The stars of Michael Moreci, Steve Seeley and J.M. Ringuet's "Hoax Hunters" travel around the world investigating urban legends under the guise of a reality series. It started life as a back-up series in the pages of "Hack/Slash" -- which just so happens to be written and created by Steve's brother Tim Seeley -- but will now be moving on to its own ongoing series with a #1 issue in April from Image Comics.
Moreci and Seeley return with brand new artist Axel Medellin and a fresh storyarc in the spring, but before that, readers will be able to pick up #0 in March. This will not only collect all the "Hack/Slash" back-ups but also include some bonus material and a new cover. With the announcement that secret agent Jack, the formerly dead Ken Cadaver and one-time child star and victim of child possession Regan scored their own ongoing series, CBR News caught up with Moreci and Seeley about everything from moving to the larger scale of an ongoing series to switching artists.
CBR News: This might be a silly question, but how jazzed were you guys when you got word that "Hoax Hunters" was getting it's own ongoing?
Steve Seeley: Extremely jazzed. Both Mike and I knew that the ideas we came up with were bigger than simply a one shot. The initial idea was never simple. You'd think "a reality show that investigates hoaxes" is and could be a simple idea, but when you add hoaxes of hoaxes, undead cast members, crow astronauts, etc, the back storylines and current relationships lend for a wealth of ideas. So, I think both of us realized that the ongoing, despite being a daunting task, was the best and only way for us to tell this story.
Michael Moreci: I’ll tell you what, the dirt we have on Tim is really, really paying off. It’s taken us to the top! And now that we’re here, we’re both really excited -- and, being serious, really appreciative of the opportunity, which is owed all to Tim. Where we’re at now, to Steve and I, is a natural progression -- like Steve said, this story was always big. The real challenge was squeezing all the weird and nutty ideas we had into the backup material, not knowing it would ever lead to anything beyond that. Now that it has, we’re itching to start putting our ideas to the page.
There will be a zero issue in March. Is that all new material or a reprint of the back-ups?
Seeley: Issue #0 is the reprinted "Hack/Slash" back ups all collected together plus a five page preview of the new ongoing featuring our new amazing artist, Axel Medellin -- plus a cover by the super tough and muscular and handsome Steve Seeley.
Moreci: Yep, and issue one releases in April!
With more pages to work with, do you have bigger plans for the "Hoax Hunters" team?
Seeley: Definitely. It's funny because I think both Mike and I write the same way. We get drunk and arm wrestle strangers for their ideas. But seriously, we both write big. We wrote "Hoax Hunters" by writing three people [and] one crow man's entire lives, then the people around them and so on. We have a huge world to work with. Plus, luckily for us, weird/strange shit happens everyday in reality. So we almost always have new material to work with.
Moreci: We’re going epic. When we wrote the backup, by nature, we had to be the very definition of compact. And in order to be compact, we had to know everything about these characters and the world beforehand. There was no room for us to figure it out as we went. So now, we’re sitting on this wealth of developed stories and ideas, we know the characters. The result is going to be a time-jumping, universe-expanding romp filled with mystery and lots of weird stuff.
How challenging has it been to make the shift from writing short back-up stories to filling twenty-plus pages an issue?
Moreci: Truthfully, it hasn’t. Steve and I have had the luxury of working on "Hoax Hunters" for over a year now. And as this initial story has played out -- our pilot, of sorts -- it was only natural for us to start thinking if there’d be a future beyond the backup run, and what that future would look like. We’ve always had it in mind to tell big stories, which I think is evident in the backup itself. Now we have the chance to do so.
Not only that, but I think the experience has strengthened our writing. One thing working in the backup format has taught us is compression -- and I’m not talking squeezing panels onto a page, words into panels. It’s about precision, hitting the right story beats at the exact moments. We’ve learned the value of not allowing a moment to go to waste, not within the plot or between the characters. Now, having the freedom of not only full issues but [also] an ongoing series, we can take what we've learned and create a tight, though expansive, plot.
What kind of plans do you have in store for the series moving forward?
Moreci: We have big plans -- I can unabashedly say that we have an ambitious story in mind, one I can’t wait to tell. I think there’s room in comics for epic stories with big ideas, the kind of bold stories that you can only do in comics -- [Warren] Ellis’s "Planetary" and [Chris] Claremont’s "Uncanny X-Men" come to mind. Steve and I have over two years worth of "Hoax Hunters" already plotted out and believe me; readers will be rewarded with some pretty cool payoffs. We’re not just stacking MacGuffins here -- Steve and I know exactly what the mysteries are and how they play out.
Along the way, "Hoax Hunters" is going to give a little bit of everything: horror, sci-fi, personal drama, cryptozoology -- and while we have plenty of self-contained hoaxes that will be "debunked," there’s that bigger story at play, one that will continually build as we go. There's no more exhilarating feeling for me than having that "what the #*%$ is going on?!" reaction to a story, than being blown away by the eventual revelation -- that's what we are aiming to deliver in "Hoax Hunters."
As you mentioned, Axel Medellin will be the artist for the ongoing series. What does he bring to the table and why didn't J.M. Ringuet continue as the regular artist?
Moreci: J.M. had to step down after the backup run -- he’s a great artist and thus, a busy guy. The responsibilities of an ongoing were too much. Luckily for us, we were able to coax the excellent Axel Medellin into coming on board. Axel has breathed a terrific vitality into the book, especially the characters. That’s one of the key aspects to "Hoax Hunters," and Axel gets that. Amidst the monsters and crazy science, there’s also these characters. If they don’t feel real, if they don’t ground the story so it resonates on an intimate level with the readers, then we fail. The brilliance of Axel is that he accomplishes both sides of the "Hoax Hunters" coin -- the fantastic elements, as well as the human elements.
How do you guys write together? Do you each take a pass or does one do plotting and another dialogue? Has the process changed since you started working on Hoax Hunters?
Moreci: Steve usually calls me, drunkenly, in the middle of the night, mainly to dictate his memoirs. Once in awhile, though, a nugget of "Hoax Hunters" seeps in.
Kidding. Steve’s an idea machine -- he comes up with the most unique, crazy concepts. It’s my job to take those ideas and work them into our narrative. We get that foundation laid and together we build the story from there. I’ll usually create a draft of the script, using Steve’s input along the way. Whenever I find myself backed in a corner, I know Steve has an original way out -- one I would’ve never thought of.
Seeley: True, but without words and a world for them to live in, my ideas would be just that: ideas. We plot together. We idea together. But Mike writes and dialogues. I write like I think, which is very non sequitur. Mike has done wonders so far containing everything into a very well crafted story, which I'm pretty sure I'd have a mess of a time doing. I'm amazed at our process, because we'll meet for some -- or ten -- drinks and talk shop/ideas, we'll get an issue plotted and laid out and within the next day or two, Mike delivers me a healthy, bouncing baby issue. I'll read through it, change maybe one word to keep Mike on his toes and then we'll do it again. So far it's worked beautifully. As long as Mike never realizes I'm freeloading on his writing and living in his basement, we'll be good.
"Hoax Hunters" #0 hits stands on March 21, while the first issue of the ongoing drops in April from Image Comics.