From the back pages of Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash series comes the story of a group of reality TV stars who make a living disproving folklore and urban legend, while secretly keeping the scarier truth hidden from sight. Created by Seeley’s brother Steve and writer Michael Moreci, Hoax Hunters is coming into its own with a special one-shot zero issue in March with plans for a full-length series later this year.
Described as X-Files crossed with Mythbusters, in Hoax Hunters #0 we see this trio of heroes investigating rumors of a classic astronaut suit showing up in Russia filled with crows. They quickly go to the scene to disprove this fantastical account for the TV cameras while secretly carrying out a second agenda to find the truth of the situation and keep it under wraps. What they find is no villain, but a possible ally.
Newsarama talked with this pair of comics newcomers about Hoax Hunters path from back-up to solo series and the men and women who cover up the truth and give the world nothing to fear.
Newsarama: Start us off with a basic description, Michael – what is Hoax Hunters about?
Michael Moreci: Hoax Hunters is about a reality show where the three hosts travel around the globe and dispel various hoaxes--Bigfoot, UFOs, scientific anomalies, etc. Only the hoaxes aren't hoaxes at all. It's all real, and the true purpose of the Hoax Hunters show is to cover these dark corners of the world up and make them seem fake on their show. There's mystery, sci-fi, horror, everything you've come to expect from this type of book.
We like to think of Hoax Hunters as X-Files meets Mythbusters.
Nrama: Can you give us a breakdown of your three Hoax Hunters?Jack and Regan Steve Seeley: Jack is the head guy... kinda like what Josh Gates is to Destination Truth, except a lot less disappointing. He was essentially born into the organization and is definitely the voice of the show/team. Reagan is the eye-candy, thus the cast member that always has the longest lines at conventions (think Carrie from Mythbusters). But she also a dark past covered up by the very organization she works for. Ken is, well, undead. Like Reagan, he finds comfort in the team because he exists in the world that they keep hidden/protected. Of course, for the show, they present him as an actor playing the role of a dead man.
And let’s not forget Murder. He is also a member. But definitely a behind the scenes member. A show that tries to debunk hoaxes would flop miserably if one of their cast members was a flying spaceman full of crows.
Nrama: And what are they going after in this #0 issue?
Seeley: Issue #0 focuses on the debunking/cover up of Murder. Hi jinx galore!
Nrama: How’d the idea for Hoax Hunters come about? One too many Discovery Channel marathons?
Seeley: Is that possible?? I swear, I've lost full days to Ancient Aliens.
Both Mike and I are huge fans of cryptozoology, urban legends, and just plain news of the weird. So hours upon hours of Mythbusters, Monster Quest, etc, isn't out of the question.
When we were approached with the idea of doing a backup, we knew we needed to have something that could remain interesting in two page installments. We wanted something complex yet compelling. After we threw back a few and talked our love for the bizarre we tossed some ideas around and we came up with Hoax Hunters, which ended up being an amalgamation of a few different properties we were working on.
Nrama: And how did this go from Hack/Slash back-ups to its own series?
Moreci: I think there’s a few reasons. Neither Steve nor I like patting ourselves on the back, but we put a lot of time into each backup installment; even though it was only two pages, we really took it seriously. And I think the work we put into it, and the passion we have for the project, became apparent over time. People really responded to what we were doing. After a few installments of the story accumulated, we started getting positive reviews from critics, and great feedback from readers—we saw the beginnings of a base being formed, and that played a big role in helping Hoax Hunters become its own thing. We’re really appreciative of that.
But, you know, I think a lot of it came down to that right combination of determination and luck. Hopefully, that continues to see us through, because we are dedicated to telling our Hoax Hunters story, fully knowing how risky of a proposition that is. Seeing Green Wake be forced to end its run early and The Last of the Greats be put on hiatus, both due to sales, speaks volumes to the challenge of keeping a creator-owned series running. But, Steve and I are ready to make sacrifices in order to keep Hoax Hunters going, and we’ve got some creative ideas in mind that will help make that ambition a reality.
