At Friday afternoon’s Dark Horse panel at New York Comic Con, the publisher announced plans for a second series of R.E. Howard’s “Solomon Kane,” written by editor Scott Allie. A trade paperback of the first series will be released in July with a cover by “Hellboy” creator Mike Mignola and an 18-page sketchbook section with Allie’s layouts, John Cassaday’s original covers, and designs by series artist Mario Guevara and Guy Davis. CBR News caught up with Allie to get the first details on the new series and insight into the process of developing new comics from Howard’s incomplete works.
The first “Solomon Kane” series that is wrapping up this month was based on Howard’s “The Castle of the Devil” fragment — Allie wrote five issues based on a mere six pages of Howard’s original material. With this in mind, the writer amplified those elements he found most interesting in the source and built from there. “The joy with the first one was how much I think Howard hinted at in John Silent’s character, which I ran with. I might have been imagining it, but I saw a lot of character in those few lines from Silent in the story,” Allie said. “He liked Kane, but he knew he could kind of get away with making fun of Kane because Kane took himself so seriously, he wouldn’t guess anyone was mocking him. In just the little bit from Howard, I saw Silent as a real hardcore rogue who pretended to be a bon vivant to avoid suspicion. But that was all the fragment really provided, except the idea that there was this very bad guy in a castle with a very ominous name. From there, I had to make it all up.”
With only a handful of completed stories and fragments of a few more, Robert E. Howard left much of Solomon Kane’s history incomplete. But Allie, already quite well versed in Howard’s works, did a considerable amount of research in preparation for this series, and found that he had an even better understanding of the character once it was all over. “I really tried to get Kane’s voice right, his attitude and temper, and I think I matched Howard’s model of the character pretty well. So in spending 110 pages doing that, yeah, I got to understand Kane in ways that I hadn’t before,” he said.
“The big watershed moment for me with Kane was when I’d read all the Howard stories about three times through, working out the chronological order that made sense to me — and then I read them backward. That pulled it together in a unique way for me,” Allie continued. “That showed me how he ended up, and how he got there, in ways that reading them forward through his life did not give me. Of course, I imposed that order, and I extrapolated a lot from what I was reading, so whether I was discovering Howard’s underlying vision or imposing my own, who knows.”
Allie said that he’s “just warming up for series two now,” but that he wants to make sure things are more settled before a release date is announced. “The schedule got a little tight on the first one–well, we fell behind–so we want to make sure we’re able to do it all on time for the second one,” he told CBR.
He did, however, share a few details about the story readers will see in the second volume of “Solomon Kane.” “The second arc again is based mainly on a fragment, arguably an even thinner fragment than ‘The Castle of the Devil’–something called ‘Death’s Black Riders.’ That’ll provide the main story, but there’ll be some other stuff in there,” Allie said. “It picks up very shortly after the end of ‘The Castle of the Devil,’ keeps Kane in the Black Forest, and pits him against some more terrible stuff. To some degree he sort of found his purpose in the first series, and in the second series he’ll be forced to question what that says about him. So far priests haven’t gotten a very fair shake between the main story and the short from ‘MySpace Dark Horse Presents’–I think I’m gonna redeem the clergy a bit in this one.
“And once again, I’m gonna have Guy Davis come in for the worst of the monsters. ‘Cause he’s amazing …”