Alcohol, drugs and promiscuous sex may be a recipe for a fun night to some, but in the world of "Hack/Slash" from Devil's Due Publishing by writer/creator Tim Seeley and artist Emily Stone, these things can get you killed. In this twisted version of our world, a mysterious phenomenon has lead to the rise of undead serial killers known as Slashers, whose victims often include the overindulgent.
In "Hack/Slash," most of the world remains dangerously unaware of the existence of Slashers, so it has fallen upon series stars' Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad to protect people from the blood thirsty killers. Unfortunately for them, their quest is about to get a whole lot more complicated. The duo recently discovered that there are other people out there with a less altruistic interest in the Slasher phenomenon. These people don't want to destroy Slashers; the want to study and exploit them for their own personal gain. CBR News spoke with Seeley about what's next for his horror/humor series.
In "Hack/Slash" #10, Cassie and Vlad followed a lead to an abandoned home in Montana, where they discovered the notebooks of the mysterious Dr. Phillips. Phillips's notebooks detailed his experiments on feral children and how he injected them with cells from "Revenants," the clinical word for Slashers. However, Cassie found the notebooks' most shocking revelation to be that Phillips had a friend who used to have a similar interest in Slashers, a man who just may be her long lost father, Dr. Jack Hack. "Dr. Phillips definitely knew SOMEONE named Jack Hack, and it appears that he's got some info concerning the 'Revenants,'" Seeley told CBR News. "How reliable Dr. Phillips is will come into play around issue 15 or so, when we meet ANOTHER scientist familiar with Dr. Hack's work."
At the end of issue #10, Cassie and Vlad came face to face with Phillips' experiments when they were attacked by a group of feral children whose exposure to Slasher cells had transformed them into bloodthirsty cannibals. The fight came to an end when Cassie decided that the children were too far gone in their transformation into Slashers, and killed them, which didn't sit right with Vlad at all. "This is an instance which we'll see feed into the evolution of Cass and Vlad's relationship. What I'm really trying to show here is that, though these two are the closest of friends, they disagree--occasionally in BIG ways, given the kind of lives they lead," Seeley explained. "Vlad, in a lot of ways, gives over to Cassie's leadership. I think a guy like him would sense that she's more worldly, more experienced than him, and thus he often believes she MUST be right. What we saw in issue 10 was an instance where he KNEW she was wrong."
While Vlad was troubled by Cassie's execution of the feral children, Cassie isn't letting her "command decision" burden her. "Cass never really lets anything weigh on her when it comes to what she believes to be her job," Seeley remarked. She's totally confident about Slasher hunting. That's something I want to play here too--she's a person with OODLES of doubt on most everything--but when it comes to these horrifying situations she's totally resolute."
With their discovery of Dr. Phillips's notebooks in Montana, Cassie and Vlad are coming to realize that "Slashers" aren't just a recent phenomenon, and more people know of their existence than they thought. "There's definitely some kind of history associated with this Slasher thing, and that's going to be one of the big, looming conspiracies underpinning the series," Seeley stated. "If I've done my job, readers have gotten enough little clues to really start to wonder what's going on here. 'Hack/Slash' is mainly about two characters and fun stories about killin' psycho dudes--BUT, underneath this all is a pretty elaborate little universe, with lots of room for exploration. And people thought I was just writing some kinda cheesecakey bloodbath here!"
"Hack/Slash" #10 ended with two local police officers finding the bodies of the feral children Cassie had executed. These gruesome discoveries lead the cops to call an elderly, upbeat, woman named Muffy Joworski, who they described as their secret weapon. While she may seem less than dangerous, Muffy will have an impact on Cassie and Vlad's life in upcoming issues. "Muffy, our little ol' lady from Montana, plays an important part in the near future," Seeley said. "Sure, she seems like a nice, grandmotherly type, but what's up with all these crazy visions she starts having in issue 13?"
Issue #11 of "Hack/Slash," which hits stores this month, finds our heroes in Portland and face to face with a very different kind of Slasher. "This story is a little exploration into the question 'Could there be a good Slasher?'" Seeley remarked. "If Jason or Michael only hacked up drug dealers and murderers would that basically make them The Punisher? This'll be the closest Cas and Vlad get to a superhero--so enjoy!"
