Hack/Slash: Land of the Lost Toys
Slashers. You know the genre....some masked nut case chases down and creatively murders a group of attractive teenagers with poor decision making skills, who have unleashed the killer's repressed psychosexual anger. These movies are associated with popcorn fun. They're low brow entertainment to take a hot date too.
But for Cassie Hack, this ain't no popcorn movie. Cassie, the daughter of the notorious Slasher, the Lunch Lady, travels the world with her monstrous partner, Vlad, hunting and destroying Slashers where ever they may be, whatever form they may take.
Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash is coming back this October with a new three issue miniseries called Hack/Slash: Land of Lost Toys. As hinted here a couple of weeks ago, Dave Crosland will be the artist and the story will combine two of the most popular subgenres of Slasher fiction: the dream killer and the killer toy. Basically, Cassie Hack and Vlad go to a town where children are killed in their sleep by “evil toys.” Among the toys rumored to make appearances are evil G.I. Joes and evil My Little Ponies.
You're never safe in horror movie- serial killers can make sure you don't get a good night's sleep by stalking you in your dreams. That cute innocent toy you just picked up? Turns out it's a rampaging, homicidal, death machine. Usually the dream killer and the killer toy are the villains of two separate sub-genres of the "slasher" film. Unfortunately for slasher hunters Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad, the stars of Tim Seeley's "Hack/Slash" from Devil's Due Publishing, their latest opponent can invade dreams and commands an army of twisted killer toys. CBR News spoke to Seeley by phone about the latest installment of his series, "Hack/Slash: Land of Lost Toys", a three issue mini-series beginning in November, and the other upcoming projects featuring Cassie and Vlad which include a trade paperback, a stage play, and a feature film.
"Hack/Slash" may not be Devil's Due's top selling comic, but it has a dedicated fanbase that is growing every day. "Basically the sales on the one-shots have been so consistent," Seeley told CBR News. "It's kind of gained a bit. We get reorders."
This lead Devil's Due President, Josh Blaylock, to wonder what sales would be like for a "Hack/Slash" mini-series. "We wanted to see what would happen," Seeley explained. "How much would it sell? Would it be worth doing as a monthly book maybe? It's kind of an experiment."
Seeley found writing "Land of Lost Toys," as a three issue mini-series, more freeing than doing the usual "Hack/Slash" one-shot. "I actually have space," smiled Seeley. "It's like 22 more pages of stuff that I get to do. I get to do more character development and little offside stories. It's kind of fun to be able to write a cliff-hanger every 22 pages."
"Land of Lost Toys" picks up two weeks after the last "Hack/Slash" story "The Final Revenge of Evil Ernie," as Cassie and Vlad are now headed north through Ohio. "Cassie feels like she wants to get back to what's normal for her," Seeley stated. "Vlad is still a little bit worried about her after the events of the Evil Ernie issue. You kind of saw Cassie snap a little bit.
"They end up in a town called Mt. Healthy. Which is a real place near Cincinnati. It was named Mt.Healthy because it was the only town in the Ohio basin area that escaped a Cholera epidemic. Devil's Due employee Chris Krank actually grew up there. I was like, 'That's such a weird name for a place.' So I though that would make a good setting for the story."
A rash of mysterious deaths currently plagues the town, which our heroes will soon learn about, as Seeley explained. "Kids are dying in their sleep. No one knows why. This town sort of has this Jon Benet case history. It's linked together with the current murders."
Since this is "Hack/Slash," readers can safely assume that if children are dying in their beds it's the work of an undead slasher fiend. "I wanted to do the sort of dream slasher for awhile," Seeley said. "The sort of Freddie Krueger version of the slasher story. But I only wanted to do it if I had a new way to tell it. I didn't want to do just another version of that. I wanted it to be something that there was a reason I had to do it that way." As if the ability to invade his victim's dreams wasn't enough, this slasher also has the ability to bring all sorts of toys to life and send them on homicidal rampages. "This one is kind of the dream slasher and the psycho toy slasher," Seeley explained. "It's kind of a fun excuse for me to have Cassie fighting all these wacky parodies of toys like evil versions of 'Voltron', demonic 'Transformers' and evil 'My Little Ponies. It also makes it kind of creepy."
Previous issues of "Hack/Slash" have revealed bits and pieces of the protagonists' past; however, in issue two of "Land of Lost Toys," readers will finally learn the origin of Cassie's partner Vlad. "Issue two has a parallel narrative where Cassie is involved in this case in the present and because it deals with childhood we actually get to see the whole story of young Vlad," Seeley said.
