Once again we get to catch up with writer David Avallone as he talks us through the writing process that brought Elvira Meets Vincent Price #2 to comic book shelves recently. He points out Easter eggs you may have missed as well as the odd classic film reference that inspired this goofy issue in another enjoyable and informative writer’s commentary.
[+++ WARNING: Possible spoilers ahoy! Buy & read the book, then come back here for commentary. +++]
We’re back, with another exciting installment of ELVIRA MEETS VINCENT PRICE! As ever, the commentary is non-stop spoilers. Get your copy of issue 2, read it, and meet me back here…
Covers: Dave Acosta hits the “ghost” concept nicely, with Elvira summoning the Ghost of Vincent by Ouija Board. A nice Easter Egg for our first Elvira series hangs on the wall: a portrait of Vlad the Impaler, as designed by Dave. Interior artist Juan Samu’s cover hints at what’s inside: the creepy house of the Rogues, the Ram-solider of Amun-Ra, and Vincent looking like his character from THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. Anthony Marques and J. Bone’s cover also features the creepy house, adding a looming Vincent and an endangered Elvira to the mix. Great fun stuff.
Picking up right where we left off, with last issue’s angry Ram-soldier cliffhanger. Elvira channels Lucille Ball, a little mad that Vincent’s “briefing” hasn’t quite prepared her for this kind of thing. That curved sword is called a “khopesh.” Page one is as good a place as any to draw your attention to Juan’s terrific art. He has a great grasp of both Vincent and Elvira’s likenesses, across a whole range of emotions, and he’s great with little touches like the big hearts behind Elvira when she’s vamping the monster. Page one also demonstrates the talent of letterers Taylor Esposito and Elizabeth Sharland, as you can see the three different balloon/font styles for the angry ancient Egyptian monster, the Ghost of Vincent Price, and (comparatively) regular human being Elvira.
Yes. ANKHS FOR THE MAMMARIES. The Ankh is the ancient religious symbol which Amun-Ra is holding in his right hand. The title is an obvious play on the old Bob Hope theme song “Thanks for the Memories.” Maybe you won’t believe me, but this issue was originally titled ANKHS FOR THE MEMORIES. Cassandra Peterson, aka the real Elvira, who reads and approves all my scripts… chastised me (gently) for missing the obvious memories/mammaries pun. And she’s always right, even if she wasn’t the boss. It’s worth noting that there’s a definite connection between Hope and Elvira: Bob was breaking the fourth wall in goofy adventure comedies long before it was fashionable.
Here I address one of my little pet-peeves. Why is anyone afraid of a ghost? I think even fantasy has to adhere to SOME rules, and the rules in ghost stories always seem to be made of tissue paper… they break with the slightest pressure, as soon as the writer needs the ghost to do something to serve the plot. So I can at least promise you that my ghost will follow the rules laid out here. Vincent returns to his “default” look, which (as previously mentioned) is Edward Lionheart from the film Theatre of Blood.
A Wile E Coyote moment for our poor security guard. The “I’ve wasted my life” moment is inspired by one of my favorite jokes in the misunderstood masterpiece DEATH TO SMOOCHY, where an assassin, falling to his death, blurts out “I never saw Venice!” I considered just using that line, but that started to feel more like plagiarism than homage, so I went with this.
Back on the road, and Vincent returns to the exposition… in the most meta way possible, of course, as Elvira literally calls for exposition. She references her own slim knowledge of Ancient Egypt, and touches on the (valid but ultimately meaningless) fan theory that Raiders of the Lost Ark works out better if Dr. Jones doesn’t get involved. In keeping with our previously established “rule” that a ghost’s appearance can be shaped by whomever they’re around, Vincent transforms into Baka the Master Builder, from Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments.