We’ve achieved the first part of our goal, to see Hoax Hunters evolve from the pages of Hack/Slash; now we’re onto our next goal, to the series earn some success and, ultimately, stability.
Nrama: Transhuman artist J.M. Ringuet drew this zero issue, but the previously mentioned Axel Medellin of Elephantmen and 50 Girls 50 is drawing the series itself. How’d that switch-up take place?Ken and "Murder" Promo Moreci: It was tough. It wasn’t long after we found out that we were doing more Hoax Hunters that J.M. told us he wouldn’t be able to continue beyond the backup (he had too many other jobs and couldn’t take on the workload of a regular series). Steve and I weren’t sure how Hoax Hunters would go on without him. But, we started looking around on art sites, blogs, things like that, and came across Axel’s work—we loved what he was doing with 50 Girls 50 and Elephantmen. His storytelling is so crisp, his characters so expressive and real; we knew he’d be perfect for Hoax Hunters.
Now, this is where a lot of luck comes in. We didn’t know Axel. I emailed him completely blind, just cold called him, and asked him if he’d be interested in handling art duties. Not only did he return my email but, lo and behold, he said yes—he was into what we were doing with the story and decided to come on board.
I remember Steve and I showing some of his work to artist buddies of ours and telling them that Axel was going to be the new Hoax Hunters artist. They all asked, “how’d you get that guy?!” And we said, “uh…we asked.” It was that simple—and believe me, finding an artist (especially one as talented as Axel) is never that simple.
Nrama: Could we possibly see J.M. return for a guest stint or covers down the road?
Moreci: Oh, for sure. We’ve already discussed the possibility with him. Because of Axel’s full schedule—he’s bouncing between Elephentmen and Hoax Hunters—we’ll probably need a fill-in artist from time to time, and J.M. is at the top of the list.
Nrama: In addition to those two artists, Steve here also steps in and does the evocative cover. Will you tell us about doing this cover, and if you plan on doing more, and what Mama Seeley feeds her kids to both be able to draw?
Seeley: Glue. Lots and lots of glue.
But seriously, thanks. The cover was a lot of fun to do. We knew we wanted a stark yet simple cover. Something that kinda stood out. And since I know nothing about doing comic covers we figured, if anything, this cover would look out of place.
As for doing more art/covers. I come from a "fine art" background, and despite being a lifelong fan of comics, I have almost no ability to draw sequentially. Neither my brain or my hand works that way. Brother Tim, girlfriend Jenny, and friends all around me make it look so damn easy, but I just don't get it. My brain stops at one static image and says "that’s enough." So the cover was probably all we'll get out of me. Definitely no interiors, but maybe another cover down the road.Nrama: After this one-shot zero issue of Hoax Hunters comes out, when does the series itself, the #1, come out?
Moreci: We’re looking at a June or July release, though we’re not entirely sure. Originally, issue #1 was slated to come out in April, to follow right on the heels of issue #0, but we decided to push it back for a few reasons. One, we have to see how issue #0 performs, sales-wise, so we can assess how exactly we’re going to approach a series. Like I said, Steve and I are determined to ensure the longevity of Hoax Hunters, so we want to do it the right way.
Also, we want to make sure we have a good chunk of the first arc in the can before we solicit anything beyond #0. That way, we can ensure there are no delays in our shipping. Artist Axel Medellin is hard at work on the book, and will continue to be as we nail down our release. When we find out for sure, we’ll let you know!
Nrama: Although it’s still a little ways away, can you give us a hint about what the first arc of the series will be about?
Seeley: The first arc will deal with the team investigating, and attempting to cover up, the phenomena of mass die offs. It involves some known cryptids, some magic/voodoo, some (okay, a lot of) fringe science, and maybe a surprise or ten.
Moreci: It’s kind of a mix of , , and . So if you like any of those books, Hoax Hunters is the title for you.