Now that Tim Seeley is getting attention from DC readers because of his role in the upcoming weekly series Batman: Eternal long-time fans of the writer's work are hoping that translates to support for his critically acclaimed Image series Revival.
Yes, it's a zombie series — but it's not what that word usually implies. In this story, the people who come back from the dead are just… well, people who came back from the dead. No moaning. No brain eating. Just revived human beings.
Featuring art by Seeley's frequent collaborator, artist Mike Norton, Revival is reminiscent of a crime noir, as it centers on a town where the dead mysteriously come back to life — only in this one small town in rural Wisconsin. The government promptly quarantines the place, and the town is filled with "revivers" (those who returned from the dead) and everyone else (those who are trying to figure out what just happened).
As the writer is attracting fans thanks to his recent and upcoming DC work, Newsarama talked to Seeley in a spoiler-free interview for folks who might want to check out the writer's work outside the much-anticipated 2014 run on Batman.
Newsarama: And then you've got Revival coming out from Image. The first couple collections are out, and for people who are fans of The Walking Dead, this would be a great "next" zombie series to check out. Where did the idea come from to do this type of story? Because it's a very different approach to a zombie series.
Tim Seeley: It was a couple different things, and stories usually come from a couple different influences.
I'd been wanting to do a crime story set in a small town for a long time — first because my home town is a small town in central Wisconsin that had all kinds of weird stuff happen in it, not like supernatural, but humans being odd creatures. And I wanted to be able to tell stories about the kind of crime that happens in a town where people prefer to live far away from other people.
And then talking Mike Norton about what we would do with a zombie story, because at this point, zombie stories are sort of synonymous with a certain type of genre, which is a "survival" story, almost exclusively. And The Walking Dead is, like, the perfect form of the zombie survival story.
So we knew there was no need to do a survival story with zombies anymore. You know, zombies are sort of an analogy for a world without technology and rules and governance, and they're a symbol of advancing humanity to each other. It's been done a zillion times, and done well.
So we wanted to deal with, if people came back from the dead, what would be the other effects of that? And we thought, what about people having to live with people they thought were dead. And what happens after you've accepted someone's loss, and they're suddenly back in your life.
And then we added in this quarantine aspect, which meant there was a certain claustrophobia and cabin fever associated with it. (And anyone who's lived in a small town in the winter is pretty much how you feel about it all the time.)
So we were combining all those ideas to make it an undead crime story about people having to live with people.
Instead of a survival story, it's a story about death, and about living.
Nrama: I think I read that you guys have a definite, finite ending to this. So the mysteries will all be solved?
Seeley: Yeah, absolutely. We knew the mystery, and we knew the ending. And then we sort of developed characters that live in that world and let their personalities dictate where they went.
And only a few characters have really determined throughlines in the story. The challenge is to weave them in and out of each other's lives.
It's really a story about a town, more than anything. And part of that had to be about interactions between people, and different personalities dealing with something that affects them on a personal level, on a religious, spiritual level, and how they would deal with each other.
Part of it was that we wanted to know the origin of this thing, so we would really know all the things it would cause. If we know the ending, then we can set characters up very early to build toward that end.
It's much less stressful knowing where you're going.
Nrama: Without spoiling what happens later in the series, how would you describe the main characters?
Seeley: The two main characters are definitely the sisters: Dana, who is a cop and single mother, and her sister Em, who is sort of a younger college student who ended up being one of the revivers (not a big spoiler — it happens in the first issue).
It's Dana dealing with not being there for her younger sister, who had died at some point. And she wasn't there to take care of her. There's a lot of guilt associated with that, because she sort of shirked her responsibilities as an older sister, so it's really about their relationship more than anything.
But all the other characters are woven in and out of their lives, so there are other cops, and there's a charlatan exorcist and a reporter and an old man named Lester, who wrote a book on living to be a hundred, so he's sort of an expert on longevity. And everyone sort of runs in and out of everybody's lives that way.
Nrama: There's such an emotional resonance to them being people you know, as opposed to being these faceless zombies. I know that's been touched upon before, but you took it a step forward.
Seeley: Yeah, it's always been a part of the zombie story, but it's from the angle, you know, "can you shoot grandma as she walks toward you if she wants to eat your brains?" But the answer's always easy because they're so clearly not themselves.
And in our story, we wanted it to be… well, we don't know. The rules aren't clear.
The monster that is in this story doesn't have a folklore equivalent. It doesn't have something that's been built up before.
We wanted to restore actual fear of this stuff by being sort of unpredictable and people not knowing the rules.