• Interviews 

    Mignolaversity: Ahead in 2015 – Abe Sapien

    By | January 7th, 2015
    Posted in Interviews | 3 Comments

    And we’re back. Welcome to Mignolaversity in 2015. Oh, what a year this is going to be! The are some very big things in store… But of course, if we were to tell you about them, Dark Horse would have us all executed. So in the interest of self preservation, in December we interviewed the only people that have immunity from such measures: Mike Mignola and his fellow writers and artists. That turned out to be quite a lot of people, so this will be the third of five parts.

    If you’ve missed any of the others, here’s some links for you:


    In December the ongoing series of Abe Sapien kicked off its first big five-issue arc A Darkness so Great. It’s unlike anything else in the Hellboy universe, with the series’ artists, Max and Sebastián Fiumara alternating issues.


    “This story follows up on some things we set up earlier in the zombie arc [To the Last Man],” said writer Scott Allie. “I knew from the get go that this story would culminate in Texas, that it would be a five-part story, and that it would mark the end of Abe running from the truth. It also sets up some things that will be important in the next big arc of B.P.R.D.

    “There was a lot I didn’t know, early on, and it was great working it out with Mike and the Fiumaras. I love having a series focused entirely on Abe, but it was fun, for this arc, to build a strong supporting cast and tell each of their stories. I love these supporting characters. For instance, the first issue pays off most of Grace’s overall arc. There’s been conflict between Abe and Grace since the beginning of their trip together that finally got resolved in #18 [A Darkness so Great (Part 1)], and so I was happy to have that issue focus on Grace, to see the start of this story from her point of view. Her story isn’t over in #18, of course, but stuff that’s been hanging over her and Abe since #12 [The Garden] has really come together in #18. At one point that wasn’t going to happen until the end of this arc, #22, but I realized people needed payoff, and it was time to deliver it.”

    Each issue of A Darkness so Great takes one of the characters and brings them to the foreground to explore.

    “The fourth issue of this arc focuses on the villain, and that was really fun to write,” said Allie. “Not that it’s so unusual to write a villain, but that it was interesting to have the readers learn some of the darkest stuff right alongside the villain himself.”

    Abe Sapien #20.
    “The Megan issue, #20, was a great for me, too,” added Allie. “I love writing a young woman. My years on Buffy, my Liz Sherman series [B.P.R.D.: The Dead Remembered]. Max and Sebastián are fans of this filmmaker, Jeff Nichols. He made Mud, with McConaughey, but it was his earlier stuff they turned me onto. He does really nice things with coming of age stories for young people, and talking about those films, we liked the idea of a coming of age story for a young woman in the middle of the apocalypse. We deliver that in issue #20. The interesting thing about this structure, this story, is that #20 works as Megan’s coming of age story, with focus on that development, but then to a lesser extent you’re also getting her coming of age across the whole five. So in the final scene of the five issues, in issue #22, which Max is drawing right now—Megan is there, and the reader understands her reactions to the climactic events in context of that moment when we were really focused on her in issue #20. Grace’s ultimate payoff comes in #22, even though the moment she most needed to own took place in her issue, in issue #18.”

    Max Fiumara, the artist on #18, #20, and #22, had some fantastic moments with Grace last year, from her introduction in The Garden to her being haunted by her loss in Visions, Dreams, and Fishin’ to that powerful moment in the first part of A Darkness so Great when she finally broke down and told Abe what had happened to her.

    Continued below

    “Max is terrific with emotion,” said Scott Allie. “He pulled off some really nuanced emotion there, with both Abe and Grace. The bit where we stay on her face for a whole page, when she’s talking and we never see Abe—I’d actually done that before. In my mind, it’s an homage to Jules Feiffer. A lot of his Village Voice strips were monologues, close on a single speaker. I always loved that. In my book with Kevin McGovern, Exurbia, we did a bit where one character speaks to the camera, while actually speaking to an off-panel character, for a full page. In both cases, it’s a woman responding to an off-panel man, responding to him, but what she’s telling him is really not what he wants to hear. For Grace to tell the story she had to tell, I wanted to stay tight and intimate with her. I love what Max did with her, and with Abe’s reaction. We wanted to play it a bit understated, in terms of how they react to one another, but show the emotions running heavy under the surface. Not easy to do visually. I’m grateful for Max.”

    While Grace may be dealing with her own emotional baggage, Abe has been ignoring his own for a while now. Since the series began he has seen failure after failure. Every time he’s tried to help, it has always blown up in his face, but none more so than in Payson in To the Last Man. He never figured out what happened there, and now he’s ended up in Burnham, oblivious that he’s at the epicenter of the zombie trouble.

    Abe's failure at Payson.

    “Abe hasn’t been terribly honest about his failures,” said Scott Allie. “This sanctuary they find in Burnham… it’s going to provide more failure for him and for Dayana. But his specific failure in Payson, with the zombies there… he’s presented a chance to make up for it, sort of to undo it here, in a sense. Abe’s biggest failure, though, is his failure to follow through on this quest to prove his innocence. This story will push him through that failure, too.”

    Abe Sapien is about more than just Abe on his own as world goes to hell around him. In 2012 Abe Sapien #8 explored Abe’s past in 1983, and in Abe Sapien #15 we were taken to 2006 when Abe Sapien was struggle with a crisis of identity after he learned of his past life as Langdon Caul. There are more such flashbacks in store.

    “The next two are already written,” said Allie. “I was texting with the artist on the third and possibly final one today, to nail things down. It’s fun writing classic Abe. He was always a pretty serious guy, but comparably carefree relative to how things are these days…”

    Abe Sapien: #19 A Darkness so Great (Part 2) will come out next week, on the 14th of January with an issue exploring the Santa Muerte cult leader, Dayana. The first of the new flashback stories will start after A Darkness so Great wraps up. And keep an eye on the site next week; We have something special planned for Abe Sapien readers.

    Abe Sapien #19 out January 14.

    //TAGS | Mignolaversity

    Mark Tweedale

    Mark writes Haunted Trails, The Harrow County Observer, and The Damned Speakeasy. An animator and an eternal Tintin fan, he spends his free time reading comics, listening to film scores, watching far too many video essays, and consuming the finest dark chocolates. You can find him on Twitter @MarkTweedale.


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