When we heard that Robert Kirkman’s Skybound label was about to release a new horror comic that fused science and the supernatural we decided to go right to the source. The book, Witchdoctor, which is currently in stores with its first issue, blew us all away here at Horror Fix so we are proud to present an interview with its Writer and Co-Creator Brandon Seifert. Enjoy!
HF: Witch doctor seems to take place in a very Lovecraftian world. Was there a strong Lovecraft influence going into the book?
BS: Oh yeah! I got into horror in high school. Lovecraft was pretty much the first thing I started with — that and Clive Barker — and his ideas are still some of the most intriguing I’ve found in any fantastical kind of fiction. That existential horror idea, the idea that the universe is population by creatures bigger and stronger and older than us, and our existence as a species is meaningless to them — I think that’s a very chilling idea.
HF: Issues 1 & 2 appear to be standalone stories. Will there be a story arc that will stretch across the remaining three issues?
BS: Issue #2 has a bit of a cliffhanger ending that kicks of a two-part storyline in #3 and #4. It was really important to us that this first miniseries have a mix of both self-contained stories, and longer-form serialized stories. Lukas and I both hate it when you start reading a new title and it takes a couple of issues of set-up before it gets to the point. But doing exclusively “done-in-one” stories is also very limiting, and it can get formulaic.
HF: From the syringe to many of the other doctor’s tools in his arsenal, everything has a very ornate, yet practical look to it. How much time was spent on getting the right “look” for Witch doctor?
BS: Honestly, it all depends on the specific thing being designed. That syringe was the product of me saying “Stained glass syringe!” to Lukas, watching his eyes light up, and then receiving a gorgeous, immaculate color design in my email a couple days later. Other designs take a lot more time and attempts. We’re trying to nail down what the “Old Ones” in our universe look like at the moment, and that one’s been pretty difficult.
HF: Would you describe WitCH doctor as a scientist drawn into the paranormal or a paranormalist that uses the world of science?
BS: Dr. Morrow comes from a scientific background first — he’s got degrees in biology and medicine and had a whole career in that world. That colors his whole approach to things. It wouldn’t be WITCH DOCTOR if he didn’t come at everything with a clinician’s eye first of all.
HF: Where did the inspiration for Penny Dreadful come from?
BS: Hmm. I felt like if we had a hero who was a doctor, he needed a sidekick who’s a nurse. I had some other ideas about what she is and where she comes from, but those are too spoilery to talk about yet. She’s come a long way from the initial idea, and there’s not too much nurse-like about her anymore.
HF: The humor in Witchdoctor is very reminiscent of the dark humor we see in character’s ranging from House to Herbert West in Reanimator. Interjecting humor into horror is always a risky proposition with the fans… was this your intent going in or did the character call for it during the writing process?
BS: The idea that Morrow would be a Dr. House-type jerk doctor has been around since I first came up with the idea that turned into WITCH DOCTOR. The specific approach to it has definitely changed over time though. For a little while I tried toning down the humor and the snark, but I quickly discovered the book was a lot less fun for me to write because of it. Plus, having the snarky edge to everything makes all the exposition he delivers more interesting — he’s not just explaining things, he’s commenting on his feelings about what he explains at the same time.
HF: Are we going to see a full blown origin of the doctor in the coming issues?
BS: Nope. I’d like to get around to it someday, but I’d prefer to wait until there’s more of an emotional connection to the character, more of a reason to care about scenes of him not doing magic or fighting monsters. Now the story of how Morrow and Penny met the paramedic Eric Gast — that is a story I’m excited to tell!
HF: If there was one horror story or movie that singularly shaped you as a creator, what was it?
BS: The scary story that’s made the single biggest effect on me in my life was an episode of the Real Ghostbusters cartoon called “Poultrygeist.” It was about a werechicken. When I was eight I was a huge Ghostbusters fan, but the monsters scared the crap out of me — especially the werechicken! I think that was the episode that got my parents to finally forbid me to watch the cartoon anymore. It didn’t give me nightmares, but I had a lot of sleepless nights that year. I remember my mother saying, “Brandon has such a vivid imagination, maybe he’ll grow up to be a horror writer!”
There’s really no single horror story I can point to as being the most influential for me as a writer. “Imajica” by Clive Barker used to be my favorite horror/dark fantasy book; now, I’d probably list “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman. I’m definitely still very influenced by Barker’s worldbuilding, and the way he’d counterpoint the scary, gruesome stuff with wonder and beautiful things.
HF: Are there plans to make the series an on-going title or just a series of limited issues?
BS: Lukas and I want to do the book in the Hellboy model: A series of miniseries, one-shots and short stories. We both feel like that’s a good model for keeping stories focused and keeping a book on-schedule.
BS: In issue #0, you re-imagined vampires, are there any plans to do the same to other classic horror characters?
Ohhhhhh, lots of plans! I’ve got a list of something like 50 WITCH DOCTOR story ideas, mostly involving different takes on classic monsters.
For the meantime, we’ve got demonic possession in #1, faerie changelings in #2, and Lovecraftian stuff in issues #3-4 — including fish people inspired partially by Lovecraft’s Deep Ones, and partially by the Creature From the Black Lagoon (who, like the Deep Ones, was a functionally-immortal amphibious humanoid with an interest in human women!). In the future, we’ve got plans for everything from zombies to angels to dragons to Chinese hopping vampires.
We would like to thank Brandon for taking the time to enlighten us on what we’re sure is soon to be a fan favorite. Witchdoctor #1 is currently in stores and you can learn more about Brandon and his exciting new title at www.witchdoctorcomic.com