You've probably heard of Scott Snyder, the writer and co-creator of American Vampire as well as the writer that brought Detective Comics to new levels. Teaming up with friend and collaborator, Scott Tuft, the two have created a new eerie world set in 1916.
Horror comics often fail in the execution (of the story, not the victims in the story). The two Scotts have succeeded in capturing the darkness required for a horror comic in Severed from Image Comics.
With the second issue on sale today, we asked both Scotts some questions on the book.
Comic Vine: What's your quick description/pitch to readers that are unfamiliar with Severed?
Scott Tuft: Severed is a historical horror comic about a kid on the road in 1916 looking for his dad who is a wayward minstrel. Along the way he meets up with a charismatic traveling salesman with a winning smile but his pearly whites are fake and behind them hide his real teeth - jagged spikes that he uses to eat children.
Comic Vine: What was the motivation in crafting horror story set in 1916? Why not another time period?
Scott Tuft: I think America in 1916 occupies a very specific part of our cultural imagination. It’s a time full of wonder and optimism but there’s definitely a dark underbelly as well. Part of this is because it is the edge of our recorded memory. It was really here when recorded music and film became popular and so in a way it’s a time where our earliest collective memories exist. And for me this is a really poignant place to explore.
Scott Snyder: I agree - 1916 is this time when a new and modern America was at suddenly odds with the older America… Horse drawn wagons shared the streets with model Ts that just got off the assembly line. And wide-eyed kids would sell newspapers to civil war vets with cold hard stares. This in-between space is fertile ground for our story, which plays with themes of old meeting new. It also gives us a great atmosphere for horror. New electrical systems brought light into people’s homes but that power could also be lethal. And the widespread introduction of cars allowed people access to the most remote corners of the country. It was a space that where dreams could be realized but where nightmares could, too.== TEASER ==
CV: The Salesman is proving to be a creepy and deadly character. Will we find out his complete story?
Tuft: Thanks. We find him pretty scary too. And he's been a lot of fun to write... he's charismatic, funny and charming in an old school way but there is always something slightly off about him. And when he takes his teeth out… all bets are off. He becomes pure evil. He's also a character that has been haunting us for a while... a salesman who knows exactly what you want and will give it to you with a smile but his motivations are murky. He is not to be trusted.
You will definitely find out more about him along the way and at the end, you should understand who he is and what he's capable of BUT we don’t want him to ever be known completely... Don't look for us to psychologize him or to paint a portrait of his childhood... these things will never be revealed but his desires, motivations and capabilities will definitely become more clear.
Snyder: Right. He's not definable psychologically. He's a true demon of the road - maybe a real demon, maybe just a personification of evil - you'll have to read and see. Someone who meets you at the crossroads, makes you an offer, smiles and then, when your back is turned, removes his false teeth, bares his razor-sharp chompers, and gobbles you up!
CV: Does the seven issue miniseries tell the complete story or is it possible to revisit any of the surviving characters?
Tuft: The mini is a complete story BUT there is plenty of room for more. Right now we are discussing a couple follow up minis that will revolve around at least one of the remaining characters.
Snyder: Yeah, the villain - this cannibalistic salesman with shark teeth - he's someone we both have a lot of stories for in our heads (that sounds really creepy when I say it...).
CV: Why seven issues? Seems like an odd number for a mini since they're usually 4, 6, 8, 12, etc.
Tuft: SEVERED is built around the story more than any conventions. Part of what’s great about working at Image is that we can pretty much do whatever we want with the book so when we thought the story needed 7 issues, we made it 7. Also… If we wanted a couple extra pages in an issue... we did that too.
Snyder: And 7 is a spooky number! No, I'm just kidding, Scott is right - we tried to have this be a very organic storytelling method.
CV: I know Snyder is a nice guy and I assume Tuft is as well, how do you guys access the dark places needed to create the vibe in this series? Does any of it come out of dreams or nightmares?
Tuft: Thanks... it's funny how most people who write horror are usually pretty nice people. But niceness doesn’t mean that we are don’t have a desire to explore dark topics. None of the plot of SEVERED comes from dreams or nightmares but the tone definitely does.
For the story we look to what scares us then examine and dissect those things ... its probably a way of dealing with our fears. Scott and I have always sought out scares... whether it was renting Traces of Death videos when we were kids or adventuring into places that were probably not the safest spots. So we hope that we can identify the things that scare us and then somehow recreate that feeling of dread and terror.
Snyder: How odd you ask. A boy's best friend is his mother, Tony... I'm just kidding. I think about that a lot. Why do I skew so dark. I think it's honestly because I've always been into stories where people face their greatest fears, their inner demons, and good horror does that, where the monster or villain is either a manifestation of the hero's fears, or the monster brings out the worst in the hero in such a way that those fears are realized. You know?
CV: Are there other evils on the level of the salesman in this world?
Tuft: There's a lot of different degrees of evil that exists in the world of SEVERED but none of them are as great as the salesman. In the beginning of the story we have a train cop who is a pretty despicable guy. He robs a 12 year old boy and tosses him off a moving train without batting an eye. In the second issue he does even worse but he's a boyscout compared to the salesman.
Snyder: Yeah, not really. He's the devil for me. Always out there, on the roads and rails, smiling.
Thanks guys. Severed #2 is out today in comic shops along with the second printing variant for issue #1. Be sure to check them both out.