HACK/SLASH THE SERIES
At the end of every horror movie, one lone girl survives... in Hack/Slash, that girl is Cassie Hack -- who not only survives, but becomes a killer of killers! Partnered with the monstrous gentle giant Vlad, they travel wherever there are slashers looking to do harm!
Artist Emily Stone:
Deviant Art, EM-STONE.COM
Colorist Courtney: Deviant Art
Source: CBR.CC; 19 april 2008
Alcohol, drugs and promiscuous sex may be a recipe for a fun night to some, but in the world of "Hack/Slash" from Devil's Due Publishing by writer/creator Tim Seeley and artist Emily Stone, these things can get you killed. In this twisted version of our world, a mysterious phenomenon has lead to the rise of undead serial killers known as Slashers, whose victims often include the overindulgent.
In "Hack/Slash," most of the world remains dangerously unaware of the existence of Slashers, so it has fallen upon series stars' Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad to protect people from the blood thirsty killers. Unfortunately for them, their quest is about to get a whole lot more complicated. The duo recently discovered that there are other people out there with a less altruistic interest in the Slasher phenomenon. These people don't want to destroy Slashers; the want to study and exploit them for their own personal gain. CBR News spoke with Seeley about what's next for his horror/humor series.
In "Hack/Slash" #10, Cassie and Vlad followed a lead to an abandoned home in Montana, where they discovered the notebooks of the mysterious Dr. Phillips. Phillips's notebooks detailed his experiments on feral children and how he injected them with cells from "Revenants," the clinical word for Slashers. However, Cassie found the notebooks' most shocking revelation to be that Phillips had a friend who used to have a similar interest in Slashers, a man who just may be her long lost father, Dr. Jack Hack. "Dr. Phillips definitely knew SOMEONE named Jack Hack, and it appears that he's got some info concerning the 'Revenants,'" Seeley told CBR News. "How reliable Dr. Phillips is will come into play around issue 15 or so, when we meet ANOTHER scientist familiar with Dr. Hack's work."
At the end of issue #10, Cassie and Vlad came face to face with Phillips' experiments when they were attacked by a group of feral children whose exposure to Slasher cells had transformed them into bloodthirsty cannibals. The fight came to an end when Cassie decided that the children were too far gone in their transformation into Slashers, and killed them, which didn't sit right with Vlad at all. "This is an instance which we'll see feed into the evolution of Cass and Vlad's relationship. What I'm really trying to show here is that, though these two are the closest of friends, they disagree--occasionally in BIG ways, given the kind of lives they lead," Seeley explained. "Vlad, in a lot of ways, gives over to Cassie's leadership. I think a guy like him would sense that she's more worldly, more experienced than him, and thus he often believes she MUST be right. What we saw in issue 10 was an instance where he KNEW she was wrong."
While Vlad was troubled by Cassie's execution of the feral children, Cassie isn't letting her "command decision" burden her. "Cass never really lets anything weigh on her when it comes to what she believes to be her job," Seeley remarked. She's totally confident about Slasher hunting. That's something I want to play here too--she's a person with OODLES of doubt on most everything--but when it comes to these horrifying situations she's totally resolute."
With their discovery of Dr. Phillips's notebooks in Montana, Cassie and Vlad are coming to realize that "Slashers" aren't just a recent phenomenon, and more people know of their existence than they thought. "There's definitely some kind of history associated with this Slasher thing, and that's going to be one of the big, looming conspiracies underpinning the series," Seeley stated. "If I've done my job, readers have gotten enough little clues to really start to wonder what's going on here. 'Hack/Slash' is mainly about two characters and fun stories about killin' psycho dudes--BUT, underneath this all is a pretty elaborate little universe, with lots of room for exploration. And people thought I was just writing some kinda cheesecakey bloodbath here!"
"Hack/Slash" #10 ended with two local police officers finding the bodies of the feral children Cassie had executed. These gruesome discoveries lead the cops to call an elderly, upbeat, woman named Muffy Joworski, who they described as their secret weapon. While she may seem less than dangerous, Muffy will have an impact on Cassie and Vlad's life in upcoming issues. "Muffy, our little ol' lady from Montana, plays an important part in the near future," Seeley said. "Sure, she seems like a nice, grandmotherly type, but what's up with all these crazy visions she starts having in issue 13?"
Issue #11 of "Hack/Slash," which hits stores this month, finds our heroes in Portland and face to face with a very different kind of Slasher. "This story is a little exploration into the question 'Could there be a good Slasher?'" Seeley remarked. "If Jason or Michael only hacked up drug dealers and murderers would that basically make them The Punisher? This'll be the closest Cas and Vlad get to a superhero--so enjoy!"
Cassie and Vlad aren't the only ones with their hands full in "Hack/Slash" #11. In Wisconsin, their friends, Chris and Lisa, must contend with the reemergence of one of Cassie and Vlad's old foes. "Emily and Courtney [artist Emily Stone and colorist Courtney Via] are in love with Pooch, so the creepy pink dog thing from the 'Acid Washed' arc [the series first arc] is back, and he's gunning to get revenge on Cassie! But, Lisa is a vet who has worked with plenty of dogs--so we'll see what happens when she meets my favorite talking dog."
