Behind the Pages is back with a new installment and I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Michael Moreci, the orchestrator of the fantastic comic book Hoax Hunters. This book from Image is a fantastic imaginative book that is a perfect mix of humor, mystery and horror. Hoax Hunters constantly throws twists and turns that keep me guessing and coming back issue after issue. If you’re not reading this book then there is something wrong with you. I’ll go ahead and quit my babbling and let you have a chance to delve deeper into the mind of one of comic’s most talented writers.
Have you always wanted to be a comic book creator? What was it about comics that drew you in?
Moreci: Yes and no. Growing up, comics were my love. I was a voracious reader, engulfing comics, books, magazines, you name it. Ultimately, that led me to creating my own comics—short strips, like Sunday funnies and, eventually, Image knockoffs in the 90s. It was somewhere in high school that I finally realized how horrible of an artist I am. Sure, I can replicate a Spawn cover, but drawing something organic from my mind? Impossible. There’s something in my brain that prevents that from happening. It was very discouraging and squashed my comics making dream—at the time, I didn’t follow writers, didn’t understand their role in the process. So I gave up. I still read comics but my attention shifted to prose. But then, I don’t know, a light switched in my brain. I was reading Y: The Last Man, and my fire was reignited. No joke. I was on a train in NY (living there at the time) and I thought “wait, I can do this too!” And I was off from there.
Are there any writers that inspired you to become a writer? What was it about their work that inspired you?
Moreci: Tons. Brian K. Vaughn, Alan Moore, Brian Wood, Chris Claremont, Tim Seeley, Cullen Bunn, Warren Ellis…stars that I steer by.
How would you describe Hoax Hunters to a non-comic reader?
Moreci: Mythbusters meets X-Files. Hoax Hunters is a reality show that travels the globe dispelling various hoaxes, legends, and the such—Bigfoot, Chupacabra, etc. But really, they are a clandestine operation actively working to cover all those dark corners of the world up!
Tell me about working with Steve Seeley? What’s a typical day for you two look like? How do you two get the creative juices going?
Moreci: Lots of Greco-Roman wrestling, listening to John Mayer, sharing a plate of spaghetti… Normal stuff.
Kidding. Our normal day is work—we both have day jobs. We work on comics pretty independently of each other. Each of us knows what needs to get done and it’s constantly on our minds. So when we get together in our studio to work, we’re ready to go; we have to be. Time doesn’t allow us the liberty of procrastination.
So we’ll get together and paint the broad strokes of the story we’re telling—arcs, character development, themes, etc. Then we’ll compartmentalize that into issues and unique stories. Nothing gets written until this happens. I’m generally the one who does the writing, so once that process starts, I have a clear path ahead of me. Much of the heavy lifting is done in our sessions, which are much like a writer’s room on a TV show.
How did Hoax Hunters come to be? How did this book come to be an on-going series with Image?
Moreci: Well, we started as a backup in Hack/Slash for ten months, and we worked our asses off. Steve and I understood how rare and terrific of an opportunity this was, and we were sure not to squander it. Apparently Eric Stephenson liked enough of what he saw to give us a shot. We’ve been very fortunate, without a doubt.
And, speaking of, we have a new arc starting this January in issue #6! The new story, “Haunchyville,” is going to be a ton of fun—Steve and I can’t wait for it to begin. Basically, we’re tackling the myth of the Haunchyville gnomes and their albino king. It’s super weird. Axel is back on art (after a break for issue #5, out next week) and the immensely talented Jenny Frison did the cover. We also are including a catch-up page in the front of the issue, making for a perfect jumping on point.
Also, to whet some appetites, we made a short film teaser, if you will. You can watch it here:
What is it about Hoax Hunters that separates it from the crowd?
Moreci: Most obvious: We’re not a superhero book. But, also, we’re not a blood and guts book. So many books, sadly, rely on violence and nihilism to elicit some sort of response—to shock or whatever, usually at the expense of actual story.
Hoax Hunters is not that book. Steve and I have a specific ambition, and that’s to create a fun book. We have horror, humor, sci-fi, and characters that are grounded in reality, despite the fantastic things the book presents. Does it get intense? Absolutely. But we like to think that our intensity is earned through a slow burn plot, characters you’re attached to. We’re, dare I say, a more cerebral read—but we still have plenty of monsters!
