Interview with Spirit of the Law Writer Brandon Seifert

Louis Falcetti writes for Bleeding Cool

Louis Falcetti chats with Brandon Seifert about his new story, “Spirit of the Law.”

LF – SO IS THIS (SPIRIT OF THE LAW) REALLY JUST THE SECOND COMIC TITLE THAT YOU’VE WRITTEN?

It’s the third comic title I’ve had published — counting Hellraiser Annual #1 from earlier this year, which I had a story in. I’ve written plenty of other comics besides these… they just haven’t been published yet!

LF - DID YOU CHANGE THE WAY YOU WRITE AT ALL, FOR DIGITAL VERSUS PAPER?

Yeah. It’s not apparent from Spirit of the Law, but I included a bunch of digital-specific storytelling stuff in it, mostly inspired by Thrillbent and the other digital comics Mark Waid is doing. Unfortunately there’s still some kinks to work out, so that stuff didn’t get implemented — but I wrote the issues with two masters in mind, digital and print, so the normal print pages still work just fine when you look at them on a digital device!

I’m really excited about the kind of storytelling you can do in digital-exclusive comics… but it’s taking a little while for me to wrap my head around how to communicate it properly to the artists I’m working with.

LF - IT SEEMS THAT NOIR AND PULP GENRES OF THE PAST ARE ALWAYS CLAWING AT THE PRESENT, NOWADAYS THINGS LIKE BRUBAKER & PHILIPS’S CRIMINAL/INCOGNITO/FATALE SERIES, ENNIS’S THE SHADOW, ROBERSON & ROSS’SUPCOMING MASKS AND EVEN MOORE’S NEONOMICON ALL HAVE FOUND SUCCESS AND APPRECIATION FROM AN EAGER AUDIENCE (I’M ASSUMING OF COURSE ON MASKS, BUT COME ON, HOW COULD IT NOT BE GREAT?). WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THIS INFATUATION WITH PULP AND NOIR CONTINUES AND ACTUALLY FLOURISHES STILL, SO MANY DECADES PAST IT’SORIGINAL SOCIAL CONTEXT?

Well, I think noir and the hero pulp genres — although they admittedly had some stuff in common — are pretty different genres. Noir is much more down to earth, not as flamboyant, grittier. So they’re two different animals — just related animals.

Part of the appeal is the time periods they’re in. The 1930s and 1940s are one of those time periods that’s really captured the public imagination, for a lot of reasons. The Depression, World War 2, the gangster stuff that was going on, Art Deco. Plus movements in culture, like noir and the pulps themselves, as well as the early superhero comics. This is really when comics as a medium was in its infancy, and I think it’s really natural to want to go back and reexamine the material that was first coming out of the comics industry, as well as the pulp traditions it evolved out of. So, to answer your question… lots of reasons!

LF - DID MONKEYBRAIN COME TO YOU WITH THE STORY AND THE OPPORTUNITY? OR WAS THIS A STORY THAT YOU HAD BEEN CARRYING AROUND FOR AWHILE AND BROUGHT TO THEM?

Nah, that’s not how MonkeyBrain works. MonkeyBrain operates very differently than the other comics publishers — for them, the emphasis is on the creators first, the stories second. MonkeyBrain approaches creators they like and respect, and gives them pretty much carte blanche to do whatever they want. So it was a case of MonkeyBrain contacting me and offering to publish whatever it was I created for them.

I’d been talking to Michael Montenat, who had drawn the Hellraiser Annual story I wrote, about working together again, and he was interested in doing something for MonkeyBrain. The idea honestly came last, after having the publisher and the artist. Spirit of the Law came out of several different idea-fragments I’d had previously, and when I got an idea of what it was going to be like I realized Michael was the perfect person to draw it, and MonkeyBrain was the perfect publisher for it.

LF - WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE LIKE REVENGE STORIES?

I think for better of for worse, the desire for revenge is one of the basic drives all humans have. At some point in our lives — or more likely, at some point this month! — we’ve all felt like someone else has wronged us, and we’ve all wanted to get back at them. It’s ugly, but it’s part of our natures. We sympathize with people who’ve been screwed over, and we vicariously enjoy it when they get payback.

LF - READING THE NOTES IN THE BACK OF THE TRADE PAPERBACK FOR VOL. 1 OF WITCH DOCTOR IT SHOWED A VERY INTENSE, HANDS ON EXCHANGE OF IDEAS WITH LUKAS, NOW THAT YOU’RE WORKING WITH A DIFFERENT ARTIST ON A DIFFERENT TITLE ARE YOU USING THE SAME APPROACH OR TAKING A MORE HANDS OFF, BACK SEAT TO THE ART DIRECTION?

Spirit of the Law is on a very different scale to Witch Doctor. Witch Doctor was this thing where I came up with years, decades even, of story material and background. So I was very hands-on with that. Spirit of the Law is a much smaller and simpler story — for now, it’s going to be a total of 22 pages, with the potential for more. So there’s a lot less blood and sweat in Spirit than in Witch Doctor, from everybody.

Plus, Witch Doctor was the first comic I did. I learned a lot from working on it, and I think everyone working on it will tell you that I’m not as actively involved with every aspect of it like I used to be — though I’m still very involved! As I’ve gotten more used to the process of making comics, I’ve eased up a lot. My scripts are shorter, my notes to my collaborators are shorter, I’ve learned what it’s like to trust other people’s vision rather than trying to think everything through just in case it ends up being necessary.

 

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