Tim Seeley Hands Zoe Thorogood the Keys to the Hack/Slash Universe

In 2004, writer Tim Seeley and artist Stefano Caselli introduced horror comic fans to a new type of “final girl,” one who, after surviving her initial encounter with a “Slasher,” decided to dedicate her life to ridding the world of any more monstrous, undead, serial killers. Her name was Cassie Hack, and she and her hulking partner Vlad have been killing Slashers for almost 20 years. Cassie’s adventurers have been documented by Seeley, a multitude of artists, and several writers in hack/slash, which was first published by Devil’s Due Publishing before moving to Image Comics.

This October, a new era begins for the series as multi-Eisner nominated writer/artist Zoe Thorogood (It’s Lonely at the Center of the Earth) kicks off the four-issue Hack/Slash: Back to School series for Image. CBR spoke with Seeley, who serves as editor for the series, about Thorogood’s plans for his creations, the time period this story is set, the classic horror tropes Cassie and Vlad confronted, and a very important giant pink bunny.

CBR: Hack/Slash is back with a brand-new story coming in October. How long has this story been in development? What made this fall the right time to tell it?

Tim Seeley: It’s been in development for about a year and a half. Now is the right time to tell it because Zoe has finished her first issue. I knew she was going to be busy with a lot of stuff because she was finishing It’s Lonely at the Center of the Earth and her other projects. I was also very aware that she was going to win a lot of awards for that book.

So, we were definitely free with it. We wanted Zoe to finish the book. It’s her Hack/Slash story, and Halloween has obviously been a great time for us in the past. She’s got a lot of stuff done, and our season is coming up. So we’re launching in October.

What’s it like having a multiple Eisner-nominated creator like Zoe working on a Hack/Slash story?

It’s great because she’s closer to our main character’s age than I am, obviously. I’ve been working on Cassie’s adventures since I was Zoe’s age, but I have aged 20 years since. [Laughs] So, it’s great to have somebody who’s in a similar headspace to our character, and she’s able to go back and do a lot of what you saw in her autobiographical work, which is this very aggressive but aware of depression style story. That’s perfect for Cassie. We can now fictionalize that stuff she told such great stories about and bring it to Hack/Slash.

This was also her idea. She wanted to do Hack/Slash. I said, “You’re going to go from winning a bunch of Eisners to doing my slasher book?” And she was like, “Hell yeah!”

I think that speaks towards what is the actual mainstream. We spend so much time in comics thinking that mainstream is primarily superhero books. Most of my generation did read superheroes, but Zoe’s generation read Indy comics. Theyread saga The Walking Dead, and Hack/Slash. So, as old as it makes me feel, it also makes me feel immensely proud that this is a book she read growing up, and she had a story for. She pitched me on it, and I said, “Yeah! Do whatever you want! Make it cool!” And she’s writing it, drawing it, coloring it, lettering it, and covering it. She’s doing the whole thing. It’s a project near her heart, and it’s awesome that I get to watch it happen.

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It looks like Hack/Slash: Back to School is a tale that flashes back to the early days of Cassie and Vlad’s partnership.

Yeah, it’s almost a “Year One” style story. It’s an untold tale that’s in a perfect spot for what Zoe wanted to do. She wanted to tell a story with an inexperienced and stumbling Cassie.

It takes place just after Hack/Slash: My First Maniac and nests perfectly in the spot where we didn’t tell some of Cassie’s earliest cases with Vlad in tow. Zoe gets to do that and bring in some characters she designed for this story specifically. It’s the perfect combination for people who like Zoe’s work and people who like it Hack/Slash. Because it’s got the badass girl friendships but also really twisted shit. It’s also tied to Hack/Slash Continuity and an important story for what we’re coming up on, which will be our 20th anniversary in 2024.

Flashback and period pieces can be ways to deal with technological advancements that can potentially short-circuit horror stories like cell phones. Is there some of that in Back to school?

Kind of. It’s funny because retro for Zoe is different from retro for me. She set this in the early 2010s–an era when the internet was still kind of free and wild. It’s what she remembers of that experience. This story takes us through some early Internet stuff that I’m unfamiliar with but Zoe is aware of — stuff like message boards and group chats. That allows us a theme for some of the slashers and a theme for some of the story stuff.

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>scary kid kills her parents in Hack/Slash Back to School #1 by Zoe Thorogood

The preview art I’ve seen suggests Back to school takes on a classic horror trope, but one I don’t think we’ve seen a lot of in Hack/Slash; evilkids.

[Laughs] Absolutely! And that was Zoe’s pitch for it.

we did one story, Little Children, which had the kids that were experimenting with the Slasher serum. I think that’s something Zoe is riffing on here. It doesn’t directly connect to that, but I know it’s something that she was interested in doing.

It’s got the sort of Village of the Damnedslasher kids vibe.

What else can you tell us about the titular setting of Back to school?

Zoe grew up on Harry Potter. So she’s doing a riff on that sort of school story with it being a slasher thing.

There’s a fun evolving riff on these tropes. When we first put the book out, Harry Potter was coming out. Now we can go back and riff on that because it’s nostalgia for our new author.

I won’t give too much away from the first issue, but Cassie and Vlad end up at this school where there are a bunch of other students who are also slasher hunters. They’re templates for different kinds of monster hunters. Cassie is forced to team up with these girls, and of course, everyone who ends up at this place is completely fucked up in a different way. You get some good school drama, character bonding, and lots of monster bashing.

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<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>A giant pink bunny appears in Zoe Thorogood's Hack/Slash Back to School #1

What does that all mean for Vlad?

Poor Vlad! [Laughs] In this story, Cassie is like, “Oh, people like me!” Vlad, though, is still unsure that he should even be doing this. Now he has not just one aggressive, badass, possibly insane, young girl, he’s got four of them.

So, we’ve got lots of fun stuff for Vlad, and I really like how Zoe writes him. Her take on him is a little more sarcastic and aware than I write to him, and I think it works really well.

What else can you tell us about the antagonists of Back to school?

I can’t say much, except the story sets up that there are these kids who go crazy and kill their parents, and of course, there’s a twisted reason as to why that’s happening. That’s part of the initial investigation for Cassie.

There’s also a killer, giant, pink rabbit that’s very important. long time Hack/Slash fans might remember that Cassie had a stuffed rabbit named Mr. pink. Plus, you get to see our slashers which tend to be big, crazy guys with knives and Zoe’s slashers, which are twisted by children.

That all comes together in a fiercely gory climax. [Laughs] I think her stuff is gorier than mine. It all ties together in a wonderful bow through the filter of someone much more like Cassie now than me; a 46-year-old father [Laughs]

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Tim Seeley and Zoe Thorogood Pose together for Hack/Slash Back to School

So you’re serving as a sort of editor on the book?

Yeah, and kind of a figurehead, I guess? Stefano and I are supplying covers and whatever Zoe needs, and then we get out of her way. It’s an ideal system because we have our own stuff going on, and now we have somebody we can trust to do something with Hack/Slash and remind everybody that this book is 20 years going, and there are still new stories to be told. It’s a great system for us.

If people show up for this book and Zoe wants to do more, might we see more Hack/Slash stories from her?

She’s going to walk out of San Diego with a bundle of Eisners. So she’s going to be offered the world. She was already being offered all these things, and she chose hack/slash, which I think is great. We’re happy to have her for now, and if she wants to do more, the doors are always open at Hack/Slash Incorporated.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo