One of my favorite pulls right now is the Mini- series Witch Doctor by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner. A wonderful blend of Horror and dark humor. I was fortunate to spend some time with Brandon and Lukas at SDCC11 to learn more about the book and their influences. Enjoy!
First of all congratulations on issue one selling out that must have been so great to hear. How did you find out?
Brandon: I checked my e-mail and the comic store I go to forwarded me a press release about it. That was the 4th of July weekend, the Tuesday after. The Skybound people had not been in the office and had not actually gotten around to email us and let us know. So I got this press release from skybound via my comic’s retailer, and he’s like “congratulations “and I said Oh! Cool! So I heard it on the internet.
I love the story you tell in Witch Doctor 0 about approaching Lukas to work on a comic. Did you have Witch Doctor in mind? Or was it just the opportunity to work with Lukas?
Brandon: I just wanted to do something. And I really wanted to work with him. We ended up throwing a bunch of ideas around and none of them really got a lot of traction except for Witch Doctor.
The book really seems to be a combination of both of your efforts was it like that from the beginning?
Lukas: Yeah we showed up at our first meeting each with a stack of our favorite comics and kind of just went from there. Like how do we do this.Yeah I think he conceded a little bit more than I did…
Brandon: Oh Yeah I totally did
Lukas: cause he brought in Scott Pilgrim…
I read some where that it was also a web comic for a short time?
Brandon: the first thing that we self published was a 16 page book that was a different version to the Vampire story. And we did a short press run that we sold at conventions ,and we also put it up for free on the Internet and that got us a lot of exposure. That’s how Kirkman found us
Lukas: Our entire attitude for the whole thing was we wanted to put it where people could see it. We didn’t care about getting money back for the printing it was just. We want people to see it. Maybe their might be a vague possibility that someone might want , a company might want to print it on a national level. Mainly though we just wanted people to see it.
Brandon: The first weekend it was out it started getting some interest. We put it out in time for the Stumptown Comic’s festival in Portland…
Lukas: that was the deadline we set for ourselves…
Brandon: Yeah and that weekend Dark Horse came over and was talking to us about it. One of the co-creators of Sand man came over and said “this book looks great! Let’s hang out all the time”
Lukas: Yeah Mike Dringenberg he’s such a sweetheart, he was like “hey the book looks good I live in town lets hang out. “Yeah so I still draw with him once a week
Do you like the mini-series format for the book? Or would you like the book to be a monthly ongoing?
Brandon: The intention has always been… Hellboy has been, of the three things Lukas brought to the meeting I never ended up reading the other two. But I really liked Hellboy. And Hellboy has this really good blend of mini-series and then one shots and stories that are in anthologies or in the back of other books. I find that type of model really appealing.
Lukas: You have to have the right kind of character though. Because Hellboy is definitely a character where you can tell a short story or six issue story and our character is the same. You don’t necessarily need to find out what he’s doing every single month as long as you get those nice satisfying chunks of story. Another thing we kept in mind is that we are trying to play to both formats. So when you get the first issue of Witch Doctor it’s not just set up for other issues of Witch Doctor. So you’re able to have that experience of picking up a comic and getting a satisfying story. And with the trade you still get that satisfaction but just more story.
Witch Doctor has a very atmospheric feel to it. Is that more a reflection of the art team or the work you guys do together?
Lukas: I start with thumbnails, and he has the most input on the storytelling pages and definitely the character and prop designs are collaborative. It really does take us time to get things right if he has something very specific in mind, we need to keep going till we get there.
Have you decided continuity wise is Vincent in his own universe or is there crossover potential?
Brandon: we’ve talked a little about doing crossovers with one or two other books in the past. Nothing serious or any actual plans. It would be hard for us to crossover with any other book because our monsters. There is such a specific way we do our monsters that doesn’t transfer well to other books.
I really love Penny, I’m always excited to see new female characters and you guys do a great job with her.
Lukas: She was one of those characters that it took some time to get to her final incarnation.
Brandon; When we did our first self published issue. Penny only had like two lines and she kind of had a big smile on her face the whole time. And there was a lot more to that character a lot more we were going to get to . But a bunch of people went: What’s your problem with women? Why are you so sexist? Why is your only female character so dumb?
Lukas: She looked like a Goth stripper; she was wearing all this like vinyl corsets and stuff like that and we were Like Oh. that’s a good point. She does kind of look dumb.
Brandon: and that along with this vapid grin on her face.
She looks really good in the zero issue really well put together. I’m kind of interested in seeing the earlier version. Is it kind of hard to find online ?
Brandon: Yeah I hope so.
