Seeley Worships The "Murder Messiah"

In October, "Hack/Slash" fans will come to worship the Murder Messiah.

"Hack/Slash" creator Tim Seeley provides readers with a brand new one-shot issue titled "Hack/Slash Annual 2010: Murder Messiah," an anniversary special launching this fall with the goal of bridging the gap between the recently concluded Devil's Due Publishing series and the ongoing title's upcoming relaunch through Image Comics. Having already rereleased "Hack/Slash" material through Image in addition to the currently ongoing miniseries "My First Maniac," the arrival of "Murder Messiah" marks yet another notch in the new chapter of Seeley's continued "Hack/Slash" work - and he's just getting started.

Seeley spoke with CBR News to discuss "Murder Messiah," the issue's focus on two separate time periods, the new creative status of "Hack/Slash" under the Image Comics banner, when fans can expect the ongoing series to resume and much more.

CBR News: Tim, the new era of hacking and slashing through Image Comics continues here with "Hack/Slash Annual 2010: Murder Messiah." As much as you can tell us about the plot, what are fans in store for in this issue?

Tim Seeley: The annual picks up where the DDP series ended. Someone has stolen Hack/Slash Inc.'s computer and whoever it is knows all of Cassie's allies and enemies. Paralleling that story, we hop fourteen years into the future, and see a future ruled by slashers.

Clearly, the title "Murder Messiah" is provocative for a bunch of reasons. Can you speak at all to the title choice - does it refer to Cassie? Is it about her biggest fan, this new serial killer? Perhaps it's about something else entirely? Spill the beans, Seeley!

Well, I can't cheat ya out of a major point of the story! But I will say that "Murder Messiah" has multiple meanings in the story, and may refer to more than one person.
The story also launches us fourteen years into the future in an America ruled by the Black Lamp Society. Is this something we're going to be building towards even more in the ongoing series?

Yeah. In a lot of ways, this glimpse into tomorrow will help us set up our new status quo. 
Clocking in at 48 pages, "Murder Messiah" gives you plenty of room to spread those creative wings. How much is this issue a done-in-one story, and how much does it serve as the opening silo for a larger arc - is this a self-contained tale or is it the start of something bigger?

I think it does both, or at least I hope so. By its nature, since it takes place in two different times, it needs to wrap around and be contained. But on the other hand, this will give us a lot of new and pretty interesting threads to pick up in our brand spankin' new series.

As a big 48-page annual issue, are you planning any extras to include with "Murder Messiah," like guest covers or backup features or anything along those lines?

The story is so big, I think we pretty much fill up the whole thing. I wish I could do all those cool annual extras like they did back in the day, like a Hack/Slash crossword or something. But, yeah, we're full up!

As the annual bridges the gap between the previous Devil's Due series and the upcoming Image ongoing title, is it a tricky balancing act at all, finding a way to address the older series while preparing fans for the new one? In other words, how are you approaching this - how much is this a fresh read for new readers and how much of it requires prior knowledge of the "Hack/Slash" franchise?

It doesn't require you've read the previous stuff, but it's not as ideal for new readers as "My First Maniac" is. It's going back and picking up threads from our ongoing drama. But I'll definitely set the annual up for new readers with a nice summary of what we've seen before.
At this point, your new creative partnership with "Hack/Slash" at Image is well underway. How's the change going for you? How do you feel the series has changed or improved since the move from DDP?

So far it's been very easy, actually. I've worked with Image a lot over the years, so I know how they work, and it's always totally been in line with how I work. I think working with them has really helped us in that, most importantly probably, we've got time and money to make the book! But I think what's great about Image is that they just let us do what we do well, which is make "Hack/Slash" comics!

Since the move, you've reprinted past "Hack/Slash" material, you've created a new miniseries in the form of "My First Maniac" and now you've got "Murder Messiah" on the way. How much longer until the ongoing relaunches? Do you have a time table on that yet?

I'm hoping December or January. I want to make sure I give my team the time they need to make something awesome.
Before we let you go, Comic-Con International is just around the corner. Got any cool plans we should know about?

If by cool you mean lots of beers and regrets, then yes! My plan at this year's con is just to float around, meet lots of people and have fun. No booth for me this year!

Finally, you've been telling stories with Cassie Hack and big bad Vlad for quite a while now, Tim. What keeps these characters fresh for you? What keeps them exciting? And where are you looking forward to bringing them in the coming months and years?

As much as I love horror stories and a lot of the "sex and violence" elements of "Hack/Slash," it's the relationship between Cassie and Vlad that keeps me excited to work on the book after all this time. And I think the ability of those characters to exist in a lot of different kinds of stories really makes them the ultimate characters for me to write. I have a lot of varied interests - I like things about so many genres and mediums - so I guess that translates to this: expect more character moments and horror, and weird genre mashups!

"Hack/Slash Annual 2010: Murder Messiah," written by Tim Seeley and illustrated by Jethro Morales, arrives in comic book stores on October 13, 2010. The issue features covers from Tim Seeley & Mark Englert and Chrissie Zullo.

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