Nancy Collins talks Army of Darkness: Furious Road #6, on sale in August

Nancy Collins talks Army of Darkness: Furious Road #6, on sale in August from Dynamite.

BYRON BREWER: A rough and tumble tale of monsters and monstrosities draws to a close in August, Nancy, and its climax is … everybody kung fu fighting??!

NANCY COLLINS: Yes, no tribute to grindhouse cinema of the 1970s is complete without guys in their pajamas kicking the snot out of everybody.

BB: OK, we will start off this interview kind of sideways: What inspired this chop-socky ending for Furious Road #6?

NC: Furious Road is my love letter to grindhouse cinema of the 1970s and 1980s post-apocalyptic exploitation films. And next to cheesy horror and sleazy biker films, one of the biggest box-office draws were martial arts movies, thanks to the popularity of Bruce Lee. Theaters and drive-ins in the 1970s and early 1980s were awash in hundreds of badly-dubbed, horribly edited, and weirdly compelling kung fu flicks—such as Drunken Master, Five Fingers of Death, Flying Guillotine—which gave action stars like Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Maggie Cheung their start. This opened the door for different genres of Hong Kong cinema in this country, such as the Chinese Ghost Story and Mr. Vampire series, Jackie Chan’s kung-fu action-comedies, and ‘artier’ martial arts films such as Wo-Ping Yuen’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Stephen Chow’s post-modern action-comedies Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. And it can be argued that the original Evil Dead was, itself, influenced, in part, by some early HK horror flicks.

BB: Wow, cool. … When this latest Army of Darkness limited series started out, you seemed to be more certain of the monsters’ “voices” than Ash’s. Since he is based on a living person from a movie franchise, is the comic book a difficult medium in which to present his quirky (for lack of a better term) dark humor?

NC: Having to replicate an existing character and their distinct speech patterns can be daunting, especially one like Ash, whose ‘voice’ is set in stone in the minds of most fans. But once I got him talking, I didn’t really have trouble getting into his groove. I haven’t had a chance to see the new series yet, as I don’t have Starz. So I have no idea if he’s picked up new catch phrases or not over the last 25 years since we last saw him.

BB: Speaking of dark humor, with some of the little bits you have done in this tale and previously in Vampirella, you are becoming known for your sense of the absurd. Have you always had that Poe/Vincent Price sense of the macabre about you, or is it something that developed over time writing monsters?

NC: It’s fair to say I was a weird kid with a very early taste for the macabre.
One of my favorite ‘picture’ books as a young child was a hardback edition of Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoons. My grandfather was a huge Boris Karloff fan, and he passed that love of monster movies and ghoulish humor along by giving me a record of Karloff reading Mother Goose.

BB: Mother Goose? Karloff?! Hoo-okay, and speaking of Karloff … the Frankenstein Monster has seemingly developed as a character over the course of co-starring in a number of these Dynamite tales. What’s your take on the classic creature?

NC: Dynamite’s version of the Frankenstein’s Monster has him being a far more articulate and spiritual creature than most, which is closer to what you find in the original novel. I see ‘Michael’, as this variation is called, as a being who is trying to atone for his past sins by actively working against the forces of evil while trying to find inner peace and a place for himself in a world that, at best, fears him and, at worst, actively tries to destroy him.

BB: Elephant in the room: We are reaching the final curtain of this book in August, so I must ask this: Obviously the title “Furious Road” reflects back on the Fast & Furious movies. What was your particular favorite homage to that franchise in this miniseries, and are you an F&F fan?

NC: I’ve only seen the first of the Fast and Furious franchise, although I’ve seen clips and segments from some of the others. The first one was okay, but the series itself isn’t my cup of tea. I’ve also seen the original The Fast and the Furious, which was a 1950s film about drag-racing. I am more a fan of the Mad Max series, the original Death Race 2000, and movies like Cannonball! and Eat My Dust.

BB: You have had some fantastic covers by Gabriel Hardman and interiors by Kewber Baal. If it had not been these gentlemen, is there another artist with whom you have worked, perhaps on a Dynamite book, you would have liked to seen illustrate Furious Road?

NC: Kewber’s been great. But if not him, then probably Patrick Berkenkotter, who was my artist on my Vampirella run. It’s hard to imagine any other art on it but Kewber’s, though.

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