Growing up, we’ve all been conditioned to fear the bogeyman–that intangible terror that is lurking unseen just around the corner, or under the bed, or in your peripheral vision. Well, what if the bogeyman wasn’t something made up to scare children into eating their vegetables and adhering to their bedtimes? What if it was something real, something deadly? In Brandon Seifert and Eric Battle’s new Legendary Comics series The Harvester, a nightmarish supernatural enforcer stalks the land. But he isn’t going after disobedient kids; he is delivering bloody justice as an otherworldly avatar of vengeance. With a rapidly increasing body count left in The Harvester’s wake, two investigators take it upon themselves to determine once and for all whether this is an urban legend or if something more sinister is at work.
With The Harvester #1 hitting store shelves tomorrow, I caught up with writer Brandon Seifert to pick his brain about what we can expect from the series, the grisly details about the research that went into the project, and much more.
Nerdist: Let’s talk about Harvester. What can we look forward to? How many issues do you have planned? What can we expect?
Brandon Seifert: Harvester is a continuing monthly series, and I’ve written two story arcs already. We’ve got quite a bit of it done, so it’s going to be coming out on time. Harvester is an idea that Thomas Tull, the CEO of Legendary, came up with for me to flesh out. The Harvester is sort of this supernatural — I don’t want to say vigilante — character who has existed for the last couple of centuries. He is accompanied by this sort of mysterious, metaphysical force. Down through the decades that he has existed, he has been called upon to do certain tasks by this force, which is embodied by the character, Teo Dan. Mostly, it involves supernatural black ops; he’s an assassin, a leg-breaker. All these rumors about his existence have sprung up around him. In the present day, most of what people know about Harvester is that he’s an urban legend.
So, our viewpoint characters are this student of anthropology named Vicki, who is basically studying the legend of the Harvester, and this other guy named Justin, who is a part-time journalist, part-time detective — whichever is going to pay him better. He is also investigating the Harvester, but the way that he is investigating it is, “Yeah, this is a supernatural figure, but he’s left a big body count over the years.” A lot of unexplained murders and rampage killings have been attributed to him. So, Justin is looking at the historical record and the places where people have attributed murders like that to this urban legend. The two of them team up and try to uncover the truth behind all these stories.
N: I like that you’re weaving in elements of folklore and urban legend. Did you look to any existing urban legends for inspiration?
BS: No, not really. Nothing that I found. The basis all came from Thomas [Tull], and I just fleshed it out. I actually came to comics writing from a journalism background, so my second nature when starting a new project is to research the crap out of it. I wanted to approach it from the idea that there is this real supernatural force, and yes it’s a secret, yes the general public doesn’t know it exists or really believe in it, but it’s gonna have repercussions in the real world. You know, there’s going to be stories told about it, and this kind of shadow of information and speculation will be created around it over time. In this case, I did a lot of research into urban legends and how they propagate. I also researched things that might be connected like rampage killings. Basically we have this guy who just kind of pops up and does these killing sprees. Usually, he has one target, one specific person he’s trying to kill, or one person he’s trying to protect, but to do that he frequently has to kill or maim a whole bunch of people. So, I did a bunch of research into real-world rampage killings. Let me tell you, it was a whole lot of fun. It was a fun and cheerful afternoon. [laughs] So, not a specific urban legend, but I wanted to give it that overall feel as thought it could be a plausible story that your friends might tell you.
N: Going off of what you just mentioned, are Vicki and Justin a composite of different aspects of your personality?
BS: [laughs] That’s a really good question. They’ve certainly both got bits of me in there. There’s a couple bits in the first issue where things that Vicki does or says or that Justin does that are very me. There’s little bits of me that come out as them over the course of the series, moreso than other characters. They’ve also got a lot of other stuff going on that I don’t. Maybe it’s a reflection on who I am, but not really. Justin is very mercenary — he has his own reasons for doing this. There’s a bit in the first issue where he’s introducing himself to Vicki and he says he’s a journalist, then later he tells her he’s a private investigator. She’s like, “Which is it?” He replies, “whatever’s paying that week”. Vicki is much more about the search for knowledge, but there’s also a level of ego there that we’e going to see. There’s an ego-based emotional reason behind why she’s looking into the Harvester. It’s not entirely altruistic on either of their ends.
N: Let’s talk about the design of the world. Eric Battle’s artwork has a rough-hewn feel that adds a visceral quality to the book. How closely do you work together to develop the visual aesthetic?
BS: Eric came on to the project fairly late in the game; I had written ten issues already. We had another artist attached to the project, and that didn’t end up working out. Our editor, Bob Schreck, had just worked with Eric on the Godzilla tie-in books that Legendary had just done, so he said, “Let’s bring him in.” Eric wound up bringing a lot to the project. Like you said, he’s got a bit of a darker style, which lead to more stylized visuals. On the other hand, he’s a bit of a traditional superhero artist, which made him a great fit for this book. In my head, I always think of the Harvester as superhero-ish, but he’s very much not a superhero. Eric’s art is kind of superhero-ish, but not prim and proper, which kind of works well for it.
N: He might show up and save the day, but he’s going to terrify you in the process.
BS: He’s going to save the day, but he’ll do so maiming or killing all of the dudes around you. So, yeah your life will be saved, but you’re likely to be traumatized in the process.
Legendary Comics’ The Harvester #1 is available everywhere tomorrow.
(Editor’s note: Nerdist Industries is a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks.)