Kristine Chester, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor: Colin, thank you for taking the time to speak with Fanbase Press today. Let’s dive right in and talk about your upcoming new series with Image Comics/Shadowline Comics, called The Hunt. What is it about, and why should readers check it out?
Colin Lorimer: Thanks for having me, Kristine.
The Hunt is a supernatural, horror series set in Ireland and gives a distinct modern-day twist to Irish folklore. It’s based loosely on the European myth of “The Wild Hunt” about a horde of ghostly huntsmen who come at night as a warning to an upcoming catastrophe. It was also believed that those who witnessed it may have found themselves stolen away and taken into the Faerie otherworld while others may have had their souls pulled from their bodies to join with this deathly army racing across the skies. Each country has its own variation on the tale – The Hunt is based upon the Irish version of this tale and is known as “The Sluagh.” More feared than death itself, these are the most vile, evil creatures imaginable, and their main object is to steal the souls of the dying and torture them for all eternity. This would be Peter Pan if reimagined and written by Clive Barker and visualized by the likes of Francis Bacon and Zdzislaw Beksinki. Scary stuff. If you are looking for your new horror fix, The Hunt may be the one for you.
KC: That’s quite a pitch. What can you tell us more specifically about the story of The Hunt and its characters?
CL: For the first book I’ve purposely kept to a small cast of characters so that we can really get to know them intimately and, hopefully, get a real sense of their personalities and history. It’s a book about family and the strength to overcome. Orla Roche, our main protagonist, is a sixteen-year-old girl who has all the same dreams and desires as any other teenager, the only difference being she can see Faerie creatures. Her first experience/awakening was as she watched her dying father’s soul being ripped from his body by the soul-stealing creatures known as the Sluagh (as mentioned above). She has had a terrible time with this “gift” and has been labeled as the “mad kid.” She has been the victim of bullying, medical misdiagnosis, and in turn of having her stories and visions being discredited as untrue. Then, we have Orla’s grandmother, "Granny," who is really the backbone of the story, Olly, Orla’s younger brother, Ciara, the mother, and a few other characters who play their part as the story rolls along.
KC: As you explained above, Irish mythology is the backbone of this series. What was it about these stories that grabbed you and inspired you to tell this story?
CL: I’ve always had a fascination with Irish mythology. I think it would date back to my childhood visits to the Giant’s Causeway and reading the old Jim Fitzpatrick books that helped to fuel that fire. Growing up in Ireland, you are constantly reminded of these old tales so much that it becomes part of your creative make-up. I’ve always loved the Cu Chulainn and Finn McCool stuff, but the darker elements that lend themselves so easily to the horror genre have always been my main love. Also, a lot of these lesser-known myths haven’t really been explored, which is a real shame as it’s a very rich playground to step into.
KC: Out of all of the myths you read and researched, which is your favorite?
CL: The Banshee myth absolutely terrified me as a child as did the idea of Changelings (The latter do play a key role in the book.), but it was the Sluagh tales that became the main driving force and thrust for the book. These are some of the most frightening tales I have even come across; beings so evil that they were cast out of the underworld, taking the form of birds, and cursed to fly together for all eternity as a mangled black mass searching out the dying - truly is the stuff of nightmares. Once these guys were added into the mix, the book almost wrote itself. I should mention that there is another group of characters that will be introduced in Issues #3 through #5 that are going to make the Sluagh look like choirboys. I actually had to wash my hands, sprinkle some holy water on my keyboard, and say a quick prayer after writing some of their scenes
KC: Oh my! I’m having flashbacks to your previous work with Dark Horse Comics, UXB, which, to this day, remains one of the creepiest and delightfully weirdest comics I’ve ever read. Besides the need to keep holy water on hand, what is your approach to writing horror, and where do these “out there” ideas come from?
