Joe Casey Reinvents "Haunt"

When it was announced that Joe Casey and Nathan Fox would be taking over for Robert Kirkman and Greg Capullo on Image Comics' "Haunt," the news was surprising to some. But Todd McFarlane -- who spoke with CBR News about the switch last month -- doesn't like stopping and relaunching books just to release a new #1 issue. Instead, he likes to keep them going, which is why when faced with the need for a new team to tackle the supernatural black ops agent, he enlisted Casey and Fox to keep the ball rolling.

"Haunt" stars brothers Kurt and Daniel Kilgore, siblings who have not gotten along in quite some time, but now must work together after government agent Kurt was murdered and somehow transformed into a ghostly suit worn by his brother, Daniel. To say their relationships has changed would be an understatement, but after 18 issues of running around at top speed while trying to face the immediate problems of their new life, the brothers are in for a huge surprise as the people they thought were allies have disappeared. With all of the changes soon to hit the series, CBR News spoke with Casey about his plans for "Haunt," what drew him to the project in the first place and what Fox brings to the table.

CBR News: You've been focusing a lot on creator-owned comics lately, so what was it that made you want to take over an established title like "Haunt?"

Joe Casey: I think, in comic books, it probably seems like my output is primarily creator-owned. But, in terms of my daily work life, it's probably split in half, between work for hire gigs (primarily in TV) and creator-owned stuff. Something like "Haunt" actually straddles the line for me because even though it is WFH, working with Nathan and Todd and TMP in general definitely has a looser, more creative vibe. Todd's given us his blessing to go all-out on this book, to push things as far as possible. So, in many ways, it's a creative challenge that I just couldn't pass up.

Over the first eighteen issues of its existence, "Haunt" has tackled a lot of genres, from superhero and mystery to espionage and horror. Is that variety something that drew you to the book?

Well, I happen to think that superhero comics should be over-the-top genre mash-ups whenever possible. That's what makes them interesting. And the fact that, at the moment, most superhero comics are pretty goddamn boring makes me look at a gig like "Haunt" as an opportunity to maybe turn the tide a bit, to inject a little more life into the current miasma that is modern superhero comics. Getting Nathan Fox to draw the book is one way to do that, and the dramatic elements we're injecting into the story will be another way. Hopefully it all adds up to a monthly comic that keeps readers engaged, keep them guessing and keeps them entertained month in, month out. Because let's face it, how many superhero comics are really doing that these days? Not many, by my count. 
Were there any specific parameters or guide posts that Todd gave you for continuing the adventures of Daniel and Kurt?

So far, Todd's been as generous as any creator could hope for. He's giving us all the rope we need to hang ourselves with, and that's really all you could ask for in a WFH situation. He told us specifically that while he wants us to build on what's been established in the first eighteen issues, he wants something decidedly different than what came before. I told him, "No problem. Different is what we do." 
What's your take on the Kurt-Daniel relationship? It's a little more intense than your average feuding siblings.

I think that most brothers have a fairly complex relationship, and that alone makes for good drama. Add to that the fact that one of them is a ghost, and you've really got something cool to work with. So far, that aspect of Kurt's existence hasn't been dealt with too deeply, but we get right into it in our first issue. Without giving too much away, their relationship is going to be tested, to put it mildly. 
Todd said your first issue will involve the Brothers Kilgore discovering the secret underground complex they've had as their base of operations has disappeared, but what else can you tell us about your upcoming issues?

Well, the idea there was to turn their world upside-down from our very first issue, to throw them into the deep end, so to speak. We're also bringing in new adversaries, new allies and new conflicts. If the first eighteen issues could be considered "Haunt: Phase One," this is definitely Phase Two. That's not to say some old favorites won't be back -- we've got plans and ideas for everyone that's appeared in the book so far. But first, we're going to give readers a big blast of the New. 
That said, what new directions or areas do you want to explore with the book moving forward?
My main thing is to keep the book unpredictable. Even if you've never read an issue of "Haunt," I want readers to feel like anything can -- and will -- happen in this book. We've got long range plans for the series, but every single issue is designed to be a motherfucker all on its own. I love that our first issue hits in the midst of the big DC relaunch. A big corporation thinking that they're actually on the cutting edge is such an easy target, but sometimes you just can't resist. Although I am looking forward to Grant's "Action Comics," which will undoubtedly be a great read, I really feel like more independent-minded books like "Haunt" are where the real action is.

Are there aspects of superhero comics that you haven't been able to play with in the past that "Haunt" will give you the chance to dig in to?

There are probably plenty of aspects that I haven't stumbled onto yet. That's what I love most about superhero comic books -- the endless possibilities they contain. I haven't felt this optimistic about a WFH job in a long time, so that gives me the necessary energy to swing for the fences on this one. Every issue is a new chance to push the envelope in some way. I have no fucking clue what the response is going to be, but that unpredictability is all part of the fun. 
Finally, what's it been like working with Nathan Fox again?

Nathan's one of my favorite collaborators and working together was one of the main reasons we took this series on. This is a much longer journey than we've taken together before, so I'm looking forward to seeing how the comic evolves with each issue. It is a bit sick when the two of us get together -- it's like two co-conspirators, plotting to take over some Third World country. And the way Nathan draws, that energy goes directly onto the page. I know there are longtime readers of "Haunt" and "Spawn" and the other things that Todd puts out that look at an artist like Nathan and they don't know what to think, because he's so different than what they're probably used to. But I hope those readers stick around and see what we're up to. I think they might end up being surprised.

"Haunt #19, by Joe Casey and Nathan Fox, hits in September

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