Former Marvel Editor Mike Raicht has a thing for horror.
Along with his work on MAX Zombie and Creature Feature, Raicht has been working with James Kuhoric, co-writing Dynamite’s Army of Darkness series, continuing the adventures of one Ashley J Williams, fighter of the Deadites, and the cause of 90% of women swooning in the world of S-Mart and the Evil Dead.
We caught up with him to talk about his work on Army of Darkness.
Newsarama: Mike, you kind of came on to Dynamite’s Army of Darkness in stealth mode, co-writing the series with James Kuhoric. First off, when did you join up, and what brought you on?
Mike Raicht: Stealth mode? Ha. I like that. That is a good way to describe it.
I joined up with issue #5 of the most recent series for “The Long Road Home” arc. I think I was originally intended as short term help. James was busy with writing the Jason vs. Freddy vs. Ash project as well as his full time job. I had just wrapped up MAX Zombie at Marvel and had approached Nick Barrucci and editor Joe Rybandt about possibly working with them on things. Joe and I were working up some fun Savage Tales stories and I think they felt I would be a good partner for James. It was exciting to be onboard my first ongoing book.
NRAMA: 2) So how do you and James split up the work? Are things moving towards you taking over the book, full-time as James has other projects coming up?
MR: It's a pretty straight forward process. James sends in an over view/outline for the upcoming story arc which everyone reads over. Once it's approved I take a pass at it in plot/script form. Once I wrap an issue up I send a version to James and Joe R. at Dynamite. They include any notes they have and I work them in the best I can. I think James can be likened to a TV show runner who beats out where the character is going, who the villains are going to be and where the show will head next. James will also throw in some scenes he'd like to see and then I build each issue around that. It's been a fun way to work. It forces me to attack a story in different ways than I'm used to.
And it does look like I will be taking over the book starting with issue #19. James will be moving on to write Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash 2 and the very cool looking and sounding Dead Irons. It's kind of a win-win for both of us. I will miss working with him but he obviously has some very cool projects lined up. It's exciting for everyone. I also like to think I am more than prepared top attack Ash alone after a year of co-writing the book. I am excited to go it alone and appreciate the opportunity Nick, Joe and James have given me.
NRAMA: So how do you see Ash? We all have an impression of the lug in our minds from the films, but how do you go about transferring that idea of him from inside your head to the page?
MR: Writing Ash is kind of like writing a non-therapied, smart-ass Charlie Brown with a chainsaw, shot gun, errant moral compass, and no dog to save the day... at least not yet. He is a lot like you and me but he has better one liners and a metal hand. His heart is always attempting to be in the right place but what makes him the most fun to write is that he's an average guy picked to save the world from an onslaught of evil on a daily basis. He constantly makes mistakes by not thinking things through but he gets things done. Kind of. Eventually. That kind of in between success and good natured hero is a lot of fun to write. It leaves a writer with a lot of solutions to storylines that straight forward perfect heroes don't always afford you.
NRAMA: For folks who haven't been reading the series lately, what have you and James been doing to Ash?
MR: Cliff Notes version of the last 13 issues coming up... bear with me.
Before I came on as co-writer Ash visited the Marvel Zombies. He then returned to his own rebooted comic book and discovered he and the Book of the Dead were smack dab in the middle of an apocalyptic future. From there he defeated his evil twin and the book. He also rescued his true love Sheila. The two of them defeated the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by re-writing history with his own blood. Now back in the present, Ash was returned to his old job at S-Smart with Sheila. But he had accidentally re-written history so that he was no longer a Chosen One and had forgotten his past. Ash's desire to "not live up to his potential" drew the attention of the Seven Deadly Sins who wanted to recruit him as their Sloth. A position that apparently is extremely difficult to fill. Ash, did eventually get his memory back in time to save Sheila and his S-Smart friends from an insane Deadly Sin named Wrath.
With his memory returned and tired of the book ruining his life, Ash decided to take Sheila back to her original time in an effort to find a way to destroy the book. While passing through the old kingdom he was named King. He accepted and asked for Sheila's hand in marriage. Unfortunately, before they could marry, Ash discovered Sheila was destined to die a horrible Necronomicon induced death. Ash had no choice but to leave Sheila his one true love behind and continue on with out her.
Now, alone and back in our time, Ash has embraced his Chosen One role, traveled to the mountains, and decided that if he can't destroy the book he will make sure no one ever comes close to it again. This obviously goes very poorly or we wouldn't have a very good comic book, would we?
NRAMA: We've seen Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, and James' stories including a meeting with Freddy and Jason, but in your mind, what kind of stories does Ash work best in?
MR: I think throwing Ash into any story is always going to bring about some interesting conflict. He is just a great character to bounce other people off of.
I have been having a lot of fun throwing him into the more realistic horror mixed with overwhelming odds moments of the current arc “Hellbillies and Deadnecks.” I think infusing more intense situations of the horror genre into the book is going to be a lot of fun. Ash is a character who is there to kick ass, even though kicking ass might not be possible. It really makes the story take some interesting turns.
NRAMA: That said, what do you have coming up with him and his undead pals?
MR: Issues #14 which is currently out, kicks off our current “Hellbillies and Deadnecks” arc which runs through #17. Ash, in over his head again, hang out in the snow, grows a beard and faces off against a Hell's Prophet and his legion of nasties. What's a Hell's Prophet? I will give you one hint. He's no fun at parties. Ash also meets up with some very peculiar mountain folk and ski tourists. And we all know how ski tourists can be.
My first solo issue is #19. That one is a stand alone story where Ash deals with some unfinished business from the “Hellbillies and Deadnecks” arc. He will also meet someone who may fill Sheila's place in his heart. It's a nice little done in one story that gives Ash some happiness. Very sweet in an Army of Darkness kind of way.
From there we have an over-arcing goal we're shooting for with the book. Beginning in London, Ash is going to look at what it means to be a Chosen One. There is an unexplored legacy to this position which we think could be a lot of fun. One that we haven't really gotten a glimpse of yet. He will be traveling the world a bit with the book and discovering the Chosen Ones before him made some mistakes in their times that led to some pretty awful things happening to the world. And most of them did not end their time on the side of the angels.
We will also be introducing some new cast members who will push Ash to the limit as well as inspire him to be a bit better. All leading up to a big Chosen One blow out. It should be fun.
And make sure you all at least flip through the book in the store and check out new series penciler Scott Cohn is kicking butt on these pages. He started on issue #13 and is getting better with every issue. His pencils combined with Ivan Nunes' coloring make it a treat to write this series. Wait until you see issue #15 next month. Snow, blood and killer critters are always a cool combination.