Interview: Elvira and David Avallone on The Wrath of Con
Cassandra Peterson’s famous alter ego, Elvira, has a new comic book on the horizon. Writer David Avallone and artist David Acosta are re-teaming for Elvira: The Wrath of Con. Additionally, Dynamite’s Kickstarter campaign for this special one-shot is currently closing in on its $66,666 stretch goal. The campaign is also going to end on an appropriate date: Friday the 13th, as in tomorrow, August 13.
Earlier this week, Superhero Hype had a chance to talk to both Elvira and Avallone about their new comic. They also touched upon the Elvira Meets Vincent Price miniseries, classic Elvira comics, and a potential crossover that we’ve been dying to see.
Superhero Hype: How did the Wrath of Con come about?
Elvira: I kind of came up with that idea only because conventions are missing from my life now for a year and a half. And it’s a big gap, it’s a big hole still without them. I do a lot of them every year, maybe a dozen. And, you know, everybody was missing and complaining about San Diego Comic-Con in particular. But it’s a drag, you know, not being able to see my fans and communicate with them. It has been difficult.
I kind of suggested that idea, then David took it and ran and he did 99% of the heavy lifting. So, yeah, I was just kind of missing it, it’s really weird that I’m doing this and I don’t know if I’d miss it that much if it wasn’t there.
David Avallone: Yeah, I know exactly the way you feel with that. In the last day of any con, I’m like, “why, why did I do that?” But on the first day of any con, you look on the floor, and you walk on the floor and you look around and you say “my people.” We wanted to do a sequel to last year’s Kickstarter, which was The Omega Ma’am, and it kind of lends itself naturally to the convention atmosphere by doing a big special issue about it…
Elvira: The Wrath of Con #1 Cover by Dave Acosta
What is the process that you two have for working together on these stories?
Elvira: We go out and drink. [laughs]
David Avallone: Yes, usually it's an epic two hour phone call. And we laugh and I make notes and then I do a draft and submit it and give it to her to read. She's usually extraordinarily kind in her notes.
Elvira: David has got the character down. He's got the voice down. It's amazing. I don't know where he got that. It scares me sometimes. I had to ask if he was gay, but he's not. It's weird.
David Avallone: Yes, Cassandra told me that all of her writers had always been gay, and she was surprised to meet my lovely wife. The key is that my wife's a burlesque dancer, or at least a semi-retired one at this point. I really think that when [Dynamite Editor] Joe Rybandt offered me the job on the book, the idea that I was married to an extremely Elvira-like-person, who produced and starred in her own burlesque shows and, you know, had that kind of burlesque attitude and lifestyle...
Elvira: It definitely had to help!
David Avallone: He said it to me at the start. It was definitely part of Joe's thinking about why he thought I would be right for it.
Elvira: Yep. Well, he was right.
Elvira: The Wrath of Con #1 Photo Cover
What can you tell us about the plot of Wrath of Con?
David Avallone: A lot of Wrath of Con is a direct sequel to Elvira: The Omega Ma'am, in which Elvira saved Los Angeles specifically, and the world in general, from a zombie plague. It was kind of our satire of the pandemic, which was a tricky thing to do.
Elvira: "A satire of the pandemic." That's hilarious. I love it.
David Avallone: I think we pulled it off. It was a popular book and it did well. So, Cassandra talked about doing a sequel to it. And in this sequel, Elvira is heading down to the San Diego Pop Culturama, the biggest convention in the world, to receive the award for being the "Hero of the Cure." But it turns out to be a trap set by her old foe. And hijinks ensue
Elvira: The Wrath of Con #1 page 1 by Dave Acosta
You mentioned her old foe, so I take it that means we'll see some familiar faces in this.
David Avallone: Oh, yes, I'm always big on familiar faces coming back. If it's good enough for DC and Marvel, me recycling villains over and over again is also good.
Elvira: It's very environmentally friendly.
David Avallone: Right, exactly! It's very green to keep bringing back the same villains. And they use the same costumes and everything.
Elvira: The Wrath of Con #1 page 2 by Dave Acosta
What can you tell us about working with artist David Acosta on this book and on your previous comics together?
Elvira: Well, first of all, I call them the "Double Ds" and "a couple geniuses" because they really are. We went through a lot of different artists, and saw a lot of their examples of art, but David Acosta really hit it on the head. We just felt like he was the perfect guy to do it.
David Avallone: Dave is a huge fan, and when I told him I had been offered this gig by Dynamite and I was considering it, I didn't jump at it immediately. Not because I didn't love the character. I've always loved the character. The question I was asking myself was, "what can I do with this character, that is new or interesting or fresh?" I don't want to just recycle everything that's done before. We definitely came up with answers for that. And you'll see it if you read the comic.
