Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hidden Horrors: Hack and Slash--an interview exclusive with creator Tim Seeley

by Brian M. Sammons

Comic books, just saying those two words conjures up images of guys in tights, but living in the shadows of the superheroes is a small number of horror titles. In that small, exclusive world there are a few titles that garner more respect than Hack/Slash and for good reason.

First and foremost is the story. It revolves around an incredibly hot goth chick, Cassie Hack who’s not without her problems. While still in high school she wasn’t the most popular of kids, a fact that upset her overprotective and very psychotic mother who worked as a lunch lady at the school. So she did what every mother would do, she starting killing the kids picking on her daughter. When the cops finally caught up with her she did the next sensible thing, she killed herself by jamming her head into boiling pot of stew. Well the bloodshed should have ended there, but like all good horror stories, it was only starting. Cassie’s mom came back as a burnt-faced, undying killing machine known as the Lunch Lady. When Mommy Deadliest starting hacking and slashing again it was left to Cassie to put her down once and for all. Instead of being hopelessly traumatized by all the madness, Cassie recognized her true calling and became the killer of the killers.

To aid her in her hunt is her best friend, Vlad, a hulking, deformed giant of a man that wears a gasmask to aid his poor respiration and is more than proficient at wielding two huge blades at once. Despite his fearsome appearance, Vlad has a childlike innocence and is a true friend to Cassie and together this unlikely duo stalks the vengeful, undying killers known as slashers. Not to mention satanic rock stars, demonic lesbian coeds, murderous beauty queens, and countless others. Cassie and Vlad have even faced some of film land’s most fearsome freaks, such as the killer doll; Chucky and Herbert West, the re-animator.

Now a good story is only part of the equation when it comes to comic books. Luckily for us, Hack/Slash has had some amazing artist working on it, including some issues drawn by comic’s creator and writer, Tim Seeley. The blood is always plentiful, the monsters fearsome, and Cassie, well she’s as sexy as any illustrated woman could be. Did I mention that Cassie is a Suicide Girl and has her own nude photo spread on that site for hot goth and tattooed chicks? Not bad for a doodle.

If you would like to start reading these wonderful stories but the thought of buying thirty-some back issues seems a bit daunting, fear not horror fans, all of the early Hack/Slash comics have been collected into trade paperbacks and two rather huge omnibuses. Or you just wait until the movie comes out. Yeah, it’s being long been slated to be made into a movie.

The comics are made by a true slasher fan for the fans and are not to be missed. Funny, freaky, weird and wonderful, Hack/Slash is a monthly fix I can never get enough of. By why take my word for it? I was lucky enough to track down the comic’s creator, writer, and oftentimes artist, Tim Seeley, and talked him into playing twenty questions with me.

1. Cassie, Vlad and HACK/SLASH, where did the idea come from for the characters and the series?

Cassie is intended to be an extrapolation of what a horror movie "Final GIrl" would be like, as well as based on the kind of girl I was pretty sure I'd never get tired of drawing. Vlad is based on the idea of a character like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers turning out somewhat less damaged and murderous.

2. When HACK/SLASH began it was not a monthly comic but done as a series of one-shots. Was that done by design our out of necessity?

A bit of both. I wanted to test the market for a 'slasher' themed comic, as well as tell one-ff stories in the vein of a movie.

3. Have all those one shots been collected? Can someone new to HACK/SLASH get the full, complete story of Cassie and Vlad?

Oh yeah, and very easily. They're all collected on Hack/Slash Omnibus Volume 1 from Image Comics.

4. You’ve address the comparisons between HACK/SLASH and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER within the pages of your comic, but how often does it come up? Does it happen more or less now? Have most people come to realize that Cassandra is not Buffy? Lastly, how do you take some comparisons?

It doesn't bother me, and I understand where people are coming from. I hadn't seen Buffy when I started H/S, but I think the genesis of both ideas came from the same source. But, then again, the ideas for Bat-Man and Spider-Man come from the same source. It's just the way genre entertainment works. H/S is more firmly rooted in the world of b-movie, trash horror, whereas Buffy is more of a Universal Monsters style world.

5. Pop quiz: you write (and occasionally draw) a comic book all about slashers, so it’s time to prove your slasher street cred. Name your top 10 slasher films.

Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Trick or Treat, Friday the 13th Part 6, Child's Play, The Burning, Sleepaway Camp, Profundo Rosso, and Behind the Mask: Rise of Leslie Vernon.

6. Writing and illustrating, you do both, but which do you prefer?

Writing. Much easier (most of the time) and MUCH faster.

7. You had Cassie and Vlad take on Chucky from the CHILD’S PLAY movies, how did that come about?

Rogue Pictures owned Chucky, and also happened to be the studio that bought the H/S movie rights. All we had to do was ask!

