Talking With AHOY EiC Tom Peyer About ‘Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter Of Blood’, Horror, Humour & Halloween
by Olly MacNamee
AHOY Comics drop a seasonally silly and scary new volume of their EC parody comic book series fronted by none other than Edgar Allan Poe this Wednesday 21st October in Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Blood #1. But, as well as this new series AHOY Comics have just released the second volume of Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror too. If you haven’t yet discovered this gem of a comic book series, then maybe after reading my chat with AHOY EiC Tom Peyer you might want to consider it. A highly enjoyable and horrific series that’s a combination of EC horror comics as MAD Magazine! And A great read from cover to cover every time.
Olly MacNamee: Hello again, Tom. If we were going to talk about your new anthology series Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Blood, October is the month to do it in. Especially as you’ve got also got a new collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror out too.
For anyone who has yet to pick up the new debut issue, can you explain the thinking behind this name change?
Tom Peyer: We always like to start a new series with a #1, Olly, because we think we’re putting one over on you. You know it’s not the first issue, we know it’s not the first issue, but we can talk ourselves into thinking you don’t know and that it gives us some kind of sales edge, as if this were 1991. So we called the second Poe series Snifter of Terror Season Two, then figured out – too late – that such a title might discourage new readers from picking it up. Which would be a misunderstanding, because it’s an anthology and you can read the stories in any order. So we decided that, from now on, we’d change the snifter contents instead.
OM: Once again, you’ve managed to twist the arms of some pretty great creators such as Dean Motter, Paul Cornell and Russ Braun. It seems to me that AHOY Comics has always been something of a haven for some very legendary names.
I take it you’ve been able to recruit because of your own years as a hardened vet of the industry? Or, do you just have files on each and every one of them and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse?
TP: Generally, they’ve retired to some remote cabin and they’re outside chopping wood. I land in a helicopter and tell them it’s time to get back in the game. At first they snarl at me and say “no way,” but they always end up coming back. It’s their nature.
OM: In Edgar Allen Poe’s Snifter of Blood #1 we have the return of our unreliable narrator, Edgar Allen Poe, presenting the two tales in this debut issue. I don’t think I’ve even actually asked you, but out of all the great gothic writer of the 19th century, why Poe?
TP: Comics are visual, and Poe is the only the only 19th century writer most people could pick out of a lineup. Except for maybe Karl Marx, but then you’re talking about a very different comic.
OM: Although, Poe does make way for a rather unusual narrator in the first story, ‘The Black Dog’ by Paul Cornell and Russ Braun. It’s a perspective that Cornell and Braun capture really well. How do such stories come about? Do you approach creators, or with this being the third series of such stories, do they now approach you?
TP: In this case, Paul Cornell and Stuart Moore – AHOY’s operations top kick and the writer of a couple of our series – ran into each other at a con and Stuart sent Paul my way. Paul had three Poe ideas for me to choose from, and they were all so good we commissioned every one.
OM: I take it the reception and any feedback you’ve had has been immense given you are now onto your third series in as many years?
TP: Let’s just say Poe works cheap, and his self-esteem is so low that he doesn’t care what we do with him.
OM: There’s the promise – or should that be threat? – of the return of Mark Russell and Peter Snejbjerg’s ‘Monster Serials’ but what else can readers expect from this new series other than the same great mix of horror and humour, brilliantly described as “the nightmare child of Drunk History and Tales from the Crypt”? Will we be seeing anymore of Hunt Emerson’s ‘Poe and the Black Cat’ strip for instance?
TP: Not this time. I love those, though. Hunt is so brilliant; it was like our own Spy vs. Spy. I always think of MAD when we put these issues together. We had those Richard Williams covers on the first two series; he had painted a lot of MAD covers. And we were honored to run a prose humor piece in the second volume by John Ficarra, who edited MAD for a couple of decades.
OM: And you still manage to cram in not one but two short stories. These must be challenging to do, I imagine, given they have to be a page in length?
TP: We’ll go to two pages if they merit the space; I think we once ran an epic three-pager by Grant Morrison. It’s definitely challenging to write to a low word count, but that’s the writers’ achievement, not ours.
OM: And the mantra moving forward for AHOY Comics is still “quality over quantity” I assume? After all, in the coming month’s we’ve got a second Second Coming as well as the return of The Wrong Earth to look forward to. And, Peter Milligan and Michael Montenat’s Happy Hour too. What with the pandemic taking a huge bite out of the year, how has that effect any plans for your next wave of releases?
TP: We weren’t able to ship anything for a couple of months there, but only because no one could. Once we were able to publish again, we decided to go big. There are five titles in the current wave, which is a lot for our little company: Snifter of Blood, Penultiman, Happy Hour, Second Coming: Only Begotten Son, and The Wrong Earth: Night & Day.
OM: One last one, as it’s the season, but how will you be spending your Halloween this year? Have you ordered your Covid costume yet? I imagine they’ll be all the rage.
TP: I hope to stay up late watching Universal Monster movies and eating candy, as I have done since I was about seven years old. Last month I watched Ghost of Frankenstein, which I had dismissed as a lesser entry and hadn’t seen since I was a kid. It blew my mind! It’s so great. You know the Frankenstein from your childhood? The one on the toys and lunchboxes? This is his movie! And yes, I call him “Frankenstein,” and I call The Doctor “Doctor Who.” As any right-thinking person would.
OM: As ever Tom, it’s always a pleasure. All the best to you and the whole team at AHOY Comics.
TP: Thanks, Olly. It’s always fun to talk with you.