It’s no great secret that we’ve been massive fans of Dark Horse Comics’ superhero horror series Sundowners here at the Big Comic Page since it’s very first issue.
So, with the second (and most likely final) volume set for release this week, we were fortunate enough to be able to sit down and have a chat with series creator and writer Tim Seeley about all things Sundowners.
BIG COMIC PAGE: For those of our readers who may not be familiar with the series, can you give us the quick ‘elevator pitch’ for Sundowners?
TIM SEELEY: It’s ‘THEY LIVE’ meets’ KICK ASS!” It’s low budget real-life superheroes who see things others don’t, and it’s up to the reader to decide if they’re crazy or not.
BCP: The Sundowners are constantly treading the line between mental health issues and super heroics. Where did an idea like that come from?
TS: It was totally inspired by the rise of ‘real life superhero,” and the way the public reacted to them. People have loved the fictional notion of superheroes for a good 80 years, even more so now with all the movies and such. But when real people put on costumes and try to do good, as is the case with a guy like Seattle’s Phoenix Jones, most people instantly assume the guy is crazy. I wanted to explore that weird line, between what we think is sane and crazy, and also to deal with genuine, noble human beings.
BCP: Jim Terry’s artwork gives Sundowners a fantastic 70’s horror vibe. Was that a look you’d always planned on having for the series?
TS: I’d had the characters floating around in my head for a few years, but it wasn’t until I saw Jim’s work that the vibe really cemented itself in my mind. Bringing Jim on made the story what it became, so I owe him one.
BCP: You’re a pretty damn talented artist in your own right, so what was the collaborative and character design process like between you and Jim?
TS: Since most of the ‘superhero’ characters existed before Jim came along, he mostly got stuck with my designs. But, I totally wanted him to add his own spin, and I think his Arcanika is a vastly different and more interesting character than mine. Jim designed all the monsters and such and I always let him add his particular gritty, inky, vibe to everything,
BCP: The second arc was released through Dark Horse’s Digital Exclusives platform. We’ve been racking our brains trying to figure it out, but why do you think Sundowners didn’t do as well commercially as it clearly deserved to?
TIM: I think part of it is that it’s weird. And superhero readers are hesitant to do weird. Also, I think it scared horror readers away, because they’re sick of superheroes. I think we also got a little hurt by the fact that most comic book retailers saw Dark Horse as the Star Wars company primarily, and they didn’t know how to order their books when SW went over to Marvel. I dunno…I know I made a good book… sometimes you just have to live with the idea that you made a good book that was before/after its time, or that you’re too weird for the normal people.
BCP: Given the recent rise of digital comics, do you think that ‘digital-single-issues-with-a-printed-trade’ could be a viable model moving forwards?
TS: I do! It’ll be a few years I think, but it’s an exciting possibility.
BCP: Can you tell us a little bit about the second arc of the series? There’s some truly terrifying new characters introduced, that’s for sure.
TS: Heh, thanks! The goal was to shake up our characters. They’d found each other, so they were no longer alone, but in moving them to a new city, we made them strangers again. I think having them unbalanced and confused helps that feeling translate for the reader too. Discomfort and confusion help make a great set up for fear, donchuknow.
Mr. Christmas was inspired from the trailer I saw for SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT when I was a kid. I didn’t see the movie until I was a teenager, but I think that trailer was on TV when I was 4 or 5, and it scared the crap out of me… this idea that someone I inherently trusted like Santa Claus could be a monster really stuck with me.
BCP: Any plans to perhaps revisit the world of the Sundowners somewhere down the line?
TS: I really, really hope so. Jim and I have a ton of ideas for it, and I really like working on those characters.
BCP: I know it’s probably like picking your favourite child, but do you have a favourite Sundowner?
TS: I’m at least a little in love with Crowlita.
BCP: And finally, what else do you have coming up that our readers should look out for?
TS: I’ve got DEADPOOL vs. THANOS, REVIVAL, BATMAN & ROBIN ETERNAL and GRAYSON! Plus… probably more !
BCP: Thanks again for your time, Tim.