Jason Craig had already carved out a successful career as an artist with the graphic novel Se7en when he was hired by WildStorm to design the highly anticipated Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash. A sequel to the blockbuster Freddy vs. Jason and based on a treatment by New Line executive Jeff Katz, the comic saw Craig teaming up with writer James Kuhoric to adapt the story into a mini series.
Jason Craig talks about transforming such iconic characters to a different medium with Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash.
How were you first introduced to the three respective franchises and what led you to working on Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash?
Well, honestly, I have been a horror fan for as long as I can remember. I remember my mom buying me my first issue of Fangoria back around 85-86 when I was eleven or twelve. I have a morbid sense of humor, and really I think it comes from my upbringing. Growing up, my mother was a caretaker at a local funeral home, and the house we lived in was connected to the funeral home. Literally, you could open a door in our living room and you was in the viewing room of the funeral home. I played in both the embalming room and an old storage room, that my mom turned into a play room. My mother a huge film buff, had all the classics, so I literally grew up watching Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and the Evil Dead films… plus all the countless other films. If it was horror, I watched it. These three particular franchises I know inside and out. My DVD collection is close to two thousand and I own and have a huge horror section of films.
Growing up, I wanted to work in film, and still do, and have some projects in the works, but I used to want to approach the industry from a special effects side. I was always trying to figure out how to make cuts, bullet holes, do burns, cut off arms… you name it. I own more severed arms, heads, just props in general, as well as studio props from the Fridays, Nightmare and Evil Dead Films.
How much involvement did you have with the writing of the story and how did the plot come together?
Honestly zero. When your dealing with a franchise film like this, wheels are usually set in motion before the rest of the crew is brought in. In this particular story, Jeff Katz had wrote the original treatment and it sat in limbo for quite some time. New Line Cinema decided to show the world essentially what could have been, and I guess still could, but it’s an extremely slight chance. New Line released to WildStorm and Dynamite – the two companies that owned the publishing rights to the properties – the approved script and gave James Kuhoric, long time Army of Darkness writer, a chance to adapt the screen treatment into a comic script. Let me just say James knocked it out of the park… really did a great job. What I really get a chance to do is flush out what is there. I’ve really been able to say, “Thats cool, but what if we do this……..?” And my ideas, visually or storytelling-wise, have been greeted with open arms.
Which of the three protagonists was your favorite and which did you enjoy drawing the most?
Personally, I love drawing Jason. That reason is visually he’s easy… or was easy. I say that because he’s been the most brutalized in the series so far, and visciously brutalized at that, so it’s really been tough keeping all of his injuries straight. Freddy, just with all the burn textures, is a pain to make look right. And Ash… well, that’s a tight rope. A: If I draw Bruce Campbell, it really doesn’t say ‘ASH’, but if I cartoon him up he looks like Ash, but suddenly looks like Roger Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. He suddenly becomes a cartoon in a real world. So I have really had a juggling act of balancing his cartoon antics with reality.
What kind of atmosphere have you gone for with the comic, is it in the same campy vein as Freddy vs. Jason or is it more darker in tone?
Honestly, I never saw Freddy vs. Jason as campy. In fact, I saw it toned down in comparison to all the other films. Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven wanted a scary man that taunted teens. The films really, against Craven’s liking, took Freddy down a more satire, comical look. Friday the 13th really had one formula… teens smoke pot, run around naked, have sex, die… and Jason can’t be killed. Ash started more dark I guess in Evil Dead… but really Evil Dead 2 kicked off Sam Raimi’s love of slapstick, primarily The Three Stooges. So me, I’ve tried to give it my spin, which is a dark look but trying to keep that same formula. I can say one day I will direct… and a franchise like this would be an awesome experience And being able to do this comic project, you’re getting to see a lot of my vision on paper.
Will the story continue on from Freddy vs. Jason and will fans get to see a clear victory this time as the movie ended in a stalemate?
This is a direct tie-in. It literally does pick up five years after Freddy vs. Jason, and even picks up with our previous heroes, Will and Laurie. Both actors that played Will and Laurie had agreed to come back for the sequel, and so it was really great to get to pick up where the previous story left off. As far as a victor, what you find out in this comic adaptation is something I knew watching the original film was that Jason technically won the original battle (in my opinion, except neither can die). When you see him walking out of the water with Freddy’s head, that was a dream-like sequence, but in this series, we get to see where Jason has added a head to his mantle. Freddy’s head now resides next to Jason’s mother, Pamela Voorhees. The story is how Freddy can still come back, and it involves Ash, and a direct tie-in to Friday the 13th part nine, Jason Goes to Hell. To tell you the ending would spoil the story, but I can say it has some awesome fights, battles and kills that would be phenomenal eye candy on the big screen.
How gory will the graphic novel be? Was it fun to draw lots of blood and guts, as well as coming up with surreal images for Freddy’s dream world?
It was simply awesome. Except for you hit a point of how many different ways can you cut someones head off, or cut them in two? We pulled no punches, I’ll just say we showed you things that I can almost guarantee, without a shadow of a doubt, would never be shot for a film, and if it was, it would be a deleted scene. Freddy’s dream worlds are a lot of fun to draw, and we have really tried to live up to the films prior, all the while keeping with the dark tone we have created.
Once this mini series is finished, do you think you will be returning for another story? Could fans expect to see Michael Myers or Leatherface joining in any time soon?
I have another mini series scheduled, also through WildStorm, who is publishing Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash. I don’t know that I can say what that project will be, but I will say it’s a horror franchise that they own the printing rights to, and it will be a three-issue mini. I already have the first issue, and its an awesome read, but I am still wrapping up Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, and will be starting this other mini after the first of the year. I’d just like to close and thank everyone who has supported this project, and helped us live up to our dream, which was to get the sales of this project up there, so we could put horror on the map, and prove that men in tights aren’t the only books out there that can have a large audience. From all of us, to all of you, thanks for your support and have a fun and safe Holiday, and a Happy New Year. Thanks again!