Beneath the bloody waters of Crystal Lake, an immortal evil wakes and begins anew the cycle of grueling violence. Six months after the events of FREDDY VS. JASON VS. ASH, a power-hungry government bureaucrat unleashes the denizens of the Necronomicon including the banished spirit of the Springwood Slasher, Freddy Krueger.
We spoke to the Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash 2 team of James Kuhoric, Jeff Katz and Jason Craig.
The Big Bad Wolf: What's the creative process between all of you like?
James Kuhoric: Remember the scene in the Dark Knight where the Joker drops the broken pool cue on the floor and tells the thugs there is only one spot open in his organization? It's kinda like that.
Well, without the stabbing. The great thing about the crew we have on this book is that every one of us are fans of the source material first and creators second. We all enjoy the process of putting these iconic characters into the worst set of circumstances possible to find out where they go from there. Jeff Katz and Jason Craig are two of the most creative and entertaining people I've ever worked with and are the perfect collaborators for this book.
Jeff Katz: Jason has been a tremendous partner. He had his work cut out for him hear, cutting a 12-issue proposal to work in 6-issues and he nailed it with flying colors. We haven't lost any of the major stuff and that's a testament to his skill. We really all hit it off on the last book and so everyone works together very smoothly. A lot of this comes from our sheer love for these characters, as we're all motivated to tell the best story possible. You're playing with precious cargo at some level here, and James and Jason both understand that clearly.
Jason Craig: It's really, really good. Back when we were plotting the sequel, Jeff was in Australia a day ahead in time zones, and we all still found time to talk weekly and start the plotting of series 2. It's funny thinking about all we originally wanted to do with this new story, and had we done it, Freddy Jason Ash would have been 12 issues to fit it all in.
Now that the story is in motion, we're all there for one another, just a phone call away, anytime day or night and the great thing is, were all HUGE fans of this series. It's fun to give closure to the trilogy that Jeff was part in starting with Freddy V Jason. This literally is a project for the fans from the fans.
The Big Bad Wolf: Freddy's sarcasm and Ash's wisecracks were dead on in the first installment of this series. What is it like mixing those comedic elements with these iconic horror figures?
A licensed comic book's first priority has to be that the actions and dialog are true to the series they come from. As a fan, I can't stand picking up any book that reads like the writer didn't watch the show. It's sad to say, but I've read far more bad licensed stuff than good. We tried to put extra time and thought into every interaction from the series so that it sounded as much like the movies they came from before we were satisfied. There were several sessions of back and forth on what certain characters would say or do in different scenes.
Jeff Katz: Freddy and Ash are, in essence, defined by their tones, so it was very important to nail this down. James really deserves the credit here. Again, I think it read authentic because it was authentic to us. We were our hardest critics. I've always figured that part of the success of the first book came in part because the voices of Ash and Freddy felt accurate. With the remakes of FRIDAY and now NIGHTMARE, we are in many ways the stewards of the classic continuity and it's a responsibility that we don't take lightly. If Ash doesn't sound like Ash, the entire house of cards falls.
Jason Craig: Personally, I think it's a tightrope to walk. I enjoy the wisecracks of Freddy, but me, I think Freddy in the films got a bit campy towards the end. If I ever had that fantasy crack to direct an original Freddy film, or do an original story for a comic book and be in full control..I'd make him dark. People forget he was a child killer. He was a very sadistic man.
With that said, it is fun to read the dialogue between these two guys battling it out with words—it's almost like watching two stand up comedians try to kill each other.
The Big Bad Wolf: The first installment had wickedly graphic fight scenes, what can we expect from the second series in terms of blood and gore?
James Kuhoric: Jason Craig is scary when it comes to the amount of detail he puts into his death scenes. I think that comes from having watched one too many Friday the 13th movies in one sitting. He lives for the gore and tries to one up each panel in intensity. In Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors we take the big screen sequel approach to the fight scenes and the violence. This time around it's a blood bath of epic proportions. Jeff's story has everything from Deadites fighting gunships to the destruction of the White House. You can raise the terror level to red and green because when Freddy comes to Washington there'll be hell to pay.
