Horny teenagers can rest a little easier knowing that Cassie Hack is out there. Cassie is the star of “Hack/Slash,” a series of quarterly one-shot comics from Devil’s Due Publishing. “Hack/Slash” follows Cassie and her hulking partner Vlad, as they travel around the country eliminating the horny teenager’s only known predator, the slasher. The slashers the duo encounter frequently wield supernatural powers. CBR News spoke via e-mail with Tim Seely, the creator and writer of “Hack/Slash” about the comic book and the “Hack/Slash” feature film, which is currently in development.
The biggest inspiration for “Hack/Slash” came from Seely’s obsessive love of good and awful horror movies. “I kind of divided slasher films I like into two categories; ‘Good Good’ and ‘Good Bad.'” Seely told CBR News. “‘Good Good’ slasher films are well done, suspenseful, scary with well developed characters and well written stories. ‘Good Bad’ are the ones that despite their piss poor execution are really entertaining and fun. ‘Good Good’ movies are like the original ‘Halloween,’ ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Sleepaway Camp.’ They have original premises, genuine scares. They’re great flicks! ‘Good bad’ ones? Wow, there are so many. Where to begin? Several of the Friday the 13th films, Cheerleader Camp, they’re the ‘sit down with your friends, crack a beer, and prepare for some mindless fun’ flicks. And there’s nothing’ wrong with that!”
The idea for “Hack/Slash” came to Seely when he was relaxing in a place where slasher attacks often occur, the bath tub. “I spent a week over Halloween last year watching all these horror marathons,” he explained. “And the idea of the ‘last girl’ that always gets away at he end of the movie, coming back to kill the other slashers just came into my head sort of fully formed.”
When creating Cassie, Seely decided his protagonist would have been deeply affected by her first encounter with a slasher. “So, I made the slasher her mother, a woman called the Lunch Lady who served students for school lunch,” said Seely. “And then Cassie’s look came from two girls I sort of had crushes on. Typical, right.”
Seely created Vlad, Cassie’s menacing partner, by looking at one of cinema’s most famous slashers in a different light, “The idea for Vlad was kind of ‘What if Jason Voorhees had turned out as a good guy?'” Seely explained. “He’s the cast out, giant deformed freak, who manages to have a good sense of humor, and doesn’t feel the need to hack up kids at summer camp.”
After the idea for “Hack/Slash” came to him, Seely decided he needed some art samples before he pitched the idea to his boss, Devil’s Due president Josh Blaylock. “I e-mailed Stefano Casseli, a guy we had worked with on ‘Micronauts,'” said Seely. “He and I had always gotten along unusually well, and I really wanted to work with him. I threw the idea at him, and he was so excited he cracked out all kinds of amazing sketches and stuff. Stefano’s an Italian. Those people love their horror. Once I had all this great art, I pitched it to Josh during lunch one day, and he went for it.”
The First “Hack/Slash” one-shot with art by Stefano Caselli was released in April of this year. The one-shot retold the origins of Cassie and Vlad and chronicled their fight with an undead veterinarian and a plague of zombie animals.
Fredrica Manfredi provided the art for “Hack/Slash: Girls Gone Dead” which was released in October. In this one-shot Cassie and Vlad battle a slasher targeting spring break co-eds and try to prevent him from massacring the guests at a “Girl’s Gone Naughty” party.
The third “Hack/Slash” one shot will ship in March 2005. “It’s called ‘Hack/Slash: Comic Book Carnage’,” Seely said. “It takes place at a comic book convention, and guest stars Robert Kirkman, Steve Niles, Skottie Young, and web celebrity/DJ Messy Stench. It’s definitely the most twisted one I’ve written yet, and I think people will have a good time reading about their favorite comic creators facing grisly slasher death. It’s drawn by Federica Manfredi, the woman who turned all those heads with ‘Girls Gone Dead.'”
Horror films are an obvious influence on “Hack/Slash,” but they aren’t the only influence. “Hack/Slash is sort of an homage to all those 80s slasher movies, so there’s definitely a lot of influence from the way those films are done: the rules, the conceits of the slasher film,” said Seely. “I use aspects of the good ones like ‘Halloween,’ and ‘Nightmare on Elm Street,’ as well as elements of the really bad ones. I try to wrap that up with a sort of self awareness, a post modern sensibility, but not too much so that it gets annoying like all the ‘Scream’ knock-offs from the 90s. At the same time, it’s really important to me that the characters be relateable and well developed. So there’s a lot of influence coming from good comic book writers. Having watched so many slasher flicks, I can attest to the need for good characters to make a horror film worthwhile.”
Even Though Seely is an artist himself, he’s yet to draw an issue of “Hack/Slash.” “Lately it’s just been because I’m so busy drawing that ‘G.I. Joe’ book every month. I don’t know, to a degree I like having something that I just write, and then I sit back on my ass and watch all that gorgeous art roll in. But, I will draw a ‘Hack/Slash’ story someday. I have my eye on one I’d like to do.”
“Hack/Slash” was one of the first comics optioned for film by Prime Universe Productions as part of their first look deal with Devil’s Due. Seely told CBR News that a writer is currently working on a script and a big name director has expressed interest in the film. “The writer is apparently sticking pretty closely to the comic. He’s combining elements from different stories and adding some of his own stuff.”
Seely admits he probably won’t have much involvement with the film, but if asked, he has two people in mind to play the role of Cassie Hack. “My buddy Ryan from Dreadcentral.com suggested Brody Dalle from the Distillers, which I think would be cool,” Seely said. “She might be a little too old, but she’s definitely got the look.” Seely’s other candidate could definitely relate to the role of a slasher survivor returning to battle other slashers “I always liked the idea of casting Danielle Harris. She played the little girl in “Halloween 4,” but now she’s all grown up, and drop-dead gorgeous. I don’t know, that would just seem appropriate.”
Cassie Hack might not make her film debut in a “Hack/Slash” movie. A recent online rumor suggested that Cassie might first combat the silver screens’ most infamous slashers in “Freddy Versus Jason 2.” Seely confirmed that there is some truth to this rumor. “It’s definitely been thrown around,” said Seely. “I think it would a logical extension of a ‘Hack/Slash’ movie or even as something that could be done first, then rolled into it’s own movie but, again, everyone will be sick of this answer, nothing definite.”
Seely is happy with the current publishing schedule of “Hack/Slash” of one 40-page one-shot four times a year, but would love to do more. “I’ll do that for as long as people want to buy them. I’ve got years worth of issues plotted out. But, if the sales went up just a hair more, I think I could get a monthly series going or at least a series of mini-series. I don’t know. I’ll let the readers tell me what they want to see. Go on the message boards, e-mail Josh. If you want it, I’ll do it!”
Some people might look at “Hack/Slash” and see a girl fighting back against the supernatural and quickly dismiss the book as a clone of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” “I’d definitely be able to disagree with that, if not simply because to tell the honest to god truth I’ve never seen a full episode of Buffy,” said Seely. “I’ve caught parts of two or three episodes, and one of ’em was all singing! But, I’m not a TV guy. So Buffy wasn’t the impetus for the idea. Though I’m sure our inspiration came from the same sources. From what I know, Buffy is more of an ensemble cast, high school kind of thing like X-Men. Hack/Slash is a firmly rooted horror character study. ‘Hack/Slash’ is probably closer to a really dark ‘Scooby Doo’ than ‘Buffy,'” Seely Joked. “But, hey, if you’re a Buffy fan, try ‘Hack/Slash.’ I promise it’s different, but you’ll like it!”