Elvira, Mistress of the Dark has been a prominent figure in all forms of media for decades, with the figure having recently starred in a number of her own series from Dynamite Comics, but the character's creator and performer, Cassandra Peterson, is getting involved in the medium with the new comic book project Elvira: The Omega Ma'am. More than merely approving the direction of the narrative, Peterson herself collaborated with writer David Avallone for the new project, which features art by Dave Acosta. Just days after the project launched on Kickstarter, The Omega Ma'am earned ten times its intended goal, with the book continuing to earn backers by the day. ComicBook.com recently caught up with Peterson, Avallone, Acosta, and Dynamite Comics' Executive Editor Joe Rybandt to talk all about the project, which you can see in the above conversation. You can learn more about The Omega Ma'am at the project's official Kickstarter page.
The project was previously described, "This fall, Dynamite presents Elvira: The Omega Ma'am, an epic, 48-page comic event that sees Elvira waking up in the midst of a quarantine apocalypse (timely, we know). Watch Elvira's adventure as she makes new friends, confronts new fiends, and tries to find her way back to a figurative (and literal) land of the living!"
"Well it was about reality. No, not really," Peterson expressed of her interest in getting involved in the project directly. "But it was about the pandemic that's going on right now and it tied that into a horror sci-fi story. So it was very timely and it was just a super fun story. I love the stuff that Dave writes and I thought it would be just very on topic for right now."
With decades of material to draw upon, Avallone pointed out how he goes about voicing such an iconic character.
"When Joe offered me the first Elvira comic, I think going on two years ago now, my first reaction was, 'Can I do that? Is that a thing that I can do?'" Avallone joked. "But I think both of us have a 90-year-old Catskills comic deep down inside that we are referencing. Neither of us are a 90-year-old Catskills comic but I always loved the fact that whenever I wanna back off a little bit from a joke because it's too much, it's too crazy, it's too silly, Cassandra is always like, 'Oh no, no, we're going in, we're doing that.' So I've learned to go, 'No, no. When you think it's too crass or too cheesy or too ridiculous, that is the time to double down.' And that's the Cassandra, that is the Elvira, Mistress of the Dark mantra. I was a fan of Elvira's show on television, saw the movie when it came out, loved the movie. I watched it again before I wrote the first Elvira comic I ever did, and I found it scarily easy to fall into that voice and to recreate that character on the page."
As challenging as it was to take on her personality, Acosta was tasked with bringing Elvira's world to life, which allowed him to tap into another dimension of his art.
"The big difference is that it's a comedy book, which I never thought I'd get to draw," the artist admitted. "I've been super lucky. Usually in comics, you have to draw superheroes, but I've been very lucky that I've had a career that was mostly horror, but to give the comedy element to it is what made it super unique because, obviously, Cassandra is a beautiful woman. It's my job to draw beautiful women. But with the character of Elvira, it's all about the acting. It lives or dies. You can't just have stock pin-up poses, that kind of stuff. It's all about her expressions and her body language, especially. I mean, the costume does half the work, but if you can get the body language and the facial acting, that's what was super important to me."
Elvira first debuted in the early '80s and has been seen in a variety of mediums, with her fan base growing exponentially every year. While it was hard to predict just how successful this campaign would be, Rybandt noted that Elvira has always been a hit with Dynamite Comics readers.
"The comics have done very well for us. We publish a lot of titles, but Elvira has really stood out," the editor expressed. "We've been very lucky to work with Cassandra directly. She's very hands-on in a good way, in terms of getting everything right from her end. But we've been especially lucky to work with Dave and Dave 'cause they get it. Even though David said he had some doubts at the start, I think those doubts were very quickly alleviated. And they get it. And the Kickstarter opens us up to a new audience. We're very happy selling comics at the comic shops, graphic novels through conventional bookstores, and online. But during the pandemic, a lot of access people have to these things is limited, not completely, but some of the access is limited. And this also just opens us up to a whole new marketplace."
Speaking to how many backers the project earned, Peterson joked, "I was like, 'I better start doing a Kickstarter for a movie or something.' I don't know. I really did not expect those numbers to go so crazy. I'm gonna do a Kickstarter for my next vacation."
What makes launching this project on Kickstarter unique is that the creators could directly see how passionate fans were for the character and offer fans incentives they couldn't offer with traditional publishing models.
"It's a whole new world for people to do things, which is great. The opportunities that people have, not just people that have a proven fan base or a proven brand or what have you, but just people starting out," Rybandt confessed. "It's a whole new set of tools for people, creative people to work and it's really great. And I say that working for a publisher. We're taking advantage of it in positive ways and using it in positive ways, just like any other tools that we use. We're very thankful that Cassandra and her representation were happy with the idea of doing it because we work with some licensors and some licensees that aren't interested in being on these platforms. And they're large companies that aren't interested in being on those platforms, which is one of the advantages of working with an independent creator, an independent personality, to be able to do something that a large company doesn't wanna do."
As far as comics go, the medium has also allowed Elvira to be explored in ways live-action projects couldn't. A previous arc of Avallone's Elvira comic, "Elvira's Inferno," took the character to places Cassandra had previously aimed to explore on film.
"Elvira goes to Hell is a treatment for a movie that I wrote years ago," Peterson pointed out. "So I finally, although I didn't get to film it, I got to go to Hell, which was awesome."
The Omega Ma'am isn't the only Elvira content on the horizon, with Peterson teasing a number of things fans can keep their eyes out for.
"Well I've got a lot of stuff coming out. I've got it written down there so many. I don't know if you have seen my music video that came out this week, 'Don't Cancel Halloween,'" the performer explained. "I do have also my In Search of Darkness [documentary] which is out, which is a big collection. It's In Search of Darkness 2 [coming out], because there were so damn many '80s horror movies that were good, they couldn't fit them all in one video. And also I've got my new boutique with exclusive merchandise. It just opened up."
She continued, "I think we're gonna be having a little sneak peek of my autobiography that's been 15 years in the making and is finally getting ready to come out. So who knows, maybe our next comic book will be the real-life of Elvira. On October 30th, this Friday night, I am gonna be hosting a show called 'Hulaween' with, you are not gonna believe it, the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus. With [Bette Midler], Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. And not only them, but get this. Okay. Now I'm working with Glenn Close and Meryl Streep. Hello? Okay. I don't think those words would ever come out of my mouth then they just did."0comments
You can head to Elvira: The Omega Ma'am's official Kickstarter page to back the project.
Are you looking forward to the book? Let us know in the comments below or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!