It's not often that he's been flown anywhere to do an appearance—in fact, a trip from Portland, OR to Parkville, MD is the first time that Image Comics creator and writer Brandon Seifert has "been flown anywhere".
And he just couldn't resist the chance to come meet fans at Parkville's Collector's Corner.
Seifert, a 32-year-old Fairbanks, AL native, has only been working professionally on comics for about two years. His first book, "Witch Doctor", was picked up by Image Comics' Robert Kirkman (of The Walking Dead fame) and produced on his Skybound imprint.
Patch had a chance to speak with Seifert Wednesday night.
How would you describe "Witch Doctor" for anyone who hasn't read it?
Seifert: We always describe it as a horror medical drama—like if House, MD were to fight supernatual creatures like vampies, but from a medical perspective.
How did the idea come to you and what made you think that you had to write it?
S: The idea of the occult doctor is really old—even older than the idea of Dracula but I'd never really seen it played straight. The doctor never really acted like anything other than a generic monster hunter. I thought 'let's have a doctor who approaches these things like a doctor actually would.' So it's actually half Dr. Morrow (note: the main character in the book) and half about the monsters, drawing heavily on medicine and biology.
I actually consult with a few people in medicine and biology on the book; an EMT back in Portland, where I get a lot of the hospital jargon. A couple of research biologists ... in the introduction to the book, Kirkman might have said that I have some medical training—he was just making [stuff] up.
So if it wasn't medicine, what did you do before you were a comics writer?
S; My training is actually in journalism—I was freelancing for a bunch of different places including an alternative weekly in Portland. Before that I worked at the Anchorage Press, back in Alaska. That's where I met Lukas [Ketner, the artist on "Witch Doctor"]. He was an illustrator and did an image for a cover story I wrote.
So that's how the two of you got started as a comics team?
S: I was a journalist, he was an illustrator ... we both wanted to do comics, but had never done them before. We really had no comics portfolio, so we decided to work on a story together. That was the first "Witch Doctor" story, and a year later it was picked up by Image Comics.
There are a lot of people out there who would still think that comics are for kids? Why should adults read comics?
S: Comics as a medium is all about combining words and pictures—it's pretty simple for kids to understand the ideas because of that but, as I think stories like "Watchmen" or Craig Thompson's "Blankets" show, it can also be used to tell sophisticated stories.
Just because as a medium it easily gets across ideas doesn't mean you can't tell sophisticated stories with a level of detail that you usually can't get from prose. There are just things that you can do with comics that you can't do with any other medium.
What are your top five recommendations for someone new to reading comics?
S: I can't really do a top five, but I can do a five. [He thinks].
So how did you make your way to Parkville, Maryland?
S: I was invited out by [Collector's Corner manager] Dave Crispino ... I'm still new enough at this that I haven't gotten jaded or even used to people supporting me. It's also the first time I've been flown anywhere, I couldn't resist. I really appreciate the support from fans, retailers ... everybody. I'm very lucky in that my first book went over really well with retailers, fans and the press.
I'm sure you grew up as a reader of comics, what's it like now being part of the industry?
S: It's really surreal—I talk to Robert Kirkman on the phone. I took a class with [Brian Michael] Bendis and came back as his TA. It's strange, and it just gets exponentially stranger ... it's one thing that didn't occur to me—that I might meet these people and even work with them to some degree as peers.
What would be your advice to an aspiring comics writer?
S: You just have to do the work. You don't aspire to write comics, you just have to do it. You're either a writer or you're not—an aspiring writer is someone who doesn't write. If you write, you're a writer. It might not seem like it sometimes, but the only thing that's stopping you is you. The only way I got over it was getting this opportunity to work with Lukas which was just too good to pass up.
Now, here I am 4 years later, on the other side of the country, in a fancy suit, signing comics.