Hellraiser Unpinned: Brandon Seifert on Pinhead’s New Humanity [Preview + Interview]
Last year BOOM! Studios launched a new Hellraiser series by Clive Barker that marked the influential horror writer’s return to his most famous creation after decades away. Co-written with Christopher Monfette and drawn by Leonardo Manco, the book’s first arc was a hit with fans of the storied franchise, concluding with original Hellraiser heroine Kristy Cotton replacing the iconic Pinhead character as the demonic Cenobites’ head of human soul-harvesting. The event set up the next cycle of Hellraiser stories, which continue apace in BOOM!’s ongoing series.
Naturally, readers are curious as to the fate of the former Pinhead, who’s returned to his original human form of Elliott Spencer for the first time since the days just after World War I. Writer Brandon Seifert (Witch Doctor) and up-and-coming artist Michael Montenat provide answers in Hellraiser Annual #1, on sale in just a couple of weeks. Seifert previewed some pages from the special issue and told ComicsAlliance about his story, which was signed off on by Clive Barker himself.
ComicsAlliance: Brandon, before we get into your story in Hellraiser Annual, I’m told you are a particularly devoted Clive Barker fan?
Brandon Seifert: I don’t know whether people can tell, but Clive Barker is actually a huge formative influence on my work and on Witch Doctor. When I first got into horror and dark fantasy in high school, the two writers I got super into were Lovecraft and Clive. Imajica was tied with Snow Crash as my favorite book for about ten years after that. I loved Clive’s imagination, and the way he’d built these vast narratives set in even vaster worlds. There’s a sense of scope I try to establish in Witch Doctor; I got that from reading Clive when my brain was still young and mushy and easy to influence.
CA: What’s your estimation of Barker and BOOM!’s revitalized mythology? The Pinhead shakeup is massive.
BS: I love the game-changer Clive and his co-writers have pulled in the Hellraiser book. Pinhead’s no longer a Cenobite – he quit, and became human again. And his replacement… is Kirsty Cotton, his old enemy. That’s great stuff – and it immediately got me wondering about Captain Elliott Spencer, the guy who used to be Pinhead. Who is this guy? What does he want? How is he adjusting to his return to humanity, considering this is somebody who fought in the British army in World War 1 and spent the rest of the 20th century living in Hell? I wanted to do a story focused on Captain Spencer – which conveniently turned out to be exactly what BOOM! was looking for!
CA: Alright, answer some of those questions for us, a little. Who is this guy? What’s he up to in your book?
BS: Captain Spencer is a man out of time, a man who’s lost everything. Everyone he’s ever known is dead, he’s got nothing to his name. [The story in Hellraiser Annual #1 is called] “My Enemy’s Enemy” [and it’s] about Captain Spencer trying to take something back for himself – and how wrong it goes.
When I wrote the story, I wanted to do something that was rooted in and played with the mythology of the Hellraiser comic – but I also wanted something that tied in to the original Hellraiser movies. I watched those movies so many times as a teenager. One of my favorite things about the original Hellraiser – and, to a lesser degree, about its sequel Hellbound – was that the Cenobites weren’t really the “Big Bad.” The Cenobites were certainly a threat, but the main threat was from humans. Characters like Frank and Julia Cotton and Dr. Chanard, who hurt people not because they’re demons but because they’re selfish and value their own desires over the lives of others. I saw the Hellraiser Annual as an opportunity to get back to that, to tell a story where the threat comes from someone besides the Cenobites.
CA: Who’s drawing your story?
BS: Our artist on the book is a new guy named Michael Montenat. I actually recommended Michael for it – editor extraordinaire Bob Schreck introduced me to his work last year and suggested we’d be a good fit, and I thought of him when I started talking to BOOM! about doing the Hellraiser story. He’s got a great, gritty art style that fits in well with the other artists on Hellraiser, and I love his sense of light and shadow.
CA: Barker has been very involved in BOOM!’s Hellraiser books. Did you get any feedback from the maestro?
BS: Clive and BOOM! were super trusting of me on this. They let me come at them with a story I authentically wanted to tell, and let me tell the story my way – which I really appreciate! They also let me know they were super happy with how my script turned out. Hearing that Clive Barker thought I did a good job on a story I wrote about his creation was really incredible. My inner teenager started hyperventilating and passed out.