"Tim Seeley-Still Hacking After All These Years, An Interview By: Tom Gleba-NerdRemix.com"
If you're a fan of horror comics, Tim Seeley probably needs no introduction. Cutting his teeth as a penciler and writer for franchises like "G.I. Joe" and "Transformers", he soon moved on to projects like the popular "Army of Darkness" series and other comics planted firmly in the horror genre.
In 2004 he created what is arguably the most iconic character to ever grace a comic book: Cassie Hack. "Hack/Slash" quickly became wildly popular with both the horror and comic communities, even featuring "cross-overs" with beloved movie franchises such as: "Child's Play", "Re-Animator" and "Hatchet" with Cassie and Vlad locking horns with the most notorious villains in fright.
We had the exclusive opportunity to sit down with the talented Mr. Seeley as the current "Hack/Slash" story arc comes to a close. Does this mean the end of Cassandra Hack? Read on and find out!
NerdRemix: Beginning with "Hack/Slash", rumor has it you're killing the series! What's up with that?
Tim Seeley: We're not "killing the series" per se, it's just come to a logical end-and I kind of felt, like, instead of trying to drag something on, when it came to a logical conclusion I would end it there. And then, come back at some point, when I had something new to say about it, so, yeah, I can do that. It's my own book, so I can decide when the story is told. You know, it's cool, I didn't have to keep going to sell lunch boxes, action figures, or...collector's plates or something. We could end it when it's "right".
NR: You've been doing this for 9 years, with "Hack/Slash" anyway, but you started with "G.I. Joe" and "Transformers". Was it an easy transition going from the more traditional "hero" comics to a horror themed thing?
TS: Yeah, you know I grew up on both of those things. When I first started in comics, I was drawing and just fine with telling someone else's stories and having a pretty good time with it. It was starting to get to me, I think, after a while, just being, I mean it was fun to work on the Hasbro stuff, but obviously they have certain requirements about how they wanted their stuff to be, but it wasn't mine, so I couldn't really do whatever I wanted. "Hack/Slash" really came about because I liked horror stuff, and I really wanted to do something with that, but it was also a direct result of wanting to do whatever I wanted. Originally doing whatever I wanted meant extreme horror and gore, or going as sexy as I wanted to go within my own constraints. It was a little rebellion against "G.I. Joe" or whatever, their parameters.
NR: I noticed while interviewing artists at a few events last year, a lot of the guys were hesitant to answer frankly when you asked them something because they were kind of under the yoke of the franchise they were working for. So, was "Hack/Slash" your way of sort of stepping away from a situation like that?
TS: Well, obviously it's nice when you do something for someone else, and they pay you, it's great, you can pay your bills, go out to dinner every once in a while and have a good time. And obviously you don't want to poop on your relationship with them. If you're working on "Transformers" and someone asks you "do you hate 'Transformers'" you can't say "yeah I'm just drawing for a paycheck" or "I hate Hasbro because they treat me like shit", you want to be sure you're toeing the line. You have to. It's part of the job, right? You can't work at a gas station, and the guy that runs the company comes in and says: "how do you like your job", you can't answer "I hate this gas station, it sucks balls!" You're required to sort of be the "face of the company" when you're drawing a book. It's nice, one of the things that drawing your own book allows you to do is be yourself, you get to show people what you would do without that yoke on you, and sort of break out of a mold. When I was working on the "G.I. Joe" and "Transformers" stuff, there's a tendency if you do that stuff too long, you become sort of that "80's guy", or that "toy guy", I knew I wanted to be a little more than that, even though I was having all kinds of fun doing it.
NR: As a horror fan, I gravitated towards "Hack/Slash", I started to notice that some of my favorite covers from other books were also your work. Is it fun to branch out and do those other things, and then come back to your own thing and be able to go as "gonzo" as you want?
