One of the most buzzed-about horror titles of the past year is Revival, written by Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash) and featuring the amazing art of Mike Norton (Battlepug), with positively haunting covers by Jenny Frison (House of Night). The concept is simple yet compelling: one day in a small Wisconsin town, the dead suddenly came back to life.
Why did it happen? What does it mean? While the outside world is clamoring to learn the reason for this “miracle” — and partake in it themselves — Officer Dana Cypress must deal with a government quarantine, religious zealots, her demanding father, and all of the town’s dirty little secrets, which are spilling out one by one. Did we mention Dana’s little sister Em is one of the group of people who has come back to life (now known as Revivers) — and was apparently murdered?
It all adds up to one of the most addictive titles yet from Image Comics! If you haven’t jumped on board yet, the Revival Vol. 1 deluxe hardcover is out October 30, and if you pre-order now, you’ll save 20%.
We had the chance to interview Tim and Mike for Horror Month! We asked them who killed Em, what’s up with the ghostly spirits in the woods, and more. Did they answer? Read below! Plus, check out six pages from Revival #14, available now.
TFAW: Can you tell us how the concept for Revival came about?
Tim Seeley: I’ve wanted to do a crime book set in a rural Wisconsin town for a few years, but I didn’t have a catch for it. I also had an idea for a “un-zombie” zombie story, which would focus on this girl, Em. Mike and I were looking for something to do together. I pitched him both ideas over lunches at our studio, and they eventually somehow became one idea. I brought some of the characters from previous ideas in, Mike and I developed new ones, and BOOM-POW-VOILA, we had Revival.
Mike Norton: Just like Tim said. I was pretty much there from the beginning. It was very much a matter of Tim having an idea and then us hammering it into something we’d both like and want to work on.
TFAW: Revival is based on a fairly simple idea: one day, a small number of people in a tiny town come back from the dead. But after re-reading the first two trades, it’s amazing how complex the story gets, once everyone’s secrets are revealed–or at least hinted at. How do you keep track of it all?
TS: Ha, not easily. We have a white board and ever evolving documents and notes and books . . . it can get pretty hairy sometimes. Mostly I just hope that if I forget it, Mike remembers it.
MN: Yeah, it’s hard. Every issue has a moment of “what are we forgetting?” It’s exhilarating in a way, but it’s also nerve-wracking. It’s been really fun so far. Tim does a great job of it, and I kind of try to poke holes in it to make sure the story is bulletproof.
TFAW: One major mystery in the beginning was “Who killed Em?” but that hasn’t been addressed lately. It looks like the thread will be picked up in issue #15 — will we get a definitive answer?
TS: Not yet, no. But there will be clues and hints, because Mike and I know the answer.
MN: You will get an answer. It may just be a year or two.
TFAW: Em is a very ambiguous character–she’s a Reviver, but she’s keeping it a secret. She always tried to be the perfect daughter, but she was having an affair with a married professor. Plus, she’s acting out more and more and becoming more violent–is this because she’s a Reviver, or because she’s stuck in a crazy situation?
TS: It’s a little of both I think. Em is like all of us . . . she’s complex and has more than one side. Add to that she’s facing a situation in which she has no precedent for, and you can see why she reacts in some pretty extreme ways.
MN: That’s kind what I like about the story we’ve set up. She’s pretty much grown up sheltered and is letting loose. Being dead is kind of an advantage for that. Who cares what happens if you’re dead?
TFAW: What are the motivations of Em’s professor, Aaron Weimar? Is he a bad person, or just misunderstood?
TS: I think Aaron is mostly a good person, actually. He’s made mistakes, and gotten himself into a difficult situation, and we’ll see what that makes him do in issue #17.
MN: Aaron . . . Hmmm. Wait ’til issue #17.
TFAW: Em’s sister, Dana Cypress, is a complex woman. She’s good at her job, but hampered by some hangups that affect her relationships with her family, potential love interests, and colleagues. What made her this way?
TS: Dana was profoundly affected by the loss of her mom when she was a kid. Em barely remembers it, but Dana has blamed her dad for it, and it’s made her act out in a lot of different ways. She’s now trying to make up to her dad and her sister for the way she acted out.
MN: I love Dana. She’s strong and it comes from a place where she’s had to overcome a lot of hurdles and personal mistakes. She’s messed up. And she’s trying to make her life (and everybody else’s) better now.
TFAW: Are the “demons” in the forest the souls of the Revivers? Does this make the Revivers evil, and how did this happen in the first place?
TS: Well that’s the big question, isn’t it? We know. And we will tell you if you keep reading.
MN: Ha. Yeah what Tim said.
TFAW: Mike, what strikes me the most about your art is how gorgeous it is–and how disgusting and gory it is, often in the same panel! What were your thoughts behind creating the look of the book?
MN: Well, for one, thank you. That’s really nice. With the art, I’m just trying to bring the realism and atmosphere of a small town. I think that quiet normalcy is what makes moments of extremely horror and violence so disturbing. If a book is drawn in a spooky shadowy scratchy style, you kind of expect the big scare. In our book, you’re not going to know when something crazy is gonna get you.
TFAW: Do you have a favorite character?
TS: I love them all. I like writing Blaine’s dialogue the most. And I think Dana is sort of the most “like” me . . . but I can’t choose a favorite.
MN: I like something about all of them as well. I love Dana the most. She’s the hero of the story to me. It’s really fun to draw Lester, though.
TFAW: What’s the best part of working on this book?
TS: I like getting to work with Mike, and playing to our strengths and interests, while occasionally making both of us work on things we aren’t as confident about.
MN: I agree. We both share similar aesthetic and preference for comics, and making comics together has been really fun and challenging. I’m really proud of it.
TFAW: What are your personal favorite horror stories?
TS: I’m still pretty attached to the original Halloween, Dawn of the Dead and a whole host of slasher movies. I recently read — and totally loved — John Dies at the End and This Book Is Full of Spiders. I still love Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and I think Charles Burns’ Black Hole is maybe the creepiest comic I’ve ever read.
MN: Favorite horror? That’s funny. I used to hate horror as a kid. Nightmare on Elm Street and Fright Night were movies I had to watch behind closed fingers.
TFAW: Can you give us any other hints about what the future will hold for Revival?
TS: We’re going to see what the government is doing with Revivers who’ve “stepped out of line.” And, there will be an explosion of blood coming up.
MN: A lot of the trademark Revival character moments. And some seriously disturbing stuff.
TFAW: What other projects are you excited about right now?
TS: All of ’em! I’m in a good place, working on a lot of books I’m really enjoying! Yay! [Editor’s Note: Tim is currently working on Army of Darkness vs. Hack/Slash and Clown Fatale, as well as providing variant covers for Afterlife With Archie.]
MN: I have to say the same. I’m more creatively satisfied at this point in my career than I ever have been. [Editor’s Note: Mike is currently working on The Occultist — with Tim — as well as The Answer and Battlepug.]
Big thanks to Mike and Tim for chatting with us! If you haven’t read this amazing series yet, make sure to pick up Revival Vol. 1 and 2 in trade paperback, and pre-order Revival comics and the Revival Vol. 1 deluxe hardcover now to save 20%!
Have you read Revival? What’s your theory on who killed Em? Do you have a favorite issue so far? Post your comments below!