In issues #12-#13 of "Hack/Slash," Seeley and Mark Kidwell finally get to tell the story originally meant to be told in the "Hack/Slash vs. Bump" one-shot, which was cancelled when Fangoria Comics went out of business. In these issues Cassie and Vlad head into the woods to take down Edgar Dill, the murderous star of Kidwell's "Bump" series. "Mark Kidwell did most of the writing on the story, and it's kind of going back to the ol' 'H/S' one shots," Seeley explained. "Big, fun, and bloody. Those two issues will be a good place for new readers to jump in, cuz even though I did add some new content to tie things into the overall back stories of the series. This is pretty self-contained."
The new content Seeley put together features a guest appearance by Evan Dorkin's characters, Milk & Cheese. Seeley couldn't say much about their role in the story but was able to reveal that Dorkin himself wrote the characters' dialogue.
Following their battle with Edgar Dill, the peripatetic Cassie and Vlad will be inexplicably thinking, "There's no place like home." "Issue 14 finds Cas and Vlad in the wonderful world of Oz. "Sort of," Seeley said. "Emily draws a MEAN Scarecrow and Dorothy."
Just before they graduated into their ongoing series, Cassie and Vlad went toe-to-toe with the evil animated doll, Chucky, the star of the "Child's Play" films, "Bride of Chucky" and "Seed of Chucky." In issue #15, the duo just might lock horns with another character from the world of horror films. "I don't have all the t's crossed and the i's dotted on the contract just yet, but, issue #15 should be starting off a pretty cool little crossover that fits in REALLY well with the current stories," Seeley said.
Summer used to be the time when comic series rolled out their larger "Annual" issues and Seeley is looking to revive that particular tradition. "When I was a kid, I loved getting annuals. So, July will see the sexy, tattooed debut of the 'Hack/Slash annual' featuring the SUICIDEGIRLS from the website of the same name. I'm writing and drawing that story, and I also drew Cassie's SG photo set. Yes, lucky members of SG will get to see Cassie get naked. And, yes, I feel a little weird about that."
Lately, each issue of "Hack/Slash" features two covers; an A cover which is usually done by Seeley and a B cover featuring an artist who's work Seeley likes. "I actually met Brandon Graham [who's doing the B cover for issue #13] by emailing him about doing an 'H/S' cover, and we got to know each other well enough that he's now writing the intro to the 'Loaded Bible' [Seeley's series for Image comics] trade. Jamie McKelvie [whose work appears on the B cover for issue #11] is another guy who I'm just a fan of. I was lucky enough to find that he'd read 'H/S' and he turned in a really great cover. Issue 14's cover is by a really talented girl named Jenny Frison, who just showed up at our 'Drink and Draw Night' event one night and just started making crazy art. So I hired her. I have some other cool one coming up too."
Recently, both the A and B covers of "Hack/Slash" have featured a blurb across the top proclaiming, "Slated to be a major motion picture from ROGUE pictures" and with the writers' strike resolved progress has moved forward on the feature film version of "Hack/Slash." "Rogue hired ubernerd overlord Justin Marks to write the screenplay. Justin wrote 'Voltron,' 'Masters of the Universe' and the 'Green Arrow' movie scripts," Seeley said. "So, getting him on 'H/S' is a big deal. Especially since I have a He-Man figure and a Voltron sitting on my desk!"
Source: CBR.CC; 8 feb 2007
For years now, undead serial killers known as “Slashers” have been quietly plying their bloody trade by only claiming victims at certain times of the year. These slashers should consider themselves on notice because slasher slayers Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad are turning up the heat on them. Cass and Vlad are the stars of Tim Seeley's horror/humor series “Hack/Slash” from Devil's Due Publishing, which began as a series of quarterly one-shots. But this May, Cass and Vlad graduate into the four color big leagues as “Hack/Slash” the ongoing monthly series launches. In part one of a two part feature on “Hack/Slash” the ongoing series, CBR News spoke with writer/creator Seeley.
Seeley is ecstatic that “Hack/Slash” the ongoing series has finally become a reality. “I always wanted to do an ongoing, but it was definitely an issue of waiting for the right time,” Seeley told CBR News. “We were able to get a crossover with a major slasher character and expose the book to some new readers, I managed to find the perfect creative team, and the movie is on the horizon, so I say that time is now!”
An ongoing series has afforded Seeley a number of new story opportunities for “Hack/Slash.” “Now I can introduce more supporting characters, and have crazy little things like subplots! Whooo!” Seeley exclaimed. “And, now I finally have the space to tell the story of Cassie's dad, which we've never really touched upon in the space of the one-shots.”
Seeley definitely plans to tell some longer stories in the “Hack/Slash” ongoing, but fans can also expect to see some single issue stories as well. “The first issue is an intro ‘one-off' with some subplots started, and after that it'll be a three part story called 'Shout at the Devil',” Seeley said. “After that, a one-off to get more new readers up to speed, and then another three-parter. Throughout we'll have the arc concerning Cas's old man playing out in the background.”
“Hack/Slash” #1 is a one-off story designed to introduce new readers to the characters and concepts of the series, but the issue contains plenty of surprises sure to please long time “Hack/Slash” fans as well. “It's very new reader friendly, but I think I managed to have it avoid repeating a lot of what old readers have already seen,” Seeley explained. “The first issue will be all about introducing new readers to Cassie, while giving some new background for old readers.”
The new background info in “Hack/Slash” #1 will included some revelations about the mysterious slasher phenomenon. “I guarantee that we'll start seeing aspects of that big bag of worms right out of the gate,” Seeley said.