CL: Thanks. That’s really appreciated. UXB was my first real venture into the world of professional comics and I’m still very proud of it. I’ve been drawn to horror from a very early age, and when I write I always end up going to the darkest corners. Maybe it was growing up in Northern Ireland and living through "the Troubles" –my "bogeymen" came in the form of stories about the IRA and the UDA; people who dressed in balaclavas that may come in the night to kill you certainly leave a lasting impression. Also, my childhood in the seventies was spent predominantly reading British comics, not just 2000AD, but dating further back to some of the old humour, and other boys adventure comics and, my god, some of those stories and characters were just weird and warped beyond belief. Even the kids' TV of the time was incredibly dark. The series, Children of the Stones, is a prime example; it was like a kid’s version of the movie, The Wicker Man. I feel very lucky to have grown up in that time—everything now feels so sanitized and "designed by committee," whereas in those days they just ran with whatever crazy idea or concept they came up with—either way, it made for some great brain food!
KC: You pull double duty as both writer and artist for The Hunt. What was your approach to the visual aspect of the series? Any inspirations?
CL: Originally, I wanted to go a little cruder on the art to purposely force the reader's attention more to story, but once I started into it in earnest, I found it hard not to go in and finely tune the art as per usual. Louis Le Brocquy’s illustrations for Thomas Kinsella's inspired version of “The Tain” was a huge influence, and I think you can still see a little of that in the design of the Faeries and the Otherworld as they are a little more impressionistic in style which helped in turn to differentiate between the two worlds-- the real and the Faerie world.
KC: The Sluagh are absolutely terrifying in the book. What’s your design process for the Sluagh?
CL: It took a little time to come up with the right look and design for the Sluagh. I did have a good starting point from some of the written descriptions of them that you can quite easily find online or in books, but I knew I had to make that design my own. I usually just sketch and doodle shapes and silhouettes, keeping it rather simple to begin with and then build upon that, refining as I go. I seen these things as large, black masses with hints of detail, almost like the descriptions you find of shadow people or monsters in dreams that you just can’t quite make out. It’s almost like they are fooling your eye…you think you can see them but when it comes to describing them, that can be a little more difficult. Add the "bird-like creature" design element to it, and it all came together quite well. Wings in any design just add that extra "something."
KC: Sticking with creative processes: It’s time to create a new issue of The Hunt. What’s your process like? Where do you begin?
CL: I always start with an outline and then work my way through that, breaking it down into scenes and concentrating more on dialogue and mood. I don’t need to write full scripts with place descriptions, because I’m the one drawing it. Once I get it to a place where I feel it’s working, I then start breaking it down into thumbnails and layouts, constantly refining and changing up various staging aspects as I go. Then, I start drawing, digitally inking over my rough layouts until I have a full, 22-page comic; getting into the final stages I’ll go in and tweak the dialogue based on how everything is now sitting on the page, rewrite the script as need be, and send it off to Jim Campbell for lettering.
KC: What was it like to work with Jim Campbell and colorist Joana Lafuente on the book?
CL: I’m very lucky to have Joana Lafuente and Jim Campbell working with me. Two absolute pros! Joana’s artistry adds so much to the world of The Hunt. I can’t imagine doing this book without her. When she delivers the pages, it’s almost like seeing them for the first time. Truly an amazing talent. Being an artist himself, Jim Campbell’s suggestions and choices on fonts and SFX are always bang on. Couple that with his perfect placement and he makes my life very easy!
KC: The first issue of The Hunt will be in stores July 13th. What is the plan for the series? How many issues is it scheduled to run?
CL: I have enough content for this series to continue for a very long time. Realistically, that all depends on how the book is received, and more importantly- the sales figures. I’m just grateful that Jim Valentino over at Shadowline gave me the opportunity to tell my story and get it out there. I can promise the reader a really intense story that will shock and delight in equal measure. I’m throwing everything into this—the wonderful thing about a creator-owned book is that I don’t have to hold back. A world where I don’t have to censor my work and go just full throttle—it’s every creator’s dream job.
KC: Thank you once again for your time, Colin. Before you go, where can fans find more information about you, your work, and The Hunt?
CL: Thanks, Kristine. They can find me on Twitter.
Here’s the Image page for The Hunt and my blog.
And, you can pre-order The Hunt using Order Code MAY16 0554. Get ready for The Hunt coming July 13th!