Recently, Comic Watch’s own Nicholas Osborn had the opportunity to catch up with the amazingly talented writer Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash, Revival, Grayson), to go deeper into the creative process behind taking on the new Bloodshot ongoing series for Valiant. Learn more about the inspirations behind this new series, what to expect in the future and so much more in the full interview!
Comic Watch: It’s really been a GREAT year so far not just for Valiant, but Bloodshot in specific. We just wrapped up the Rising Spirit limited series, we got a sneak peek at what’s to come with the Free Comic Book Day Bloodshot issue you wrote and of course, the live-action movie is coming up. So how do you feel about taking on the new ongoing series for Bloodshot during all of this hype?
Tim Seeley: Well, you know, good timing. It’s definitely a chance to reach more readers and hopefully, you know, elevate the character to the level I think he probably should be at in this market, this day in age and this environment. Yeah, so hopefully all those things combine to do that. We’ve got an amazing artist in Brett Booth, we’ve got an awesome colorist in Andrew Dalhouse and I think we are just firing on all cylinders. So, if we do this right, it’s kind of on me to make sure this comes together.
CW: Out of all the different Valiant characters, what exactly drew you to Bloodshot?
TS: They asked me for Bloodshot, but I had contacted them and said I would love to work with them because they had a lot of characters that I like and I read for fun; there’s not that many superhero titles I actually read for my own enjoyment. But I was reading a lot of Valiant stuff before I started working for them, so I just emailed them and they said “yeah, we’ve got an idea of something for you to do”, and I just sort of assumed it would be like Quantam and Woody or Archer and Armstrong because I’m either the horror guy or the funny guy– that seems to be the niche that I fall into. So, when they said “do you have any ideas for Bloodshot?”, I was like “Oh, whoa, okay”. But obviously I’m familiar with the character, I grew up reading that stuff. I was 13 when Valiant debuted, so I have Valiant’s first line of books and I read Bloodshot throughout the weird incarnations he had, including the Acclaim one where he was just like a giant Frankenstein’s monster without the red dot even. But I always thought he was a cool idea and I always liked the character, and I did have some ideas pretty quickly and a lot of those were sort of I couldn’t get the idea of him being this modern Frankenstein’s monster out of my head. So, I think I ended up sort of approaching it very much like a horror comic in philosophy and theme, but with lots of really big action comic pieces.
CW: You mentioned you have been reading Valiant comics for a while now, so was there a particular Bloodshot series that you found yourself drawing inspiration from going into this project?
TS: Going back to the original series, I was definitely reading the original Bloodshot series by Kevin VanHook, I picked that back up and did my research with that. Jeff Lemire’s series, and I actually reference Duane Swierczynksi’s Bloodshot series quite a lot. And definitely that Acclaim version which I know is not the iconic popular version, but it had some incredible stuff in it and really appealed to me as a horror fan. But yeah, I loved the new takes on Archer and Armstrong and I was reading X-O Manowar, so I had a really good sense of how serious they were taking their characters, while also not taking them too seriously.
CW: Would you say this is a good jumping on point for readers looking to get into Bloodshot comics for the first time?
TS: Yes. By design it is 100% that. That is the goal here. To make something that, you know, if you’re a longtime fan we’ve got enough new stuff for you, if you’ve been reading it a while even going back to the 90’s we’re going to be able to reference things that you’ve loved and all those things in my head count. I don’t want to migrate any continuity or weight it down with the past, but I definitely want this to feel like the things you loved about previous runs. But yeah, it’s designed to be [something] anybody can pick up and I really am hoping that we are getting this sort of lost audience of late teenage boys that I think we are not getting enough comics for and I hope this is something they would be interested in. I think you can follow this from your crazy mech-manga or fight comics to this. I think there is a direct line there.
CW: During the recently released Free Comic Book Day Bloodshot issue, we saw a different side of Bloodshot. He feels more aware of his actions and their consequences. So, what can you tell us about how this new chapter for Bloodshot differs from what we’ve seen in the past?
TS: Yeah, I wanted this to continue from the way that the previous series had gone, but to have him have a really clear motivation. I think in the past, there has been a tendency for him to want to get out of doing what he’s doing, he’s just trying to escape. And that makes sense right? Because he’s the monster and he didn’t ask for this. I kind of felt like the series needed an impetus for him to keep going to places, there’s actually a line in the first issue in which someone says “if you really were afraid you’d be used by someone, you’d seal yourself in a concrete coffin and drop yourself in the Marianas Trench, but you’re still here”. So that’s really the sort of backbone of this entire series is that he has something to prove, he has something to make up for. He’s got a lot of history, his body has been used to do terrible things and he feels the need to make sure that he evens it out or by the time he’s done, that he’s got more checks in the good column than he does the bad column.
CW: On the creation side of things, what is it like working with such talented artists like Brett Booth on this project?
