One movie that slasher fans have been crying out for over recent years is Hack/Slash. Based on the stylish series of graphic novels from artist Tim Seeley, the film was set to be directed by Todd Lincoln and rumoured to star Megan Fox, riding high on the success of Transformers. Yet, whilst the adaptation has been trapped in development, the stories continued to gain major acclaim in the world of comics. Telling the story of sexy young orphan Cassie Hack and her hulking sidekick Vlad, Hack/Slash has become one of the most popular horror graphic novels in years.
Having grown up an avid fan of Spider-Man, Seeley displayed a talent for drawing and soon found work with Image Comics. It would be here that he would create a comic that would prove to be his greatest success: Hack/Slash. Unlike many other graphic novel series, Seeley would remain the sole driving force throughout its run, and with a renewed interest in slasher movies due to the success of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, Hollywood soon expressed interest in adapting Hack/Slash for the big screen.
Tim Seeley talks about sexuality in comics and the world of Cassie Hack.
Your own comic, Hack/Slash, boasts a sexually provocative protagonist. Do you feel that in this medium women are portrayed as strong and independent or, much like the criticism with the horror genre, are they treated purely as sex objects?
Well, it’s a little of both in reality. Or, well, a lot of both. Horror films, specifically slasher films, started going towards the sexually provocative because it helped sell tickets to teenagers. Teens are interested in sex and death. Always have been. But, some films in the genre forgot to treat their female characters as anything more than lingerie racks, and then some even went so far as to become misogynistic and outright hateful to women. It’s a tough line to ride. I hope, though, H/S is clearly sexually provocative, it is never seen as misogynistic.
Did you base the character of Cassie Hack on anyone in particular and does she represent the kind of girls you had a crush on as you were growing up?
Ha, well, she’s sort of inspired, visually, off a few women I knew at the time I started the series. Personality-wise, she’s based off what I think someone who grew up in a slasher-movie world, a slasher-survivor, would be like. My type is pretty diverse, and though some people certainly think it, Cassie isn’t my perfect woman.
Why do you think that sex and horror often go hand-in-hand and is this an integral aspect of Hack/Slash?
Well, in our society, sex and death are lumped together because of our Puritan/Christian history. They shouldn’t be related, but they are. Sex is good, violence, not so much. But, when you’re selling movie tickets, giving people what shocks them helps sell tickets, and if you’ve already got blood and violence, might as well throw in a tit or an ass. Hack/Slash plays with these genre staples.
The slasher genre has always promoted the ‘sex equals death’ theme, with only the virginal ‘final girl’ surviving. Do you see Cassie as the ultimate final girl?
Yeah, to a degree, although I feel it’s become less important as time went on. Cassie’s virginity isn’t because she’s morally pure. It’s because she’s emotionally fucked up.
Why do you think it was so important to make Cassie arousing? Would the comic have been less effective if she had been plain or ugly?
Well, yeah, of course. There’s a reason Lady Gage sells more records than Susan Boyle, despite Boyle being a better musician. Or that Taylor Lautner gets offered so many roles despite being an ‘okay-at-best’ actor. People, especially Americans, are obsessed with physical attractiveness.
Do you feel that homosexuality is portrayed fairly in the world of comics and, with many children reading these kinds of stories, does the writer/artist have a duty to convey any moral messages to their younger readers?
Well, homosexuality is portrayed unfairly in almost all mainstream media. Cassie is not ‘homosexual,’ per se; she’s a girl who’s trying to figure out what she is and what she wants. I felt like there’s a tendency to go black or white, gay or straight, in comics, and I wanted to portray something I had seen in my friends and girlfriends growing up…that uncertainty about orientation and uncertainty about love.