Flashback. It’s the little things that I love to see. The way Vincent is bending slightly to shake Steven Eden’s hand is PERFECT. It’s exactly Vincent Price. “Claudia Antonelli” is a bit of a combination of inspirations. Her names come from Claudia Cardinale (maybe the most beautiful actress who ever lived) and my fraternal grandmother, Marie Antoinette Antonelli Iacovetti Avallone. Her flaming red hair is from my favorite Bond girl, Luciana Paluzzi. Her relationship with “Richard Rogue” (a pastiche of Nicolas Roeg) means she’s got a little Theresa Russell in her, as well. I think I may have mentioned to Juan that Rogue was a “Terence Stamp type” and he absolutely delivered on that. Ahmed Alhazred is clearly a descendant of Abdul Alhazred, author of the Necronomicon… continuing the family tradition with incredibly dangerous world-destroying ancient texts. The Western Lands is the ancient Egyptian land of the dead (or one of them?) and also the title of William S. Burroughs’ last great novel… which is where, I admit, I learned about the Western Lands, and the Seven Souls.
I have worked on those movies that run out of money in the edit bay. It’s… not a pleasant experience. This is as good a page as ever to talk about Walter Pereyra’s incredible color work. The nighttime blues, the flashback brown, the deep red as Vincent reveals the nature of the threat. Beautiful work.
I live in Los Angeles… and sometimes the end of the world IS predicted on a billboard. I went back and forth on “Cleopatra’s” character name. It’s a dumb cliché name for an ancient Egyptian villainess… but you can probably figure out 1) it’s not her real name and 2) it was chosen by people (in universe) who are playing on the dumb prejudices of the audience.
Sometimes you get caught up in connecting the dots for an audience that’s smart enough to do it themselves. The first captions here are a joke about that. In Panel 2, Vincent is definitely speaking for me. Not just best friends. People I see in the mirror. Vincent also quotes the entire first paragraph of Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher.” It’s a favorite of mine, and appropriate for the situation. I wanted to echo some of Vincent’s most indelible film work in this series, and Usher is definitely one of those movies. We get to Dr. Phibes a little later. Finally on this page, a meta-joke about the non-stop dirty puns in these comics.
Claudia Antonelli hasn’t aged a day. In a horror story… you know what that means. I think I told Juan she should look like she’s in a Hammer horror movie, and she certainly does. “Di niente” means “it’s nothing.”
Vincent takes the tour. He was famously a great gourmand, and so he feels real disappointment at being unable to enjoy a well-stocked wine cellar. The sex dungeon panel… I have been asked a few times if I would reflect Victoria Price’s revelations about Vincent’s sexual orientation in this comic… but as he doesn’t engage in ghost-sex with anyone, male or female… it is mostly unspoken. Still, I wanted to portray his open-mindedness about sexuality in the comic, to the degree that it ever came up. So to speak. This comic ALMOST went to press with a different line in that second balloon, like “I’m the last fellow…” and at the very last minute I reached out to Taylor and said, “Please change it to The Last Man on Earth…” so we could cram in one more movie reference. Finally… that dinosaur fossil in the gutter cracks me up.
I love a good Tuscan red, no lies. Vincent finds the ancient Egyptian temple/rec room that all good mansions have. Elvira passes out on a couch, but at least it’s her favorite color.
I’m a big believer in page-turns as a comic book storytelling technique… and I can’t tell you how much it pains me that I couldn’t get the Richard Rogue face-reveal on a page turn. Oh well. Can’t win them all. I love Juan’s design for the face: it looks like all the great horror comics I read in the 1970s. What has become of Richard, and his obsession with protecting his beloved, are all echoes of the Vincent Price classic THE ABOMINABLE DOCTOR PHIBES.
Juan had the brilliant idea to have Elvira – literally – break the fourth wall on this page, for her important advice on not being drugged. Elvira calls Richard “Skeletor” because of course she does.
This Property is Condemned is the title of a 1960s Robert Redford/Natalie Wood melodrama based (loosely) on a Tennessee Williams one act. Elvira is counting panels til they can escape.
We close with another Edgar Allan Poe quote. Elvira references the famous Chekov quote about a gun hanging on the wall in a first act will be fired by the end of the play, so therefore a creepy horror-house will inevitably collapse by the end of the comic. The title of the next issue – ‘RAIDERS OF THE LOST SCHLOCK’ – was almost the title of this whole series, but wiser heads decided on going with ‘ELVIRA MEETS VINCENT PRICE’, which is not particularly clever but it sure tells you what’s in the comic.
See you in thirty for more hijinks!
Elvira Meets Vincent Price #2 is out now from Dynamite Comics