The holidays are arriving early with IDW Publishing’s new one-shot, The Crow: Hark the Herald.
"The Crow.... Christmas special?"
Yes, that's right.
This -one-shot follows six of North America’s most notorious killers as they take a traditional Christmas getaway into a cabin in the woods of Wisconsin... and the Crow gets involved.
The story is written by Tim Seeley, who is no stranger to the horror genre with his long running slasher indie title Hack/Slash and rural noir Revival, which also took place in Wisconsin. The book is illustrated by Meredith Laxton, whose portfolio spans from Humanoids to Source Point Press.
Before the issue’s November 27th release, Newsarama had the chance to talk to Laxton about what Crow fans can expect from this story. We discuss the diverse group of the series’ six killers, the Crow’s involvement, and Meredith’s collaborative process with Seeley.
Newsarama: Meredith, can you describe the character designs for our six killers?
Meredith Laxton: What I like about the "psycho six" is that they all come across as unassuming on the surface level. All these characters come from different backgrounds and have unique assassin-y skill sets but together they sort of make up a dysfunctional family reunion.
Jane takes on a matronly role for the group and is the glue that brings everyone together. I wanted her physical appearance and attire to look soft and comforting, even when she's pulled her gun out.
Larry is the problem child whom Tim described as "Owen Wilson playing Anton Chigurh". He's that friend that is super laid back and fun to hang with but also incredibly reckless and unreliable when you need him.
Jinko was my favorite to design; I wanted him to look like the ideal mall Santa.
Non Reges is a political assassin therefore he is suave and calculating. Karen, the suburban mom, was described to me as "Very professional, but stressed out by her job, and in serious need of a vacation," so I drew her to resemble myself. [Laughs]
Lastly, I really enjoyed designing Ten. He's mysterious but also a little creepy, lacking any indication of emotion.
My favorite scene in the book is when the gang is sitting by the fireplace in their Christmas sweaters, I really wanted each of their sweaters to reflect something about each of their characters.
Nrama: The story takes place in Wisconsin. How do you bring this setting to life?
Laxton: Luckily, one of my best friends is a Wisconsin native so we talked at length about the climate and people that you might expect there. I'm from the south and I am familiar with small, rural towns therefore it felt natural to incorporate some of those rustic vibes to the environments. Most of the book takes place in the wilderness (in the dead of winter, I might add) so trying to depict foliage and trees covered in snow, without it becoming monotonous, was the biggest challenge.
Nrama: How do you depict the horror aspect of the story?
Laxton: For this book, I used entirely traditional media. I mainly use a brush when I'm inking and I hoped that the gritty, dry brush texture would give the artwork a bit of a darker inflection. I think the moments where Cecilia makes her entrance can be impactful as well. Her whole nature is very otherworldly and unsettling.
Nrama: How did you approach the Crow’s character?
Laxton: The relationship that Cecilia Rite has with her father reminds me a lot of my own (especially having recently lost my father as well) so the moments we see of them before she becomes the crow were just as important as the present chronology of the book. I also have a sister that is the same age as Cecilia (whom is also studying biology in college) so it wasn't hard to jump into Cecilia's shoes and feel out her character. Everything about Cecilia was very relatable to me, even her transition from sweet, small town girl to ruthless, goth huntress. She's just so cool and I really hope readers think she's as bad ass as I do.
Nrama: Would you like to work on more stories in this franchise?
Laxton: I would absolutely love to work more on this franchise if my schedule permits it.
Nrama: Were you a fan of The Crow before this project?
Laxton: As a kid, I really enjoyed the film and the lore of The Crow but I was not very familiar with James O'Barr's comics. I did read The Crow: Memento Mori before starting this project and I adored it.
Nrama: How did you connect with Tim for this project?
Laxton: I met Tim through David Hedgecock, the editor on this project.
Nrama: What was your collaboration process like?
Laxton: Tim was great to work with. He was very prompt and insightful with feedback, which made the process run very smoothly. We didn't have to rework much from the initial page layouts I provided except for one splash page; we work-shopped back and forth until it was just right and I think everyone was really happy with the result. I learned a lot from working on this project with Tim.