TS: Oh absolutely! That's kind of how I bill my entire job, I'm completely fine of doing this work for hire, the corporate gigs, but I can't just do that. So I've always had this great venue in "Hack/Slash", where my frustrations can be fixed by doing an issue of "Hack/Slash" and I can just go apeshit but within the realm of where I want to make appealing to someone else too. *laughs* It's always been hard work because I pencil and I write, I've always never been able to get stuck on one thing because I jump around-if I spend a lot of time drawing, I'll take a job writing, if I spend a lot of time writing, I'll take a job drawing. It all kind of works out and keeps me sane.
NR: You've done a few movie cross-overs, "Child's Play", "Re-Animator" and "Hatchet". Is there a particular horror film that you found really influential--do you have a favorite horror movie?
TS: The original "Halloween" is probably always going to be my favorite slasher film. And I have a lot of affection for the 80's and 90's horror/comedy stuff. "Evil Dead" and "Army of Darkness" are both big favorites of mine. "Night of the Creeps" is a particular favorite, I just love the Fred Decker stuff, he's just gross and funny, but also scary. Those are all big influences.
NR: I've noticed you often throw in a few "wink and nods" to the horror nerd community so to speak, One time you had Cassie using the alias of "Betsy Palmer" which is, of course the actress that played Mrs. Voorhees in "Friday the 13th", I think you even used a John Wayne line once--was there ever anything you put in that completely flew over everyone's heads?
TS: Every once in a while, I can't think of anything off hand, I'm sure there's been something that was perhaps too "nerdy" for even my own delight, one of the upsides of doing this stuff is that if I do that, it's actually "okay". I think a lot of the products we show in the backgrounds will even be references to movies. I think we had a Silver Shamrock reference once, which is from "Halloween 3: Season of the Witch", yeah, we even had the masks in there from that. We throw a lot of stuff in there, I'll even see a movie and keep a little list of things like a note to myself of little references we have to put in there.
NR: That's one of the fun things about "Hack/Slash" is noticing subtle things, like is he making an "inside joke" with the horror community?
TS: It's one of those things, it's not meant for everyone, but it doesn't have to be, if it's necessary to the story, then it has to be clear, but if it's not, then I have no problem with it being a little "inside" based at all. *laughs*
NR: Is there a particular point in the series, where you thought to yourself, as a writer, "man! I was really killing it here, I was cooking!"?
TS: Yeah, it's easier as time goes on, to look at stuff and say "that's actually pretty good", it's harder because the most recent stuff is what you like the least. I think "My First Maniac" which is sort of the "year one" story in the series I feel like I kind of "got it" there, I feel like that's my best story in the series, I really liked two of the cross-over ones, the Chucky and "Re-Animator", I really love writing for other people's characters, with my characters, it's just this weird joy I have. I feel like I had the most fun on those and that they came out really well.
NR: I think you really nailed Jeffery Combs as "Herbert West" on that, with the tone of the dialogue, you seemed to really be channeling Stuart Gordon.
TS: I've talked to those film makers, they were cool with me doing it, and then you have that sort of inspiration, that excitement, because the guys that made the movies are into it. It makes it that much easier to kind of hit it out of the park.
NR: I noticed something though, Stuart Gordon kills his wife in all of his films, you didn't do that in the comic!
TS: *laughs* My buddy from High School had Stuart Gordon as a professor at Madison, so he introduced me to Stuart and one night we all met up and went out for drinks, he had just shown his movie "Stuck" and his wife was in that one, and he didn't kill her! She's a nurse. That's a really good movie by the way, we were talking about that, so later, I was like "well I really don't have a place for it" and she didn't get killed in "Stuck", as you know, the later sequels were done by Brian Yuzna, so I figured "well maybe it's not a 'rule' in this one" *laughs*
NR: Your new projects like "Ex-Sanguine" and "Revival", is that what you're concentrating on now?
