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AICN COMICS Q&@: Ambush Bug takes goes to hell and back with Brandon Seifert, writer of SPIRIT OF THE LAW and HELLRAISER: THE ROAD BELOW!!!

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Q’s by Ambush Bug!

@’s by Writer Brandon Seifert!!!

Hey folks, here’s a quick Q&@ I did with Brandon Seifert on a pair of new projects he has coming out this week and next. Both of which fans of good and scary comics would want to take a look at. Here’s what Brandon had to say…

AMBUSH BUG (BUG): So you have two new comics coming out this week, SPIRIT OF THE LAW and HELLRAISER. Is it a coincidence that all of these books are coming out around Halloween, or did you plan for this?

BRANDON SEIFERT (BS): I’d love to be able to say I planned for it, but no. The dominos are just falling in interesting patterns right now! I’ve got those two issues coming out on Halloween, and then at the end of November the second issue of HELLRAISER: THE ROAD BELOW comes out... the same day WITCH DOCTOR: MAL PRACTICE #1 comes out! Again, that wasn’t planned.

BUG:Let's start with HELLRAISER. The series from BOOM! has shaken up the status quo quite a bit with Kirsty taking over as lead Cenobite and Pinhead returning to Earth as a human. How does the miniseries open up and who is the focus on this miniseries?

BS: HELLRAISER: THE ROAD BELOW is kind of a “year one” story for Kirsty Cotton, taking place very soon after she became the new Pinhead. Thefocus is very squarely on Kirsty, without many of the other characters from the HELLRAISER ongoing involved. Basically, my idea was to do what amounted to a new Hellraiser movie — except with Kirsty in Pinhead’s role. What happens when someone solves one of Lemanchard’s puzzle boxes and opens a gate to Hell — and Kirsty comes out, instead of the Pinhead we’re used to? You’d think that’d work out much better for them right? Wrong. Kirsty’s a nicer person, with good intentions — and we know exactly where good intentions lead you.

BUG:What elements of HELLRAISER have you carried over from the films?

BS: THE ROAD BELOW is kind of a stripped-down HELLRAISER series, especially in comparison to the current ongoing.

I wanted to get back to some of the core aspects of the franchise, the stuff that’s true from film to film. There’s a puzzle box. You solve it, and a door to Hell opens. Pinhead comes out, and tries to take you to Hell. But it’s Kirsty as Pinhead this time, and we aren’t seeing her working as part of a group of Cenobites — for reasons explained in the miniseries.

Also, when I re-watch the original Hellraiser film, there’s an aspect that really stands out to me: Pinhead and the Cenobites aren’t the “big bad.” Frank Cotton, a human, is. The Cenobites are a threat at times, but they’re also an ally at other times. I really like that ambiguity about them, and it’s something that’s involved in THE ROAD BELOW.

BUG:How much collaboration have you had with Clive Barker on the series?

BS: Clive has been a really good at being involved, without micromanaging. He’s got his hand on the rudder of the HELLRAISER comics. He steers them as a whole, but he leaves most of the smaller decisions to the people writing the scripts. THE ROAD BELOW was an idea I pitched to BOOM! and Seraphim Films, and they approved it. What notes I’ve been given since then have involved making sure we’re all on the same page about things like Kirsty Cotton’s motivations and the things she will and won’t do, even as a Cenobite. But that’s mostly it — big-picture stuff. The details — including the plots — have pretty much better left for me to take care of.

BUG:How closely tied is this miniseries with the regular series from BOOM!?

BS: It’s tied in really closely, without being continuity porn. In the ongoing HELLRAISER comic, Kirsty became a Cenobite — and then the series skipped ahead by about a year. THE ROAD BELOW takes place during that “lost year,” and kind of fleshes it out. But the focus is very heavily on Kirsty as a person, rather than on the whole cast of the ongoing or on the ongoing’s continuing plotlines. I wrote the lead story in this year’s HELLRAISER ANNUAL #1, and I kept it focused on the former Pinhead Elliot Spencer and on FrankCotton; THE ROAD BELOW is similar, but it’s focused on Kirsty.

BUG:What do the other Cenobites think of Kirsty becoming one of their ranks? Is this dealt with in this series?

BS: There’s only one other Cenobite involved in THE ROAD BELOW, and that’s the Female Cenobite — so we don’t really get into that. The Female has her own feelings about Kirsty, and they’re very different from the other Cenobites — she helped Kirsty become a Cenobite, after all.

