Tim Seeley, the mastermind behind “Hack/Slash” has teamed up with Dark Horse Comics to bring us the one-shot “The Occultist” which will be available December 15th of this year. “The Occultist” was written by Seeley, created by Mike Richardson, with illustrations by Victor Drujiniu, art by Andrew Dalhouse, character design by Guy Davis, and ink by Jason Gorder. The one-shot was officially announced during a panel at the last San Diego Comic-Con. This being said, I was of course excited not only to get my grubby little hands on a preview of it, but to get the opportunity to interview Seeley as well. Needless to say, thanks to the good people at Dark Horse Comics I succeeded, and I present you with an inside look at “The Occultist”.
Johnny_Trouble: Tim, thanks for taking the time to talk to us here at Bloody-Disgusting about your one-shot “The Occultist”. In this story the main character, Rob Bailey, is a young man who seems to have nothing going for him; he has a poorly paying job at a failing bookstore, an ill and EXTREMELY religious mother, and finally an ex-girlfriend who just left him for another man. Yet, despite all of this, he is chosen to become the Occultist. Would you call this the beginning of an unusual coming-of-age story? Because to me it seems like it would be far more than just a call to greatness.
Tim Seeley: Yeah, I think it’s sort of an analogy to growing up in that there’s always a desire to achieve a goal the easiest and fastest way, even though we’ve all been told a million times that doesn’t work out. Rob has all of these mundane young adult problems, and he suddenly has the ability to fix them in a very arcane way.
Johnny_Trouble: The character of Aiden Beck seems interesting to me because you have created this successful, technologically savvy, and extremely corporate sorcerer. Where did you get the idea for him?
Tim Seeley: I’ve always wanted to do a take on a witch or a wizard where in the magic has evolved with the times. I think it came from watching an old movie and seeing a witch use a scrying pool to talk to henchmen. Today, that witch could just hook up Skype to her laptop and save a spell. So Aiden is a very modern shaman, to the tribe of modern America, an America controlled by rich corporations and obsessed with reality tv and gadgets.
Johnny_Trouble: In the story, you blend a lot of themes that seem like they would be at odds with each other. For example, Aiden’s use of arcane magic is combined with his use of technology seems to play against what most of us would expect to see. What inspired you to do this?
Tim Seeley: Heh, ya had it right in the question! I just wanted to play off expectations. A “magic superhero” isn’t completely new, but I knew there were ways to give him a very unique world to run around and cast spells in. I think magic and wizards would evolve with the times, as would mythical creatures. It might also have something to do with a few summers as a teenager playing the “Shadowrun” role-playing game.
Johnny_Trouble: I researched the “Tulpae Corvus” and was intrigued to see that the concept of a Tulpa meaning “thoughtform” comes from eastern mysticism while Corvus is the Latin title for the crow and raven genus. Now in “The Occultist” they are creatures that occupy newly deceased bodies, fight over shiny objects, and are referred to by Aiden as “Brother Crows”. Where did you get the idea for these monsters as well as their quarks and abilities?
Tim Seeley: Good catch, sir! The intent was to introduce monsters we’d never seen in comics before. I didn’t just want to have another pack of zombies or demons… the readers should be just as unfamiliar with the weirdoes Rob’s dealing with as Rob is. And combing heritages and legends helps imply that these creatures might be older than human civilizations. That’s something I hope to continue in future OCCULTIST stories!
Johnny_Trouble: It seems like Rob has to learn about his new abilities in a trial by fire scenario, rather than having a mentor of some sort in his life. Would this change if the one-shot became a series?
Tim Seeley: Not exactly. I think that’ll a really fun aspect of Rob and his story…he’s essentially an apprentice without a master, and it’ll be up to him to decide how far he wants to go with his newfound spellbook.
Johnny_Trouble: In “The Occultist” Rob’s mother is a rather fanatical Christian that always accuses everyone and everything of being evil. When I was growing up I most of my friends’ parents were the same way. (I even had a few Spawn action figures that got thrown away because they were “demonic”.) Have you ever had much firsthand experience with people like Rob’s mom? Also, why did you decide to incorporate her into the story?
Tim Seeley: Heh, my parents were actually nothing like that. My parents were the one’s other kids wished they had. But, I did know people like that…still do. In my experience, telling your kid something is “evil” and “demonic” just makes them like it MORE. Having to hide your Iron Maiden records just makes them that much more awesome. Rob’s mom isn’t meant to be a criticism of faithful religious types, but I do think she’ll make for a really interesting foil as Rob delves deeper and deeper into the dark side of magic.
Johnny_Trouble: One of the themes of “The Occultist” is that no matter how good one’s intentions might be, things will go wrong. Which is something that I think most people can identify with. This being said, how do you plan on using this theme if the series were to continue?
Tim Seeley: Absolutely! I’ve always been really interested in physics and the laws of the universe. In real life, every action has a reaction, and you can’t create or destroy energy. When you deal with the concept of “magic” in fiction, it’s sometimes treated as such a wonderful, limitless thing. I’m interested in applying physical laws to it…having its use have immediate effect and consequence.
Johnny_Trouble: Finally, what would you say was the biggest influence on you in regards to creating this story?
Tim Seeley: The biggest influence would be Mike Richardson, who came up with the character. But outside that, there’s a lot of influence from years of reading fantasy and horror novels, and a couple of semesters of college physics. To top it off, it’s all sprinkled with a bit of Dr. Strange and Zatanna comics for good measure.
I would like to thank the Dark Horse Comics for a preview of “The Occultist”, as well as Tim Seeley for taking the time to talk to us here at BD. If you want to pre-order a copy of the one-shot you can do it from here.
The comic is 32 full color pages, and will be available for purchase December 15th, 2010. I suggest you go pick one up.
To keep up with what Tim is doing, I suggest you follow him on twitter. You may find him here.