Writer Jesse Blaze Snider has been given the task of re-booting one of the iconic comic book horror characters, Evil Ernie. The character has sat on the shelf for the better part of a decade after longtime publisher Chaos Comics filed for bankruptcy in 2002. Snider was given the green light to take “Evil Ernie” off the shelf and give him a proper re-launch. Being a fan of the original series, Snider has a deep love for the character and he’s letting his passion bleed out into the pages of the book.
With Evil Ernie #1 hitting stores from Dynamite Entertainment, Bloody-Disgusting cornered writer Jesse Blaze Snider to get the inside scoop on the re-birth of “Evil Ernie”. With Snider firmly in our crosshairs we asked about the pressure of re-booting the classic character, his plans for the series, and the initial feedback he got back from fans and the response from original creator Brian Pulido.
BD: Can you tell us how you came to land the job with Dynamite to reboot Evil Ernie the Chaos Universe?
JBS: Dynamite had been interested in working with me ever since they read a book I did for Marvel and when I heard they got the rights to Chaos and more importantly Evil Ernie and Smiley, I immediately wrote up a pitch for a re-launch of the character. They had a few others vying for the gig, but seemed to think I understood the material best so I got the gig.
BD: Tell us a bit about how artist Jason Craig came on board. Where has this guy been hiding? His pages in the first issue are phenomenal!
JBS: Yeah, well Jason Craig is a perfect storm of circumstance. He’s hungry and ready to get back in the game. He was out for a minute after doing Freddy/Jason/Ash and some Marvel stuff. He’s a horror comics nut and fell pretty hard for my scripts, which of course makes it hard for me to not like him. You like me, I like you. Anyway, he has gone above and beyond the call of duty with absolutely every page, character and location. I can’t believe how much work he has put into the pages. But like me, I think Jason is leaving it all in the book. He’s giving it everything he has. That’s the way it should be.
BD: Do you feel any pressure for the new series to stand up to the original?
JBS: Of course! How could I not? But more so, I feel pressure to live up to the nostalgia. I mean, Evil Ernie and Chaos Comics wasn’t anything close to what you would call a masterpiece, but it did the job and like me, people have very fond memories of the characters and the stories. Like most books from the 90s, reading it now, it leaves a little something to be desired, but I have to live up to the memory of the book. My own memories of the book and everyone else’s. I have to take everyone back to that time and that feeling and at the same time deliver a book that stands up to what is being done in comics today. It’s a tough gig but I love it.
BD: In the original series Ernie had suffered physical abuse at the hands of his parents, and everyone around him knew but did nothing to stop it, which lead to him being pushed over the edge. Will this remain part of the series and how much of Ernie’s past will be a part of the new series as it develops?
JBS: Yes. We’re actually taking that one step further. Ernie suffered physical and mental abuse from his foster parents and everyone in the town where he lived. The abuse he suffered as a child is directly responsible for who he grows up to be. Ernie’s past will certainly be playing a roll, though most of it will be laid out in the first arc.
BD: Is Evil Ernie’s yearning for love still a driving force behind his character and his desire to kill?
JBS: Yes and no. I didn’t want to create an analogue for Lady Death and just do what they did before, it seemed wrong to me. But Ernie is still driven by love, but it’s a love for all good and innocent people. He thinks of himself that way. As an abused Angel. He is basically playing the part of Jesus, dying for our sins. He is going to destroy all of the evil in our world, so that the good guys can live in peace. He’ll go to hell for it, but at least the rest of us will have a better life without the sinners.
BD: The original had an impressive supporting cast of characters from Dr. Leonard Price, Mary Young, The Dead King, William Stone, Chastity etc. How much of a role will these characters play in the new series if any?
JBS: Price gets name dropped in the first arc and General Ramsey makes an appearance, but other than that, this is a story about Ernie. I did my best to make you fall in love with Ernie with the first issue, but if you give me the first six issues, I promise you will become emotionally involved. I have the space to do that, because I am focusing on Ernie. Supporting characters may come along eventually, but nothing is sacred as far as the old continuity is concerned. I decided when I came up with the idea for the books new premise, that I could not be beholden to what was already done or the book would suffer for it. This is a fresh start. Lots of new characters on their way, but I promise we will be seeing some important familiar faces once the book gets going.
