand?

NC: I usually outline the action and beats page-by-page before I write the script. I feel it is important in a continuing story arc for there to be a dramatic transition scene at the end of each issue to hook the readers and bring them back next month. I guess I'm just a traditionalist.

AODFurious-04-1-9c43dCB: What's your history with Ash and this property?

NC: I've been a fan of the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness series almost from the start. I didn't see the original Evil Dead in the theaters, but watched it on VHS after reading a review by Joe Bob Briggs. The first film is a lot more horrific than the sequels, and I consider it one of the best Lovecraftian films that isn't adapted from a HPL property. The second film in the franchise is one of my all time favorites. An underground cartoonist friend of mine once described Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn as a movie that is "beyond plot", and I have to agree. It exists in its own unique category. Army of Darkness was the film that ultimately defined Ash's character, though, and transformed him into an action-adventure hero, as opposed to some poor, wild-eyed schmoe screaming in terror and running from unseen horrors and undead shemps. Despite his puffery and acerbic nature, I like Ash and can identify with him as a character. The poor goof isn't perfect, but he's giving it his best shot. It's not his fault he ended up the protagonist in An American Yankee in King Arthur's Court as written by H.P. Lovecraft.

CB: I really enjoyed your run on Vampirella, another series that mixes horror, gore, humor and a hefty dash of cool. Do you seek out projects like these, or do they usually find you? Either way, what do think makes you so good at writing them?

NC: Thank you for the kind words regarding my run on Vampirella. I enjoyed myself on that series. As for why I write the way I do: I have always had a macabre sense of humor. Along with Dr. Seuss and Charlotte's Web, my favorite books growing up were my mother's hardback collection of Charles Addams cartoons from the New Yorker. I had a love of horror/dark fantasy instilled in me from the very beginning. My grandfather was a huge Boris Karloff fan and took me with him to the movies. His best friend owned the local theater in my hometown, and during the week he would show older movies (including silents) to try to compete with television and the drive-in (this was in the early 1960s), so I was exposed to the classic Universal monsters by the time I was 4 years old. One of my favorite records as a pre-schooler was Boris Karloff reading Mother Goose. So, yeah, I was a weird kid growing up during one of the most monster-centric times in pop culture. That I ended up drawn to such projects as an adult shouldn't come as a surprise.

AODFurious-04-4-eab0eCB: How closely do you collaborate with artist Kewber Baal?

NC: We talk on Facebook almost every day via Messenger, as he lives in Brazil. His English is a damn sight better than my Portuguese, by the way. He's a wonderful artist and we've been simpatico regarding the characters and how to realize the story since the start. This has been one of the easiest collaborations in my career as a comics creator. I hope his work on Furious Road brings him to the attention of other publishers in this country, as he deserves as big an audience as possible. His wife, Schimerys, has done an excellent job on the colors for the series as well.

CB: I'm curious to know what you're currently reading and if your choices are influenced by what you're working on at the same time?

NC: I just finished a Marshall Smith novel called Bad Things, and, before that, I was re-reading classic noir pulp such as Frederic Brown's The Screaming Mimi. However, usually what I read and what I'm working on are often diametrically opposed, because I try to avoid being unduly influenced when I'm working on projects, unless I'm using it for reference.

CB: Writers are notorious for having several projects going on at once. Is it the same for you? If so, what else do you have cooking that we can read soon?

NC: Yes, I have a couple of pots I'm currently stirring. One of which is a project for Stephen R. Bissette, based on his "Sky Solo" character from The Fury issue of his and Alan Moore's epic 1963 mini-series. I also have a short story called "More Than Human, Less Than Ape" in an upcoming Classic Planet of the Apes prose anthology from Titan Books.

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.