You don’t want anyone to see it?
Lukas: I wouldn’t mind if after the first series is out and if people know that it’s not the current story but kinda like a curiosity from the past. As long as people are clear on that I don’t have any problem with them reading it.
Brandon: Where I’m just embarrassed by it.
It’s a sign of your growth no?
Brandon: It’s like people seeing the crayon drawing I did in elementary school.
Lukas: People aren’t going to be like; that sucks, they’ll think oh that’s cute
I have to geek a little on your art Lukas. It’s Amazing! I especially enjoy the little end page sketches that really show the amount of detail you put in each piece.
Do you start your art with small detailed sketches? Or do you just go to the drawing board and work on the book as a whole?
Lukas: I think the reason everything looks so detailed is because I’m still trying to teach myself the concept of economy and I don’t know if I‘ll ever get there (laughs). Most of my heroes are like Bernie Wrightson, Mark Schultz and like those guys are very detail orientated. Lots of brushwork and I also love Bruce Timm and Darwyn Cooke but I never really lean that way as far as art goes. I love guys like that who really have economy but every time I try to do it, It really doesn’t work out for me. I can actually do super detailed work quicker than I can do economized work.
Brandon: there is an old writing adage: I wrote it long because I didn’thave time to write it short. It’s almost that same kind of thing.
Lukas: Yeah, Yeah
It would be great to see a one shot with your descriptive words and the resulting Art from Lukas. You could fill a whole volume with those types of sketches.
Brandon: I love those making of books, that’s actually something we both love to do.
Lukas: Originally I wanted to be an entertainment concept artist… I grew up reading the Art of Star Wars books, stuff like that .I wanted to be the guy that drew Jabba the Hutt 50 times before they picked one. I still get on conceptart.org everyday to see what people are working on. I love doing that kind of stuff. So when it comes time to sketch things for the series that’s kind of the most fun I can have doing that.
Has either of you given any thought to having a second book together? Or on your own with another artist or writer? Or is all your attention focused solely on Witch Doctor?
Brandon. This year I expected that I would be able to launch another project. I actually had contact with another artist as well and I had to keep backungi it and back burning it. He was really excited about it and kept
sending me tall these ideas and finally I had to say: Listen I can’t; right now. I have to get this first mini series out and after that I’ll take stock and then get to this project with you…
I’m still working a day job, so I work three days a week. So I have four days left over and ideally its nice to have a day off occasionally o there is only so much time I can spend doing comics stuff. It’s been such a huge learning curve. We haven’t put out a comic before. So we have to be taught how to do everything.We have to do it wrong and then figure out, based on that a better way to do it.
Lukas: That’s true
Is your Skybound deal similar to like Image? Is the character ownership yours?
Lukas: Robert is very adamant that it defaults to whatever you guys want to do. Its up to you guys, if you need help with it I’m here. That was the starting set up.
Do you guys still find time to read comics? What are some of your favorite pulls right now? What are you looking forward too?
Brandon: The only ones I’m really excited for are Atomic Robo and Uncanny X-force.
Lukas: Uncanny X-Force is on the top of my list right now
Brandon: Unfortunately I’m just not really excited about most of the comics that are coming out right now. I’m not much of a DC person and even with Marvel the books I used to like are being canceled. Casanova when it comes out in September, That’s my new favorite comic.
Lukas: I’m excited about the new Star Trek books IDW is going to put out. You know the new crew and stuff? It’s not tied to any of the continuity. They can do new episodes they can change as much as they want
Brandon: they can bring in the Borg
What about Star Wars? Are either of you guys Star Wars fans?
Brandon: I was a Star Wars fan when I was a kid, in junior high I got into Trek and then I got back into Star Wars again.
Lukas Yeah Me too. And I’ve never been more betrayed. Except for Lost.
Yes! You poor lost fans. I feel for you.
I noticed WitchDoctor has a Facebook page is that a promoted site or are you guys actually running it?
Brandon: Yeah that‘s me. We have a facebook page and a twitter page.
How are you guys doing with the social media aspect? It seems sometimes common courtesy seems to go right out the window, have you had any issues?
Brandon: I think that when people are communicating through text and your not hearing each others voices , not hearing the reaction of the person you can just type manifestos and such so all social media does is gives people an easier way to throw that at people. For me though it’s been great. I really like that on the first day the comic came I searched for Witch doctor on twitter and all these people were talking about how much they loved it. It was also a great way to find reviews and pod casts that were discussing it. So it was extremely affirming.
Thanks so much guys!
One of the announcements form Image/ Skybound was that Witch Doctor will be back for a one shot and an additional four issue mini-seris in 2012