By James VanOsdol
Tim Seeley knows how to succeed as a comic book creator. “There’s a general rule in comics, ” the writer/artist says. “You have to be at least two of three things. You have to be nice, really fast, or really good—I think I’ve got fast and nice.” And actually, he’s got good down, too.
There’s also another, unspoken, rule; one that applies to most vocations: work hard, and recognition will follow. Since joining local independent comic book company Devil’s Due as staff artist in 2002, Seeley’s artwork has appeared on an estimated 100 covers, as well as the interiors of a handful of books, including licensed titles based on the G.I. Joe and Dungeons & Dragons universes.
Seeley’s latest assignment is also his first high-profile work for Marvel Comics: working with legendary “X-Men” writer Chris Claremont on the alternate-reality mutant book “New Exiles.” After years of respectable output on independently published titles, is penciling for the monolithic Marvel “selling out”? Not if you want to grow, he says. “You reach a certain saturation point where you can’t get any more readers than you already have. The only thing I can do now is to try and reach out to people who were never going to try [an independent comic].” He adds, “Once you’ve reached that point where you’ve done as much Internet stumping and con(vention)-going as you can to spread the word about something, then you have to do infiltration and hopefully some people will say, ‘Oh I kinda like the guy’s art on this—what else has he done?’”
When it comes to Seeley, the first answer to that question will always be “Hack/Slash.” “Hack/Slash” tells the story of feisty goth chick Cassie Hack and her man-monster friend Vlad as they hunt down—and deliver frontier justice to—serial killers and supernatural freaks, crossing over with ghoulish characters like Chucky from “Child’s Play” and the movie version of Lovecraft’s “Re-Animator” along the way.
Cassie Hack survived a 1980s horror-movie-style slasher attack, and now she’s bent on making the world safe from similar-minded lunatics. As for her traveling companion, not much is known about Vlad, other than he wears a gas mask, looks badass and seems to keep Cassie grounded.
The comic is an obvious extension of Seeley’s love for classic Reagan-era horror flicks. “I still love those films,” Seeley says. “If I find one I haven’t seen, it’s such a great experience to pop in the DVD and realize, ‘Holy crap, ‘The Burning’  really is awesome!’”
Spike TV recently nominated “Hack/Slash” for Best Comic in its annual Scream Awards. Even though it lost to Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s “Y: The Last Man,” Seeley says the nod was pretty extraordinary. “Also nominated were Joss Whedon and Alan Moore,” he says with reverence. “I’m pretty sure that the standard reaction to anybody going to the [Spike TV Web site to vote] was like, ‘What the fuck? “Hack/Slash”?’”
In this era of comic books being transmuted into Hollywood gold, “Hack/Slash” was tapped by Rogue Pictures for development. Casting was all but locked and budgets were about to be secured when things came to a halt in mid-October. When I talk with Seeley, Rogue was in the process of being sold by parent company Universal, throwing the film’s status in question. “I don’t really know enough about Hollywood yet to determine how that will affect things,” Seeley says, adding, “it could be interesting.”
That potential setback aside, there is a legit momentum behind both the creator and his property, a thought which amuses Seeley. “[‘Hack/Slash’] was really just an attempt to give myself something to write,” he says. “I was like, ‘I’m going to make a comic book’; it was never really about what might happen in the future. It was always just like, ‘It would be fun to draw things about hot girls and monsters.’ I always enjoyed drawing girls and monsters.”
If the “Hack/Slash” movie does find its way out of development hell, can we expect a Tim Seeley cameo, a la Stan Lee in the Marvel movies? “Ah, who wants to see my ugly mug?” he says, laughing. “Get an actor. I’ll make more comics.”