BOOM! Studios is diving head first into horror in January with the release of the new 4-issue mini-series “Curse”. To launch their foray into the horror genre the company has enlisted some creative heavyweights in writers Michael Moreci (“Hoax Hunters”) and Tim Daniel, and artists Riley Rossmo (“Bedlam”, “Green Wake”) and Colin Lorimer (“Harvest”, “UXB”) to launch their new creator owned project with BOOM.
“Curse” is the story of Laney Griffith, a man who will do anything to save his son from leukemia, but the cost of treatment has broken him financially. When he pursues an elusive murderer in the wilderness of his small, rural community, in the hopes of securing a substantial bounty, Laney is confronted with something he never could have expected: a werewolf. The captive Lycan, in human form, turns Laney’s life upside-down, forcing him to confront his haunted past and race against the clock—because the wolf will return, and Laney’s son’s condition continues to worsen. “Curse” is a story of a family’s survival at all costs.
Bloody-Disgusting: Tell us a little bit about “Curse” and how this project came about.
Tim Daniel: Mike and I were looking to work with Riley Rossmo. We finally got on a call together. Riley mentioned a desire to draw werewolves and as it just so happened earlier that week we had been batting around the idea of a werewolf story. The notion was to take the traditional tale – the hunting down of the beast, and give the hunter a very different motivation.
Michael Moreci: Tim has to get credit for most of the inception of “Curse”. For starters, he put us all in a room and got us talking. And, the whole idea of the father with the werewolf captive as a means to collect a bounty for his ailing son was all him. Tim and I started jamming from there. I liked the concept, a lot, at first mention, but I thought it needed something more. The more we hashed it out, the more it began to live in mind; that’s when the development of the crime story intertwined with this deeply personal survival tale began to take hold. Once that happened, I was like “okay, this is it—we’re ready for ignition.” It’s been a great ride since.
BD: Tell me about the relationship between Laney Griffith and his son.
TD: Loving. All they truly have is each other. We wanted it to be as authentic and true to what we both know and understand as fathers ourselves. Laney Griffin’s son Jaren is sick, possibly beyond being cured, but like all good parents, Laney is willing to sacrifice everything to change that. There’s a set of blinders he’s wearing in pursuit of keeping his son alive. Laney is a staunch provider, and despite his unflagging resolve, he’s a very vulnerable provider. Jaren sees both sides of his father, the resolute and vulnerable, and responds to that as children are wont to do, with a lot of love and tender concern despite his condition.
MM: I had always heard the maxim that as a parent, you’d do anything for your child. And in a way, I understood it—but I didn’t fully get it, not until I became a father myself. Having a son of my own, I understand the depths to which I’d go to protect him, to keep him safe and healthy. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to maintain these essentials. That’s a lot of where Laney and Jaren exist. “Curse” really pushes that to its limits—just because you’ll do anything for your child doesn’t mean it’s easy.
BD: The plot deals with a father pushed to the limits. Tell me about the themes of parenthood as they relate to this book…
TD: ”Curse” has to be every parent’s absolute worst nightmare – a dying child. I mean, it even feels silly, almost trivializing to say that, but, I’d go one step further. The parent brain, in order to survive, almost walls itself off to the possibility of anything of that magnitude ever happening. I don’t even like taking my daughter to the doctor for routine vaccines; I just don’t have to see her in pain. As a parent, nothing is off the table for me in terms of surrounding my daughters with love and affection. Laney is no different in that regard.
MM: I once described being a parent as the most beautiful thing in the world—yet potentially the most horrifying as well. Because Tim’s right, in your mind, though you never want to even consider it, you know the terrible things you’d do to protect your child. Every parent knows that primal fear mixed with boundless love—it’s so intense, and that’s why seeing your child in any sort of pain and making that fear palatable is so unbearable.
BD: The main character, Laney Griffith, is racing against the clock to save his son’s life from leukemia. Was it necessary to research that aspect of the story and does feel strange when writing scenes about a child in peril?
