Surviving Horror an Interview with Alex De Campi
The Artist Alley halls at Emerald City Comic Con are always bustling, always packed with all kinds of people and talent, and we were lucky enough to get the opportunity to sit down and talk to some of this year’s attending creative professionals. Alex De Campi, of No Mercy and Archie Vs. Predator, was generous enough to allow us behind her busy table for a brief, five(-ish) question interview. We thank her for her time!
Note: Due to technical difficulties with audio recording on my phone, answers were recorded by hand and thus may be, to an extent, paraphrased below to the best of my abilities.
Geeks Worldwide: I loved Archie Vs. Predator and have really been enjoying No Mercy — I’m a big fan of survival horror and you do a great job with it. What about survival horror as a genre appeals to you most?
DE CAMPI: The removal of the comforts of modern life — people can’t walk down the street without looking at their phone, we don’t do anything; we don’t really look stuff up, we just google it, we don’t ask for directions, we use an app… the increasingly problematic digital withdrawal.
GWW: The usage of environment in No Mercy is very compelling; their predicament notwithstanding, what do you consider the characters’s biggest obstacle in the story?
DE CAMPI: I’d say both human habit and environment are the biggest obstacles. It doesn’t help that they don’t know each other, they can’t function as a team because there’s no level of comfort or trust.
I try to keep them realistic, they’re eighteen and so they’re still reinventing themselves by the minute; some may seem superficial but they are all layered. Some kids you find out more issues in, though with some their true nature is already fairly obvious.
GWW: Without asking for spoilers, is there any particular mental formula or design you have in mind when it comes to choosing the students’s different fates? Does that just come down to how the story is set to unfold, or there a degree of randomness to it?
DE CAMPI: I try not to pick favorites, but also know because of story tropes certain characters wouldn’t die right away — the black guy won’t die first, because Jesus Christ, and there won’t be “tragic queer” characters in the typical sense. There’s two: one is Troy, who is out and supported, and another who goes through a harder time but ultimately has a better resolution, one that involves dead names but not death.
GWW: My favorite characters have to be Inez and her brother; will their history primarily serve as backstory, or will Inez’s past involvement still be present in some way in Braulio’s operations, going forward? By the way, I don’t recall if it’s said so or not, but are they twins? And are there meant to be any parallels between the different sets of siblings?
DE CAMPI: Inez and her brother will be a significant part of the next twelve issues, so you’ll find out. They’re not twins, probably about a year apart, and there’s no particular parallels between siblings. Inez and her brother both made different choices but are fundamentally decent people, whereas there’s no universe where Chad Forde is a decent human being.
Inez has been there from the beginning but we’re just now learning more about her in issue #8, which is one of the fun things about ensemble stories like this, not to mention adding in new characters such as the three British kids. Travis gets some more focus in the second arc, continuing to make poor choices.
GWW: Now, finally, I have to conclude on an Archie Vs. Predator question. I’m a big Archie fan and I loved reading and reviewing Archie Vs. Predator as it was coming out — did you have any difficulty approaching such a violent crossover where you were actually killing off members of the Archie cast? Also, what inspired that ending? I loved it!
DE CAMPI: Killing off the Archie cast was my idea, which my editors enabled — the idea immediately came together for me as a teen slasher film. It was a difficult line to walk in terms of pleasing both audiences; I wanted it to be a good Archie book despite Predator involvement, and also had to make it work for Predator fans who expect creative, violent death, which feeds back into ultimately still handling the Archie characters with respect so that they’re familiar. So that you care, otherwise it’s just stuff, it’s just red ink. Archie has heart eyes and trips over his own shadow, Reggie’s a twerp, Moose is adorable and dumb, Jughead has the best one-liners, Cheryl is vile, and so on.
One great thing about Archie characters is that you get to use comic book logic. We constantly tried to one-up ourselves, making things more absurd and interesting. We could do one of three endings — one where Archie wins, one where Predator wins, or one where no one wins — but since we wanted to continue surprising people we went with the fourth ending. I believe in this concept I call “super continuity,” where all these odd bits of canon still connect to each other, so since Archie Vs. Predator ended just before the reboot began, the Archie at the end could also be Mark Waid’s Archie. Ultimately, we needed to really stick the ending; people will forgive a lot if they come away satisfied.