In 1995, Kevin Spacey brought a chilling poise to the character of John Doe, the serial killer at the heart of David Fincher’s film “Se7en.” I feel no pangs of guilt for revealing this spoiler to those of you who are still remiss in not having seen the film, because the film is not a whodunit in the classic sense: It’s less about the “who” and more about the “why.” In fact, Spacey’s character goes by the name John Doe because he took great pains to obscure his true identity, up to and including slicing off his own fingerprints. John Doe’s stated goal: to commit a series of seven murders, each corresponding to one of the seven deadly sins (pride, greed, envy, gluttony, wrath, lust and sloth), and in so doing to make a statement about the wretched state of the world and its denizens.
Now, more than 10 years later, Zenescope Entertainment has acquired the rights to the film and its characters, and is publishing a seven-issue comic book prequel to the film, which we first told you about in May. The film follows city detectives David Mills (Brad Pitt) and William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) as they traipse around an unidentified urban sprawl picking up the pieces of the bodies John Doe leaves in his wake. Since most of the murders occur off-screen, the viewers don’t get much of a glimpse into the minds of the victims or their killer. But those are precisely the gaps that the comic series intends to fill in. A different creative team will be lending their talents to each issue. CBR News spoke with Raven Gregory (“The Gift”), author of the first installment, “Gluttony,” which hits comic shops today.
“I was sitting at home cutting the skin off my fingertips when I found out that Zenescope Entertainment was publishing a ‘Final Destination’ series,” Gregory told CBR News. Since his comic “The Gift” is known for its “tragic and twisted” death scenes, Gregory figured adapting that particular horror franchise to a comic book might be right up his alley. His involvement on that project fell through, but the publishers did proffer the “Se7en” project to the Gregory, who eagerly accepted.
Gregory was already a huge fan of Fincher’s film. And he empathized with the plight of the victim in the issue he was hired to pen, on account of his own battle with the titular sin. When asked to weigh in on the obesity debate, whether or not the tendency to gain weight is genetic or the ability to lose weight simply comes down to mind over matter, he said, “People are fat because they let themselves get fat. That’s it. I can say this with a clear conscience because I’m fat. Have been for a while. And I lost a shitload of weight when I put my mind to it and stopped being lazy. I didn’t even have to eat right, I just had to work out every day and I kept losing weight. And when I stopped, I gained that shit right back. Maybe there is some genetic tendency to gain weight for some people, but for most I think a lot of people just take the easy way out and eat.”
In their pursuit of John Doe, Detectives Mills and Somerset came upon a repository of hundreds of marble notebooks, each filled cover-to-cover with the handwritten musings of the killer they were chasing. The narrative voice-over in the first issue intercuts between excerpts of these demented ravings, and the inner monologue of the fat man who is at John Doe’s mercy. When asked if this strructre would be a staple of the entire series, he said no, but there was a reason behind it. “That was basically my big shout out to Jeph Loeb, as no one in the biz can do that back-and-forth character narration like he can,” said Gregory. “But while his were the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel, mine was a serial killer and his intended victim. I enjoyed how it played out and it really fit the feel of the story. My old editor, Renae Geerlings, was a big help in this since in the original script, John Doe was played up much more than the Fat Man…who turned out to be pretty frikkin’ tragic in the end.”
Gregory had nothing but good things to say about his collaboration with artist Tommy Castillo, who penciled the first issue. “Tommy’s a master at what he does. His storytelling skills and layouts are second to none. I really hope I get to jam on another book with this guy. That, and he lets me borrow the Porsche whenever I want. Or was that ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?'”
Even though the events in the comics take place before, in and around the events of the film, it should be noted that this was isn’t exactly the type of prequel you would want to read before seeing the movie itself. “It’s like watching the Star Wars prequels before watching the originals,” Gregory began. Then he realized with a grin, “Wait a minute… that’s not a good analogy!”
When asked which of the seven deadly sins the author most identified with, Gregory was quick to choose lust. He crossed his fingers and announced, “Me and porn are like this!”
Zenescope Entertainment’s “Se7en #1: Gluttony” hits the stands on September 20th.
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