Curse this house: DeFilippis and Weir talk "The Tomb"

Fri, May 21st, 2004 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Seth Jones, Staff Writer

The curse of King Tut's tomb... it's just never satisfied, is it?

As if the forgotten Egyptian ruler hasn't caused enough harm -- death, blackouts, even dead canaries -- it's now out to wreak even more havoc in "The Tomb" from Oni Press, with story by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir ("New Mutants," "New X-Men"), and art by Christopher Mitten ("Last Exit Before Toll").

The story goes like this: In 1922, Lord Earl Carnarvon financed the Egyptian expedition that unearthed King Tut's tomb. Carnarvon died of a mosquito bite a few months after the find, beginning the rumors of a curse on King Tut's tomb.

Enter Mathias Fowler, a slightly deranged American on the team. He manages to slip into anonymity after the find, keeping out of the history texts. When he returned to the States it was with several stolen artifacts in tow.

Fowler becomes so consumed by the era that before he dies, he kills all of his household staff and has them buried in his mansion with him -- making that job even worse than burger-flipping.

Fast forward to today, almost 60 years after Fowler's death. Jessica Parrish, archeologist and would-be-Indiana Jones, has been hired to assemble and lead a team into the house to take back the missing pieces and disable the booby traps that have already cost one unfortunate group their lives.

The folks at Oni Press were kind enough to give CBR a first look at this 144-page graphic novel. Expect it on shelves the first week of July. But first, a word with Nunzio and Christina.

"The Tomb is geared towards people who want to see an actual female Indiana Jones instead of a Lara Croft pinup girl," Weir told CBR News from her office in Los Angeles. "Jessie Parrish drinks too much and is as flawed a human as Indiana Jones -- at least that's how we're hoping she comes across."

"This story was intended to merge that Indiana Jones type adventure with a classic haunted house tale," adds DeFilippis. "We put Jessie and a handful of other characters in a house that they can't get out of. You know some will die, you always do in these types of stories, that's part of the thrill. So we're hoping people who go for that type of story will also check out The Tomb."

The duo, which has been writing comics since 1997, say the characters for this story came about before the story itself -- as characters they created for role playing games. Jessica was a character Weir created, Max Kelleher a character DeFilippis created. They decided to do a story with both characters involved, and "The Tomb" was born.

"My husband is a big geek and has been playing role playing games most of his life. When he and I got together, he decided to turn me into a geek as well and introduced me to the wonderful world of gaming," Weir says. "We started talking one day about a story for the two of them, and The Tomb just kind of came together from there."

As for Chris Mitten, he was pulled into The Tomb after meeting the couple at San Diego Comicon International last year.

"We were just chatting at the Oni booth, looked at his stuff and decided we wanted to work with him," DeFilippis says. "He is very talented and astonishingly fast, two things that will one day make him a big star. When that happens, we're hoping he develops a little bit of an ego, not too much, but right now he's so humble, it's actually funny. He's still thanking us for the opportunity, even after we've seen his work and told him how great it is."

As for other comic work, DeFilippis and Weir's book at Marvel, "New Mutants" graduated to "New X-Men" this month.

"This is both a promotion for our characters who are now in training to be future X-Men and a promotion for us as our book becomes higher profile," Weir says.

"We are perpetually in talks with Marvel about getting a second book and in talks with DC about getting work there," DeFilippis says. "But the reality of life at the big two is that if you're not at a certain profile, then sometimes progress can be a little slow. We're hoping the boost to our recognition that will come with 'New X-Men' will speed these other discussions up. For now, we're focusing on television and on getting some projects set up with Oni for 2005."

And now, the preview. Nunzio and Christina offer this as an introduction:

ND: This is the sequence that really gets the "haunted house" storyline going. We've gotten a team to the Fowler Estate. The team has been assembled to go into the house, find the missing personnel in there and clear out the traps. We've got three factions - the Senator who owns the place, the archaeologist who is there to clear it, and the tabloid reporter who wants the story. Everyone has people with them, and everyone has their own agenda.

CW: In this sequence, the team gets to the house, and finds that the head of the department at Harvard has tagged along. Then they go inside only to discover that things are a lot more complicated than just traps...

And now... prepare to enter, "The Tomb!"

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