Readers will get an early preview of Hack/Slash #1 on May 5 th , this year's Free Comic Book Day, when Devil's Due releases a free book that's a split between “Hack/Slash” and their “Family Guy” title. “It'll be several pages from the first issue, and it'll include some of the older material to get everyone up to speed,” Seeley stated. “The intent is, people pick it up, get sucked in, and have to go buy the first issue the week after.”
New readers and long time “Hack/Slash” fans should take that week to prepare themselves because the intensity and action starts right on the first page of issue#1. “Issue #1 takes place a few weeks after the Chucky crossover, with Cas and Vlad enjoying some leisure downtime. Okay, not really,” Seeley joked. “Basically, issue #1 drops us right into the thick of things, with Cas about to be an amputee. We won't get a chance to see how they're feelin' until issue# 2. Issue #1 begins with Cassie at the mercy of a brand new slasher, and the story details how a plan went astray and what Vlad is trying to do to rectify that.”
Things will be pretty dire for Seeley's heroes in issue #1 but like the previous one-shots, “Hack/Slash” the series will continue to be a balance of horror and humor. “It'll be a mix, of course, with the first issue being good and damn dark, and the second issue, featuring the evil hair metal band, Acid Washed, being a bit lighter,” Seeley explained. “Basically, I've noticed a trend where readers like to see their heroes beat silly (yeah, I read Marvel's ‘Civil War'), so I tried to oblige by opening the series with the grimmest situation Cassie's been in yet.”
Many of the grim situations Cassie and Vlad face in “Hack/Slash” will be caused by sadistic slashers, but undead serial killers aren't the only obstacles the duo will have to tackle. “The intent of every ‘Hack/Slash' is to have our characters battling both evil, over the top psychos, as well as having to deal with this very difficult lifestyle they have to live. So, every issue is intended to be a mix of scares, laughs, boobs, blood, and really interesting characterization.”
It won't be just Cassie and Vlad that get moments of interesting characterization in “Hack/Slash.” “Though Cas and Vlad are itinerant, they will have recurring characters,” Seeley explained. “The main supporting cast is made up of some of the survivors of the previous stories, who as we've seen, have banded together to help Cas and Vlad out. Hack/Slash, Inc. as they call themselves will have their own lives going as well, with a bunch of stories of their own. And, of course, the characters involved in that ‘Cassie's Pa' story I keep mentioning will have recurring roles too. And, it wouldn't be a good slasher story if the killers didn't keep coming back.”
Readers can also expect Cassie and Vlad's support network to grow as the series progresses. “We introduce a pretty important character in ‘Shout at the Devil,'” Seeley said.
Seeley's heroes will also be running afoul of many characters who don't want to assist them with their mission. Readers can expect the forces of Ceutotech (the company trying to turn a profit from slashers, that last appeared in the “Slice Hard” one-shot) to continue to plague Cass and Vlad. Also the duo's action will soon be drawing the attention of law enforcement agencies. “We'll see that you can't show up at the scene of mass murders everyday, and not get noticed,” Seeley explained.
Readers can also expect Cass and Vlad's actions to draw attention from other interested parties as well. “One thing I wanted to deal with is the sort of camera phone/You Tube culture, where anything can be posted as a video in no time, and how that would affect some of these slasher cases,” Seeley said. “Sooner or later, someone is going to catch a crazed nut job getting aced by Cassie on film.”
With Seeley's heroes taking down slashers across the country some readers might be wondering why the news media isn't looking into the slasher phenomenon. “You'll see in the first issue that there's a reason this stuff isn't front page news,” Seeley stated.
Cassie and Vlad's Slasher hunts have taken them across the country and in future issues of the series, the duo just might find themselves globe-hopping. “Since slasher films are so inherently American, I've been keeping the stories contained to the USA,” Seeley explained. “But, I did tinker with it a bit with one of the ‘Trailers' stories which took place in Tokyo. Sooner or later, I do intend to explore some of the other versions of the slasher film seen in other countries. We've got the Italian giallo films, and the J- horror stuff--.it's safe to say I've got enough story material to last me a good long while.”
Seeley's wealth of story material for “Hack/Slash” will be brought to life by artist Emily Stone. “Ah, Emily. Where to start? Really, I didn't want to start the ongoing until I felt like I found the perfect penciler,” Seeley said. “My requirements were that the artist be able to draw hot, realistically proportioned ladies, could tell a story, and was reliable. Of course, only 2% or so of all comic artists can be all these things. I stalked Em for awhile, knowing she was the lady for the job, and when I found a colorist for her, I dropped my insidious plan on her. Em doesn't so much BRING anything to the book as she IS the book. It's her Cassie that you're gonna fall in love with, and her slashers you're gonna be scared of--her death scenes you're gonna chuckle at.”
Seeley hopes to have plenty of “Hack/Slash” stories for Stone to illustrate including the eventual final chapter of the series. “I do have an end,” he said. “But the hope is that I don't have to get to it anytime soon. I can see myself doing a Garth Ennis or Gaiman and going for 60 issues. So, ya'know, make sure ya buy it, so I can do all the cool stuff you won't get in any other book!”
The goofiness and gore continues tomorrow as CBR News concludes its feature on the “Hack/Slash” ongoing series by chatting with artist Emily Stone.
