Tim Seeley is a writer that is synonymous with horror, so when it comes to a story set during the Satanic Panic era of heavy metal called The Roadie, his fans know what to expect.
Seeley discusses his inspiration for his new series and his unique depiction of Hell in The Roadie, as well as his love of monsters (both the Marvel variety and variations of classic ones in his West of Sundown) in this exclusive interview.
What was the genesis of your new series The Roadie?
Tim Seeley: It was a weird synthesis of stuff. One day I was changing my daughter’s diaper at an age when she was about ready to stop using them. It was this awkward moment that we both shared that made me realize that my life would be completely different without her in it and that she had changed my life so fast.
I was also on a nostalgic kick at the time, listening to Motley Crue, and thought about the people involved in the heavy metal/rock scene like the roadies.
Roadies have become a mythologized aspect of the rock and roll business since the 1960s. What aspects of that mythology creep into the story and your main character?
Seeley: We even go back father than that in The Roadie; as far back as the Robert Johnson crossroads story. In reality, Johnson had a guy like Joe that travelled with him as one of the first roadies. And, of course, Johnson’s story is all about deals with the Devil and the fear of the blues and rock and roll.
Fran Galan is handling the art and colors on the series. What stands out to you about Fran’s artwork and how it serves the story?
Seeley: Yes, he was initially suggested by my editor Daniel Chabon, but I wasn’t sure about his style for The Roadie, since it is more cartoony, but it works well in illustrating an atypical version of Hell. Our Hell isn’t the one on all of the album covers; it is a sad, creepy, ghostly underground kingdom. We pulled a lot of the environment from actual myth and legend.
You created a playlist for issue one. Will you continue to do this on subsequent issues?
Seeley: I might. When I made the playlist, I wasn’t as familiar with the early metal bands that used all of the Satanic imagery and lyrics, and I didn’t want it to be all glam metal, so it has a variety of songs that aren’t metal such as Love and Rockets and Little Nas X. When it comes to modern music that has taken the place of heavy metal, it is definitely hip hop. I mean, Little Nas X gives the Devil a lap dance in the video for “Montero”.
What are your first memories of the connection between rock and roll/heavy metal and the forces of darkness?
Seeley: I was the perfect age for it. I was ten in 1987, which was at the height of the Satanic Panic and the PMRC battles. This was back when Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister was bitching out Congress over censorship. My parents were cool, but I had friends whose parents weren’t as open minded.
I remember my Mom telling me that when she tried to buy Dr. Feelgood for me as a gift at Camelot Music, the salesperson said “Is this for you or your kid?”, trying to warn her about the content. For me, I never grew up with religion in the house, so the devil for me was Marvel’s Mephisto. It was a great age when music, horror movies, and comics like Conan and Vampirella were closely connected.
You also have Unforgiven coming out soon from Marvel, which is about a team of vampires. What is it about the Marvel Monsters that is so near and dear to your heart?
Seeley: I was working on a retro Nighthawk series with Dan Jurgens and I had wanted to get involved in a Marvel horror comic, since I am a horror guy. The idea of bringing back the Unforgiven came my way and we made it into an event with Spider-Man, Captain America, and the X-Men thrown in.
People forget how important the Marvel Monsters were for Marvel in the 1970s and I always loved their version of Dracula, Lilith, Man-Thing, Tigra, Werewolf by Night. I have a deep love and knowledge about these characters.
I have a distinct memory of the cover to a one-shot story in Marvel Premiere #28 that put Ghost Rider, Morbius, Man-Thing, and Werewolf by Night together as the first Legion of Monsters. When I was reading the Marvel Monster comics in the 1980s, they seemed old and weird, which I loved. They had elements of the Universal Monsters and also a healthy dose of Hammer Studios.
Future and upcoming projects?
Seeley: My Vault Comics series with Aaron Campbell and Jim Terry, West of Sundown, returns in November with issue #6. It is a story about a team of monster “monster hunters” in the South West with classic characters such as Frankenstein’s Monster, the Invisible Man as a teen, and a vampire mistress. Dr. Moreau shows up in issue #6 as well.
The Roadie #2 is in stores on October 26 and West of Sundown #6 arrives on November 16.