Image Comics’ GONERS: Goonies Meets Hellboy

Credit: Image Comics

What if there was a reality show following a family of supernatural detectives – and what they found was real? Sounds like a show you might like, right? Now what if the parents were murdered and those who did the deed were out to get their surviving children? That’s what Goners is about.

Announced in August, Goners is a new comic series by animation writer Jacob Semahn (Ultimate Spider-Man) and artist Jorge Corona that mixes the supernatural of Hellboy with the hijinx of a couple of kids in over their head ala Goonies. Scheduled to debut this October from Image Comics, Goners follows the modern-day adventures of the Latimers, the latest in a long line of paranormal hunters who find their bloodline being drained out when parents are murdered on live TV and their children, Josiah and Zoe, watch. And they’re next.

Credit: Image Comics

Newsarama: Jacob, can you give us the Goners quick pitch?

Jacob Semahn: Goners is about a world just left-of-center from our own. Where the mythic co-exist with the mortal and offers up an alternative history shown through a supernatural mirror. From the colonization of America to the stand-off of the Cold War, the Latimer Family through the centuries have been the first line of defense against all that go bump in the night. However, the modern day progenitors, Raleigh Latimer and wife, Evelyn Latimer, have turned the family tradition into a profitable brand. Selling life rights and starring in their own reality show, the Latimers have found a way to fund their endeavors against those that would try to overthrow humanity. At the beginning of Issue #1 however, a routine case turns into anything but, as Raleigh and Evelyn are murdered on live television, while their children, Josiah and Zoe, are left helpless to watch. With this widening power vacuum, devils and opportunists alike, hunt the ill-prepared children as they set out to discover who killed their parents and why.

Nrama: Tell us more about these Latimers, and how they’re viewed by the world in Goners?

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Semahn: The Latimers are world famous -- synonymous with the likes of Rockefeller, Einstein, and Kennedy. Without them, humanity would have fallen centuries ago. But through time, the balance of nature has equaled and much like the chosen protector of The Green is Swamp Thing, the chosen protectors of Earth is this family… the Family Latimer.

It’s in the blood. Passed down from one generation to the next. And the world, for the most part, could not be happier. But with all things celebrity, there are those that will spew their fair share of hate. That being said, when a very public assassination kills Raleigh and Evelyn Latimer live on television and for the world to see, the world gasps as one -- The defenses are down. Now what?

Nrama: So what did the Latimers do to go from being paranormal hunters to the hunted?

Semahn: That would be giving away everything! Let’s just say that there was a high cost that was to be paid in blood… and now it’s time to collect.

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Nrama: So just who is hunting them?

Semahn: Everyone with 2 to 6 legs. It’s funny that Zoe and Josiah, as celebutantes, are hunted by the paparazzi as much as they’re stalked by the horrors seeking an end--once and for all--to their bloodline.

Nrama: Back up -- what did the Latimers do during happier times?

Semahn: Death is a common occurrence for this family. There are no happy endings for them, so while the Latimers have their downtime, they act as a joyous family. Big get-togethers and bonding. The off-camera moments are touching, as Raleigh and Evelyn try to stay connected. This is a family business and it’s important for them to keep in touch with their children, for they will inherit this mantle someday.

While on-camera, Raleigh and Evelyn play it up. Big Errol Flynn moments of grand adventure, fantasy-like wardrobe, and toothy grins. They play it big and loud. Taking the piss out of it. And looking happy. “Looking” being the key word. They’ve trapped themselves in this life of playing for an audience. It’s a tiresome and really interesting play on the dynamic of a job--no matter how much you enjoy it--is still work.

Credit: Image Comics

The more quiet and private moments shed another light all together. A darker aspect of this lineage that will be explored through the series.

Nrama: Tell us more about this world, where supernatural stuff is so out in the open?

Semahn: It’s a very atemporal world. Much of the design and inspiration comes from noir films and Batman: The Animated Series. It’s a world out of time, where the progress of human innovation is helped and hindered by its supernatural counterparts. And we will discover that history and innovation as the series goes. A lot of the way the world is, informs how the world was. We’ll track Evelyn and Raleigh through the past and into the present. The Latimer’s history is as important to their current state as their future is. In Goners it’s all about where you come from.

Nrama: Working with you on this is artist Jorge Corona. How would you describe how you and him came up with Goners?

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Semahn: It’s an idea I’ve had for a while now, that has only expanded by the help of Jorge and his wonderful imagination and style. We both talked the series through and geeked out on what we wanted to see, how we wanted to see it, and who would care to see what we wanted to see. We were heavily influenced by Johnny Quest, The Goonies, Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer, and Batman: The Animated Series. We’re both a massive fan of these properties and their adventurous nature as well as fans of folklore and horror. The mash-up of our child-like wonder and our horrific sensibilities seemed to mesh well into what we now call the Goners Universe.

Nrama:Your name might be new to most comic fans, but they know who you work with -- Man of Action, founded by a bunch of comic creators -- Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau, and Steven T. Seagle. Can you tell us about your role at Man of Action, and if those founders gave you the nudge to get into comics?

Semahn: I currently write a bevy of titles for Man of Action Entertainment and have been working closely with them since 2011. Steven T. Seagle chatted me up while I rang up his weekly stash at this great comic shop in Pasadena I worked at called Comics Factory.

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I was in the interview process for The ABC/Disney Writing Fellowship and he gave me a lot of great mentoring advice (Seagle used to coach College Forensics) and as the decision process went on and on, my spec script eventually didn’t make the cut into the Final 8. I rang Steve to tell him the news and he in turn offered me a script for episode 212 of Ultimate Spider-Man, titled “Me Time.”  I, of course, jumped at the chance and I’ve worked closely on all of their animated projects ever since.

Credit: Image Comics

The comic’s side of things has progressed naturally as I’ve been heavily invested in comic books ever since I was young. My first comic, Infinity War #1 (all those heroes on the cover!!), was bought off of a 7-11 spinner rack in Northridge, California. And I’ve been hooked ever since. So it seems fitting that I’m going back to where my imagination for writing was sparked.

But to answer the last bit of your question: Yes. Man of Action has been an immense help in navigating this creator-owned trade. It’s a lot of hard work and thanks to their guidance, I was prepared for most of it. That and Joe Casey has been colossal help in getting me on Eric Stephenson’s radar. It’s funny how life goes. At one end, you’re a kid buying a comic. At another, you’re an adult making one. Being a part of that tradition… that process… is a dream come true.

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