Cassie and Vlad aren't the only ones with their hands full in "Hack/Slash" #11. In Wisconsin, their friends, Chris and Lisa, must contend with the reemergence of one of Cassie and Vlad's old foes. "Emily and Courtney [artist Emily Stone and colorist Courtney Via] are in love with Pooch, so the creepy pink dog thing from the 'Acid Washed' arc [the series first arc] is back, and he's gunning to get revenge on Cassie! But, Lisa is a vet who has worked with plenty of dogs--so we'll see what happens when she meets my favorite talking dog."
In issues #12-#13 of "Hack/Slash," Seeley and Mark Kidwell finally get to tell the story originally meant to be told in the "Hack/Slash vs. Bump" one-shot, which was cancelled when Fangoria Comics went out of business. In these issues Cassie and Vlad head into the woods to take down Edgar Dill, the murderous star of Kidwell's "Bump" series. "Mark Kidwell did most of the writing on the story, and it's kind of going back to the ol' 'H/S' one shots," Seeley explained. "Big, fun, and bloody. Those two issues will be a good place for new readers to jump in, cuz even though I did add some new content to tie things into the overall back stories of the series. This is pretty self-contained."
The new content Seeley put together features a guest appearance by Evan Dorkin's characters, Milk & Cheese. Seeley couldn't say much about their role in the story but was able to reveal that Dorkin himself wrote the characters' dialogue.
Following their battle with Edgar Dill, the peripatetic Cassie and Vlad will be inexplicably thinking, "There's no place like home." "Issue 14 finds Cas and Vlad in the wonderful world of Oz. "Sort of," Seeley said. "Emily draws a MEAN Scarecrow and Dorothy."
Just before they graduated into their ongoing series, Cassie and Vlad went toe-to-toe with the evil animated doll, Chucky, the star of the "Child's Play" films, "Bride of Chucky" and "Seed of Chucky." In issue #15, the duo just might lock horns with another character from the world of horror films. "I don't have all the t's crossed and the i's dotted on the contract just yet, but, issue #15 should be starting off a pretty cool little crossover that fits in REALLY well with the current stories," Seeley said.
Summer used to be the time when comic series rolled out their larger "Annual" issues and Seeley is looking to revive that particular tradition. "When I was a kid, I loved getting annuals. So, July will see the sexy, tattooed debut of the 'Hack/Slash annual' featuring the SUICIDEGIRLS from the website of the same name. I'm writing and drawing that story, and I also drew Cassie's SG photo set. Yes, lucky members of SG will get to see Cassie get naked. And, yes, I feel a little weird about that."
Lately, each issue of "Hack/Slash" features two covers; an A cover which is usually done by Seeley and a B cover featuring an artist who's work Seeley likes. "I actually met Brandon Graham [who's doing the B cover for issue #13] by emailing him about doing an 'H/S' cover, and we got to know each other well enough that he's now writing the intro to the 'Loaded Bible' [Seeley's series for Image comics] trade. Jamie McKelvie [whose work appears on the B cover for issue #11] is another guy who I'm just a fan of. I was lucky enough to find that he'd read 'H/S' and he turned in a really great cover. Issue 14's cover is by a really talented girl named Jenny Frison, who just showed up at our 'Drink and Draw Night' event one night and just started making crazy art. So I hired her. I have some other cool one coming up too."
Recently, both the A and B covers of "Hack/Slash" have featured a blurb across the top proclaiming, "Slated to be a major motion picture from ROGUE pictures" and with the writers' strike resolved progress has moved forward on the feature film version of "Hack/Slash." "Rogue hired ubernerd overlord Justin Marks to write the screenplay. Justin wrote 'Voltron,' 'Masters of the Universe' and the 'Green Arrow' movie scripts," Seeley said. "So, getting him on 'H/S' is a big deal. Especially since I have a He-Man figure and a Voltron sitting on my desk!"
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