Dynamite has sent us a writer's commentary by Chad Bowers and Chris Sims for Ash Vs The Army of Darkness #0 with art by Mauro Vargas and cover by Nick Bradshaw.
Hey folks! Welcome to our writers' commentary for the premiere issue of the all new Ash vs. The Army of Darkness #0! We're Chad Bowers and Chris Sims, the primitive screwheads responsible for most of the words coming out of Ash's mouth, and we're thrilled to let you guys in on a little behind the scenes action!
CHAD: It'd be wrong not to start things off talking about Nick Bradshaw's incredible cover! This thing blows me away. True story: when Chris and I first got the gig, I had a lot of ideas about how to rebrand the series and update it for a new audience. I had this really elaborate artsy cover scheme that would've spread across the first story arc. I even went so far as to do some some very rudimentary sketches which shall forever remain unseen. Then Anthony told us we'd be getting a cover by Nick, and I immediately tossed the idea. And really, anyone already familiar with Nick's work knows why — there was nothing I could've brought to these covers that Nick wasn't going to bring on his own. He's brilliant, and having looked at a lot of AOD covers over the last six months, and bias aside, I can't think of another cover that stand outs as much as this one! It's Ash's sneakers that send it over the moon.
Pages One, Two, and Three
CHAD: If you're familiar with the source material, this should all look very familiar. I was a blast constructing this opener and Mauro really knocks it out of the park. Full disclosure, though, Chris and I had several conversations as to whether an Army of Darkness recap was even necessary. Ultimately, we came down on the side of better safe than sorry, and while I seriously doubt many of you reading this need the refresher, making sure we establish our adventure as the one immediately following Ash's return to the present felt pretty crucial to selling that idea. Plus, a three page recap by Mauro's a hell of lot cooler than a blank page that reads "Go watch the DVD. We'll wait…:
CHAD: Whaaaat? You mean Ash wasn't talking to us?
We find out here that our leading man-with-just-one-hand is meeting with Ted Rainsford, S-Mart's resident HR director. Ted Rainsford is, of course, a masterful nod to Army of Darkness mastermind Sam Raimi's ever present brother Ted Raimi. This one was all Chris, and hopefully, seeing that somewhat familiar name and face does a perfect job of letting readers know what sandbox we're playing in, and what kind of tone you can expect.
And while we're on the subject, I can't say enough about Mauro Vargas's take on Ash Williams! We were familiar with Mauro, and had seen some really cool samples of his work, but Ash's face in panel two of this page was want cemented him in my mind as the ideal artist for this iteration of AOD.
Also, Mauro's solely responsible for the Three Stooges mug old Ted's sporting there on his desk. Raimi fans, of course, will appreciate a good "Shemps" nod when they see it.
CHRIS: I have a deep and abiding love of Ted Raimi that I'm not really sure I could put into words, and all of that stems from that moment when I was watching Army of Darkness for the fourth or fifth time as a kid and got to the bored S-Mart employee at the end, and thought "Hey, isn't that the blacksmith?" Working an homage to him in here somewhere was almost as important to me as working in, like, the Necronomicon.
CHAD: It's a sad day for the Delta, but I absolutely love this page. It serves as a nice reminder that the public's impression of Ash is pretty low, and to them, he's a guy who might've murdered his girlfriend, and definitely killed a S-Mart patron who got a little unruly while shopping for Clorox wipes.
And there's Ash's house. Another thing we talked about at length was Ash's housing situation. The movies never really get into his everyday life, but surely he lives somewhere, right? We thought about going full Rockford Files and have him live in a trailer, but that didn't feel quite right. Not for downtown Michigan, at least. We had him in an apartment at one point, but somehow that felt all wrong, too. There's no way anyone would let Ash rent and/or live that close to other people.
So we settled on the idea of a small row house. It seemed like the most appropriate choice, and was right in-line with what we knew of the semi-responsible, ready to settle down guy Ash seemed to be before he encountered the Nercronomicon..
CHAD: I absolutely love a good static storytelling page, and this one's just beautiful. It shouldn't surprise anyone that Ash is a Thin Lizzy man, either.
CHRIS: If you look closely in the foreground, you can see a framed photo of Ash and Linda. We wanted that in there as a sign of what could've been. For us, it's been 25 years of knowing Ash as the chainsaw-handed badass standing against the Army of Darkness, but for Ash himself? Picking up right after the end of the movie means that it's been, what, two weeks since he took his girlfriend to a cabin in the woods and lost her to some horrific evil force?
The balance of writing Ash is in figuring out how to play that over-the-top bluster with the very human weakness and tragedy that makes everything scary, and for us, seeing his life as a complete wreck was a big part of that. This is a guy who had it all, who just wanted to take a vacation from his crappy retail job with the woman he loved when everything was taken away from him. An empty house that's too big for one person with that little photo as a reminder was our way to hint at that tragedy before things got wild again,
CHAD: And here we introduce Joanne Wentworth, vice principal of Alan Shepard High! I don't remember if we gave Mauro any specific art direction for Joanne, but I can't help but cast her in my mind as Constance Zimmer. I really like her introduction here, and we'll be seeing a lot more of Joanne, as she's simply the first in a growing cast of all new supporting characters in Ash's post-AOD life.
Pages Thirteen and Fourteen
CHAD: Now that we mention these other incidents — especially the football game — it definitely feels like more people should probably know something is up, or at the very least, you think they would've heard about some this stuff. But Ash being oblivious is par for the course. Plus, he's been away for a while, which helps explain how he never heard about the biology teacher who just couldn't stop eating the frogs..
CHAD: "Pretty okay with a gun." Definitely Chris's best line of the issue. In fact, I enjoy everything about this news broadcast.
CHRIS: There's not much I love more than a cutaway gag that allows me to refer to our main character as a Local Chainsaw Enthusiast. Hey, think they'll let us put that on a t-shirt?
CHAD: One of the first images I had in mind when plotting this issue was the parallel shot of Ash leaving S-Mart and that mirroring his entrance into the school. I love Ash's body language here. Mauro did a stupendous job with this page, and it sets the tone of the series just perfectly.
CHRIS: We batted around a lot of names for the school based on famous people, but all of them — Arnold Schwarzenegger, Adlai Stevenson, and our eventual choice, Alan Shepard — had the same initials. We really just want to see an A.S.H. letter jacket in there somewhere!
CHAD: Well, that's it for Ash vs. AOD #0! We hope you enjoyed the issue enough to come back next month when things really get unhinged!