An urban legend comes to life in “The Harvester,” Brandon Seifert’s new series for Legendary Comics.
The title refers to a vengeful being who forces justice upon evildoers in violent fashion, then disappears. The myth is spoken of in countries around the world, with the creature having different names in different regions. No one knows who or what it is, or who or what is behind it, but a pair of curious investigators aim to find out.
Seifert is no stranger to horror comics, having gained critical and sales success in 2011 with “Witch Doctor,” a horror title with a medical spin for Skybound Entertainment (under Image Comics). Hero Complex caught up with the writer to chat a bit about horror comics and the mysterious Harvester.
Hero Complex: What was it that initially attracted you to horror comics?
Brandon Seifert: Horror isn’t my first love. I really got into horror in high school reading things like Clive Barker’s fiction and movies and H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos and stories. I got really into it in high school, but since then, I’ve kind of stepped away from it and just kind of dabbled in it. What actually got me into horror comics was writing horror comics. I broke into comics collaborating with Lukas Ketner. We’re both based in Portland. We discovered that we wanted to do comics for a living and teamed up. He wanted to do a pulp-influenced horror comic, but I didn’t have any foundation in that. We ended up coming up with “Witch Doctor.” So, much of my introduction to horror comics either came as research for “Witch Doctor” or has come up since then as I’ve gone back to being more interested in horror as a genre.
HC: With “The Harvester,” we won’t know exactly who, or what, he really is by the end of the first comic. A supernatural Punisher? A Ghost Rider-type of being? What were you going for?
BS: I actually like both of the comparisons you made, a supernatural Punisher and a Ghost Rider type. There are elements of both of those. Harvester didn’t start with me. It started out as an idea by Thomas Tull of Legendary. The basic concept of the characters and the basic world is something that Thomas had come up with. I was brought in to co-create and flesh it out. There is a logline for the character, but who and what the Harvester actually is is going to be an open question for the first few issues. We’ll certainly resolve it. There are a lot of urban legends about the Harvester; all of these interpretations of what he might be. Is he a vengeful ghost? Is he a corpse brought back from the dead? A demon? An angel? What is this guy? Even his name, the Harvester, is just one of many that he’s been given throughout history. I can’t really tell you what his nature is, but I can tell you what he does for a living — he basically messes up bad people under orders from a shadowy metaphysical force embodied by a guy in an outdated suit.
HC: Will the dynamic between Vicky, a student snooping for the truth behind the myth, and Justin, who appeared to be in law enforcement but perhaps isn’t, going to be a big part of the book?
BS: Justin and Vicky are definitely our viewpoint characters. Of the two of them, Vicky is much more straightforward and it’s much more apparent what she wants. Justin is all about the ends justifying the means. He’s looking to get what he wants and will try a variety of different things to get it. He is well-meaning. He’s not out to screw anybody over, but he is out for himself. He’s upfront about that and makes it very clear that he’s in this for money. He doesn’t see anything wrong with that and sees no need to disguise that. There’s both a guile and an upfrontness that’s been fun to watch.
HC: How does Eric Battle’s art help relay the tone that you want the book to have?
BS: Eric’s art to begin with is exactly the tone that we need for the series because this is very much between genres, and I really feel like that’s his art. He’s got a superhero component, a crime comic component and a bit of a horror comics component. And there’s an element there — if he drew a western, I think that would work very well. Those are all genres that we play off of to various degrees. As soon as he got paired with the book, I think the whole thing got elevated. What he brings to the table just amplifies what we’re doing really, really well.
HC: Your writing style recalls horror anthology like “Creepy” of “Eerie.” What do you make of the current state of horror comics?
BS: I think comics are clearly doing better now than in any time since their big early heyday with EC Comics and later with “Creepy” and “Eerie” and stuff like that. I feel like thanks to the success of “The Walking Dead” and the success of earlier recent stuff like “Dark Days and Night” and stuff like that, or even going back to Vertigo titles from the ’90s. I really do think that horror comics are of a prominence and of a quality that they haven’t been in awhile. It’s a really good time to be doing horror comics because people are actually paying attention too. On the other hand, there’s a lot of competition, which makes it much more difficult to stand out.
HC: So what’s going to be the surprising draw for “The Harvester?”
BS: I don’t know that there’s anything that I can say that will blatantly surprise readers. I think some will be surprised that nothing is as it seems ever, and nobody is as straightforward as they seem ever. The overall good characters do bad things at times, and all the overall bad characters do good things at times. Even our big bad is somebody who’s doing really, really bad things for really noble reasons — like for the good of humanity. As the story unfolds, just how morally gray everybody is will surprise everyone.
HC: Speaking of gray … you live and work in Portland, home of the Voodoo Donuts and “Grimm.” The comics biz up there is huge.
BS: I love Portland, and it’s the secret comics capital of the U.S. We have more creators here per capita than pretty much anywhere except New York. And we just had news that yet another publisher is moving here. This is a town that doesn’t just have a comics industry, but a comics community and a comics scene. When we have the opportunity, we go out and drink together and we’re all friends. It’s fantastic, and it’s hard for me to imagine doing comics anywhere but here at the moment.
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