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 Crank 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 evil parody versions of ‘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.”