Jeff Katz: Like any good sequel, the mantra is bigger and better. We're looking to up the ante and top ourselves. This premise is inherently larger scale and more epic in nature, so that lends itself to blowing open the artwork. Jason's been diligent about every panel and the work so far has been tremendous. This is a hard-R in terms of gore, no question, so we're hardly scrimping on the red stuff. It's just presented on a much larger canvas this time.
Jason Craig: It's being toned down maybe just a tad to compromise more with the Army of Darkness franchise.
AoD films have obvious humor in the gore and you don't watch it and ever think it's real. The Freddy and Jason kills in the movies go over the top, but they're still grounded more in reality.
What I have been trying to do artistically is still show the brutality without showing some of the intense gore yet still leave you with that feeling that you saw something horrible.
Big Bad Wolf: Speaking of blood and gore, can you tease us with the reveal of a death scene that we will see in the book?
The book starts out with an awesome sequence which sets the events in motion. Just one day after the events of FvJvA Jason is awakened from the frozen depths of Crystal Lake and tears through an entire garrison of special agents and government goons. Jason (Craig) obviously loved cutting through these guys as he illustrated the sequence. But I personally enjoyed the last death in the first issue the most. Fans will recognize the victim and the classic Jason (Voorhees) nature of the slaying.
Jeff Katz: Jason Craig did a killer JAWS homage for the first kill in #1, including a splash page I think people will just love. I'd also note that Ash probably would've been wise to have installed a security system on his new suburban estate, but we'll leave that for the book.
Jason Craig: Well, without saying who the victim is, I can say one kill that was tough to show yet not be overly graphic on was a human head found cooking on a grill in the back yard.
The Big Bad Wolf: What movie survivors will we see in this comic?
James Kuhoric: A better question is "what movie survivor don't we see?" The survivors are a huge part of the overall story arc. See, there is something special about people who managed to survive encounters with Freddy and Jason. They have an inner strength that makes their souls much more powerful to our maniac killers. And it's that same inner strength that makes them a threat, especially the ultimate F13 survivor, Tommy Jarvis. In their own way, each of the survivors gathered in this series are "chosen ones." And they are led by the one true Chosen One, Ash Williams.
Jeff Katz: We don't want to give away everybody, but it's most of the big guns. Tommy Jarvis has a major role. Dr. Gordon and Dr. Burroughs are major players. Tina the psychic. Alice the Dream Master. They're all there. Exploring the dynamic between all these characters has been a lot of fun and it's something I think the fans will hugely enjoy. The survivors are major players in this book.
Jason Craig: I think for me the biggest thing on the cool factor was getting to bring back Tommy Jarvis. One of the things we tried to do was to connect all the dots and bring all three storylines together in one linear history. Our initial phone conversations went something like this:
"Well, Dr. Crew's died in F13th part 7, what if Dr. Gordon from Nightmare on Elm Street is seeing Tina Shepard now as a patient. Or...or Rennie in part 8, she was having visions hinting at having hidden abilities too-what if he's overseeing both of them? What if Dr. Gordon is dating Freddy's daughter, Maggie Burroughs?” You will see many other appearances of past victims ranging from Alice to Steven Freeman.
The Big Bad Wolf: Is Ash's love interest in the last series, Carrie, going to return in this installment?
Ah, lovely Caroline. She and Ash settle down and enjoy a comfortable dose of domestic bliss. As temporary as that may be.
Jeff Katz: She is, as we want to maintain continuity from the previous series. However, as many other former survivors have learned, making it through two encounters with Freddy or Jason is a whole lot harder than making it through one. She'll be there, though I wouldn't bet the house on her seeing all six issues, if you catch my drift.
Jason Craig: Yes, she's right there beside Ash, and the beauty of this series versus the last series: it's really hard to dress sexy in the dead of winter.
I remember that being one of my personal conflicts in the last series was when they break into the abandoned Voorhees house to drink and have sex. Logically, the heat wouldn't have been on so that house would have been freezing but again, that's me nitpicking.
With that said, this story picks up directly where the last one left off, but shortly after fast-forwards to the middle of summer. Can anyone say skimpy clothes?
The Big Bad Wolf: Will we see Mrs. Voorhees in this series?
