C2E2: Scott Allie on "Let Me In"

At the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo, Dark Horse announced that it will be publishing comics based on "Let the Right One In," the Swedish vampire movie and novel that will also be seeing an American film remake as "Let Me In" in October 2010. The first miniseries will be written by "Predators" scribe Marc Andreyko with art by Patric Reynolds and covers by Sean Phillips, and is expected to debut in September. CBR News caught up with editor Scott Allie to discuss the project and the stories it will cover.

The Swedish version of "Let the Right One In" enjoyed a limited but successful engagement in American theatres in 2009 and is available now on DVD. The film, as well as the novel that inspired it, has been praised for its subtle storytelling, remarkable young actors, and naturalistic aesthetic. The American version, retitled "Let Me In," is slated to debut in October. The story follows 12-year old Oskar, a funny looking boy who is regularly picked on in school, and his mysterious new neighbor Eli, also 12 "more or less." Shortly after Eli and her father arrive in town, there begins a series of grizzly murders in which the victims' blood is drained. Oskar and Eli strike up a slow but intense friendship and help each other out when in need.

Foreign language films, even with a strong story and acting, can have trouble finding an audience in the States. "Let the Right One In," however, gained a fair amount of mainstream attention, even if it did not quite compete commercially with "Twilight." Allie suggested the film's appeal was down to it being "so frigging refreshing." "All this romantic, sappy, soft vampire stuff, people have got to be sick of it, right? I've been sick of it since I read 'The Vampire Lestat' in college," the editor said. "Someone made vampires scary, unsettling, uncomfortable again. They figured out a way to make the vampire oddly sympathetic but still terrifying, dangerous, amoral. And the characters are just so engaging. Part of what works in the film is the deep world behind the story, all the stuff hinted at. I want to make sure we retain that sense of mystery in the comic. I think that's essential for this sort of fiction, and that if U.S. horror films could figure out how to do it, we'd have horror films that could rope in bigger audiences - not by pandering, like the recent horror fads, but by challenging. Aw, it's good to have a dream."

Allie said that, because "Let the Right One In" is best known as an acclaimed Swedish film but also exists as a novel and is being remade for American audiences, the licensing situation for the comic is more complicated than usual. "Rather than just being a marketing device for the American film, this is going to be its own project, drawing upon all existing material - the Swedish novel, the Swedish film, and the American film," the editor said. "The novel is massive, rich with backstory and subtlety that didn't make it even to the very subtle and beautiful Swedish film. So we want to expand upon the world of the Swedish film by drawing upon the material from the novel. I think it'll allow us to do things impossible in either of the previous incarnations. We're planning a big program, with a unique scope to it." Since the comics will not be a straight adaptation, Allie also said that readers would see episodes taking place both before and after the familiar events of the film, continuing the adventures of Eli and Oskar.

The editor told CBR, though, that he did have some unexpected help in setting up the property at Dark Horse, which Allie had wanted to do since "Let the Right One In's" American release. "Well, the film premiered in Portland the same weekend that 'Twilight' opened. Obviously, 'Let the Right One In' resonated more with the staff that publishes 'Hellboy' and 'Creepy' and 'Criminal Macabre,'" the editor said. "So we were all talking about it right away, but this was before the talk of an American film came up, and there wasn't much thought of the film reaching mainstream American audiences, but Shawna Gore and I did talk about what to do with it as a comic. Briefly, not too seriously. To me, 'Let the Right One In' is one of the two best horror movies in the last half dozen year, 'The Orphanage' being the other. Not 'The Orphan,' haven't seen that. But it bums me out to no end that the best horror films are from Sweden and Spain. Really wish America could deliver like that. Anyway, we were having a meeting at the DH offices, with Fred Malmberg, the guy who brought 'Conan' to us, and whose company we've been working with for six or seven years. He mentioned that he was involved with a U.S. version of 'Let the Right One In.' I got real excited, talked to Mike Richardson about it, got him a copy of the DVD, and boom, he was sold. Turned out that the producer of the American film was Mike's first entertainment lawyer, Nigel Sinclair, and so suddenly we realized we were deeply connected to this film, with some of our best partners."

Even with their connection, solidifying the arrangements to publish "Let Me In" were a long time coming. The timing, though, allowed the particular creative team of Andreyko, Reynolds, and Phillips to come together. Andreyko was hired after what Allie called his "great work" on the upcoming "Predators" movie tie-ins, and Reynolds has been building an impressive portfolio of work with the publisher, including the recently-announced "Serenity: Float Out" with comedian and actor Patton Oswalt. "Patric [Reynolds] is a SCAD graduate who Duncan Fegredo introduced me to. I hired him for a short Mignola story on 'MDHP,' then I wrote him a short thing in the back of 'Hellboy: Wild Hunt #7.' Then John Arcudi implored me to get him for the 'Abe Sapien' one-shot we did late last year, and he nailed it," Allie said of the artist's rise at Dark Horse. "As he was wrapping that up, Patton Oswalt turned in his 'Serenity' oneshot, and we picked Patric for that. But all that time, there were two gigs we were holding out on, me and Patric. There was another license we were pursuing that Patric tried out for, and then 'Let Me In' was on the horizon. [Colorist] Dave Stewart committed to working on anything we put Patric on. With all those other one-shot and short gigs, we were just waiting for 'Let Me In' or the other one to come through. Well, the other one hasn't happened, and finally 'Let Me In' is here, and frankly, this is the one he was always better suited for. Funny that after Duncan introduced me to Patric in the first place, Samantha [Robertson], the actual editor on 'Let Me In,' decided to go after Sean, Duncan's best buddy, as cover artist. Small world."

Though Allie was reluctant to discuss story points at this early date, he did say that, "We're in a very different kind of location from the film, meeting the vampire at an earlier age, in a rural setting. We similarly use themes of cultural change to contrast the vampirism. More screwed up, psychotic characters, more twists."

Check back with CBR later this weekend for an interview with writer Marc Andreyko and artist Patric Reynolds.

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