Do you have a favorite character in Hoax Hunters? Is there one that you have the most fun writing? Why?
Moreci: I think Regan is my favorite; she’s truly grown on me. She’s smart, powerful, funny, and full of compelling internal conflict, which we’ll see soon. Don’t get me wrong, all the characters are a blast to write. I mean, finding fun and weird things for Murder to do is a unique and amazing challenge every single issue. But Regan is a character I’ve grown protective of, and I can’t wait to tell more of her story.
Since Hoax Hunters has a male and a female lead, should readers be ready for the Mulder and Scully, will they, won’t they? Do you feel there is pressure to add that aspect to Regan and Jack’s relationship?
Moreci: Nah, not really. I mean, who knows if something will happen down the line, but right now their relationship isn’t like that. They’re close friends and confidants, but adding romance to the team dynamic would make things really tricky. Although, that would allow for some shared spaghetti moments. Hmmm…
Where do you see yourself and Hoax Hunters five years from now?
Moreci: Man, if we make it five years, something has really, really gone right. If Steve and I are writing Hoax Hunters #50, I’ll be a happy, happy man. And believe me; we have the material to make it that far.
I know you told me that you have a story arc for Hack/Slash in the next month or so. How did you land that gig? What drew you to that gig?
Moreci: Pretty simple: Steve and Tim are brothers. He asked if we wanted a stab at writing a single issue, and we were thrilled for the chance. Hack/Slash has been one of my favorite series for years. It was an absolute thrill to tell our story, and I’m very proud of the result (which you can read right now, in issue #19!). Basically, Steve’s and my goal was to take the story of Cassie and Vlad down to its barest essentials—these are characters doomed to a life of murder and death, ultimately resulting in their own. It’s dark, it’s chilling, and we wanted to tap into that. I think we did.
Do you feel any added pressure writing for established characters? Was Tim (Seeley) perched on your shoulder guiding you or did he give you free reign?
Moreci: Well, this was our first go playing in someone else’s sandbox, and it couldn’t have gone better. Tim gave us free reign and the support we needed; he’s a fantastic mentor. If Steve and I did it again with some other character, the process may be a more stressful one. But, in this case, it was terrific.
Do you have any advice you want to instill for aspiring comic book creators?
Moreci: This is a job, treat it as such. To make any progress, you have to make lots and lots of sacrifices, work incredibly hard (for no pay for a good stretch of time), and take enormous risks. If you aren’t prepared to do all of those things 110%, being a professional might now be for you. Sure, there’s the occasional zeitgeists who have meteoric rises and avoid the grind—but I wouldn’t bet on that. Odds are better playing the lottery, I’d imagine.
I know that sounds harsh, but it’s tough love. I want people to succeed because I know (kind of) how amazing it is. But it’s not easy. They say it takes a lot of luck. That’s true, but you have to be out there to receive the luck. Going to cons, submitting work, producing work, networking, etc. It’s a 360-degree effort, but if it’s what you love, then it’s not work.
Are there any other projects in the works?
Moreci: Yep! Lots. 2013 is going to be a very productive year for Steve and I. We have, potentially, three new projects coming out—none of which I can talk about just yet. Sorry! But, I can say they’re loads of fun—one of them is something I don’t think anyone would’ve expected from us.
What comics are you reading now?
Moreci: Let’s see…Sixth Gun, Revival, Unwritten, Saga, Fatale, Waid’s Daredevil, Battlepug, Hellboy, Hack/Slash, The Massive…on and on the list goes!
If you could hang out with any one celebrity, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
Moreci: Jack Kirby. Yes, I know that’s a cliché answer, but here’s the thing: Not only was Kirby one of the most talented, brilliant, hardest-working men to ever live, he’s always one of the nicest and most generous as well. I’ve read a ton about Kirby over the years and they all agree on this point: He was a wonderful man. Devoted husband and father, kind to his fans and friends. That’s the kind of person I want to spend time with.
That’s all for this installment of Behind the Pages. If you’d like to find out more about Michael Moreci and you should, you can check out his website and follow him on Twitter. Make sure you make your way to your LCS – for all you un-nerdy people that stands for Local Comic Book Shop – to buy Hoax Hunters. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and as always; may the nerd be with you!