Assisting Cassie and Vlad in their investigation is a man who can provide insight into the world of toys. "She ends up getting help from this guy who's an adult toy collector," Seeley stated. "He's 27 years old and he's still collecting toys. So he has some expertise in the area."
A familiar face will also help Cassie and Vlad in their pursuit of Mt.Healthy's slasher, further establishing continuity between all of the one-shots. "Lisa Ellison from 'Euthanized' [the first "Hack/Slash" story] comes back," Seeley said. "Something I've wanted to do for awhile is to actually establish a network for Cassie. It's really hard to do that when you're doing one-shots. In this case it was easier to bring in another character that had been in the series before."
Unlike the darker toned last installment, "Hack/Slash: The Final Revenge of Evil Ernie", "Land of Lost Toys" is equally part creepy horror and part black, twisted humor. "The 'Evil Ernie' one I felt like I had to unite those characters," Seeley explained. "It felt like it kind of had to be a darker story. This one is definitely a lot of one-liners and a lot of goofy, creative deaths. The story begins with a little girl being attacked by 'My Little Ponies.' So it's not a very serious tone. The elements that are creepy ended up being really creepy. This one is pretty over the top and fun. It's also pretty weird."
Dave Crosland, who illustrated the series "Puffed" from image Comics, provides the interior art for "Land of Lost Toys." "He's doing a much more realistic style for this one," Seeley said. "It's more realistic than his crazy 'Puffed' spatter stuff. It's a lot cleaner and a little less cartoony. With the weird, twisted tone of the story, Dave's kind of cartoony, playful stuff works really well."
Seeley is already working on ideas for future "Hack/Slash" stories, a fact that will no doubt delight his many fans. "I definitely want to do some kind of psycho family one," he said. "Along the lines of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' or the Rob Zombie movies. I've got to do a psycho family one. I haven't done that yet. I feel like I have to. That's definitely got to come up sooner or later and if I can finagle some more cross-over stories, I would love to do those."
Whether the next installment of "Hack/Slash" will be a one-shot or a mini-series depends on the sales of "Land of Lost Toys." "If I can get the mini-series going and people respond well to it, I would basically like to do: mini-series, month off, mini-series, month off. Something like that," Seeley stated. "That way I can rotate teams and have different artists but not have so much space in between it which just drives me crazy. I think that would be a really good way to do it."
The sales of the first "Hack/Slash" trade paperback, "Hack/Slash: First Cut" will also help determine whether the next "Hack/Slash" story is a one-shot or a mini-series. "First Cut" collects the first three "Hack/Slash" one shots: "Euthanized", "Girls Gone Dead" and "Comic Book Carnage". It also includes a new "Hack/Slash" short story, "Slashing Through the Snow", written by Seeley. "It's not necessarily a comic book. It's like a children's book story," Seeley explained. "It's about 6 pages long. It's got little spot illustrations by my brother and our editor Mike O'Sullivan. The illustrations are done in the style of a children's book. They're watercolor and everything. It's just kind of a fun experimental thing.
"Seasonal slashers are kind of sub-genre of slashers. You got your 'Silent Night, Deadly Night' and all that stuff. This is kind of on that except it's done in the style of a kid's Christmas book. It will be sort of a nice in between story. Something I couldn't have done in the regular book but I can do in a special volume like this."
"Hack/Slash: First Cut" also includes an intro by the writer of the highly acclaimed comic series "Blankets", Craig Thompson. "He and I actually grew up in the same town," Seeley explained. "So I've known him since we were in high school. So that was just a weird coincidence. He ended up being this really well known and critically acclaimed cartoonist and I do slasher books with boobies. It's a nice little parallel. Yeah we came from the same town and I'm a hack and he's a genius but hey I got him to write the intro for me. It's a pretty funny intro. I think people will enjoy it."
If a new mini-series and a trade paperback weren't enough, this fall "Hack/Slash" fans will be able to see their favorite characters jump off the page and onto the stage, when the Chicago based New Millenium Theater's production of "Hack/Slash: Stage Fright" begins. "It will be opening by October 1st," Seeley stated. "So anybody who wants to come down to Chicago and see it I highly recommend it. It went over really well at the 'Flashback Weekend' we did it at. So I'm pretty excited now. At first I was like, 'I don't know if anybody is going to go for this.' But having now seen it with a crowd I think people will really enjoy it. They did a fantastic job." Interested fans will be able to find a schedule and purchase tickets for the play at the New Millenium Theater's website.
