Tim Seeley has repeatedly proved himself to be an incredibly competent comic creator, showcasing his brilliant artwork and his gift for writing on projects such as Revival, The Occultist, and more. We caught up with Seeley during a recent press interview, coaxing all kinds of wonderful answers out of him. Seeley remained unapologetically candid throughout the entire interview, and at one point even gave us some great new details about his upcoming horror-superhero project, Sundowners...
STARBURST: What comics did you read as a kid and which ones do you read now?
Tim Seeley: I started out when I was five years old on Marvel Comics. At some point or another, I've been a huge fan of every Marvel character from the '80s to the '90s. I started on Spider-Man, then I was a Hulk kid, then a Thor kid, I did all those. And then I moved into DC when I saw the Batman movie when I was thirteen. When I went to college I told myself that superheroes sucked and only read indie. But now I read all the Bat-books because I'm working on a Batman book, I read Savage Dragon (always a favourite), and I always read Hellboy. Lately, what I've been doing is going back and finding things I need a refresher on, like the Invisibles and old Vertigo stuff. I've always got a pile of comics staring me in the face, waiting to be read.
When did you decide you wanted to write and draw comics for a living? When did it hit you as something you wanted to do professionally?
I think when I was 5, because when I got my first Spider-Man book, I had my mom read it to me so many times it fell apart. I'd asked my mom how they make these and she said, “Well, I think they draw them.” So, I just started drawing then, but as a kid I didn't know that it was a separate job to write it. I just kind of learned to make comics. I never really thought I'd become a writer, I just knew I wanted to draw. But I think now I'm more of a writer who draws than an artist who writes.
You mentioned earlier that you read a ton of comics growing up. Who was your favourite comic creator when you were a kid?
John Byrne, who was really hitting his stride when I was a kid, was my favourite. When I was a teenager I was a huge Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee fan, which was great because that was when all those guys were getting big. I saw James O'Barr's stuff when I was a teenager and I was like, “What is this Goth stuff?” I didn't even know that was a thing, I just knew that I liked it.
As a prominent member of the comic industry, you've undoubtedly worked with some truly talented creators. But which comic writers or artists have you not worked with yet but would like to?
I want to draw something for Grant Morrison, because that would be awesome. I'd really like to work with some of my friends too. We've known each other for years and have never worked together, so that's something I'd enjoy. Someday I'd like to do something with Jon Hickman, who's a good friend of mine. And I'd work with Kirkman, because it would sell a lot of copies.
When you first broke into comics, what about the industry, if anything, surprised you? Was there anything that struck you as odd or anything you didn't expect?
Oh yeah. Probably the most surprising thing was how little time you get to do stuff. I was also surprised at how many people in these companies hate comics at this point. It's just constant. You're always making stuff, and I think a lot of people just end up hating making comics.
You touched on this briefly earlier, but what about comic creating do you find most challenging?
I find that as I get older, I like less art. The hardest part is how distracting the art can be. And the other big one is the more you write the more difficult it is to sit down and read for enjoyment. I don't know how it is for everybody, but I find it harder to sit down and relax with a comic than I used to.
Well, what about it is most rewarding for you? There's gotta be something that keeps you coming back to the office (besides the paycheck).
Lately, it's just been seeing people I started in comics with becoming really great creators. Watching Chris Burnham, who started as a good penciller before becoming a great artist, has been amazing. If you work in comics long enough, you do know everyone, so getting to see them improve is rewarding.
It's a pretty close-knit community, then?
Yeah! We do these shows all the time, so at one point or another we've sat across each other at a bar somewhere or at booth, table, or panel. Like I said, if you're in comics long enough, you're going to know pretty much everyone.
Out of all your current projects (there are a bunch!), do you have one you feel most strongly about? If so, why?
Revival is a really personal project, it's set in my hometown, and it's really quiet and character-based. The way people respond to Revival is the way I've always wanted people to respond to my work, so I feel proud of that.
Any upcoming projects you want to tease? Something to get readers excited?
Well, I'm doing this book for Dark Horse called Sundowners, which is probably the craziest comic book I've ever written. It's a horror-superhero book about people who might be crazy and might be seeing things, thinking they're fighting crime and evil when they might be just mentally ill. It's a really strange horror book, but I'm really proud of it and I think it's the most “me” out of anything I've ever done. I like superheroes, I like horror, I love alien movies, so I combine all of those types of things into one thing.
Do you have any sage advice for aspiring comic creators trying to break into the industry?
Make comics. A lot of times I hear people say, “Well, I don't want people to steal my idea. How do I break in without showing stuff?” People steal stuff. That's the way it is, and don't worry about it. People want to see that you can do the job. If you want to be a penciller, you have to pencil a comic book. If you want to be a writer, you better have written 40 scripts. You have to show the companies that you are so good at this that you deserve to be hired by them.
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