Source: CBR.CC; 15 feb 2007
Last week, in part one of our feature on Devil's Due Publishing's new ongoing "Hack/Slash" series, CBR News spoke with series creator and writer Tim Seeley. Today we conclude our feature by chatting with the person tasked with depicting all the blood and belly laughs of the series, artist Emily Stone.
"Hack/Slash" came about for Stone as a result of other work she had done for Devil's Due. "I've inked for Devil's Due in the past, including Tim Seeley's ?Demon Wars' preview last year," Stone told CBR News. "He liked my inking, so he contacted me about doing more of it for some of the various projects he always seems to be coordinating. At that point I showed him some of my original work and he decided I had potential for penciling. Fortuitously for me, the opportunity for him to continue ?Hack/Slash' as a monthly series came up around that same time. I took the job because Tim promised me hot girls and monsters; the chance to draw them, that is. Oh, and a paycheck! I had heard of 'Hack/Slash,' but not read it."
Stone was also only slightly acquainted with Hack/Slash's inspiration, the slasher film genre, when she was offered the assignment. "The only one I had seen at that point was ?Scream' (unless you count a handful of zombie movies)!" she said. "However, I recently watched ?A Nightmare on Elm Street' (the first one) and enjoyed it. I'm gaining quite the appreciation for the genre."
Working on an ongoing series has been a big change for Stone. "This is the biggest job I've ever done," she stated. "While in school, I did a couple of short anthology stories as well as a 7-page chapter for 'The Ride: Savannah Heat', and subsequently I did pencils for a 6-page story for Tim's Troma anthology. My style is still in a state of flux, but I've definitely had to solidify my work process, speed up, and pencil more tightly and cleanly than in the past."
The "Hack/Slash" ongoing series may be Stone's biggest assignment yet and while she wasn't too familiar with book's stars, the artist got to know and love Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad very quickly. "Cassie is extremely tough, smart, and capable, but she has that lost and hurt little girl inside her, too, due to her various traumas growing up. Both parents failed her, her mother pretty spectacularly so. No matter how evil she had become, the Lunch Lady was still Cassie's mom, so having to witness her suicide and then kill her again in her slasher form has done a major psychological number on Cass. She lives in the moment (and in the past, just not the future), and in some ways probably repeats her trauma over and over with every slasher she kills. So I want my depiction of her to say: tough, smart, capable, even caring--but also vulnerable, which makes her a cranky fish out of water in involved slasher killing. And naturally she's sexy and a bit confused by most life situations that don't that whole aspect of life.
"Vlad is a gentle giant and a pure heart, capable of frighteningly brutish power and ferocity when it's needed," Stone continued. "His history of being extremely sheltered, outcast, and mistaken for a slasher has not made him bitter in any way, and in his travels with Cassie he is finding it's possible to be accepted for who he is. His devotion to Cassie is absolute, as she was the first person to befriend him after his adoptive father's death. I want my depiction of him to say here is this freakish guy who hasn't been out in the world for very long, but whose kind, open heart actually allows him to relate to people better than Cassie does, and to enjoy the little things of life more. And also, when he needs to be scary, he can be really, really scary."
While she was familiarizing herself with Cassie and Vlad, Stone studied the work of the many other artists who had drawn "Hack/Slash" before her. "The book has been drawn by so many talented artists!" She said. "Since my style is pretty realistic (but, as I said, also in a state of flux), I'm humbly trying to follow in the footsteps of Stefano Caselli and Fredrica Manfredi, while indulging my newfound love of drawing highly detailed environments. Caselli's work has this wonderfully lively, slightly exaggerated quality that I hope I can find my own way of incorporating into my personal style."
"Hack/Slash" is a book with a very unique tone that balances moments of horror, humor, and human drama. "I love the challenges of all of these elements of the book," Stone stated. "I just strive for very natural acting on the part of every character in every kind of situation (from hugging to dismemberment...), and so far I don't think one type of scene is any easier or harder for me to convey than any other."
In addition to drawing many types of scenes, "Hack/Slash" has afforded Stone the opportunity to design many new characters, like the slashers Cassie Hack and Vlad are constantly running afoul of. "Character design was a bit intimidating at first, but I'm totally getting into it," Stone explained. "The first issue villain is a creepy undead psychologist who skinned himself--I had recently seen the Bodies exhibit in Las Vegas, so I looked to that for inspiration. Issues# 2 and #3 involve a hair metal singer/guitarist demon with the most fabulous 1980s hair."
"Hack/Slash" has been loads of fun for Stone and one of the big reasons for that is writer Tim Seeley. "He's a damn good writer, and a good story is motivating to me (regardless of genre). I could not have asked for a better first gig," she said. "He offers guidance as needed and pretty much lets me do my thing. And he's completely goofy. What's awesome to me is that 'Hack/Slash' is his own creation, so obviously he likes it and has fun with the writing of it, which in turn gives me lots of entertaining stuff to draw.
"The whole mix of horror, humor, and character is one of the strengths of his writing," Stone continued. "I think he is also really clever with tying everything back together over and over, and with his setups (and their payoffs). I try to think very carefully about how the characters would act in the situations he presents, and how best to show those setups, so that hopefully I'm bringing some subtlety into the visuals in line with the story."
For Stone, the only real difficult aspect of providing the monthly art for "Hack/Slash" has been the time factor involved. "I would work on a page for a week if allowed!" she explained. "But then it would probably be one big eraser smudge."