TS: Yeah, "Ex-Sanguine" was a mini-series and so I drew that to work out with Josh Evans, and that was a 5 issue series, we've got the trade coming out in June, now "Revival" is taking up a lot of my time, it's a pretty intense project to work on, it's got a lot of characters so it's definitely keeping me busy. And then, I've got another "Hack/Slash" project coming up that I'm working on, so it's not completely gone--we announced it before, we are doing an "Army of Darkness" cross-over, with, you know "Cassie meets Ash" it's going to be awesome! So, we've got more stuff coming out that's horror related, I always like to keep a toe in.
NR: Stupid question: with the current "Hack/Slash" story arc-have you gotten any backlash from ICP (Insane Clown Posse) fans?
TS: *laughs* Hahaha! No, not at all! The thing is, it's not intended to necessarily be an insult to them specifically, we actually started setting this up in an early story line, where we had this black liquid that would sort of turn people into slashers, I've been dropping these little hints ever since, in "My First Maniac" we had a character that's a fan of the band Ig'nant Mime Squad, and when I was thinking about how we would do this, I remembered that band and was like "Oh! it's perfect! They're already in costumes!". We also had the Faygo/Stab soda thing, people either don't notice it or...I don't think it's particularly insulting, I have friends in the Detroit area, and it's (ICP culture) kind of a weird thing, it's cool and I can't say that it's not unique! I would love to hear what they think of it, we're not really making fun of it, it's just a perfect venue for our story line. We take a few jabs, but one thing we've always had with "Hack/Slash" was a music connection, because early on we did the story with the killer heavy metal band, so that's always been part of the stories. So it made sense to me, to tie all of this into this sort of huge ICP gathering.
NR: Having attended both horror and comic conventions myself, do you notice the differences, as I do, between the fans?
TS: They're different kinds of fans, but they share a lot, in the level of intensity and broadness of their interests, horror fans are pretty laser focused, but in terms of their interests, comic book convention fans are more "all over". There's the anime people, the "cos-players", the comic book fans, old school comic books fans, new school comic book fans, and fans of the artists, It's a little more, you know, all over, where horror is more focused, its usually just the movies and actors.
NR: Speaking of movies, a "Hack/Slash" movie has been rumored to be in the works for a long time, what the status of that? Or is it stalled?
TS: I think it's moving forward, I hear little stuff here and there. But it's always changing, as of this week I'm not sure what's going on, but I know they're doing something. I really have to wait until they announce their things before I can say anything. I'm not "in" on the stuff, I think people think when they go to make a decision they, like, call me. And that's just not how it works *laughs*. I usually find out just before they send something out, so they can get a quote or something. But yeah, it's moving forward, hopefully within the next month they'll make some sort of announcement, but, again, I can't guarantee that.
NR: Do you have an actress in mind for Cassie Hack?
TS: I'm all over the place on that, people like to suggest all kinds of things. Allison Scagliotti would be a good choice, Kat Dennings I thought was great, then we were in England and my wife and I caught an episode of Graham Norton, they were interviewing Saoirse Ronan, it was like "wait, she would make a great Cassie, she kicks ass! she can fight and stuff, she's got a little Irish accent, but I'm sure she could do an American one". what it comes down to is I don't know what the ultimate vibe of the film will be, if it will be "comic book" or you know, real serious. When I had started this, if I had had the money to make the movie myself, I would have put Tiffany Shepis in it, she looks the part, she's a bad ass, and she's a horror icon. But Cassie's a teenager, so a lot of these actresses I love, like Tiffany or Danielle Harris, might not work as well for the people making the movie now.
NR: Finally, issue #25 comes out March 27th, and then things wrap up, what's next?
TS: Yeah, 25 comes out, then we have a wrap party at Challenger's Comics on Western Ave. (Chicago), if any of your readers are in the area-it starts at 7pm and they will be drinking, and BS and...stuff.
NR: Well thanks for the interview, it's always nice to chat with a fellow horror fan!
TS: When I was a kid I was into the horror stuff, but you know, it scared me. I think that's why I kind of came back to horror in my teenage years, it just freaked me out as a kid.