Evil Ernie is coming back. Jesse Blaze Snider, Jason Craig and Dynamite Entertainment are getting ready to show him to us for the first time. That's right, the first time. I'll admit, I didn't read the character when he first debuted but after reading quite a bit of this first issue, I'm impressed. There is a nice mix of darkness and storytelling involved that wipes out any preconceived notions I had about the character.
Jesse Blaze Snider took the time to answer some of our questions as the series prepares to make its way to comic book shelves this October.
Comic Vine: Evil Ernie is getting a new origin. Where did this decision come from? Is this a completely fresh start?
Jesse Blaze Snider: I just assumed it would have to be a fresh start doing the Chaos Universe without Lady Death, so I pitched it as a fresh start, that takes the best parts of the original, but tries to make some improvements and modernize it a little bit, storytelling wise.
CV: Was there complete control in determining how to redefine the character?
JBS: So far so good. I think they saw that I got why people liked Ernie and I think they were excited about my more "real world" approach to the usually grandiose and cheesy Heaven and Hell opuses.
CV: Besides his look (and Smiley), what other similarities will he have to previous series?
JBS: Well his look won't be the same for long. Jason Craig came up with an amazing redesign and I'm using it! It's badass! Can't wait to see it on him. Jason has really gotten to the scripts and has been a health of great ideas since we started the process, it a really cool collaborative process. I'm loving it.
CV: The first issue sounds pretty intense and violent. How will it compare to the rest of the series/future issues?
JBS: It only gets worse! And by worse I mean good for you, worse for Ernie and everyone around him!
Our book is plenty violent, but its also tempered with some great themes. Good people doing bad things. Learning that life is shade of grey. It tries to answer the question of "nature versus nurture" and "Why do the good die young?" And really tries to blur the many lines between right and wrong. I really enjoy writing it, there's so much great emotional stuff to play with.
CV: Will there be any familiar faces from past volumes?
JBS: Not too many in the first arc. Ernie, Smiley and General Ramsey, but he really only has a bit part. Eventually I'm gonna start opening up the world a bit. But I really wanna make an Ernie centric arc to kick things off. Make sure the audience really gives a crap about Ernie before we start introducing you to other people.
CV: How long will the first arc run?
JBS: The first arc is six, 22 page issues, though Dynamite was nice enough to give me an extra 2 pages for issue #1! 24 pages of mayhem for no additional cost! =)
CV: Is Evil Ernie really 'evil'?
JBS: That's a great question! I was going a little nuts with getting the same questions in every interview I do, thank you so much for asking something new and great that I can give a fun answer for! =)
Okay... NO! He's not evil. I mean, its not so black and white. If you think that someone who kills the worst of the worst people in this big world of ours is evil, then yes, he is evil. But if you think the Punisher is doing God's work, you may feel the same way about Ernie. And ultimately, Ernie is a very kind soul. On a mission to sacrifice his soul to Hell in order to make the world a better place for the good people in it. That's what he believes he is doing, saving the world, by getting rid of the bastards. He's doing a public service. But the reality of the situation is that the good die young because Heaven needs soldiers for its eternal war against Hell. If the evil begin to die young, the balance will shift and Lucifer will destroy the kingdom of Heaven once and for all.
So...I guess Ernie is kind of evil, but he doesn't know that yet.
CV: After the first arc, will he wander around or will he find a place to call home?
JBS: No, this book is never gonna stop moving. We're gonna cross the globe and root out the most evilsons of bitches you've ever set your eyes on! We're gonna be a nomadic book and with that said, I hope to get to some cross overs in the future with other Chaos Universe residence and maybe some more of Dynamite's horror comics universe.
CV: Will Evil Ernie have a reoccurring nemesis or deal with different individuals each issue?
JBS: Yes, Ernie has TWO reoccurring nemeses: Heaven and Hell. Though he doesn't know that Hell doesn't have his best interests at Heart and he doesn't understand why Heaven care what he is doing. We introduce a Death Row inmate, simply known as "Veal." It's suggested that he may be some sort of cannibal who only eats children. I might let him get away. Also, he is an undead monster, so dead is never necessarily dead in this book, so anyone who dies in our first arc is technically up for grabs whenever I get a good reason to bring them back.
In the future I hope to see him contend with oodles of dastardly evil people and tango with the entities of Death and Fate. But ultimately Heaven and Hell will be his constant combatant. If Heaven is the WHITE and Hell is the BLACK, then Ernie is the GRAY.
CV: Has there been any insane scenes you wanted to do and have been told to tone it down or have you been unrestrained?
JBS: Nothing yet...and we're doing some pretty crazy things and they don't look particularly fake either. We get some great revenge on a pedophile in the second issue and the dialogue certainly isn't pulling any punches. Fingers cross I don't get censored at the last minute. ;)
Thanks for the interview!
And you guys can thank Jesse by letting your comic shop know you're interested in buying this series in October. You can also follow Jess on Twitter at @TweetJesse.
Check out these penciled interioros by Jason Craig.