[Interview] Scott Allie Talks ‘Abe Sapien’ And ‘CBLDF Liberty Annual 2013′

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Scott Allie, Editor-In-Chief at Dark Horse Comics, is a busy man to say the least. Aside from his non-stop work editing at Dark Horse, he also contributes regularly as a writer to the BPRD universe, and in case that wasn’t enough, he took on the role of Editor for the “CBLDF Annual Liberty 2013″, the newest anthology from Image Comics that benefits the efforts of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. The anthology boasts a pretty insane lineup of talent including work from Tim Seeley, Richard Corben, Joshua Williamson, Michael Moreci, Emi Lenox, and more.

Scott Allie took the time to chat with Bloody-disguting about “Abe Sapien”, the current state of the BPRD universe, and how it all ties into the “CBLDF Liberty Annual 2013″, which drops in October.

BD: Abe Sapien has come a long way from when he was first apart of the BPRD, as he explores the world through new eyes, so to speak, what kind influences can we expect to happen in terms of his relationship with the bureau?

Scott Allie: He’s gonna keep some distance between himself and the Bureau. Once upon a time the Bureau found him in a jar and considered cutting him open to find out what he was. Hellboy intervened on his behalf, but Hellboy is dead now, and the Bureau has much more reason to be suspicious of just what Abe is. First the King of Fear told them Abe was going to bring about the end of the human race, and then that psychic girl Fenix shot Abe when she had a vision of him destroying mankind. So Abe is avoiding the Bureau until he can figure out what’s going on with himself.

BD: Since Abe woke from his coma he has been a little bit lost, first on the run from bureau agents and then on a wild goose chase to the Salton Sea. Will Abe get some direction soon and gain a larger role in Hell on Earth?

SA: He’ll get more direction soon. People start pointing out to him that he’s running from something—from the Bureau, and his fear that he does have something to do with the current crisis. He’ll realize what they’re saying is true and take a more direct approach to addressing the problem. This series is all about Abe finding out what he really is.

BD: Before Abe was shot he gave Fenix a very bad feeling about the future. Did her intervention change a potential outcome of this event by giving him a chance to evolve in stasis?

SA: Uh … potentially. She meant to kill him to prevent something, but that was not going to work. But shooting him did put him on this road, which probably puts him in a better place than if he were still suiting up with body armor and shooting guns at Ogdru Hem.

BD: Some events in Hell, through Hellboy in Hell, have had butterfly effects in BPRD. Will the turmoil in Hell have an impact on Abe and when will their paths cross again?

SA: Oh, absolutely. There’s already been a small effect. Our supporting villain, as it were, Gustav Strobl, he’s on the road he’s on because of what happened in hell. There’s a scene coming up in issue #11 about that, where we get one of the best explanations of what’s going on in hell so far. Really, I think all our guys would be okay if Hellboy would just not be dead and come back to the Bureau. Then Abe would be happier, for sure, and Devon would probably get a sound beating.

BD: The cats out of the bag, Liz is alive though still retains injuries from her Earth sundering explosion. How long before her role once again becomes a major one?

SA: Not long. Getting Liz back on the table is a very important move for the Bureau, and for us. She will have one of her greatest moments ever in the upcoming arc from James Harren. Not to be missed. Her arrogance and her temper are going to lead to some fantastic scenes.

BD: You are also the editor for the CBLDF Annual 2013, which boasts a crazy lineup of creators as well. How did you get involved with that project?

SA: Late on the last night in the bar at Emerald City Comic Con, I wound up talking to Eric Stephenson, and he asked me to do it. I admire what Eric’s done at Image, I hear great things about him from all and my friends who do books for Image, and I’m a huge fan and supporter of the Fund, so I immediately said yes, and then worried when the hell I’d find the time. An anthology is a unique challenge for an editor. On a regular comic, you just have to try to make sure the team gets their stuff in, does a good job, whatever. But on an anthology the book is a much bigger reflection of the editor than is usually the case in comics. If you’re doing it right, then you’re lining stories up that reflect off each other in way that the whole is more than the sum of the parts. So I was real careful in the selection, in choosing creators and accepting pitches, to create a certain effect. I didn’t initially set out to make it a horror anthology … but I guess that was inevitable. It’s not all horror, but more than half of it sort of fits into the genre, because those are the guys I’m gonna ask, those are the stories I’m going to be attracted to. A lot of that skewed toward horror, and then as the theme evolved—as I got pitches or scripts in from a couple people, that influenced what I commissioned or accepted subsequently.

BD: How does the CBLDF Annual tie into your work at Dark Horse? Did you take the same approach from an editorial standpoint?

SA: Artistic freedom, freedom from censorship, and the CBLDF are really important to Dark Horse, so it’s a daily part of how I look at things. But also to me the CBLDF is largely about protecting comics retailers—that’s not by any means all they do, but it’s always the first thing I think of, and the needs of the stores is something that goes into a lot of what we do at Dark Horse.

BD: In an interview you did with Comics Alliance you said that for the Annual, you went with the idea that artists need to be free to tell their stories their way. This philosophy is something that you try follow as much as possible with Abe and BPRD as well.

SA: Yeah, the initial theme was the need for artistic freedom in order for people to tell worthwhile stories. And of course freedom for the writer is my first concern in Abe Sapien! But yeah, everything I do at Dark Horse. I am a very hands-on editor, and I was hands on with the annual. I’m likely to edit a creator-owned script as hard as I edit a work-for-hire script. I make no distinction. Ask Tim Seeley how I was on Ex Sanguine, his creator-owned book, as opposed to the Dark Horse-owned Occultist. The creator might make more of a distinction about who owns it—if a writer tells me he’s not going to do my notes, I have different options on a work-for-hire book than on a creator-owned book. But I don’t focus on that. I want the writer to tell his story the best way he can, and sometimes I think I can help him with that. So whether it’s Mignola writing Hellboy or it’s John Arcudi writing B.P.R.D.—both of which Mignola owns—I want them to be motivated, I want them to feel good about it, and I want them to do their best work, and I’m bold enough to think that I can help them do that.

BD: Thematically, do the CBLDF Annual stories relate to what you are trying to accomplish with BPRD? Or is it another beast altogether?

SA: Thematically, every project is its own thing. The themes of B.P.R.D. are all Mike’s, and John, me, Fabio and Gabriel, Cameron Stewart, everyone who writes for the books, we’re doing it the best we can, bringing as much of ourselves as is appropriate. Maybe how we explore the themes is similar whether it’s BPRD or the Annual, or even Buffy and my other stuff. Joss and Mignola taught me a lot about writing, continue to teach me a lot, and I bring that to everything I do. But what I get from them is more about how to deliver a story, more than what story to deliver. Those lessons apply to any story you’re trying to tell, any theme you want to explore.

BD: Anything else you want to share about the Annual?

SA: The money you spend on this annual goes to support people who need the help, people who’s freedom to read, create, or sell comics. It also goes to education. The Fund spends a lot of money to educate people about free speech issues, and about our need to stay vigilant to those issues, not just for comics, but for other fields of entertainment and beyond. These are messages that need to get out there, and the Fund has been doing a great job for over twenty years. So just buy this comic!