TS: Well I don’t like to make Brett feel old, so I won’t. But when I was a teenager I was picking up Backlash and Wildcore and I always thought Brett’s stuff was sort of a looser, more energetic version of Jim Lee and I always really liked that. I liked the detail he put into it and I always like that Brett’s stuff is a little sexy. So, the first issue I didn’t know I was working with him and I wrote a script for an unknown artist, and then, when I heard Brett was coming around towards issue two I was like oh, I’m going to write this towards Brett’s strengths. I think he does awesome storytelling, he does great action, but he also does really good quiet moments so I tried to take advantage of all that is Brett Booth. He’s working with a great inker in Adelso Corona, and I personally think this is the best he’s looked. There’s something magical that happens between him and Bloodshot. He’s good at superheroes, but I feel like there was some itch he didn’t know he needed to scratch in this book.
CW: This vision of Bloodshot already feels like an homage to some of the all-time great action films of the 80’s and 90’s, and in the FCBD Bloodshot issue you described it as almost an “unlimited-budget action movie”, so are there any action movies in particular that you feel had an influence on your approach to this series?
TS: Yes! There are two in particular that I went back and watched and kind of tried to study. They are both John Woo movies, one is called “The Killer” and the other one is called “Hard Boiled”. These movies are just phonetic set pieces that are almost like choreographed dance. They are just visceral and all of the action has consequence. I like big, dumb American action movies but there is a tendency for the action to not have consequences. It’s almost like Bugs Bunny sort of levels of mayhem and the characters are just able to walk away from it. They might have a torn shirt and some soot on their face, you know? But in those John Woo movies, the toll of the action is clear and I wanted this to feel like when you’re shooting a gun, it’s loud, it’s heavy, it kicks and the bullets keep flying. There’s a lot of things you have to worry about when you have to fire a gun so you have to make a pretty clear choice of why you are going to do it. All those sort of very physical real world things, I wanted to make it feel like that, you know? To ground the action. But also he’s not just a guy or a hitman or something– he’s an unstoppable weapon. So, we take all that grounding and we turn just turn it up to ten!
CW: It’s interesting that you mention John Woo because the scene of Bloodshot in the FCBD issue where he is dual wielding the machine guns while coming out of the fire feels like a nod to John Woo, who’s often popular for that type of style.
TS: Haha yeah exactly. That was also written for an artist – Tomás Giorello – who I kind of felt kills at big splash scenes of the characters looking pretty stoic. So I wrote that for him. But yeah, the two-gun thing will certainly play out, and just that sort of chaos of action. In the midst of a fight or whatever, everything is going crazy and in the first issue you really see that. Bloodshot gets involved with these mercenaries and he’s trying to steal a truck full of grain and he uses a tank to puncture the side of a crane so he can carry it, and then he has to carry this truck but he has to also shoot through it. Just crazy stuff like that happens that I think, you know, this is how I enjoy action. Where it feels chaotic and I can’t look away.
CW: Are there any major differences you’ve noticed in working with Valiant as opposed to the Big 2, Marvel & DC?
TS: Yeah, I mean, there’s no consistency even across Marvel and DC. Right? I’ve worked in comics for 20 years and my experience working for Marvel 15 years ago is completely different than my experience working with Marvel now. But, the cool thing with Valiant is it’s small, and there’s a real sense of excitement that they are shooting their shot. This is their moment. These characters are finally going to get a chance and a platform, and you can kind of feel that from the top down. I think everybody from Robert Myers [Senior Editorial Director of Valiant Entertainmen] to Heather Antos [Editor at Valiant Entertainment] to my editor Lysa Hawkins– everybody is excited. They feel like they are at the ground floor of something, you know? Which I think helps excite me to work with them, because they have made it really clear how important this book is and they make me feel good about it.
CW: Is it possible that we will be seeing more of you around the Valiant Universe in the future?
TS: Yeah, I hope so. I’ve talked to them about doing some original stuff and there’s other characters of theirs that I really love, like before I mentioned Archer and Armstrong and X-O Manowar, and I could definitely have some fun with that stuff. Whether it’s a crossover or some kind of miniseries or something. I like the diversity of genre that they have, so I think that would really be appealing to be able to play around with some of that other stuff.
CW: Without going into spoilers, is there anything you can tell us about what you have planned for Bloodshot that we should be getting excited about?
TS: Oh man. So, the story that I’m going through here from the beginning is that basically Bloodshot is labelled as the most dangerous person on the planet. Which, the people who label him that are not kidding. The first five or six issues is just these factions trying to get ahold of him because they see him as a weapon. So, him having to decide which of these factions – that both want him for their own reasons – which of them is better or worse than the other, or is he better off alone? We’re going to introduce a new character, I’ve been calling her sort of his Elektra, with a very different relationship but a sort of foil archenemy/frenemy kind of character that’s going to come in. And in one of the issues we send Bloodshot to a horror convention, so you get to see all kinds of crazy stuff!
CW: There you have it! This is certainly going to be a can’t miss series. Look for Bloodshot #1 on shelves at your local comic shop on September 25th, 2019. And don’t forget, there is still time to lock in your special preorder edition bundle to get Bloodshot issues #1-12 and some awesome variant covers. Just print, fill out and bring the coupon below to your local comic shop before September 2nd to get your bundle!
Bloodshot’s Moment: An Interview with Tim Seeley
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