How did you first make the acquaintance of James Kuhoric and what led to the decision for the two of you to adapt Jeff Katz treatment for Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash?
“We were both contracted originally on separate terms. In other words, I was brought in from WildStorm’s side and I am only assuming James was brought in from Dynamite‘s side since it is a joint venture between the two publishers and James is an accomplished writer for the Army of Darkness series from Dynamite, and he to me is one of the definitive voices of Ash.
Truthfully, I had just come off of Se7en, which was a New Line Cinema project that at that time was at Zenescope. WildStorm hired me from that to work on A Nightmare on Elm Street and about five or six pages in I was asked if I wanted to do Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash. The rest is history I guess, all of us horror fans we really threw our heart and soul into the project, sales were good, and here we are now getting ready to release the second installment of the Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash franchise.”
How long did it take for James to adapt the story and how much input did you have in the writing?
“Really wasn’t much for me to add, what was approved was Jeff’s Story and James adapted it, pretty cut and dry, and really wasn’t room to play. It was a very dense story and a short amount of space to tell it in.”
Was FvJvA an easy comic to develop and how did you approach drawing each character? What are the advantages and disadvantages about basing your drawings on actors of characters that already exist?
“The toughest thing for me is that I am a huge fan of these characters and as a consumer you find yourself disgusted by certain approaches to how the characters are handled, or you’re excited when you see something original. So often in life we find ourself a critic but it’s a whole other story when you’re actually put in the driver’s seat. It’s easy to say drive faster, do this, but then one day you’re in the driver’s seat and you suddenly feel overwhelmed to do what’s right and not let down the fan in you. Likenesses for me are the key, or mannerisms of the characters. Freddy isn’t some man that slashes maniacally like a super villain, he has panache. Robert Englund told me once that the character moves in dance steps, foot over foot, very elegant, it’s Fosse moves. Remove his glove and add a top hat and cane and he is no longer Fred Krueger, he’s Fred Astaire. Ash is the same with his mannerisms and Jason has a very shark-like walk, turning his head and the body follows, keeping in a straight line until something better comes along. Once you understand that, you start to see the characters come to life and that helps maintain the look.”
What was the greatest challenge for you with regards to designing the look for a sequel to a feature film? Were you conscious of honoring the look of Ronny Yu’s movie whilst still adding your own unique touch?
“We tried to keep the looks the same in regards to color, textures, etc. Personally, I wanted it to look like the film on page, the movie we all wanted to see.”
How well was the mini series greeted from fans of each respected franchise and what kind of effect has it had on your career?
“It really was great for my career. I love horror, I’m one of those odd ducks. What I found was I love Jim Lee, Charest, Capullo, Silvestri and a zillion more, forgive me if you’re not mentioned and I knew these guys were all great. I knew I could never draw X-Men or Batman and be noticed, these guys raised the bar too high but horror was almost untouched soil. I had always been let down over the years by countless publishers handling various franchises and I really wanted to give horror the same love WildCATS or any other mainstream title might get.
The fans have been great, I tried really hard last year to attend all the horror conventions, and honestly wasn’t expecting much at all, but the response was almost overwhelming. I wasn’t used to being stopped in elevators or treated like royalty, because Jeff Katz told me one time horror fans are the most loyal fans out there, and I have to say he is absolutely right.
I remember being at Fangoria LA 2008, and I was in line to get Andrew Divoff’s autograph for my son. Asking for a name to put on the photo, I wasn’t paying attention and I said my name when he asked for a name. Realizing I had given him my name and not my son’s I quickly said, “no, no”, and told him my son’s name. After a few moments I turn edto see if he was done so I could collect my photo and move on, and he was still looking at me blankly as if in thought. He said, “Jason….why do I know that name” and me being the smart a$$ said, “I don’t know, do you have a sister?”
Chuckling, he said “No” and finally asking what I do, I said I did the art for Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash. “No Shit” he replied. He then told me he had copies back in his room and asked me if I was going to be at the show all weekend, if so he was going to bring them over and have me sign them for him. That for me was when it hit home when I started to see how the book was soaking into the Hollywood circle and there have been many stories like that since (Andy and I as well as many others in that circle have become fast friends and we all try to talk at least by phone when we can).”
At what point did you begin discussions on a sequel and who was it who initially suggested continuing the story?
