Writer and Editor extraordinaire Scott Allie took some time from his supremely busy schedule to answer some questions about co-writing with Mike Mignola, the future of the B.P.R.D. universe and his most recent comic, B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror.
Zack Davisson for Comics Bulletin: When I see you at conventions, you look like the busiest man alive. You are a writer, editor and it looks like a talent scout as well, rustling up new projects for Dark Horse. What do you see yourself as primarily?
Scott Allie: Well, the reality is that I'm mostly an editor. It's what I spend the vast majority of my time doing, and I believe it's the way my brain works, such as it is.
CB: With all of your commitments, how do you choose which projects to write?
Allie: I grab the things I think can contribute something to. I'm really happy to be writing some B.P.R.D. stuff. I love that world, and I think I get a certain aspect of what Mike does better than anyone else does. I understand the Buffy world really deeply, and when Andrew Chambliss got in a scheduling bind, I knew I could tell the stories that needed to be told in these issues. With the few Star Wars gigs I've done, I saw a gap that I could fill in the Star Wars lineup. I don't necessarily think I'm as well suited for that world as for Joss's and Mike's world, but I have something to offer.
CB: Is there generally an idea on the table that needs a writer, or do you typically have an idea that you bring up for a series?
Allie: It varies. The previous B.P.R.D. thing I did, The Dead Remembered, was mostly my idea. This Buffy arc was a story that was already outlined that I jumped in to write. The current B.P.R.D. stuff I'm doing is somewhere in between — stories Mike wanted to tell, ideas he came up with that I added to then wrote the scripts.
CB: What attracted you to the story of The Pickens County Horror?
Allie: Mike and I had been wanting to do some real horror stories — not action adventure stories, but atmosphere stories — in B.P.R.D. This was a chance to do that, an idea that Mike had that would move some significant pieces forward in the B.P.R.D. world, while also just giving a great little bit of weirdness. That's what I found appealing.
CB: This series — like almost every B.P.R.D. title — has Mike Mignola listed as the co-writer. How much is he actually contributing to the writing? The overall story idea? Plot points? Or is it a true 50/50 collaboration?
Allie: He wrote an outline, and we talked it over a lot, then I fleshed it out as a script, which he then gave me notes on. There is a great deal of him in it. There are so many ways of collaborating on scripts.
CB: The Pickens Country Horror seems to be a focus on the "redshirts" of the B.P.R.D., the regular schleps who accompany the big guns on their missions. I noticed that same theme in other B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth mini-series. Is this an intentional way of humanizing the B.P.R.D. universe?
Allie: Sort of. It's the result of a few things. The characters you've come to love, particularly the original three agents you met in Seed of Destruction — Hellboy, Abe, and Liz — are all out of action now, and the world is in the worst shape it's ever been. So the B.P.R.D. is calling on a lot of other people to pick up the pieces. But partly in Pickens County and some of the other side projects, we're gonna be dealing with these redshirts, as you call them, because it's good in a horror story if the reader believes that no one's safe. I mean, it's not like we're gonna kill the main characters who've been around forever, right?
CB: The mini-series are also self-contained stories. But how connected are they individually to the overall Hell on Earth storyline brewing in B.P.R.D.? Is there anything in The Pickens County Horror that we should pay attention to that will have repercussions further down the line?
Allie: Oh yeah, all of it. The vampire thing is not small potatoes, and there are characters you'll see again. None of these one-offs or two-offs are completely isolated. The Cameron Stewart thing coming up, for instance, is very much off on its own yet complements everything else really wonderfully.
CB: In The Pickens County Horror, you tapped into one of my most primal fears — mushrooms. I have a deep phobia of mushrooms, and this story confirmed that they are pure evil. Can we expect to see more of these dark fungal overlords?
Allie: Maybe, maybe not. In the current B.P.R.D. world, everything is dangerous, everything has the potential to reveal itself as C'thulhu. You are wise to distrust the mushrooms.
CB: Are they fungi from another planet? Say perhaps — Yuggoth?
Allie: You're tapping our emails …
CB: One of the effects I really enjoyed in the first issue of The Pickens County Horror was the yellow eyes. That gave a sense of menace to the children. Was that your idea, or does Dave Stewart make those decisions with color?
Allie: I think that was Dave. He knows how to mess with you through color, and he doesn't like being limited to coloring things the color they "are." Down with blue skies and the "whites" of their eyes!
CB: Agent Vaughn is the sole survivor at the end of The Pickens County Horror. Can we expect to see more of him, or was he a one-shot character created for the series?
Allie: He will be popping up again, for sure.
CB: And finally, what can we expect to see from upcoming B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth series? Is there a giant mini-series that will connect all of these loose threads, or is the big climax going to come in Hellboy in Hell?
Allie: We're gonna keep escalating. And the B.P.R.D.'s story will be told in the B.P.R.D. titles, although there is some subtextual interaction, shall we say, between Hellboy in Hell and Hell on Earth. The stakes are gonna get higher on a global level, but also with the core characters — or the current core, I should say, which is evolving quickly. John likes big action and crazy stuff, but what he's an incredible master at is the personal stuff, turning the screws on these guys, making personal, individual drama. That's the best stuff, for me, better than the global, earth shaking stuff. But we will continue to shake the world. The other most exciting part of it all is the artists we're bringing in. We have
a lot of returning talent, and a lot of brilliant guys showing up for the first time. We want all the artists.