Deadlines are only pressuring because of Stone's meticulous desire to accurately and dynamically bring to life the world of Cassie Hack and Vlad; a desire that's motivated by how much fun's she's been having with her work on "Hack/Slash". "Drawing a monthly comic is a dream come true," she said. "I love exploring the nuances of the characters, designing the environments, and in general finding myself approaching pages with greater ease. It's extremely rewarding to know that the writer and editor are happy with my work so far."
Source: `Diamond; feb 2007
Art often imitates life. When we read the previous Hack/Slash one-shots, they seemingly imitated life at the movies. Or, at least, life as it was portrayed on the silver screen.
Cue the bad eerie music. Cue the poor lighting. Cue the innocent boy or girl who walks in the dark room without knowledge of the killer two steps behind, arm raised, blade poised to puncture their chest cavity. These grim mutilations were common in the Friday the 13th films, and they helped reel in an audience who lived for the untimely deaths of teenagers that ignored caution to become roadkill.
This blood formula was applied to the Hack/Slash books by creator Tim Seeley. What was good enough for horror films had to be good enough for comic books. Seeley was right. The initial buzz for Hack/Slash was more than favorable. Gore fans finally had something they could look forward to on the comic shelves.
The chemistry between the ugly hulk Vlad and the cute goth chick Cassie Hack is one that was sure to raise eyebrows among fans who remember the 90s glory days — back when indie horror comics were taken to the next level. Tim Seeley seems to be on a crusade to bring those glory days back for the 21st century. Because what he used to do occasionally with his dark duo is now going to be a monthly fix for comics fans.
Get ready for an ongoing series, folks, which kicks off this month with the arrival of Hack/Slash #1 from Devil’s Due Publishing. For those of you not familiar with the title, Vlad and Cassie Hack make it a habit to take on slashers wherever they pop up around the country. They don’t get paid for their work. It’s just that some people are into Playstation … Vlad and Cassie are into street justice, sans joystick and control pad.
You don’t need a crash course in their previous adventures to hop on board for this debut issue. The bottom line is this strange pair are out to set slashers straight, and they begin their bloody job with Dr. Gross. He won’t be an easy target, as Cassie will find out. In fact, she’s not going to emerge from their clash intact!
Richard: How did you become the artist on "Hack/Slash"?
Emily: I had inked some stuff for Devil's Due Publishing previously, including some of Tim's work. He initially contacted me about inking for the Troma book, so I showed him some of my original work to see if he would let me try some penciling. Fortunately, he decided to give me a shot.
Richard: Were you excited to get this position?
Emily: Yes! I did not really sleep my first month on the job.
Richard: What qualities do you try to bring out in Cassie and Vlad?
Emily: Cassie has a tough, sarcastic exterior, but she's vulnerable on the inside... Vlad is a gentle innocent who is also capable of terrifying brutality when necessary.
Richard: What is it like working with Tim Seeley the writer on "Hack/Slash"?
Emily: Very cool. He's a talented writer and gives me the chance to draw a wide variety of characters and critters and environments. He and I both strive for clear and fun storytelling, and he rarely requires changes to my pencils.
Richard: You pencil, ink and color do you like to do all 3 on the same comic?
Emily: I think that would be a LOT of fun, but it's impossible right now (time-wise) on the monthly Hack/Slash book. Hopefully someday!
Richard: You worked on "G.I.Joe Sigma 6" as the inker did you enjoy doing that?
Emily: I inked issue 3 of that series – as I recall, there were about a million robots to ink, but it was a great experience.
Richard: What is "The Ride: Savannah"?
Emily: That was a special student/alum issue of 12 Gauge Comics' "The Ride" (published by Image Comics). Students who took this class at Savannah College of Art & Design competed for a spot in the issue, and all proceeds from sales of the book go towards scholarship funds. I penciled, inked, and toned chapter 3.
Richard: How did you become involved with "Tromatic Tales"?
Emily: Tim offered to let me draw a story in this anthology just prior to Hack/Slash. I had never heard of Troma before, but the project sounded like good campy fun.
Richard: What can you tell us about "Troma Lesbians"?
Emily: They want each other… and they want YOU! Or at least they will let you watch. That was the first comics story I ever got to pencil professionally. My willingness to draw boobs doubtless influenced Tim to offer me the Hack/Slash gig.
Richard: Are you a fan of slasher movies?
Emily: Ha... I had seen all of one slasher movie (the original Scream) before starting on Hack/Slash! I have since seen a handful more… I enjoyed A Nightmare on Elm Street. I've gained an appreciation for the genre but would not call myself a connoisseur (the way Tim is). However, I think entertaining stories and characters transcend genre.
Richard: What comics did you read as a child and do you read now?
Emily: I actually was not familiar with comic books as a child. I read newspaper comic strips. I knew about Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, but to me they were TV and movie characters. My first introduction to the comic book format was the Spider-Man feature in some hand-me-down copies of Electric Company Magazine. After that, however, I pretty much ignored comic books until art school. These days, I still do not read any books regularly. I appreciate artists such as Mignola, Caselli (the original Hack/Slash artist), John Buscema, Alex Toth, Adam Hughes, Bryan Hitch, Moebius, Quietly… the list goes on. I try to get inspiration from many sources, including illustrators and movies. I still have a lot to learn.
Richard: How can someone contact you?
Emily: My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Richard: Any final words of wisdom?
