Brandon Seifert has been building a nice following for his horror comics series Witch Doctor. But he recently took on a different gig, writing the lead story for next week's Hellraiser Annual #1, a job that you'll soon see is exciting as… well… hell for him.
Jason Sacks for Comics Bulletin: After seeing some of the crazy horror in Witch Doctor, I can tell you're a big horror fan. I assume that includes Clive Barker?
Brandon Seifert: Oh yeah! I honestly got into horror kind of late — towards the end of high school. And at that time, the two authors I got really into were H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker. He’s my favorite living horror author.
CB: What is it about Barker that appeals to you so much?
Seifert: The scale of his imagination. You read a book like Imajica or Weaveworld, and you get pulled into this huge, detailed universe. That’s something that really appeals to the science fiction-loving side of me. Even his short stories have an amount of creativity in them that I don’t see a lot of places.
CB: How does it feel, as a fan, to be playing in that huge, detailed universe?
Seifert: It’s really awesome! Honestly, I thought it was going to be intimidating, but it hasn’t turned out to be. In part, I think that’s because BOOM! and Clive have both been really laid-back about stuff.
That said, hearing Clive Barker liked the story I told about his creations… that was pretty surreal!
CB: It's got to be flattering to hear that! Is it hard or fun to work with someone else's mythology?
Seifert: I sort of feel like I’ve been doing that all along. I created Witch Doctor, but the mythologies in it are drawn from a bunch of things that already exist: folklore, horror movies, Lovecraft, stuff like that. I have more leeway to re-imagine things in Witch Doctor than I did in writing my story for the Hellraiser Annual, but it honestly felt like I was working the same muscle groups.
CB: Did you ever find yourself wanting to write Vincent Morrow into the story?
Seifert: Ha! Nope, not at all. But it certainly got me wanting to write Pinhead into Witch Doctor.
CB: Are you writing Pinhead? How hard is it to do fresh material with a character who's so well established by one writer?
Seifert: Well, the big idea behind the current Hellraiser series is that the Pinhead we know from the movies has gotten himself replaced — by his old enemy, Kirsty Cotton — and is now human again. My story in the Annual is about Captain Elliott Spencer, the man who once was Pinhead. But because of that, I can’t really say I was writing Pinhead! Honestly, I feel like Captain Spencer is pretty close to a blank slate, and I hope I left a bit of my own mark on him.
CB: Are you going to be doing any more work in the Barkerverse in the future?
Seifert: I’m certainly crossing my fingers that I will.
CB: Who is the artist on your story?
Seifert: The artist is Michael Montenat, who’s a pretty new guy. He was actually my suggestion. Legendary Comics’ Editor-in-Chief Bob Schreck had pointed him out to me last year, and he absolutely rocked the story. He made it look great, and he did it in a shockingly short amount of time!
CB: How did you end up with this gig?
Seifert: An industry friend of mine pointed BOOM! at my work, and they got in touch to see if I was interested in working on the annual. And I was! It’s a pretty cut-and-dry story.
CB: How much guidance did BOOM! give you about the job? Did you have a lot of freedom or did you have to hit certain story points?
Seifert: I actually had near-total freedom. BOOM! and Clive let me do the story I wanted to do, the way I wanted to do it. I think I only got two notes from Clive during the process, and they were both things it was really easy to accommodate and both things I think helped make the story better.
CB: How is the Barkerverse different from your universe, and was it strange having to think in different ways than you do in your own comics?
Seifert: By "my universe," do you mean the "Sick World" cosmology of Witch Doctor? I think the Barkerverse, in a lot of ways, is a lot more grounded in reality than Witch Doctor. Our book and the universe we’ve set up is fairly larger than life, whereas Clive's stories are usually about pretty normal people who find themselves in extraordinary situations.
I guess it was a bit of a gear-shift for me, but I’ve got some other projects I’m developing that are more grounded than Witch Doctor, so it’s not like I’ve never thought in this kind of mode before!
CB: Okay, Brandon, I don't want any spoilers, but tell us about a scene in the story that you really loved writing.
Seifert: Honestly, the first scene — which is the one BOOM! has released as a teaser — is the scene that made me pitch the story in the first place. It’s a scene that should be very familiar to people who’ve seen the original Hellraiser… until you turn the page and find out there’s a lot more going on than you might have imagined.