In these modern times, people sometimes reminisce and reflect about how much better “things used to be”. But bad times have been going on since there’s been times to recount, and in the upcoming Image series Severed we find those bad times in the early years of the 20th century.
Starting on August 3, writers Scott Snyder (Detective Comics) and Scott Tuft join artist Attila Futaki on the worn roads of the early 1900s as a young boy runs away from home and a traveling salesman with a penchant for flesh runs after him. Dubbed “historical horror” by Snyder, he’s no stranger to that genre after sinking his teeth into it with American Vampire at Vertigo. But in this new creator-owned enterprise, Snyder and his collaborators are trading in the supernatural for the psychological on the open road in the days leading up to the Great War.
Newsarama: What can you guys tell us about Severed?
Scott Snyder: First, we're both really excited about it! It's a historical horror comic. It takes place in the early 1900's and it centers on two characters — one is a young boy who takes to the rails to find his minstrel father. The other — and this is the horror part — is a traveling salesman who's actually one of America's first serial killers, a bloodthirsty maniac who uses the anonymity of the road to prey on America's hopeful.As for the feel of the comic, with Severed, we're aiming for something different, a real slow-burn... Something emotional and psychological where the scares are supposed to be deeper... based in the character's psychology. There will be plenty of stuff will jump out at you but it is a slow burn and we hope that this restraint will lead to deeper scares further on in the series.
Nrama: Image describes this as a “character-driven horror script”, so dig in deeper and tell us more about these two guys.
Scott Tuft: The main character of Severed is Jack Garron, a 12-year-old boy who has grown up in the comfort and security of a sleepy middle class town in Western New York. Jack was adopted as a baby and he feels that his true life lies somewhere else... on the road with his natural father, a traveling minstrel. Jack is a headstrong confident kid and thinks that at twelve, he's man enough to leave the nest and hit the road in search of his father.
The other main force in the book is a man whose true identity is a mystery. He's a timeless chameleon who wanders the roads and rails looking for lost children whose dreams he can turn into nightmares. Throughout the book, his name will change, his profession will change but there is one constant... his thirst for the blood of children.
Nrama: The artist on this, Attila Futaki, calls the world in Severed “old-fashioned and precious”. How would you describe the setting of this series?Tuft: Yes. I think Attila was joking a bit about the precious thing. We seem to look at the past through rose-colored glasses... "Back in the day children used to walk the streets unsupervised and feed unicorns directly from their little hands. " The truth is that back in the day things were not quaint. A couple years after Severed, America enters the WWI and over 9 million Americans died. 12 million came back wounded. Millions died in pandemics and as far as crime goes, it was not uncommon for people to just disappear... no trace of their bodies... no justice brought to their abductors and murderers. It was a time when the insane and malevolent freely walked the streets. We were inspired of the tales of serial killers from the past and wanted to show the past for what it was... a time of excitement and wonder but also of great danger where dark characters had ample places to hide.
Nrama: Scott Tuft — your name is new to me, especially standing next to Snyder‘s. What can you tell us about yourself?Tuft: Severed is my first venture into comics. For better or worse, I started as a movie guy. I have written and directed a bunch of shorts, wrote a couple features (both with Scott and on my own) and written and directed a couple other things that need not be mentioned. I am super excited about getting into comics with Severed and extremely grateful to Scott and the readers for giving me this opportunity.
Nrama: And how did you two get together, and get with Attilla Futaki, to do Severed?Tuft: Like very few great things, our friendship started at a freshman orientation assembly. We went to High School together. Our friendship was solidified in that short-lived phenomenon of the end of the 20th century - the video store. We had different tastes when it came to movies. One of us would be curious about the Eddie Murphy dramedy Boomerang, and the other had heard good things about the Goldie Hawn romp Overboard. So we usually came together somewhere in the middle - Traces of Death. We saw all of the Traces and Faces of Death together and that was a springboard for our wanting to tell stories together. Snyder: With Attila... we owe that connection to Jeff Lemire who had met Attila at a Comic Convention and suggested him to us, when we told him the story concept. Once we saw Attila's stuff, we knew he was our guy.
Nrama: Scott Snyder, you’re no stranger to period pieces — American Vampire seems to jump all around. What drew you two in for this early 20th century horror story?Snyder: For me, the story was born out of all the stuff I've always been interested in having to do with the early 1900's - stuff I've always loved talking about and exploring with Scott, too: early recorded American music mostly, but also the popularization of the automobile, the rise of rail travel, the whole feel of that time, the strange blend of optimism about all these new inventions and American ingenuity and this fear of the future. We wanted to tell a story that had all of that in it - with one character who has all the optimism of the age (that's Jack, the young boy who runs away to find his minstrel father), and one who's a representation of all the fear, someone who's a living nightmare, a demon of the age (that's our traveling salesman, BTW... we call him 'The Gray Man"). Nrama: And after the success of American Vampire, it seems you could take a creator-owned project wherever you wanted; why did you decide to bring Severed to Image? Snyder: This is something I wanted to do with Scott for a long time, so I actually built it into my contract with DC when I signed on as an exclusive. I'd been talking to Eric at Image about it before I had an exclusive offer from DC. So it was something in the works for a while, but we wanted to find the right artist, and take our time, do it just the way we wanted - dark, twisted, character-driven, but also atmospheric. Visit Newsarama on FACEBOOK and TWITTER and tell us what you think!