Emily: Read Hack/Slash! NOW
Source: Jazma Online
Welcome everyone to this month's installment of Inside the Comic Writers Studio. As always, with this column, I will strive to seek out a diverse mix of the best and brightest writers working in the industry today so they can share with us their insight into the art and craft of writing comic books.
This month, I am fortunate enough to be joined by one of Devil's Due Productions most talented creators, Mr. Tim Seeley. Creator of the runaway hit HACK/Slash and the provocative Loaded Bible, Tim brings with him the unique perspective of the writer/artist. This time out, we discuss "playing" with Chucky and Evil Ernie, the joy that comes from writing Grimlock and the influence of Troma Studios. So, without further ado …
ELM: Thanks again for agreeing to do this, Tim, I really do appreciate you taking the time for our readers. I like to set the table with each of my interviews by asking this question: do you remember the first comic book you ever read and do you remember the first time you actually paid attention to the craft behind the stories, either the art or the writing?
TS: The first comic I read as a kid was Amazing Spider-Man #230. As a comic to hook a kid, you really couldn't do better than that one. I think I noticed the "craft" right away, since I had been familiar with the cartoons, but as a five year old, when you see Spidey crash a semi into Juggernaut, it really makes you wonder how anything can be so awesome. But, as far as really noticing what authors had a unique voice and style, I think I first started picking up on that around "Kraven's Last Hunt." The art and the way that story was told was SO important to how much it creeped me out that I think it made an everlasting impression on me.
ELM: As everyone knows, you are extremely skilled on both sides of the creative desk – writing and drawing. Is there one you prefer to do more than the other? I would imagine that the pencils are more time consuming than the other, would that be true? As an outsider, I would imagine that there are benefits and drawbacks to writing and drawing your own stories. Could you explain some of those to us? If you had to make a choice between one discipline over the other for your career (what I mean is, if you could only write a series or draw a series forever), which would you choose? Lastly, can you tell us a little bit of what it was like the first time you wrote and drew an issue yourself?
TS: As a kid when I was making my own comics, I had to write my own stories so I had something to draw. At a certain point, the drawing and writing became just one thing "makin' comics." When I first started working with other people in college, it seemed weird to me to draw other people's stories. Eventually, I got really used to it, to the point where when I decided to write and draw Lovebunny and Mr. Hell [from Devil's Due], it kinda scared the shit out of me. If it was a career choice, I'd go with writing. It's actually a lot more creative than drawing, which at times is so DAMN technical. Also, for your money, writers just make more per hour. But, I do really like drawing … I imagine that any amount of time spent away from it would cause me to get squirrelly.
ELM: I completely understand that. I was reading your Blog on your Web site (http://www.timseeley.com) and there is a post on there where you are talking about some recent comments you'd heard about your original series Loaded Bible. There's some inferences made that the title sounds like a work by AIT/Planetlar Publisher and writer Larry Young and that at least the idea is comparable to the 2001 film Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. These are both things you seem to take umbrage with and deservedly so. As a writer, I think one of the worst things that we can be accused of is plagiarism. It cuts to the core of who we are as creators; is this something you agree with? In recent years, online at least, a lot has been made of artists and the idea of "swiping." As both a writer and an artist, I think you might be able to give us a unique interpretation on this idea. Where (as both writer and artist) does one draw the line at paying homage to a past creator or work and separate it from outright plagiarism?
TS: I think I probably take more umbrage than I should about that kinda thing, but yeah, I really hate when people try to call me out for ripping something off when I've never seen or heard of the previous work. I wear my influences on my sleeve. If I've based part of my work on something else, I say so. So, when I get a comment that this looks like I ripped off Larry Young, I have to make sure to point out that I have never read anything by the guy. Same with Loaded Bible … though the notion of Jesus fighting Vampires isn't 100% original, I definitely didn't get it from that film, since it came out after the original Loaded Bible story was printed. I have watched that movie since and, damn it, it's a fun movie! But, it shares almost nothing with LB. I also tend to be pretty open-minded about other people's stuff being like mine, since I know everyone has the same ideas at the same time. I definitely take a different track as an artist. Obviously reference is important, but there are artists whose whole career is based on tracing photos and other artists' stuff. That's just lame and not to mention bad storytelling. Tracing photos generally causes flat, stiff figures and they don't convey the emotion or action they need to. Comic artist have to be cartoonists. They have to be able to exaggerate and emphasize when necessary. Photos, especially ones from skin mags, don't do that.
ELM: At this time I would like to ask you now about the two works you are perhaps best known for as a writer: HACK/Slash and Loaded Bible (from Devil's Due and Image respectively). First off, HACK/Slash; if one had to pigeonhole it into a genre, it would be a horror comic. However, it is really untraditional in that it follows the story of Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad and their attempts to eradicate the menace of "slashers." Obviously, you are a fan of the slasher-horror film; was this book something you always wanted to do? Was its current incarnation the vision you always had for it? There has been a staged version of the franchise and it has been optioned for a feature film in the future; what do you ultimately see as your goal for this series and its characters? Would you be interested in doing further adaptations of it for either the stage or big screen or even the little screen? Lastly, you've gotten to incorporate two classic horror characters in Evil Ernie and Chucky into the HACK/Slash universe; how much fun was it to see these two characters interact with your creations?