“It might have been circulated around the studios earlier, but my memory of that situation is this, I had come down with double pneumonia when I was getting ready to start issue six. In and out of hospitals, I called to say I was going to have to leave the book to keep it on schedule. Asking me to stay, issue six was completed in less than two weeks, pencils to colors, letters to heading to the printer. I had a signing scheduled in Dallas Texas for Fear Fest 2, finishing on Thursday night and due in Dallas on Friday with a twelve hour drive, me and a friend left as soon as I completed the last of the pages .While in route to Texas I got a phone call that we needed to change page twenty-two so we could have a sequel. “No, I said, I’m on the road, there’s no way to get a new page by Monday.”
Needing it changed by Monday regardless, the page was pretty hard to have a sequel off of as is; in fact Jeff’s movie version had Jason and Freddy dying in it. Our original version sort of implied that but in the film version Freddy had the dream demon sucked out of him and all that was left was Fred the man who was then cast into a Deadite hell inside the book. We changed that, but more so changed page twenty-two of issue six. In fact, counting the trade there was actually three versions of page twenty-two – one version, the original version no one ever saw. Since I was in Dallas, Thomas Mason who was the colorist literally took the original page, plus various images from other pages and made page twenty-two from scratch in a cut and paste style. The trade paperback had an all new page twenty-two to connect better to the new series that was now planned.”
As detailed as possible, what is the story for the new Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash mini series and what is the official title you have agreed on?
“Nightmare Warriors is a take on the Nightmare on Elm Street title and literally is a survivor’s story. We have survivors from NOES and F13th as well as cameos from the AOD books. Since AOD books only really have Ash there really were no survivors to carry over aside from Ash himself. This story is a fan boy’s wet dream. This literally picks up seconds after the last story left off, and then goes into a six-months-later scenario where we get to see some classic characters come back, team up and fight Freddy and Jason. This story is The X Files meets horror, we see the Government take interest in the Necronomicon and Jason and Freddy, which hints vaguely at later installments of Jason X where the government again wants to use Jason as a weapon which I thought was an interesting tie-in that’s never really talked about but the fans will notice. This is a story that gets out of the camp grounds, or cabins in the woods, and takes place at our nation’s capital and would make a film with an enormous budget with all the fights. We really pushed to make it the DC Crisis of Horror.”
Was this new series once again based on a treatment by Jeff Katz or did James Kuhoric develop the story himself?
“Actually we all did. Jeff was in Australia for the Wolverine shoot (to put it into perspective how long this story has brewed) and we tried to set aside an hour or so a week where we could all talk on the phone and time zones played a huge factor. All of us HUGE horror geeks, we all said, “what would we like to see in a book or film?” I know we would get to talking and we would get so excited with ideas that we would be talking over one another to the point the commotion would be broken with a simple, “do you think they will give us permission to do that?” Well they did, and very soon you will see where our idea started that Jeff and James then took and turned into a killer script…no pun.”
Was there much conflict between creators as to which of the protagonists/antagonists should win or is it always a given that good will always triumph?
“Really, we just had this great conversation mentioned above where all of us would be talking at once and really the story that came from it, it was a story that we as fans shared between us, so we all agreed easily on what we thought would be cool or something the fans wouldn’t expect yet, like us, would love to see.”
How many issues do you intend on releasing for this new miniseries and are you hoping to include a cliffhanger as a teaser for a third series?
“Well, we wanted originally to do this as an eight-twelve issue arc, but we were told we had to do it again as a six issue miniseries. All I know is that we will have to wait till the end, and like the first series I’m sure no one will know until page twenty-two of issue six what fate will be in store for this series’ future.”
When are you intending for the series to be released and will it be as a monthly issue?
“Monthly, starting June 24th.”
What new aspects are you hoping to bring to the series with this second story and how do you feel you have all developed as artists since making the original back in 2007?
“I really just want to keep more consistency to the look. The first series really was under the gun. Usually a book has a few in the can as they say when the book is solicited, I think the start date and solicitation date were pretty close together…lol. This series, as an artist, I am changing my style up a bit and not really experimenting as much as just having fun and trying things I would want to see.”
Which films from each relevant franchise would you say had the greatest influence on your approach to the look and feel of the new series?
“Well we tried to make the series look like it connected to the Ronny Yu film, Freddy vs. Jason, but I was always a fan of the Jason from Part VII. Freddy’s never had a consistent look, and Ash is always Ash, so really it goes back to just focusing more on keeping the look of the first series which was a continuation of the FvJ Ronny Yu film.”