BUG:Let's move on to SPIRIT OF THE LAW, which in theory, may be seen as a shift in genres for you as this one seems more of a noir-ish, Depression era story. But after reading the first chapter, it does get pretty gory and horrific. Is it hard for you not to go to dark places in your writing?

BS: Apparently! I like a lot of different genres and tones, but for some reason I keep coming back to horror. When MonkeyBrain first contacted me to work with them, I saw it as a great opportunity to do something different than the supernatural horror stuff I’m getting known for... and then I turned around and came up with SPIRIT OF THE LAW. I’m definitely trying to get some projects in other genres out there — but it’s clear I like the dark stuff, and I enjoy writing it. So it’s definitely going to continue to be part of my output!

BUG:How much research did you do for SPIRIT OF THE LAW in terms of the era it takes place in?

BS: Not much, actually. Enough to pin down the exact year it’s set in, and do add a few details about the political climate of that year. And some about the crime syndicates at that time. But this is the first project I’ve done where I didn’t heavily, heavily source it on stuff in the real world.

BUG:Explain the format of release for this book. It's being released digitally first, correct?

BS: Yeah, it’s a digital two-parter. #1 is 12 pages and #2 is 10 pages, they’re each $0.99, and they’re being released two weeks apart.

MonkeyBrain is exclusively digital. All their comics come out through an exclusive deal with ComiXology. And the creators keep the rights, so we’re free to do whatever we want with them as for anything besides digital. Right now my collaborator Michael and I don’t have any plans for doing a print edition of SPIRIT — but that could easily change depending on how well the story does and whether print publishers express interest in it. For now, it’s a digital comic, pure and simple.

BUG:What's it been like working with MonkeyBrain?

BS: Awesome! MonkeyBrain’s publishers Chris Roberson and Allison Baker have been friends of mine for the last several years. They’re people I like and trust, and they’re both really laid back and fun to work with. Plus, MonkeyBrain is incredibly hands-off. With most publishers, you pitch them ideas and stuff, and they’re heavily involved with production. But with MonkeyBrain, my collaborator Michael Montenat and I came up with a story, produced the pages, and turned them in to Chris and Allison. That was pretty much it. MonkeyBrain doesn’t get in your way — but it’s up to you to create your comics and turn them in. That’s really liberating — and kind of scary, because if the book doesn’t come out, you really have no-one to blame but yourselves!

BUG:Is this a finite series or is there room for more plans to see the Spirit of the Law again in other series?

BS: I seem to have trouble coming up with ideas that wouldn’t work as ongoing, open-ended comic series. SPIRIT OF THE LAW is definitely one of them. Our initial two-parter is self-contained, but it’s got the potential for us to continue with it. And right now, Michael and I are talking about doing more stories about the Spirit of the Law. We went into this just planning to do 22 pages of story — but then we both had a good time working on it, and we’re both really happy with how it turned out!

BUG:Are the tales you are telling at MonkeyBrain interconnected or stand alone?

BS: They’re stand-alone. Because of how MonkeyBrain’s set up, I see it as a golden opportunity to do write whatever the hell kinds of comics I want to write. So I don’t want to limit myself in any way. If I want to do a Western or a fairy tale or a cosmic superhero comic, I can do it through MonkeyBrain, no questions asked.

BUG:Last chance, why should folks check out SPIRIT OF THE LAW #1 & 2 this week and HELLRAISER: THE ROAD BELOW #1 next week?

BS: We’ve all seen plenty of superhero origins — SPIRIT OF THE LAW is one, seen from the villain’s point of view. Plus, the art by Michael Montenat and colors by Ron Riley are gorgeous!

As for THE ROAD BELOW, it’s a “must-have” for fans of the current HELLRAISER ongoing. And if you like the Hellraiser movies but haven’t been following the comic series, it’s a great place to start — since it’s basically a self-contained Hellraiser movie, but set in the comics’ current continuity!

BUG: Check out SPIRIT OF THE LAW #1-2 from Monkeybrain Comics this week! And look for HELLRAISER: THE ROAD BELOW #1 from BOOM! Studios next week! Look for a follow-up interview in a few weeks focusing on Seifert’s new WITCH DOCTOR miniseries!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in late 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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