TS: HACK/Slash is pretty much the book I always wanted to write since I get to do so many of the things that I love. I grew up on the "Up All Night" horror films of the '80s and spent hours watching b-movies with my dad. My dad loves crappy movies … an affection that wore off on me. The intent of H/S was to do a comic where almost anything could happen, where I could make a loving tribute to horror films and where I could tell a story about two very distinct characters. I'm a huge fan of character driven stories, and HACK/Slash is my attempt to combine exploitive elements with strong characterization. If anything, my only goal with the series has been to pull that off and hopefully make some money doing it. I'm ALWAYS up for seeing it brought into other mediums, as long as it's still something I can enjoy. So far, with the play and the film, it's been placed in the hands of people I trust. Anyone who wants to adapt it to another medium just has to gain my trust that they'll do a good job and I'm all right with it. With Chucky and Ernie, I think it's probably easy to read those and think "Seeley had a lot of fun with these." I think I work best when combining my characters with other characters that I'm really familiar with. And, since I've been a fan of both Chuck and Evil for years, the joy of working them into HACK/Slash should fly off the page and hit ya in the face!
ELM: Now for Loaded Bible. In the current climate we live in, depictions of Jesus Christ in any medium are always going to be fraught with controversy (whether they are positive or not). In this story, you have made Christ the hero and America's last hope in a post-apocalyptic world where vampires are king; if that weren't enough, you decided to put an image of the World Trade Center on fire in the first issue. I have to ask, again going back to the climate we live in, what made you want to do this story? One of the things that I find interesting about it is that it seems to be a mix of a lot of action film conventions all blended into one … that makes the series really work. Obviously, this was a conscious decision on your part, but can you elaborate on it that a little more for us? What is the message that you want readers to take away from it? What are some of the reactions you've gotten from fans about it? Would that reaction ever affect your decision in revisiting the project again in the future?
TS: Loaded Bible began as just a farce to me. It was just going to be sort of Snake Plissken [from John Carpenter's Escape from New York] as Jesus … y'know, Christ chomping a cigar and cracking badass jokes as he blows people away. But, I was pretty affected by the turn this country took after 9/11. It basically went the opposite way that I thought it should, turning more conservative, close-minded and just down right imperialistic. When I sat down to write Loaded Bible: Jesus vs. Vampires in 2004, I basically completely diverged from the outline I had written in 1999. I couldn't help but criticize this "America FUCK yeah" and "Christ is the only way" attitude that became amped up after 9/11. Loaded Bible's intent is to show what happens when religion becomes government and ultimately how Jesus is USED by this theocracy. Also, vampires get chopped in half and start on fire when Jesus spits on 'em. Reactions to it have been great. Christian newspapers have interviewed me and I've gotten complimentary E-mails from priests – it's been great. I've gotten a lot of angry letters also, largely from people who didn't even bother to read the book. In the case of those people, I just laugh and enjoy the fact that they fit my stereotype of them quite nicely. Loaded Bible was pretty well plotted out from issue #1 to issue #5, so I don't see comments affecting it much. If anything, as the country has stumbled on under Bush and his administration, I've only collected more fodder for my story.
ELM: One question I ask everyone is whether or not they believe in "writer's block." Do you ever find yourself just incapable of putting words to paper (or computer screen, as the case may be) and if so, how do you overcome it?
TS: I get writer's block, I guess, but if there's one thing I've learned from being a staff artist for seven years, it's that block or not, you have to work. Surgeons don't get to have "surgery block." Being in the right mood to do creative work is a state of mind. We make stuff up … it's not rocket science. I usually just tell myself to get over it, and work through blocks. If I sucked, I just come back and tweak it later.
ELM: Back to the subject of writing and drawing. When you are working as a writer on your series, how much input or dialogue or feedback do you have with the artists you are working with? If I'm not mistaken, you've only drawn one issue (or part of one issue) in the HACK/Slash franchise. Obviously, you had an idea of how the characters should look … how much of what you envision for each issue actually makes it to the page? How about scripts? I know that writers and artists have to find the balance of what to actually put into a script to make an issue work. Since you obviously have a lengthy background as an artist, how much direction do you generally put into an issue you are scripting? Lastly, what is feedback from editors like when you are writing a series like HACK/Slash? What I mean is, this is pretty much an over-the-top horror film put to page; has there ever been anything you've wanted to do that you weren't able to do, due to editorial?
TS: With HACK/Slash, it's mostly all mine. I give it to the editor at DDP to read and clean up my mistakes, but generally, content-wise, it's dictated by me. I think that's a relief to everyone I work with since we do so many licensed books that H/S ends up being the easiest book to do. As far as working with the artists, I generally give them a pretty detailed script and I tend to do a lot of the designs for new characters, but I leave it up to them mostly. I pick artists I trust, so I let them do their thing.
ELM: Can you describe a little what your typical day is like? How much time do you set aside for writing? Is there a particular time of day that you get more work done? Do you have any background noise going on (radio, TV, etc.)?
TS: My usual day is 9:00am-5:00pm at Devil's Due drawin' stuff and then I do my writing at home. I like it really quiet when I write, much to the chagrin of my girlfriend who's trying to enjoy the TV and our cats who like to tell me about their day while I'm working, by meowing at my feet. When I draw, I love jammin' to some good tunes, but that totally screws me up when I write. More than once, I've noticed I typed a few lyrics from like a Joy Division song or something into my script while listening to music.
