Allie on "Solomon Kane" & "Exurbia"

[Editor's Note: CBR's Los Angeles based readers can meet Scott and "Exurbia" artist Kevin McGovern at Golden Apple Comics in Hollywood this Saturday at 2:00 PM. Click here for more information.]

Readers of this month's "MySpace Dark Horse Presents" are being treated to a glimpse of the next "Solomon Kane" series in an eight-page story by Scott Allie an "BPRD" artist Guy Davis, illuminating a brief episode in the wandering avenger's life. Allie, who is the editor of some of Dark Horse's most prominent titles including "Hellboy," "Umbrella Academy," and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," will be returning to the grim Robert E. Howard character in January for a new five-issue miniseries. Along with the short Solomon Kane story, which, like all MDHP stories, is available to read for free online, this month also saw Allie's long-awaited surrealist slacker drama, "Exurbia," arrive in stores. CBR News spoke with Allie about these projects.

The eight-page Solomon Kane story on "MySpace Dark Horse Presents" is set within the Puritan adventurer's next miniseries, titled "Death's Black Riders." "[The online short story] stands alone, has it's own resolution, but when we collect it, it'll go in the middle of the 'DBR' trade paperback," Allie said of the strip. "It focuses on Kane's desire to get away from the things he saw in the Black Forest, but it shows that that stuff, the horrible things he first saw in the Forest, just might be everywhere."

Like Dark Horse's "Conan" series and the publisher's first Solomon Kane miniseries, also written by Allie, "Death's Black Riders" is based on a story of the same name by the character's creator, Robert E. Howard. Howard, however, only completed a few lines of this particular Solomon Kane pulp. "I'm actually combining 'Death's Black Riders' with another short story, but expanding heavily on the fragment," Allie said of the new miniseries. "Basically, Howard gave us a cool looking monster and then never wrote the whole story. I'm expanding upon the monster in the context of what I see in terms of the Kane mythology, some of the motifs and trends I've recognized in the supernatural stuff in his stories.

"'Castle of the Devil' and 'Death's Black Riders' - both of which require me to add a lot, since they're unfinished stories - are giving me the opportunity build things up that will naturally pay off in real faithful adaptations of the later stories," the writer continued. "When you put my additions to 'Castle of the Devil' alongside things like 'The Footfalls Within' - should we ever get that far - a picture will form, and it'll all really pay off in the final story, 'The Children of Asshur,' of which Howard wrote a dozen or so pages, but then didn't end. Anyway, I'm getting way ahead of things, but the main idea is that, wherever Howard gave me room to add things, I'm doing it in such a way that will weave the stories into a bit more of a whole than I guess he ever intended."

Though Mario Guevara will be returning for the second "Solomon Kane" miniseries, the MDHP strip is illustrated by Guy Davis, with timing and the shorter story format conspiring to give Davis a crack at the character. "We had this opportunity to do a story on 'MySpace Dark Horse Presents,' Mario was busy with deadlines on the mini, and Guy had a break because the Twins [Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon] were working on BPRD," Allie told CBR. "Guy and I were talking schedules one night, and I mentioned that we were talking about a Kane story on DHP. We brainstormed a bit about a monster, and decided thy he'd draw the story. He's been designing monsters for the series since we started, but this is the first time he's drawing Kane himself."

Continuing on the subject of Dark Horse's web comics format, Allie said, "I love short stories. Short stories are such a natural part of comics history, the form really lends itself to short bits. The clear advantage here is that we could get Guy - you can get an artist who's too busy to do a whole miniseries. And ideally it gets the material into new hands - people reading DHP for free on MySpace aren't necessarily going into comics shops. But maybe, if they see something they like, they will."

Also released this month, albeit in physical rather than digital form, is Allie's original graphic novel, "Exurbia." The book, illustrated by Kevin McGovern, is a surreal tale of a suburban town constructed of dice, teetering on the edge of chaos, and the disaffected young man who might finally save or destroy it. The story also features a unwillingly messianic rat, whose unwished-for fame has driven him to alcoholism. CBR previously spoke with Allie about the book when it was announced at Emerald City Comic Con, and recently featured a behind-the-scenes look at "Exurbia's" production.

Unlike many writers who have provided commentary on their work for CBR, in Allie's "behind the scenes" feature he used a lot of design and production language to describe how the book came together and why it looks the way it does, which he said comes from his experience as an editor and his relationship with Dark Horse's strong production department. "I have a great team to work with here, and I know how to work with them to best effect," he said. "The designer on the book is fantastic, Josh Elliot. By pure coincidence, he's the designer both on the 'Exurbia' trade and on that great looking 'Solomon Kane' trade cover. So we've got two handsome books we've brought into the world this year, he and I together, with our editors Philip Simon and Dave Land. Oh, and the artists ...

"But when you see the printed 'Exurbia,' the way that we worked the story in and around the normal intro material of the book - the half title page, full title, credits and indicia - that's definitely the result of the writer also being an editor, and conceiving the book as a whole object, not a story that got dropped inside of a book," he continued. "I love books as objects, I wanna hug 'em. Anytime I write a comic, whether it's serialized or straight-to-trade, I'm thinking about how it'll fit between the covers. Note that in 'The Devil's Footprints,' my Star Wars book, and 'Solomon Kane,' we don't use the series covers as chapter breaks, the way we often do in most other trades. There aren't really chapter breaks, because I've written them to sit in the book a certain kind of way. Which is probably way more interesting to me than anyone else, so I'll stop ..."

With "Exurbia's" release now realized after more than a decade of development, Allie is quite pleased with the results of his labor. "I got [my] printed copies, and it feels incredible," the writer said. "Exurbia comes out, Bob Dylan's in town, and it's a significant anniversary in my personal life - October 7 was a memorable day for me. I first pitched 'Exurbia' to Dark Horse in 1994, three months before I was hired here as an editor. To say that this is the culmination of a long struggle is putting it lightly."

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