TD: It was necessary to do some light internet based research, which was pretty straight forward; determining the most common type of Leukemia to affect children, the typical age range of those children affected, the bevy of resulting treatments and their side effects. With “Curse”, what matters too is the cost, because Jaren’s condition is not just threatening his life, it’s also threatening to break Laney in every manner possible – financially, emotionally, rationally.
Mike carried every scene between Laney and Jaren, which somehow occurred organically in the division of labor. I’m so happy it turned out that way, because he’s a father to a son and there’s a ringing truth to every single panel in those scenes. Every time he’s turned in a script those scenes tore at me emotionally. There’s nothing cheap in Mike’s writing of those interactions.
BD: How will you be playing with the werewolf mythology? How do you approach a classic mythology and make it fresh for readers?
TD: We’re definitely honoring established werewolf mythology, but if “Curse” succeeds, it’ll be because readers find that the story is fresh. Hopefully, it will be very apparent that we did not give a time-tested mythology a self-serving once-over in favor of our story – otherwise, I’d fear that “Curse” would feel exploitive, possibly cavalier or even downright arrogant. An example, the afflicted always turns wolf with the rise of the full moon. We looked at that and said, but there’s a moon every night that presents itself in phases – would the presence of the moon not have some correlative effect on our werewolf?
MM: Truth be told, I’m not too up on werewolf lore. I know the basics: full moon, silver bullet, etc. And, generally, I’m a research rat. But I didn’t even care to dig any deeper because “Curse” is about the raw, human core. What’s so interesting about Anton, the werewolf, is his personal story, which Tim and Riley really made more human than I could’ve ever expected. I’ll put it this way: If someone reads “Curse” and takes issue with our handling of werewolf tropes, they aren’t reading the book the right way.
BD: From an artistic standpoint, how did you approach the werewolves look to make them visually compelling?
TD: Feral. That was the word Riley kept hitting on. With an established and celebrated veteran creator like Riley, you tend to follow his lead. Colin seems to have taken that cue to a degree as well, but at the same time, he has brought his own sensibility to the werewolf design. As a result, both Riley and Colin get to present something unique to the reader because of how the book is structured. They each get to do their own thing. Overall, our werewolves will look fairly familiar based upon screen traditions, but our werewolves are indelibly stamped in each artist’s signature style. We also put some spotlight on the transformation period – going from human to wolf – which really seemed like fertile ground for visuals, one that Colin exploited to great degree in the very first issue.
BD: How do you collaborate on the script together? Does one write a plot and the other script?
TD: Mike is meticulous in every aspect of his storytelling. I buy cheap Halloween masks and act it out. In addition to that, we outlined the entire series. Broke each outline down into an issue. Wrote in-depth scenes with an associated page count. Then assigned scenes to each other. We’d take our individual scripts, combine, then revise the full script several times together. After revisions were completed, the script was delivered to the Boom editors. Their suggested edits would come back to us and we’d revise the script accordingly, often taking nearly all of their notes. The process was arrived at organically and became rather lock-step.
MM: I’m fortunate I don’t live near Tim, because I’m certain he would’ve thrown me from a moving car by now. I have compulsion issues, which means my work is very organized, planned, and controlled. We spent lots and lots of time making this plot as tight as can be. With the threads we’re carrying, we knew it had to be immaculate on a story level. Tim and I aren’t messing around—there isn’t an ounce of fat on this story. It’s lean, essential. Everything counts and, at the end (which we just finished writing), everything comes together in a way that is organic, emotional, and complete—nothing is left dangling. That’s a result of Tim and I sweating over every single detail and having the smart, wonderful editors at Boom keeping everything in line.
BD: Tell me about collaborating with the artists, Riley Rossmo and Colin Lorimer and how they got involved? Why were two artists necessary for this book to portray the look of this book and how will their different styles come together to form one cohesive look/story?