ELM: I've done that before too … songs have a way of just creeping into your brain like that. On your bio, you mention your deep love and affection for Troma Studios; I think it would be safe to say that their films are an influence on your work, right? What else or who else would you consider an influence on your writing? At this point, do you think you have, if not mastered comic writing then at least gotten a firm grip on the craft? Do you think you still have more room to grow?
TS: Yeah, I think Troma's willingness to go outside the standards of what the norm considers "good taste" is a huge influence on my stuff. Heh. I definitely wouldn't say I've mastered writing. The only things I've mastered is sleeping, screwing up and doing really bad karaoke. I don't think I'll ever master it. The biggest influence on the way I try to write comics is Alan Moore. He's the only comics writer who I've really tried to study and understand the way he does his craft. The guy is amazing. As far as writers go, Moore, [Jack] Kirby, [Will] Eisner and Frank Miller are the guys to study. Pretty much everyone else is aping those guys in some way.
ELM: If you're going to study someone, there really isn't anyone better than Alan Moore. Do you have a favorite work that you've written so far? For example, as a writer, what work are you most proud to be associated with? Lastly, what makes it your favorite?
TS: I don't know … heh, it's hard to like your own stuff. I have affection for the first Lovebunny and Mr. Hell book, since I think it was a pretty good first effort. I'm pretty proud of H/S vs. Chucky, not because I think it's like Alan Moore-level writing, but because it's pretty damn fun to read and the artist really did a nice job on it. Hmm, HACK/Slash issue #5 – which won't even ship 'til September – I like that one too. It's totally different than anything I've done before.
ELM: We should all definitely be on the look out for that then. What have been your favorite characters to write thus far? How about to draw? Can you tell us why on both counts? Also, can you tell us some characters that you would like to write in the future and why?
TS: I love writing my characters the most. I suppose it's just because I can do what ever I want with 'em, which rocks. I also really enjoy writing Hawk from G.I. Joe, who I've always liked because he's this very dedicated, noble hardworking soldier, that also tends to question the people he works for. I loved writing Grimlock from Transformers. The notion of him being this incredibly powerful warrior who has trouble taking orders because he knows he could beat just about everyone around (and can turn into a damn dinosaur) is appealing to me. There are a lot of characters I'd love to write … I mean there's very few I wouldn't like to write! At the top of the heap is Darkhawk, who I think has tons of potential (not to mention that I loved him as a kid), Spider-Man (cuz he's Spider-Man), Nightwing (because I think I could do a good job with him) and Freddy Krueger, because I really want to do a dream story with a one-liner machine like Freddy. To draw … man, I want to draw pretty much everything. I don't want to write Batman per se … but I'd love to draw him. He-Man too. And, since I like drawing girls more than pretty much anything, I'd say Zatanna and Tigra are at the top of the list … and any giant robot or monster.
ELM: I would imagine that as a creator, you love the idea of taking on new challenges. However, if for whatever reason you had to ultimately make a choice of working solely on a creator-owned title like HACK/Slash or being able to "play" with someone else's toys (like working on G.I. Joe on the writing side of the coin for example), which would you prefer?
TS: Well, if I could make money at it, I'd do my own creation in a second. But, most likely, I'd stick with someone else's toys since it's more likely to make me cash. [laughs]
ELM: On your Web site, you put up the script for an eight-page Spider-Man story that you wrote. Do you find yourself jotting down story ideas all the time? Where do your story ideas come from? I know the majority of comic books really stray from traditional, everyday life, but do you find yourself mining story ideas from the mundane, day-to-day stuff?
TS: I think most writers get inspiration from their own lives, or the things they read or hear on the news. The truth is, nothing I can make up is as weird and wonderful as the things that actually happen. Plus, I just find that people relate to my work better when it has the honesty of real life going for it … Spider-Man, especially.
ELM: What is the best piece of advice someone has given you regarding the craft of writing?
TS: I think the most important thing wannabe writers have to know is no one wants to read your script. I'm not saying that in a mean way, but you should know that when you submit writing, it will take forever even to get a rejection. Team up with an artist … turn your words into comic form. That's the only way to get editors to pay attention to you – and even that is hard!
ELM: Tim, I really enjoyed the conversation and I think we were able to shed some light on some important aspects of the craft. Before I let you go, what are you working on now and can you share with us any news about any upcoming projects?
TS: Whew… art-wise I'm finishing up Demonwars [from Devil's Due]. Writing-wise, I've got the HACK/Slash ongoing series, and TWO more Loaded Bible books waiting in the wings.
ELM: Sounds great! Thank you again for agreeing to do this Tim … it is greatly appreciated!
TS: Thank YOU!
Everyone, I encourage you to run … don't walk, RUN … out to the nearest comic shop and pick up HACK/Slash so you can see first-hand the quality work he is doing on that title. I know that normally, the slasher/horror genre has not been the breeding ground for quality and thought-provoking storytelling, but Tim has really hit on something here. Check it out … you will not be disappointed.Well, that will do it for this week's episode of Inside the Comic Writers Studio. I don't want to toot my own horn here, but I really think I'm hitting my stride! As always, I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did. Coming up, I have the distinct pleasure to be joined by some rapidly rising stars in the industry, including: Wolverine and Flash writer Marc Guggenheim, Union Jack and Deadshot scribe Christos Gage and Elk's Run creator Joshua Hale Fialkov! So, as always, tune in next week, same Bloc time, same Bloc channel!
And to Mr. Seeley … il miglior fabbro!