Moreci On Exploring a "Bigger Universe" in "Hoax Hunters" Season 2

In an explosive Season 1 finale, the titular Hoax Hunters faced down wild chupacabras, brushed wings with Mothman, unlocked demonic powers and lost one of their own to a parallel dimension -- how much more can one team of paranormal investigators do? As it turns out, a whole lot!

After a year-long hiatus, "Hoax Hunters" begins broadcasting from the beyond this March, firmly settled in at its new home with Heavy Metal. Donovan, Regan, Murder and Ken are still debunking myths and hauntings to cover up actual unexplained activity, but with former leader Jack out of the picture, the group's dynamic has changed, and a new foe looms on the horizon. But as the team's conflicts bubble to the surface, visions of a skeleton army might be the least of their concerns.

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Co-creator Michael Moreci spoke with CBR News, catching us up on what he and the "Hoax Hunters" creative team -- co-writer Steve Seeley and artists Christian DiBari and Mike Spicer -- have in store for Season 2, the lessons he's learned during the hiatus, how they plan to make their comic even better than before -- and why Slender Man may be a hoax that's only hunted outside the pages of the comic

CBR News: Looking back now, with considerably more experience, is there anything you'd change in the first "Hoax Hunters" arc if you could? 

Michael Moreci: [Laughs] Well -- get comfortable! Kidding, it's not that bad, though I'm harder on myself than anyone could imagine. I think I would've redone issue #1 completely. I've since learned what a first issue -- especially from a newcomer -- should look and feel like, and "Hoax Hunters" #1 isn't it. I erred in focusing on what made the book good, not what made it unique. As a result, it came off a little flat. You have to come out bold in your first issue, grabbing readers' attention and demanding they see how good it is, right here and now. We asked them to see how good the book would be, and that's not how you do it.

After a year-long hiatus, how does it feel to return to the series, especially since you've worked on so many other great titles during the break?

Well, first of all, thank you. I've been lucky to work on a quite a few titles since the first season of "Hoax Hunters" ended, which makes it seem way more in the past than it really is. In a way, though, I think it's a good thing. My experience on "Hoax Hunters" was so raw -- it was like your dad taking you out for your first ride on training wheels, then letting you go, down a hill, after, like, five minutes. There was so much for me to learn about writing, the comics business and how to make this whole thing work, so taking a breather was probably the best thing for me and the book.

Now, honestly, I think we're telling the best "Hoax Hunters" story there's been so far. When I look back, I think there was a gap between how good the premise of "Hoax Hunters" is, and how well we executed it -- and I don't mind admitting that. My storytelling has gotten better, and the current art team of Christian DiBari and Mike Spicer are out of this world.

What are some of the key learnings or new approaches you've embraced that you'll be bringing into the next arc?

I think the biggest thing I've learned is to not let a singular focus weigh down all the plot threads and character arcs. In Season 1, we really drilled into the story of Jack, his father and the multiverse device/problem, but in doing so, I closed the door to exploring and developing the rest of what should be a bigger universe. That was a mistake, because it made the story too rigid in so many ways.

In Season 2, that thread still exists, but it's complimented by a couple of different stories and angles that have me as excited as ever. The story we're doing involving Lauren is something I'm especially happy about.

The series went through a pretty considerable creative change, but now, the team has settled in place, although with a new publisher. What are you guys doing to keep the feel of the series consistent? What is your main focus going into Season 2?

That was a big issue to address coming into this new run. Steve and I knew it, and so did Heavy Metal. It was a priority to lock in a consistent art team -- and an awesome one, at that -- and ensure issues come out on time. So far, it's been great. We have Christian and Mike locked in for the first ten issues (at least), and by the time issue #1 comes out, we'll have the first four already done.

With that in place, I'm freer to work on building the story in the best way possible. We had some wrinkles to iron out from Season 1, so it's been a process of resolving those things as quickly and seamlessly as possible, and moving the story forward. I really want to establish a lot in the first arc, and put all the characters in place for what's to come.

In the last issue, we saw the Hoax Hunters lose (perhaps temporarily?) a key member in Jack. What does his absence mean to them? Will Donovan or Reagan be stepping into his role? What are the team dynamics like without Jack? 

Jack being gone has a huge impact on the team -- it creates a leadership vacuum that none of the team members are really equipped to fill. Somebody does step up and, let's just say it doesn't go all that well. But that's part of what this season is about -- redefining things on a lot of levels. Shaking up the team is pretty much the best thing that could've happened. Because now, the other team members can't rely on Jack, or exist in his shadow; they have to be their own person and see how they fit into this new dynamic. It's a blast to write.

We saw so much growth in the characters throughout the first arc, and in the end it really did become more of Jack's story. Will you be taking that same approach with this arc, sticking more toward one character? 

Not really. This time around, I want to focus on the ensemble more than anything. Regan is in the spotlight pretty heavily -- and her story is going to be pretty cool -- but not the way Jack became the nucleus of Season 1.

At the end of the last arc, we saw Regan more or less come to terms with her powers. Has this changed her drive to keep doing the work she's doing? 

Regan's arc is probably what I'm most excited about, to be honest. She's coming to realize just how powerful she is, and someone that powerful isn't without people who are going to exploit what she can do. We're going to see a Regan who's a little more mature and comfortable and more integral to what the Hoax Hunters are and will be.

That sounds a bit like your experience with the series -- realizing what you/your team is great at and learning to focus it. Do you feel a renewed connection to her in that regard? 

Now I feel like I'm on the therapist's couch! That's a pretty astute observation. I agree, absolutely. I think a lot of what makes me rejuvenated about this book is the better sense of control that I have and knowing how best to harness our strengths. Regan is a lot like that in that she had to kind of burn it all to the ground to realize what she was capable of. And, now, what we see in her is someone more conscious that they're figuring it out. She's not perfect, not at all, but she knows what she can do; it's a matter of finding a way to do it best.

I always look forward to the paranormal lore and myths you bring into the story. Culturally, we saw a huge phenomenon last year with Slender Man -- is that a case the Hoax Hunters would've looked into? 

If the Slender Man didn't creep me out so damn much, maybe! Seriously, that makes my skin crawl. Let's just assume the Hoax Hunters closed that case before the comic series began.

What are some of the myths and monsters that have inspired you for this season? 

Honestly? We kind of threw that handbook out the window. I don't mean that in a bad way at all, but when I mentioned the rigidity of Season 1, our devotion to real myth, folklore, etc. contributed to that stiffness. Don't get me wrong, Steve and I love that stuff -- we do. But when satisfying the need to infuse the story with the legends we know and love begins to compromise the story itself, well, you have a problem on your hands, and this did cause us some problems.

For Season 2, we're focusing more on creating myths and monsters that adhere to the story, not the other way around, and it's been a blast. I think the bad guy(s) in the first arc are some of the best we've ever made, and it makes the story all the better. We're still informed by these weird, awesome myths and monsters from all over the world, and you will see some recognizable stuff in future issues; we just have a looser approach this time around.

"Hoax Hunters" materializes in your local comic store on March 25.

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