David Avallone returns once more with his final thoughts on Dynamite Comics’ Elvira Meets Vincent Price #5. A series full of fun and plenty of Easter eggs. That and more revealed by David below in another always entertaining and informative writer’s commentary:
[+++ WARNING: Possible spoilers for Elvira Meets Vincent Price #5 Go buy and read the book, then return here for commentary! +++]
Our final issue of Elvira Meets Vincent Price has come out, and now it’s time for me to do the easter eggs and inside jokes thing! But it’s wall-to-wall spoilers… so go get a copy, read it, and come back.
Covers: Long-time Elvira artist Dave Acosta delivers something that’s almost a 1960s gothic romance novel cover. Juan Samu, our interior artist, reflects the story inside, with Elvira and Vincent protecting a “scream queen” actress from a couple of slashers. Anthony Marques and J. Bone’s cover, like Dave’s, is a more cartoon-like take on a similar gothic trope. This month’s photo cover has Elvira recreating a classic Marilyn Monroe pose, and I know I’m biased, but I much prefer Elvira’s version.
Page 1: Back at Elvira’s home, we find our heroes relaxing with a game of “Lovecraft Monopoly.” I’m sure someone has actually done this before – it’s a very obvious notion – but I’ve never seen it before. If you’ve been following the Elvira comics, you know the lady with the vape is Jill Van Nuys, Elvira’s (fictional) agent. She mentions Darlanne Wing and Stanley Saliva… both of whom we’ll meet later, and both of whom are based on real people.
I won’t come out and tell you who Stanley Saliva is based on. The sexual predator “auteur” of The Crawling Creep franchise… it doesn’t seem to me that I’ve made it too hard to guess who we’re talking about here, though frankly there are a lot of guys like him out there.
As to Darlanne Wing… if you know how to say “Wing” in German, go to the head of the class. Once upon a time, several careers ago, your humble writer was a grip working on movie crews. One movie I worked on was a low budget cheese-fest called Scanner Cop. (Yes, it was technically Scanner 4 though nobody called it that.) One of the leading actors on the film was Darlanne Fleugel. Darlanne was in Once Upon A Time In America and To Live and Let Die In L.A.… but I personally had fallen in love with her for her part on the TV show Crime Story. We struck up a friendship, and it made the shoot more tolerable. We lost touch over the years, but in 2017 I was saddened to hear she had passed away. Darlanne Wing is my tribute to the wonderful Darlanne I was so fortunate to meet and work with, back in the mid-nineties.
Pages 2 & 3: I can’t stop making fun of the whole Hero’s Journey thing, even as I follow its outlines just like everyone else. “The game is afoot” is, of course, a classic Sherlock Holmes catchphrase, as Vincent transforms himself into a Sherlockian figure. “Final Girl Lost” is a play on “Little Girl Lost,” a common phrase, but also a great Richard Matheson-penned Twilight Zone episode about getting stuck in the wrong dimension. “Final Girl,” as I’m sure you know, is a reference to the trope of the last one standing in the slasher movie. Elvira does a standard fourth wall break by reminding Vincent (and the audience) that they jumped in the car like this back in issue one.
Page 4: Even as someone who loves it here… I have to admit there are a lot of houses like this in Los Angeles. Vincent refers to Coral… ie. the actress Coral Browne, his beloved third (and final) wife. They met while shooting Theatre of Blood together.
Pages 5 & 6: Similar to the descent into the tomb in issue 3, artist Juan Samu turns another “walking down stairs” sequence into a single flowing panel instead of multiples. And just like in that issue, this wasn’t scripted as such by me, just Julius bringing his great visual imagination to the project, as always. Meanwhile, Vincent begins to explain to Elvira that movies create their own little universes. C’mon. Deep down, you knew this was true, right? Hope you like this idea, because it’s the next Elvira series and I’ve already written two issues of it…
Pages 7, 8 & 9: I think Juan did a great job designing our off-brand slasher franchise monster. Vincent references The Great Mouse Detective (in which he played the villain “Ratigan.”) And then he switches into a more action-appropriate costume: his look from Witchfinder General. I enjoyed giving Vincent a chance to swashbuckle in this story. Naturally, he is offended by the current generation of mumbling villains.
Page 10: Elvira mentions Errol Flynn. I don’t want to accept that someone could be reading this and not know who that is… but if you don’t recognize the name, stop reading this and go watch The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk. I’ll still be here when you get back. I promise.
Page 11: A note about the art here. I love the way Juan has evoked the crumbling hospital from a low budget slasher movie, and in particular the work of colorist Walter Pereyra really sets the mood. It’s easy to overlook how much it helps, but a page like this is a great one to step back and see all of Walter’s excellent approaches over the course of the page. The textures behind the characters in panels one and two. Great stuff.
Page 12: And now Darlanne’s flashback has its own color and texture.
Page 13: I like the idea of using movie running times as measurements. If you didn’t know, Berlin Alexanderplatz is a 15 hour long movie… though if it was made today, I’m sure it would be a streaming series.
Page 14: “Where in the name of Tobe Hooper” is, of course, a reference to the director of The Texas Chiansaw Massacre. Vincent, a classically trained actor, is using “Method” as an insult. “The Method” is an acting technique famously associated with actors like Marlon Brando and Dustin Hoffman, and still very influential today. Actors with Vincent’s background were not particularly in love with it, or with the actors who used it.
Pages 15 & 16: Elvira and Darlanne find the villain’s lair, while Vincent finishes with the Crawling Creep. Vincent gets a little meta on how it works out: I wrote a ridiculous trope and he called me out on it. Which is par for the course in this comic.
Page 17: “The Legendary Remote Control of Federico Fellini”: At face value, Fellini is a filmmaker who famously played with dream states and altered realities in his movies… and the reference works on that level (one hopes.) But on another level, it’s actually a pretty deep cut. In 1984, the great filmmaker made a commercial for the Campari company. In it, a couple sitting in a train use a TV remote control to change the landscape they’re watching through the window. So of course… what if that was a real thing?
Price insults Saliva by saying he’s no William Castle (director of some of Price’s most cheesy films). Ouch. That’s gotta hurt.
Page 18: Thank you to The Simpsons for “yoink.” What did we do before we had that word? Part of me thought I was rushing the ending here, but Salivia is kind of a loser, as villains go. And yeah… sometimes it IS that easy, when you’re up against a goofball like that.
Page 19: And now we’re in black and white. Did you guess why yet? Or did you see the covers for issue 2 somewhere on the internet already.
I myself am very sorry to see Vincent go. He was an absolute delight to get to know, in this unique way. I think I did him justice. Anyway, I hope I did. Until next time, Master of Menace…
Page 20: No, she’s not at Universal Studios Theme Park, smartass. For legal and for parody reasons… it’s Bloch’s motel. The late great Robert Bloch – full disclosure, an old and dear family friend – was the author of many things, but most famously, he wrote the novel PSYCHO, and created Norman Bates, The Bates Motel, Mother, etc. So now Elvira’s trapped in yet another movie dimension… and you’ll have to tune in for Elvira in Horrorland, the new series with artist Silvia Califano, coming in May, to see what happens next…
Elvira Meets Vincent Price #5 is out now from Dynamite Comics