A bookstore isn’t a bad place to work for college students and 20-somethings, especially when its friendly proprietor enjoys sharing his latest acquisitions of rare manuscripts and unusual tomes. But when a down-on-his-luck assistant accidentally unleashes the ancient arcane power held within one such volume, the techno-cult client that had been waiting so eagerly for the book’s arrival will do just about anything to take possession of their purchase.
Created by Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson, “The Occultist” debuted last year in a one-shot written by “Hack/Slash’s” Tim Seeley and illustrated by Victor Drujiniu, and CBR News is pleased to exclusively announce that the team is reuniting for a four-issue miniseries later this year. We spoke with writer Tim Seeley about the project.
Seeley said that fan reaction to his “Occultist” one-shot was “pretty positive,” adding that “it seemed like a few of my ‘Hack/Slash’ readers picked it up and found it to be within the realm of the kind of thing they enjoyed from me.”
With the character now established, the writer is ready to delve deeper into what makes the Occultist tick. “The first one-shot was an origin story, and thus it had all the symptoms of ‘origin-itis,’ but this one, we just go in all wands blazing,” Seeley said. “Our hero got the power someone else was intended to get, so he’s being chased by a bunch of hired maniacs known as hitmages. But there’s something way worse headed his way!”
Somewhat surprisingly at the time, the logo design for the first “Occultist” one-shot tied it into Dark Horse’s Gold Key line, which includes “Doctor Solar,” “Turok” and other classic characters, and material in the back of the issue confirmed it as part of this imprint. But, according to Seeley, this does not necessarily imply a crossover in the near future. “The Gold Key connection is more of a philosophical connection,” the writer said. “We’re taking very Golden Age, comic book pulp ideas and bringing them to 2011, just as Magnus and the other books did.” On the other hand, “I’m always up for fun crossovers, and I’ve already thrown out the idea of an Occultist meets Ghost series to my beleaguered editor.”
Seeley has previously described “The Occultist” as a modern “Doctor Strange Year One” but noted that there are some significant differences between the new hero and the Sorcerer Supreme. “Occultist is kind of a reverse Doctor Strange in that he starts out with immense magical powers and is studying ways to control and tame them, rather than growing in power,” he clarified. “He finds himself falling into an existing world of magicians and magical items that exist in the shadows.”
As seen in the one-shot, our hero does rather fall into this role, as a young bookstore clerk named Rob comes into the possession of a mystical artifact not altogether willingly when its previous owner is murdered. “That’ll be the story of the Occultist, the conflict of knowing you can have anything you want and having to cherry pick so that you do the things for the greater good,” Seeley said. “The interesting bits come in when we see what happens when Rob uses the power to get everything he ever wanted, and then having to deal with getting it. The story will sort of be about acquiring things versus acquiring wisdom.”
Artist Victor Drujiniu is on board once again for the “Occultist” miniseries, though there may be some changes this time around. “Vic’s doing a new style for this series… very slick, and very realistic. He makes things look so clear and real world, when the fantastic shows up it really looks otherworldly and crazy!”