Westfield: For those who are unfamiliar with the character, who is Solomon Kane?
Scott Allie: Solomon Kane is a 16th century puritan who was in the military for a long time fighting for England and fighting as a mercenary, to some degree, around Europe. The way that the series starts, he's abandoned the military to try to find a better purpose for himself in the world. He starts to come across some supernatural stuff that gives him his focus.
Westfield: Why did you decide to do Solomon Kane now, instead of following up Conan with a bigger name Robert E. Howard character?
Allie: The only one that you could say is bigger than Kane is Kull. Kull will follow a couple of months later. With Conan, those three are really the best known Howard characters. Kane is so different from Conan, that bringing him out second showed a greater contrast.
Westfield: What do you like about the character of Solomon Kane?
Allie: I like that he's set in the real world. It's a long time ago and we're not being slavish about the history, but it is the real world. It is something that can be based on more realistic things. I feel like Robert E. Howard created a sub-genre that you could call horror-adventure. Kane was the series that stuck most consistently to that. Conan vacillates between fantasy and horror-adventure. With Kane, it really sticks to the dark sense of adventure and I really like that about it. I like that the character's driven in kind of a crazy way. I feel like the character's a little bit nuts. Also, the real old-world religion that he comes from is appealing to me, even though I'm irreligious. I find it compelling to see this character driven by this vengeance-of-God sensibility. Coming from that point of view for the character gives everything this really big, epic, ponderous feeling that I think is fun.
Westfield: What can you tell us about the mini-series?
Allie: The first mini-series is based on a fragment that Howard wrote called The Castle of the Devil. The fragment was only like five or seven pages long. Basically, two characters meet in a forest, approach a castle, and have a short discussion about the fact that this castle has a notorious reputation. The fragment doesn't tell you what the reputation is. It doesn't tell you who the Baron is. It doesn't tell you much at all. So it's allowed me a lot of room to develop it. It takes place in the Black Forest of Germany. The way I understand Kane's adventures, I feel like his supernatural adventures began in the Black Forest of Germany and later he ended up going to Africa. These Black Forest adventures are the beginning for him; his first real brushes with the supernatural. In this one in particular, he's really arrogant and cocksure, but he hasn't been around this sort of stuff much. He's been in the military for a long time, but he hasn't been involved with the supernatural very much. He goes into it fairly naive and makes some mistakes along the way. He teams up with a guy who he thinks is going to be a really good ally, but it turns out that they have some significant differences. There's been a series of murders in the forest around the castle. A bunch of young boys have been killed and left strung up from gallows. There's something lurking in the forest. There's something suspicious about the Baron. There are definitely monsters involved, but Kane's initial impressions are wrong in very complex ways. There's a mystery that spills out across the first three or four issues before you really know what the supernatural threat is. I've tried to balance having an adventure story with having a lot of mystery to it and keeping the readers wondering what's happening.
Westfield: You said that is was the first mini-series. Do you have more mini-series planned?
Allie: Yeah. We're going to approach it basically the way we've approached Conan. But whereas Conan's a monthly series, where we do arcs of six or seven issues, and then attack a different story after that - Kane and Kull will basically do the same thing except that there'll be breaks in between. So instead of rolling from issue six right into issue seven like we would with Conan, here we'll do five issues of Kane, take a break, and then pick back up where we left off. I'm looking at probably doing one Kane mini-series and one Kull mini-series per year.
Westfield: You're working with artist Mario Guevara on Solomon Kane. What can you tell me about his contribution to the book?
Allie: He's got a unique style. He hasn't been seen too much in the US, I don't think. He was somebody that Senior Editor Chris Warner picked out of the slush file of people coming in from various agents. We saw Mario's stuff and thought it was really distinctive. Dave Stewart, the colorist on the original series of Conan that we did, was looking for another artist with whom he could do something like what he did with Cary Nord on Conan, where he could create this oil painting kind of look over the pencils. He felt that he could do that with Mario. Mario has a really nice approach to monsters. There's a real lush detail to his stuff.
Another thing that appealed to me about his stuff is he does really nice landscapes. The way I see the series spilling out, the landscape is always going to be an important element of what happens with Solomon Kane. And one of the surprises with Mario has been that he's totally sadistic. There's a lot of violence in Solomon Kane, but when I write violence, I don't picture a lot of gore. Apparently, Mario really does. The fights have become a lot more bloody than I expected them to be. There's this fight in the first issue where Solomon Kane is supposed to knock a guy's sword out of his hand and then press right up against him and drive his sword into the guy's stomach. The way that Mario did it, instead of knocking the sword out of his hand, he cuts his belly open and the guy's entrails spill out, and then Kane runs him through. And you see every one of those entrails and they're very lovingly rendered. I was like, "Oh. OK. Well, that's what kind of book it is." I hadn't pictured that, but it's totally appropriate, so I guess that's where we're going with this. He seems to like the gore and I've definitely given him enough opportunity to delve into that. I just didn't realize how red it was going to get.
Westfield: Are there any other projects you're working on that you'd like to mention?
Allie: I'm working on a sequel to my Devil's Footprints graphic novel from a number of years ago. It's all written and the artists are drawing it. I'm really excited about that, but we're going real slow, so I don't know when it's going to materialize. That's the other thing besides Kane that I'm most looking forward to right now.
Westfield: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Allie: I'm looking forward to Kane. The John Cassaday covers are really gorgeous. We got the second one in in color and it's really nice. John brings a nice sensibility to a character like this. It's really great to have him involved. On the online Dark Horse Presents, the first eight-page Solomon Kane story is up on there if people want to get a preview of what the series is going to look like. You can read for free there. (Myspace.com/DarkHorsePresents)
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