BD: Can you let us know what other characters from the Chaos Universe will make an appearance in your run on Evil Ernie?
JBS: No [Laughs]. But I can promise Lucifer. Eventually. Other than that, you’ll just have to wait and see.
BD: The original series incorporated a fair amount of humor into Ernie’s character. Will that remain in the Dynamite version or are you striving for more of a straight horror vibe? Will you take on the book incorporate the supernatural elements as well?
JBS: This is a horror comic. But I cannot help but write everything from an ironic vantage point. That’s kind of my style. So, we will definitely have some humor. Some very dark humor. Ernie himself is played a bit more earnestly. I want him to be relatable, but he cracks some sick jokes every now and a again. My real joke teller is Smiley. His first line of the series is “Hate the sin…LOVE the SINNER!” which I feel encapsulates why these seemingly deplorable, homicidal characters have endured as long as they have. I’m not sure I’d know how to do an Evil Ernie comic without the supernatural. So…HELL YES!
BD: You have the first arc planned out as an origin story, but how far have you mapped out the book so far? Are you writing a long form ongoing story or will there be different artists and writers to tackle different story arcs?
JBS: I’ve mapped out Ernie’s entire story. It might take years to arrive at the books conclusion or even the pay off for the books initial premise, but I know what it is. I doubt I’ll ever have the chance to write so much of what I’ve worked out, but getting there is the hard and fun part and THAT I know only in generalities. I have a lot of stories I’d like to tell, where to begin is really the question.
BD: Now that Dynamite has the rights to the Chaos Universe, will we ever see any of the original series collected in any of trades of omnibus format?
JBS: That’s a question for Dynamite. I have no idea. I’m not sure they have the rights. They may though.
BD: Have you had any early feedback from anyone that’s read the original on the new revamp?
JBS: Yes! I was concerned about old fans not liking what I was doing, so I reached out to two HUGE Ernie fans, my friends Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash) & JK Woodward (Fallen Angel), both of whom seemed to really love the book. JK tried to get the gig drawing it, but by then Jason was already locked in and Seeley is doing covers for us, so far so good.
PLUS, Jason Craig, my artist is a huge Chaos fan and he really loves it! So, according to a few Ernie fans, I’m doing okay. But we’ll have to see what the masses think.
BD: Have you had any feedback from original Evil Ernie creator Brian Pulido about your approach to the book?
JBS: My feedback from Brian Pulido was basically that he lost all of these characters to bankruptcy and though he wishes me and Jason nothing but the best, it’s too painful and he’d rather not have anything to do with it. I for one, can understand.
BD: What kind of a process did you use to decide what to keep from the original version and what needed updating?
JBS: Well, without Lady Death, the book needed a bit of a new premise. Once I came up with that premise, I just chose to keep all of the things that supported that new premise. Everything else was adjusted accordingly.
BD: What are some of the titles on your monthly pull list that you just have to read?
JBS: Daredevil. Batman. Avengers Academy. Savage Dragon. Invincible. The Punisher. Animal Man. Amazing Spider-man. FF. I do all my reading digitally nowadays, so I really jump around. I used to read well over one hundred monthly books. I barely have time to read anything now. And I’m usually months behind on everything. I have to schedule time to read books now a days. It kinda sucks. Reading reminds you why you started making comics. I love it so much, wish I was still part of the Wednesday crowd.
BD: Tell us a little bit about your musical career and the album you’re working on… What can fans expect if they pick up a Jesse Blaze record?
JBS: Thanks for asking, I always forget to mention. Um…well, my hope is that people will never truly know exactly what to expect from a JBS record. I like a lot of different things and have a wide range of influences. Basically I’m trying to be a modern day Billy Idol. I write bad ass pop music, with substance. I’m a writer. That’s what I do. To me a song is just a short story, so most of my music tends to be a mainstream answer to Country Music. I writer for the world. I try and put things plainly, but also have a lot going on for those paying attention to the music or the lyrics. I’ve released three songs so far, but there is a lot more on its way. Type my name into your digital music account and give my tunes a listen. I’ve actually been getting a lot of placements lately, so apparently somebody likes it. Maybe you will too.