TD: As mentioned, Mike and I were looking to work with Riley Rossmo. We got Riley onboard following our initial conversation, however, he informed us he had several commitments already in progress, chief amongst them, his new Image series, Drumhellar. Mike suggested Colin Lorimer (Harvest, UXB) and already being a fan myself of his amazing work in Harvest – we asked Colin to help make this series a go by divvying up art duties with Riley. I’m still in shock that Colin agreed to work with us and as a result, we have two extremely talented visual storytellers on “Curse”. So, the necessity of multiple artists was borne out of the need to mitigate workload, but then evolved very naturally as the structure of the story became apparent. There is a clean division of labor based upon character POV that eventually comes together at the end of the book. Readers will know when they are being shifted from character POV and in time when Riley or Colin assume control of the page.
MM: It works so beautifully because Riley is chaos and Colin is control. They’re both skilled and immensely talented craftsmen, but in much different ways. But that relationship—chaos and control—plays heavily in the book. Laney is a man who is trying so desperately to obtain some semblance of control in his life. We’re all guilty of that, thinking we can plot a course and stick to it. But Laney can control a captured werewolf about as well as he can control his son getting leukemia. There will always be chaos. Best laid plans, as they say.
BD: All of the names involved in this project had released horror project previously. What is it about the horror genre that you each find so inspiring to keep coming back to it?
TD: Maybe it’s that Horror is pliable. Horror has an infinite number of storytelling uses and applications. There’s a component to the horror genre that makes for a highly compelling visual experience as well, lending itself naturally to the page, screen or imagination. As a reader of horror, I’m not just vacationing here with Enormous or “Curse”, it’s a genre wherein I feel very comfortable telling stories, one that draws on the powerful nostalgia of my childhood as well.
MM: It’s strange, but I’ve been asked this a few times and can never capture a solid answer. I was raised on horror; my older brother loves the genre as well, and I remember watching the first Nightmare on Elm Street with him when I was like six years old (my parents were very liberal with our entertainment). When done right, I think horror is kind of the Greek tragedy of our time, exploring the most painful flaws of people and their society. The stories of our flaws, our dark nature that, like Laney, will do anything under certain circumstances, are the stories I want to tell. Our flaws and how we negotiate them is what makes us human. Superheroics are once in a lifetime, if that; flaws are forever. That’s the stuff you live with day in and day out.
BD: Creatively all of you have had projects released by Image Comics and Dark Horse, what did BOOM bring to the table that made them the perfect home to release this book?
TD: BOOM! has been fantastic. Top-notch professionalism. Ross Richie espoused an immediate personal interest in the book and that was very endearing – very gratifying. Following his encouragement, Ross handed us over to Editor-In-Chief Bryce Carlson and his team. Eric Harburn and Chris Rosa are our editors on “Curse” and we could not have hoped for better story guidance than what they’ve offered on “Curse”, our story is stronger because of those two individuals. Of course, one of the most exciting aspects of having the book at Boom has been the company’s recent investment in the creator-owned publishing realm and astounding partnership with 20th Century Fox. To say Ross has BOOM! moving in the right direction with the creator at the forefront of that movement is a bit of an understatement. Mike and I would greatly welcome the chance for another opportunity to tell more stories with BOOM!
MM: I can’t express Tim’s sentiment any better. It’s been a great and gratifying experience, and fun. I’m deeply appreciative of Ross for taking a chance on “Curse”, Bryce for championing it, and Eric and Chris for making it as good as it is. Boom is doing all the right things, and I’m thrilled, proud, to contribute to their ongoing success.
BD: What other projects are you working on now?
TD: Enormous – the ongoing series. We’ve got 3 issues in the can and a total of six issues, the first arc, scripted. Skinned, which I’ve co-written with Jeremy Holt (Pulp, Southern Dog, Cobble Hill), is a sci-fi romance placed at an as-of-yet-unannounced publisher. Throwback, a dark send-up of 80’s superheroes and behind those titles, several projects at various stages of development.
MM: Hmmm…this is the redacted portion of the interview. Right now, I’m working on the final issue of Hoax Hunters, season one (issue #13) and hashing out a new Hoax Hunters…thing. I’m doing more stuff with Boom, though I can’t say what. Then a new creator-owned project that will be announced soon. And Skybreaker, a Western I write for Monkeybrain is nearly complete—one more issue to go before it moves into print, in color (the digital is black and white), with IDW.
Interview by – BigJ and Jorge Solis