But Dave secretly was an Elvira super fan. And he was desperate for me to get the job and hire him to do it. Dave is probably the artist that I've worked the most with in comics. He took the assignment super seriously.
I think Dave worked on getting Elvira's eye makeup right for at least a week before we started because he really, really wanted to nail it, nail Cassandra's likeness and get, for want of a better word, the many moods of Elvira down perfectly. And he does. He knocks it out of the park in every issue.
Elvira: Yep. I think he really captured the character perfectly for a comic book.
Elvira: The Wrath of Con #1 page 3 by Dave Acosta
What is your favorite San Diego Comic-Con memory of all time?
Elvira: Oh, my God. Well, there are some wild ones. I mean, maybe meeting some of the other guests there like Forrest Ackerman. I already knew him, but seeing him was a thrill and I looked up to him. It's hard to think off the top of my head who I met there that impressed me.
But my biggest Comic-Con memory probably was back in 1981, I went to my first San Diego Comic-Con, I think it was in the basement of somewhere, like a motel or something. And I had no idea what the heck it was.
I just knew that there were all these groups of three or four guys hanging around together, standing in front of your table and ogling you. And I was honestly one of the only women there. Maybe that was another one. I don't know. I couldn't see her, but it was all men. And I was really wondering "what the heck am I doing here?" That was quite a memory, and it certainly has changed now. Oh, my God.
Elvira: The Wrath of Con #1 page 4 by Dave Acosta
Is that really your favorite memory? Or is that just your first?
Elvira: Well, that's a memory. That wouldn't be my favorite memory. I'm trying to think, because I've gone to so many cons and they all run together. I don't know. Just running into old friends like Stan Lee and. Forrest Ackerman.
I mean, I'm always thrilled. I'm a fanboy too. So when I see these people that I grew up with, I just get all crazy and verklempt like all the other fans do. I'd say, like running into different people who I admire from films that I've seen when I was growing up. It's as big a thrill for me as it is for some of the fans who come to meet me. So I get it when they come up and they're happy to meet me. You know, I completely understand how they're feeling.
Elvira Meets Vincent Price #1 cover by John Royle
You two also have another upcoming project: Elvira Meets Vincent Price. Tell us about that.
Elvira: I'm super excited for this one because as a kid, I idolized Vincent Price, He was an antihero of mine, I guess you could call it, for my whole life. So actually getting to do a comic book with him is one of the best ideas these guys ever came up with or anybody came up with.
Anyway, it's very exciting and I'm really flattered by it. Vincent and I got along really great. We had a very, very nice friendship for many, many years. So it's so cool that we can still do something together, even though he's actually not physically around.
Elvira Meets Vincent Price #1 page 10 by Juan Samu
When did you first meet Vincent?
Elvira: Like 1982, I think. He came on my TV show, my local television show in L.A. In exchange for promoting a play that he was doing here in L.A. he would come on, if he could plug it, and he would do a little bit with me. I couldn't believe it.
When he got there, I couldn't breathe. I could hardly talk. And he just put me so much at ease quickly. He was just friendly, charming and funny. Incredibly funny. And then we ended up really kind of hitting it off. Over the years, seeing each other at every possible awards ceremony TV show... Oh, my gosh, we were on The Tonight Show together. We got the Dracula Award together and we got Fantasy/Sci-fi awards together.
We just continually ran into each other and then we started corresponding. I recently came across nearly 20 to 25 letters I have from Vincent to me. And I sent many letters too. So we just formed a really great friendship. I mean, he knew I adored him and he was just very, very kind to me.
David Avallone: I always recommend people go to YouTube and search for Elvira and Vincent Price. Because there's a bunch of talk show appearances of them on there.
And they're so delightful, they're so charming, and Vincent is so obviously greatly taken with Cassandra and so incredibly fond of her. It's transparent. He's just a courtly old gentleman about it. And it's just delightful to watch.I tried to recreate that relationship, you know, in the comic, because it was so beautiful.
Elvira Meets Vincent Price #1 page 11 by Juan Samu
What is the story in the comic itself?
David Avallone: By the beautiful and weird artistic coincidences in the world, the day that I had to come up with a pitch for this comic, a friend of mine on Twitter posted about a film called The Aries Computer, which is a Vincent Price movie.
It's got a page on the IMDB, it's been reviewed a few times and it literally doesn't exist. Some very lazy movie reviewer in 1971, saw that it had been announced and printed a review of it without having seen it, because he was incredibly lazy. And because this is before the Internet, the lie got repeated like a dozen times. And if you go look it up on the IMDB, the first trivia item is "this movie doesn't actually exist."