Dear Mrs. Voorhees? I don't think she's forgiven us for the sequence with her and Freddy making out in the first issue of FvJvA. Our favorite homicidal mother will make an appearance or two. Someone has to keep Jason on the straight and narrow.
Jeff Katz: It's pretty safe to say that Pamela will rear her ugly head again. The question is, who do we have waiting for her? It's a rumble you aren't going to want to miss.
Jason Craig: Yes! You can't keep a good woman down...even dead ones.
The Big Bad Wolf: How many issues will be in the second series?
James Kuhoric: Jeff Katz actually plotted the book to be a twelve issue mega series. It was packed with awesome detail and some really fun sequences that would make for one hell of a movie. The series ended up being approved at six issues in length (the same as the first series). We had to work really hard to get everything we could into this book. There is more violence per square inch on those pages than Demi Moore's divorce paperwork.
Jeff Katz: Six issues, jam-packed with action, similar to the first. It's been a lot of work to squeeze in everything we want to do but I think it will make for some great, epic reading.
The Big Bad Wolf: When is the release date of the first issue?
Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors #1 is in the April Previews for June shipping.
The Big Bad Wolf: The last series saw covers by Eric Powell, Scott Powell, and more. Who will be doing the cover duties for this series?
The first issue features a triptych cover by zombie artist extraordinaire, Arthur Suydam. I was blown away by how awesome the image is. For the fan of individual characters you can chose your favorite or buy all three to make the interlocking poster image.
Jeff Katz: The Arthur Suydam covers for #1 are fantastic and look totally epic. You'll be able to grab Freddy, Jason or Ash specific covers that connect into one image. The covers serve as a great teaser for the havoc that is about to come to our nation's capital. It's some of the best Freddy or Jason artwork I've ever seen.
The Big Bad Wolf: When the first series finished, did you hear any feedback from Robert Englund, Bruce Campbell, or any of the "Jason's"?
This is probably a better question for Jason and Jeff than me. I didn't hear anything from the actors directly, but I would welcome any feedback they have. These guys created the creepy characters we love and it's our job to do them justice in the comics. If the book doesn't ring true to the movies then we haven't done our jobs right.
Jeff Katz: Robert Englund is a terrific guy and has been very supportive. We had a drink or two while party hopping in San Diego last year and he noted that he's been getting copies of the comic to sign all the time now. I think Robert is proud to know that it's living on in this form, as he was a big supporter of the concept when we tried to make the movie deal.
Jason Craig: Yes I did. Robert Englund was signing at Fear Fest where we were signing copies of Freddy V Jason V Ash. Robert was a big supporter of the book and I'll never forget that show because it had almost everyone that had ever starred in a Nightmare on Elm Street under one roof. Robert posed with copies of the book and even said he had just come back from overseas and that Freddy Jason Ash was a popular item brought to him to sign. That same show also spotlighted many of the actors that portrayed Jason. I can say I am on first name basis with more of the Jasons than anyone else. Derek Mears is the newest Jason staring in the F13th remake and he's a big supporter of the series as well.
The Big Bad Wolf: In closing, what would you each like to say to our readers about Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash 2?
The horror fans have been terrific. Thanks to all of you for making Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash a big success last year and we hope that you are ready for a bigger and bloodier sequel this summer. This time around Freddy isn't satisfied with victims from Springwood or Crystal Lake. He's got his eyes set on a much bigger prize. If you thought we had a monster in the White House last year⒀ust wait till you see what happens when Jason and Freddy tear down the most powerful city in the world...Washington, DC.
Jeff Katz: Very simply - thank you all. This is for each and every one of you. All of us involved with this book love these films and these characters and know them all inside and out, making this the definition of "labor of love." This is really a love letter to these characters as well as the survivors we've come to know and love over the years. So I'd ask that you think of this as being "for fans, by fans." And I'd hope that you'll enjoy the ride.
Jason Craig: This is the DC Crisis of horror. This is the movie they could never afford to make. This is truly a fanboy story and if you loved the first series, you haven't seen anything yet.
The Big Bad Wolf: Thank you for your time,
guys! Best of luck with this series.
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