"Stage Fright" isn't the only live action adaptation of "Hack/Slash" in the works- the production of the feature film version of "Hack/Slash" has begun to move along and Seeley will be part of the production team. "I do have developments but I can't talk about them," Seeley said. "It's going along and it's got a great guy attached to it. "They're having me and Stefano [Stefano Caselli, the artist on the first 'Hack/Slash' one shot] do a lot of designs and stuff. I think it's going pretty well."
Don't turn your back on that action figure next to your computer! You never know when it's going to come to life and try and kill you! The thought of that stressing you out? Perhaps a good night sleep will do you wonders . . . that is if you wake up at all! Killer toys and dangerous dreams are just part of the job description for slasher slayers Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad, the stars of writer Tim Seeley's series "Hack/Slash" from Devil's Due Publishing. Beginning this month, the two must battle a new undead serial killer who can turn playthings into implements of murder and make dreams into deathtraps in the three issue mini-series "Hack/Slash: Land of Lost Toys." CBR News spoke with "Land of Lost Toys" artist Dave Crosland about his work on the series.
As a fan of both good and "so bad they're good" horror films, Crosland was a natural choice to bring the world of Cassie Hack to life. "I'm just a sucker for horror movies," Crosland told CBR News. "'The Exorcist,' the original 'Amityville Horror,' John Carpenter's 'The Thing,' 'Alien(s)'... those were the movies that had me hiding under the covers when I was little. Honestly, I think David Fincher (barring 'Panic Room') is responsible for some nice modern horror. 'Seven,' 'The Game' and 'Fight Club' all touch on very real, tangible fears for me. Oh, and 'Tenebre' by Dario Argento is brilliant. 'Silence of the Lambs' still gives me chills.
"As far as bad horror movies, I'm a big fan of those low-budget sloppy murder flicks, like 'Mosquito,' 'Satan's Cheerleaders' and 'Jack Frost' (not the lame Christmas movie with Michael Keaton... the one where the killer snowman melts himself down, sneaks into this girl's bathtub and humps her to death with his carrot nose)," Crosland continued. "And anything involving the new, coked-out Lindsay Lohan makes me want to hide under a very thick blanket."
Crosland either got his "Hack/Slash" assignment directly from Tim Seeley or as part of some dark unexplained mystery. " I could tell you that, right as I was wrapping up 'Slop: Analecta' for Image, Tim came to me with a project that he thought was 'right up my alley,'" Crosland said. "But, truth be told, back in March, I woke up with a strange, Arabic symbol tattooed on my left thigh. Four months, one private detective, seven corpse exhumations, and a boatload of Twinkies later, I found myself drawing Cassie Hack."
Working with Seeley has been a fun and rewarding experience for Crosland. "Tim's cool, man. I have to admit when I got the gig, I was afraid that it wouldn't be fun for me because I was going to have to draw 'more realistically' or whatever. On the contrary, the fact that most of this book takes place in dreamland totally opens it up for me to just play. From the main villain's undead, elongated form to Cassie getting mauled by zombie Raggety Anne and Andy dolls, I'm actually getting to push some things further than in previous comics I've done."
The fearsome and horrific nature of Ashley, the villain of "Land of Lost Toys," was one of the elements Crosland wanted to play up in his art. "Without giving away too much, he's this little boy who kills you in your dreams with your favorite toy... kind of like a Babes in Toyland meets Freddy Krueger combo. The character is discussed and hinted at in issue 1, but he never makes a real appearance until the end of the book. Likewise, throughout the series, he's kind of a background terror. With that in mind, I really wanted to make this kid scary as fuck when he makes his appearances. It's like the Hannibal Lector approach. All through 'Silence of the Lambs' people are just talking about how badass Hannibal is. And, finally (at the end of the movie), you get just a taste of what this monster is capable of. As brief as it is, it's powerful enough to concrete his position in your mental fear factory, ya dig? That's how I want Ashley to come across. People are afraid of him and, when he shows up for one or two pages, you get to see why."
Crosland employed a dark artistic style for "Land of Lost Toys." "My style on LOLT (not to be confused with LOTR) is very much like the artwork on my grittier sketchbook work and character designs for my more serious, self-written stories," he explained. "And once it gets to the slasher parts of the story, it's kind of like when you run over a squirrel on a secluded country road, and then take the time to back over it, and mow it down one more time."
