It’s Abe Sapien Month at Multiversity! To see all sorts of Abe content, like our “Evolution of Abe Sapien” contest, fantastic original art, interviews and more, click here.
Scott Allie is the Editor in Chief of Dark Horse, the owner of the best hair in comics, a friend to Multiveristy, and the co-writer of the new ongoing series, “Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible.” To kick off our month-long celebration of all things Abe and B.P.R.D., Brian and David sat down with Scott to discuss the new book, Abe as a character, and his place in the Mignolaverse.
So, Scott, what about the current goings on in the world of “B.P.R.D.” made you guys decide that this is the time to give Abe his own series?
Scott Allie: The changes that Abe is going through were going to push him away from the B.P.R.D. We knew that for a while, but there was a long time when we figured we’d do that in the pages of the monthly series, you know, cut aways from the main action to see what he was up to. But we realized we had a lot more we wanted him to do, and that he’d offer us a perspective on the end of the world that we couldn’t get enough of in the regular title. So we decided to give him his own book. There’s one story that John had planned from early on, which he’ll write in the Abe series, but aside from that it’s Mike and me.
Besides Mike and yourself – and eventually John – your artist is the new to the Mignolaverse Sebastian Fiumara. He’s made a name for himself on Ender’s books over at Marvel and one very, very memorable Loki mini-series, but besides that his biggest connection to working on B.P.R.D. is he happens to be Max Fiumara’s – of B.P.R.D. 1948 fame – brother on top of being an excellent artist. What made him such a great fit for this book and character?
SA: We fell in love with Max right away—after O’Donnell we knew we wanted him to be a regular member of the team. Then he sort of shyly told us his brother would be interested too, and we checked out his stuff … and HOLY CRAP. Max fits in the weirder part of what we do, the very stylized world of James Harren. Sebastian falls into a bit more realistic vein, what we’re doing with Laurence Campbell—but no less unique than his brother. His drawing is just incredible, his characters have this great weight, and like his brother, he can design a hell of a weird monster—great Ogdru Hem! So we like how he can make the world as weird as his brother can, while making it all seem as real and natural as someone like Laurence Campbell. If those guys couldn’t do mood and monsters they couldn’t draw our books, but being able to mix those things with a certain level of realism helps make our apocalypse seem that much more real.
Oh man, I couldn’t agree more. Sebastian really blends the nightmarish with the real about as well as anyone, and he shows it in this first issue.
Speaking of, having read through the first issue, this book gives readers a real ground level look at what is happening in the world of B.P.R.D. while still giving us a healthy dose of the fantastical. What are you and the rest of the team hoping to accomplish with this book, besides continuing to focus on how Abe fits into this ongoing apocalypse?
SA: What’s happening on the ground IS pretty fantastical, so that’s what you’re gonna see. The most important thing about the book is the continuing growth of Abe as a character. I want to say evolution as a character, but it’d be easy to read the wrong thing into that (or would it?). So what happens to him personally is the reason for the book—but the other reason, the thing we’re going to show, is the world from that ground level point of view. John certainly does it a lot in the regular B.P.R.D. title, but seeing it from one man’s point of view on his own private journey is a lot different. And Abe’s perspective on it all is very important, since people like Devon think he’s in some way responsible for it.
You mention Abe’s evolution, which can be taken in a few different ways. What about his character lends itself to reinvention, and what can we expect to see from Abe that will be noticeably different than the Abe we’re used to?
SA: By evolution I mean character development. And every character needs to evolve, or you get people wearing the same clothes for 70 years. But Abe in particular goes with reinvention, because he’s actually been different people—a Civil War-era philosopher and explorer, a scientific curiosity, an occult detective, a soldier, a general. And now he’s something else. The world has changed, and he has changed, and he has to figure out what he’s changed into. He has a lot to figure out.
Abe’s past is the one that has been developed more than anyone’s in the cast of B.P.R.D., and it’s complex. His relationship with the Oannes Society is interesting in particular, with the one remaining former compatriot of Langdon Caul looming in a submarine somewhere, as well as the reappearance of the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra in The Abyss of Time. How important will that past be to him as a character in this book?
SA: That’s really the question the series poses, and will answer over the next few years. Does what is happening to day have anything to do with what led Abe to be what he is? When you see #2, there’s some flashback panels to some of what you’re referring to. But is it because that Civil War-era work is reaching fruition now? Or is it because Abe’s torturing himself over that? We’ll figure it out eventually, but for now it’s the biggest question weighing on Abe.
We thought it was very interesting how elements of one of your previous B.P.R.D. co-writing endeavors – The Pickens County Horror – show up in the first issue of Abe. It also was referenced in The Abyss of Time. Is this the beginning of us seeing that story factoring into the present a whole lot more?
SA: I dunno if it’s the beginning … I mean, all these stories are interconnected in ways that are not at first apparent. When both Pickens and Abyss came out, I heard fans complain that they had nothing to do with what’s going on now in the series. In fact, the connections are very complicated, as they always have been in Mike’s stuff. Abyss of Time features one of the most significant connections to what’s currently going on with Hellboy that we’ve ever seen—Hellboy and BPRD were parallel but unconnected tracks for a long time, but they’ve been crossing over, in very subtle ways, more and more lately. Cold Day in Hell continues that trend.
Hellboy was the bringer of destruction with his right hand of doom. It’s been insinuated by the Black Flame that Abe is the first of the next generation of man that survives that extinction. How will that potential fate haunt and guide Abe as he struggles through this new, hellish Earth?”
SA: Well, unlike Hellboy, Abe’s not going to just ignore this supposed destiny. He’s going to refute it, and seek to disprove it. So a big part of the series is him dealing very directly, if in denial, with that potential fate.
We’ve heard that the initial arc will run three issues long, but what is next for the series? Will it operate like a traditional ongoing monthly, and, if so, will Sebastian be the man for the book past this initial arc?
SA: Issues #4 & 5 are Arcudi and Max Fiumara, fresh off 1948, taking Abe to the Salton Sea looking for answers. Then Sebastian and I are back for another two issue arc as Abe decides what to do next, in very broad terms. Then Sebastian and Max alternate on these short arcs going forward.
I know we’re a little ways ou and we can’t get too far in-depth, so let’s just set this up on a tee and let you go with it: for fans of Hellboy, B.P.R.D. and beyond, why is Abe Sapien a book that readers should not miss? What is it that you think makes this book a special one?
SA: Abe’s one of the most popular characters next to Hellboy, and this is the first time one of these characters has his own story of this scope.
For a long time Hellboy and BPRD were telling very separate, but somewhat parallel stories. These days, the various books are much more parallel, less separated. We absolutely want to avoid a situation where you can’t pick and choose which books you read, where you HAVE to read Abe to understand BPRD, for instance. But more than ever, you’ll understand the big story more by reading the various books. Abe will stand alone as a dynamic character fighting his way through America at the end of the world, a mystic horror story with high stakes.
Thanks, Scott. We know you don’t want to spoil too much, but is there anything else you want our readers to know about the book?
SA: Wolverine dies in issue #3!
“Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible” #1 will be released on April 3. Tell your local comic shop to pre-order you a copy today, with the Diamond Code FEB130010!