8. Do you have any plans to have Cassie and Vlad take on any other film land slashers? Have you approached some movie companies and have been turned away? If so, why on earth would they not want the added press for their old franchises? If you haven’t, come on man, I’d sacrifice kittens to see Jason in the pages of HACK/SLASH.

I've tried a few other companies, and I wasn't necessarily turned down, but it became apparent that the amount of red tape wasn't going to be worth the effort. I'm too busy these days to do paperwork and deal with corporations, but if someone approached me, I'd definitely consider some more crossovers.

9. Pop quiz: all the recent horror/slasher remakes; do you think they are pointless, surprisingly good, or not worth the film they are printed on?

They've all been well made, but they've all been soulless and not worthy of the original films. The best is probably The Chainsaw Massacre movies, while The Nightmare on Elm Street remake was probably the worst. The Rob Zombie Halloween movies are decent slasher movies, but awful Halloween movies. None of the remakes seemed to grasp what made people return for a whole bunch of sequels.

10. You took one of my all-time favorite films, RE-ANIMATOR and had Dr. Herbert West crossover into the pages of HACK/SLASH. It was a three issue run and reading the first issue of it made my month, but then…nothing. I had a hell of a time getting the next two issues of the series, what happened?

Long story. Suffice to say, it wasn't our fault, nor that of Bryan Yuzna (the original Re-Animator film series writer/director), and that story can now easily be found in Hack/Slash Omnibus Volume 2.

11. Has your experience with RE-ANIMATOR soured you on the idea of perusing other cross overs? Again, see my promise of kitten sacrifices for the chance to see Cassie and Vlad square off with Jason Voorhees.

It did sour me a bit. This book is hard enough to make without outside sources trying to muck it up. If Jason was owned by a person, and not a corporation, it's be easier, but dems da breaks.

12. Random question: when reading one of the issues of HACK/SLASH my jaw hit the floor. There was an illustration of various slashers, sort of as a back drop, and one of them was the Night Owl from the Italian slasher STAGE FRIGHT. Where the hell did he come from? Have there been other cameos by cinematic slashers in the pages of your comic that I might have missed? Might we expect to see some more in the future?

I throw them in all over when I can get away with it. I believe The Burning may have snuck in to the background somewhere too.

13. You have done the occasional nod to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and even a pretty in your face homage in issue #28, “Something’s Fishy”, can we expect more HPL love in future issues?

Not in the immediate future, but I'm a fan of the Mythos, so when it works, it'll show up.

14. You’ve shown your appreciation to slasher flicks and to HPL, are there other horror authors who have inspired you or influenced your work? If so, who and how so?

I've been on a Dario Argento kick lately, and I'm sure that influence will show at some point. I've been so busy lately, it's been hard to keep up.

15. How did Cassie get involved with the Suicide Girls? Was it just to appease the horny fanboys? Oh, and thank you, thank you, thank you for doing it and could we expect more “revealing stories” like that?

I was a member of the site, and it seemed like a logical crossover at the time. It was fun to do at the time, and got us some attention and, ahem, exposure. I won’t shy away from nudity when it's necessary, but it's unlikely we'll do anymore SG stuff.

16. There has been talk of a HACK/SLASH movie for some time now and it has even appeared on some of the comic’s covers. Is there any news or information you can share about it?

Nope! Development Hell, as it were. That's why I was always against the "soon to be a movie" stuff on the covers and it won't appear until the film is actually in theaters.

17. Random question: just how many hot goth girls send you photos of them cosplaying as Cassie Hack in the nude?

Ha...a gentlemen never tells.

18. Somewhat recently you moved HACK/SLASH from original publisher Devil’s Due Publications to Image Comics, can you tell us why?

DDP was having financial problems, and it was affection their ability to pay my Hack/Slash creators. They let us take the book to Image which allowed us to keep people paid, and we're working on paying back people whom didn't get paid.

19. What will the move do to the ongoing story arch and continuity from previous issues? One thing HACK/SLASH did so well was carry on characters and plot points from many past issues, will this continue? Will all the characters make the jump with Cassie and Vlad? Please oh please say we will get more of good old pooch!

Oh yeah, all that stuff will remain. The new ongoing will be accessible to new readers, but we won't be abandoning our characters and stories. The first arc will deal with everything we've left hanging, but it'll do so in a way which will be clear to anyone who picks it up, having never read the book before.

20. What does the future hold for Cassie, Vlad, HACK/SLASH and Tim Seeley? Are there any juicy tidbits or hints you can give us?

We'll see a return of some old, reader-favorite slashers, some deaths and some new allies. It'll be good, no-bullshit horror comics the way they were meant to be.

--Brian M. Sammons