Faerie aren't always good luck and pixie dust, and a new Image series inspired by Irish folklore is throwing them into downright horror.
Launching July 13, The Hunt by writer/artist Colin Lorimer taken one of Grimm's fairy tales and upped the suspense and gore into what he calls "Peter Pan meets Hellraiser."
Newsarama talked with Lorimer about this new series, how his childhood growing up in Ireland inspired it, and how he's turning up the 'horror' element in this this story about faeries.
Newsarama: Colin, what is The Hunt about?
Colin Lorimer: The Hunt is a supernatural horror story set in Ireland, and gives a contemporary, modern day twist to Irish mythology. It is an intimate portrayal of a family trying to deal with a very unreal situation. Monsters are preying on the townsfolk and the death toll is rising. The Irish faerie folktales of old are very much real, and these aren't your 'Tinker Bell' type faeries - no, these are something much worse.
I've described it as a "Peter Pan meets Hellraiser."
Nrama: And who is Orla Roche, your lead character?
Lorimer: Orla is a 16-year-old Irish girl who is studious, clever, and a budding young artist. She can see these fairie creatures but no one believes her and rather they treat her like the 'mad kid.' Dealing with this for most of her life she has suffered greatly, not just with constant bullying, but also with medical misdiagnosis; long spells in hospital and being medicated up to the eyeballs has left her feeling helpless, and alone in the world to the point where she had even questioned her own sanity. But Orla is resilient, and with her family now at risk, she has to find a way to confront these creatures head on.
Nrama: From what you told me prior to this interview, Orla’s father played a bit role in her life – in his life, and his death. Can you tell us about their relationship and his impact on her beyond the grave?
Lorimer: Orla was very close to her father but sadly lost him to cancer at a very young age which left her absolutely devastated. Her father's death was a very important moment in Orla's life as it was the first time that she was awakened to her 'gift' as she witnessed her father's soul being quite literally ripped from his body by soul-stealing faeries known as the Sluagh. In fact, this is where we start the book and the story begins. A traumatizing event for anyone I would think--but for an eleven-year-old trying to comprehend such a horrifying scene, well, you can only imagine that would take a hell of a lot of counselling! We get to see some of Orla's past experiences through a series of flashbacks that will help give the reader a greater understanding of her past and their relationship.
Nrama: And just who or what is the Sluagh?
Lorimer: The Sluagh or "fairy host" are the souls of the restless dead, creatures so evil they even hell wouldn't take them. They are cursed to forever travel the skies like a flock of birds, mangled into one giant black mass, seeking out the dying to steal away their souls. Once they take your soul it is then is forced to travel along with them, tortured for all eternity. These creatures truly are the stuff of nightmares.
Nrama: So this kind of explores what might happen after we die. Is this something you think about a lot, and theorize on?
Lorimer: I think we all ponder those age-old questions at some point in our life and this book certainly taps into some of that. I grew up in Northern Ireland and religion played a huge part in my upbringing. I was told of angels and devils, heaven and hell, and being someone who suffered from night terrors as a child, and later, sleep paralysis, it all made for a rather heady cocktail. I prayed for my soul on many a night in fear that a devil would steal me away, so I guess it's not a huge surprise that I'm now writing a book about creatures that steal souls. I've just swapped over my biblical demons for Faeries ones. Fair trade I think.
Nrama: You've said elsewhere that this is based on the Irish idea of the Wild Hunt. Can you talk about that and its influence on The Hunt?
Lorimer: I've always loved the European myth of the Wild Hunt and the many differing variations of it over history. When I came across the Irish version about soul-stealing creatures known as the Sluagh and their wicked ways, I knew I had a book. The Wild Hunt does play an integral part and is still the backbone of The Hunt --I've just taken all those various age-old beliefs and fused them into something new, trying to be as inventive as possible in my ideas, and storytelling while still retaining some of those same familiar elements that fans of folklore can hopefully relate to.
Nrama: What are your hopes for The Hunt?
Lorimer: I sincerely do hope that The Hunt finds an audience. It's quite honestly the best thing I've ever done, both in terms of writing, and art and I am very proud of it. The world I'm creating is vast and allows for many story threads that could keep it going for quite a long time, and I hope I get a chance, and enough reader support to at some point tie all those threads together. If you're looking for your next horror fix -The Hunt is it!
Nrama: This is your second Image series after 2012's Harvest with A.J. Lieberman - but this time you're writing and drawing. What brought you back to Image, and specifically Jim Valentino's Shadowline, to do this?
Lorimer: Jim Valentino was the first guy I thought of when I decided to pitch The Hunt, and Shadowline was the only publisher I approached with it. I enjoyed our previous working relationship and he's always been very supportive of my work, so it was really a no-brainer that I would want to do it through him. With Jim, his door's always open and you really do get a good 'one on one' hands on approach, he's personable, quick to action, and is always ready to lend an ear, and offer advice when needed. And quite simply, Image /Shadowline is still is the best place to be for fully creator-owned comics.
Nrama: Working with you on this is colorist Joana Laufente and letterer Jim Campbell. How are they helping you out in this, your first effort writing and drawing a series?
Lorimer: Joana and Jim are both fantastic at what they do. I couldn't do the book with either of them - they make The Hunt a better book. I value Joana as a fellow artist and see her not as a colorist, but as co-artist on the book. She brings so much to The Hunt with her wonderful, and somewhat unique sense of color, surprising me constantly with her palette choices - it's a complete joy when new pages arrive in my inbox. Jim has a real talent for what he does and his suggestions and choices of font and placement are always perfect. One of the best in the business!