So I started thinking about the idea of a lost Vincent Price movie and why did it get lost or who hid it? Why didn't it get made? Who suppressed it? It seemed like a good start for a plot, so going off of that I turned The Ares Computer into a movie called The Rise of the Ram. And it's a very 1970s, early '80s, The Omen kind of movie about an ancient prophecy that could end the world. And the joke is that the secret to stopping the end of the world is on this lost low budget horror movie from 1971.
So the ghost of Vincent Price and Elvira go on this worldwide hunt to find the last print of this movie, The Rise of the Ram.
Elvira Meets Vincent Price #1 page 12 by Juan Samu
In the world of the comic, do Elvira and Vincent meet for the first time? Or does it build upon their real world friendship?
David Avallone: It absolutely builds on their real world friendship. But I didn't want to pretend that the ghost of Vincent Price wouldn't know who Elvira is. He would absolutely have a long experience of having been friends with her. Even in the comic, it's presented as a reunion, not as an "oh, my god, it's Vincent Price! I've never met you before."
Tell us about working with artist Juan Samu on the book.
David Avallone: Juan is great. He really captured Elvira. I haven't asked him, but the way in which he really gets Cassandra's expressions, I think he must be a very large fan. Or he spent a lot of time watching those videos.
Elvira: Yeah, you have to. And it's funny, Elvira is a fine line. We want her to look pretty and sexy. But we also want all of the goofy expressions to come across. And I've had artists whose work captures one element and didn't incorporate the other one.
So, I either look completely goofy and weird and dorky and ugly. Or I am super sexy and often beautiful, but then I don't get the facial expressions. So when an artist can actually manage to incorporate both of those sides of the character, it's perfect.
David Avallone: Juan is particularly good at that. And Elvira without the occasional panel where her eyes are popping out of her head or she's making goofy expressions, just isn't Elvira. You don't want that in every panel either.
Elvira Meets Vincent Price #1 page 13 by Juan Samu
Dynamite is also reprinting some of your classic comics. How did you first get involved with Claypool for those comics back in the '90s?
Elvira: Oh, my gosh, that was so long ago. I can't even remember what I did last night. Now, here I am thinking of the '90s. Well, I had done a Marvel comic book and I had done a DC comic book. The Marvel comic book was of my movie, and it was a one-off thing, but it was really done well with fantastic art. The DC comic book was a series, Elvira's House of Mystery, and I think there were a dozen issues.
Then Claypool came along and they were a lower budget company I had never heard of, but they had a lot of popular comics out there. They were a little more underground.
And so we met with Richard Howell, the person who ran it. I still stay in contact with him, because he's just the nicest damn guy. I love him. And they were just so great about just kind of pumping these comic books out. I hate to put it that way, but it was one after another and they kept selling and they kept doing them.
And we ended up with 166 issues. And we just kept going and going and going. But it's sort of reached a period where comic books were having a rough time. I don't know what year it was, and the market kind of really dropped out for them financially.
So that was kind of the end of Claypool Comics, sadly. But they did a really great job and they had all kinds of different artists and writers, some of which were better than others. But overall it was a really great project.
Elvira Meets Vincent Price #1 page 14 by Juan Samu
From the classic Elvira comic book stories, do you have a personal favorite?
Elvira: There was one that had to do with my storage and it was real! I had talked to them about how much storage I have because I'm Elvira. Not as much as Pee-wee [Herman], but I have many, many storage units. I was just bitching about that yesterday.
But it was a story that revolved around me and storing up all of my old memorabilia. I don't know what the number of the comic book, but it was one of my favorites because it really kind of hit home and it was actually true.
Do you have any further Elvira comics coming after Wrath of Con?
David Avallone: On the record, we can say that we have plenty of other stuff planned. A lot more exciting adventures. I don’t think it’s been officially announced, but the Elvira Meets Vincent Price series was supposed to be four issues, and I’ve been asked for a fifth one.
I’m also hoping that things continue as they did on Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. It was supposed to be a four issue miniseries. It became a 12 issue series and a four issue spinoff. So I think this may go that same way and hopefully there will be more adventures down the road.
RELATED: Elvira is Co-Writing Her Own Comic
Would you ever be open to an Elvira crossover with Vampirella?
Elvira: Oh, I love Vampirella. That’s funny that you brought that up. Yes, I would. I would kick her ass too. [laughs] Yeah, that would be interesting because, even though they have some similarities, they are very, very different characters. So, you would still have a nice diversity there with me, and my little sister, Vampirella.
Well, you’re both under the same publisher.
David Avallone: Yes. And there is, actually an Elvira and Vampirella team up joke in The Wrath of Con. Yeah. I want to tell you more about it, but there’s literally a joke about that in the book
Elvira Meets Vincent Price #1 is out now. And the Elvira: The Wrath of Con one-shot Kickstarter is running through Friday, August 13.
Recommended Reading: Elvira: Mistress of the Dark Vol. 1
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