Crosland is the fourth artist to illustrate the adventures of Cassie Hack. He compared his style to previous "Hack/Slash" artists by using another horror-comedy series as a metaphor. "Comparing myself to the previous Hack/Slash artists is kind of like comparing the Ghostbusters lineup. I see Stefano, Federica, and Aadi as Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson. I'm Bill Murray," Crosland explained. "I'm not the keenest of ghost hunters, but I shine through with my bitter humor and winning charm. I get the girl. I don't get as much Marshmallow Man guts on me. Plus, I go on to be in movies with Wu-Tang Clan and Scarlet Johansen (rawr!)."
The chance to depict Cassie Hack's faithful friend Vlad was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the assignment for Crosland. "I simply love drawing massive, blocky characters. Like O.Z. (a thug in 'Puffed') and El Campeon in my upcoming guest spot on 'The Amazing Joy Buzzards,'" Crosland said. "I'm a fan of characters that are almost completely shapes, yet still have oodles of personality. And Vlad is just that kind of character. I don't know if I'm giving a spoiler right now, but in book two, I got to draw Vlad's origin story. It was really an honor, and I think readers will get a kick out of it. Think: large cuts of meat and a more youthful Sloth from 'Goonies.'"
Crosland had little difficulty balancing and conveying "Hack/Slash's" mixture of horror and humor. "I definitely planned and plotted where stuff goes from tongue-in-cheek to creepy, but it was also a natural progression that went along with the subject matter," Crosland said. "Plus, I listen to Celine Dion when I draw. That brings out the most humorous and frightening aspects of my work, simultaneously. The resulting art is more balanced than an entire school district on Ritalin."
A number of artists have influenced Crosland's work, they're just not the types of artists most people would expect. "I could name a billion visual artists, but that's so 2004," he explained. "Some of the musicians that have been influencing my artwork lately are Madlib, Edan, Themselves, Why?, Mike Patton, and Bumblebeez 81, because they have this amazing 'collaged' way of putting together sound projects. I'm a fan of deeply layered music. Kool Keith rocks my socks for the simple fact that he's insane. I also dig on Gillian Welch and PJ Harvey, for their sort of broken, sad storytelling. The same goes for Sixtoo and Busdriver. A lot of that stuff plays itself out in my visual pacing."
"Hack/Slash: Land of Lost Toys" is the latest in a series of recent projects for Crosland and he is thankful for the fans that have followed his work. "At the risk of sounding corny, I just want to thank all the people who've followed and supported my work these past few years," Crosland said. 'Land of Lost Toys' is gonna fit in nicely with the rest of the pen and ink children I've been churning out. And worry not... there's plenty more to come. To quote the fictional Mickey Knox, 'You ain't seen nothin' yet.'"
Source: Broken Frontier
Cassie and Vlad, enemies of slashers everywhere, face an opponent not wholly of this world.
Having survived an attack by her own psychotic mother, Cassie Hack has devoted her life to hunting down slashers and serial killers. Assisting her is her towering partner, Vlad, a deformed creature with a penchant for gas masks. On their latest case, they travel to a small suburban neighborhood where children are mysteriously dying in their sleep. A local conspiracy theorist believes this is the work of a slasher who targets victims in their sleep. But a darker, supernatural force may be the actual cause…
Hack/Slash is not really the sort of comic I would normally buy though the story in this issue proved to be relatively strong. There is an amusingly dark sense of humor to this book, from the somewhat ludicrous crusade of its main characters to Cassie’s snarky personality and Vlad’s monosyllabic social awkwardness. The story also showcases several distressing dream sequences that create nice reversals of our expectations. Dreams of childlike whimsy or heroic wish fulfillment suddenly take an about-face and go down a much more frightening path. I may never look at My Little Pony the same way again.
Dave Crosland’s stylized art takes obvious influence from animation but retains a loose rubbery quality that is all his own. Cassie is both cute and a little scary at times and Crosland’s Vlad looks like a slightly friendlier version of Frankenstein’s monster crossed with E.T. I’m not sure what Vlad’s story is or why he loves that gas mask so much but in Crosland’s rendition, I took to the character right away. Crosland also seems to have had a lot of fun drawing the character Jason and his room. Jason is a walking geek cliché and his basement quarters are littered with toys, posters, and memorabilia. Colorist Katie DeSousa gives each scene a unique look, be it a dark misty graveyard or a vibrant childlike dream.
As I said, this comic is not of a genre I usually read and the violence (though often just inferred) is a bit disturbing in places but for those who enjoy a good slasher/horror story with supernatural components, Hack/Slash should be right up their alley.