Jack Lawson, Ken Cadaver and Regan Tate are your typical paranormal reality TV hosts. They travel around the country investigating unexplained phenomena, use their creepy night vision camera, take some readings with their state-of-the-art equipment and have debunked the mystery by the end of the episode. Their fans are safe to continue living in a world free from cryptids, aliens and monsters -- or are they?
What television audiences don't see is that Jack, Ken and Regan are actually covering up the existence of all things that go bump in the night. But the secrets of the paranormal aren't the only things the team has to hide. Jack is a former FBI agent with an eerie past, Ken is a formerly dead scientist with psychic abilities, and Regan -- like her "Exorcist" namesake -- was a victim of demonic possession in her childhood that left her with certain powers. Joined by crow-haunted astronaut Murder, the Hoax Hunters mend the seams when the world of the paranormal rips through our reality.
Beginning as a back-up series in the pages of "Hack/Slash," "Hoax Hunters" has grown into its own ongoing series through Image Comics. This September, a new story arc begins with the addition of artist Tristan "T-Rex" Jones with "Hoax Hunters #10." The first two trade paperbacks have been released and the series continues to draw attention -- not just from comics readers, but from producer Jeff Krelitz, who picked up the option on "Hoax Hunters" with the intent of bringing it to the big screen. Krelitz is also producing another Image title, "Peter Panzerfaust," for BBC Worldwide as a TV property.
With a new artist, new monsters to fight, new conspiracies to uncover and a potential film in the works, CBR News sat down with co-writers Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley to find out more about the future of "Hoax Hunters."
CBR News: You have a new artist joining the team, Tristan "T-Rex" Jones. How did that come about? Does having an artist with a totally new style influence the direction of the writing at all?
Michael Moreci: Tristan and I met through our shared love of cryptozoology, conspiracies, and the like. One day, I think shortly after issue #0 of "Hoax Hunters" came out and the ongoing was announced, he sent me some artwork for a pinup -- his work blew my mind a little. I mean, I knew he was an awesome artist, but this piece in particular was incredible. I wrote back to him saying that what he did was probably better suited for a cover, and it became just that for issue #2 -- a huge fan favorite. I hear all the time how much people love that iconic image of Murder taking on that Bigfoot pose. I mean, what's not to love?
Having him on board has been a blast -- he has such a unique style and his storytelling is rich and dynamic. And for sure, it does influence my writing. Steve and I went into this arc knowing it would be a much darker story, in a lot of ways. Some serious stuff is going to happen in issues #10-#13, believe me. We'll still keep that fun factor that the book is known for and we love, but it'll be balanced with a serious upping of the ante. And Tristan is absolutely perfect for what the story is trying to do.
You've been running the series for free on Keenspot -- what was the strategy behind that decision?
Moreci: Well, there are a few things. One, let's face it -- "Hoax Hunters" ain't "Saga." We don't have that kind of exposure and attention and big names attached. Which is fine. I love me some "Saga." But, that means that we have to fight to get people to notice our book. We have to fight hard, in fact. While we get great reviews and positive word-of-mouth, Steve and I both want to ensure we're doing everything we can to put eyes on "Hoax Hunters." So every Monday and Thursday, not only is there a new page for people to read, but it gives us something to talk about, to spread on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Also, there's the underlying factor that we simply want people to read the book. Steve and I love making "Hoax Hunters" -- it's been an absolute blast and we want that experience to translate to the reading experience. So this is our way of saying, "Here, have some fun -- on the house." Granted, yes, we do need to make a living, but that will come in time. Right now, just read it and have fun.
With the first season of "Hoax Hunters" coming to an end and a new story arc beginning, what can readers anticipate? It seems like the stakes are getting more personal for each character, and some big changes are in motion.
Moreci: This arc is pretty epic -- the finale is going to be a nice shocker that I don't think people will see coming. But one of the coolest things is seeing so many parts of the story come together. I love the writing experience, being able to take all these threads and character arcs and tie them into one larger whole. There are a lot of small moments that happened in the first 9 issues that will really come into play here, and that's going be really gratifying for readers, I think. Steve and I have had this season planned from the start, we've known exactly where we were headed, and I think when you read the season as a whole, people will see that and say, "Oh, this thing so and so said in issue #3 came back in issue #12."
But, again, the stakes are raised for all our characters. You'll see Regan's background. You'll see Donovan's background. There's a giant, evil demon. Cryptids on the loose. More of The Faceless Man. A character will die. There will be a crazy cliffhanger. Seriously, this is going to be an awesome arc.
"Hoax Hunters" was recently optioned for a film. What can you tell me about that?
Steve Seeley: We can't really talk too much about any specifics of the option, but I can tell you Mike and I still have complete creative control over the comic. So we plan to continue on our current schedule and will still be writing the stories we intended to tell from the beginning. However, if Jack suddenly looks like Brad Pitt in the comic, you'll know why. I kid… or do I? I do.
What kinds of paranormal and esoteric research have you done for the story? Were these topics of interest before you started "Hoax Hunters?"
Seeley: Mike and I both have had a life long interest in the paranormal, cryptozoology and the unexplained, so it's definitely in our backgrounds. When I was younger, I used to read lots of books on those kinds of subjects -- lots of weird, unexplained sightings and conspiracy stuff. "The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time" was one that made a large impact on me. I think that one, specifically, became the crux of my perception of experimental physics/fringe science as well as it continually polluting my input when we write "Hoax Hunters."
Moreci: Yeah, it's no mystery we're both paranormal nerds. "X-Files," UFOs, cryptids, conspiracies… I love it all.