Q&A: Michael Moreci talks “HOAX HUNTERS”Books/Art/Culture,Features/Interviews,News Svetlana Fedotov
With HOAX HUNTERS lining the shelves of comic shops across the country, Michael Moreci is slowly growing from talented writer to a bankable creator. Definitely the man to watch, he can be found working anywhere from major publishing houses to independents companies such as Monkeybrain, an entirely digital company with very affordable books. With the HOAX HUNTERS: CASE FILES Annual now available, Moreci sat down with Fango to talk what exactly drove him to explore the limits of the bizarre and the terrifying.
FANGORIA: What was the inspiration behind HOAX HUNTERS?
MICHAEL MORECI: Basically, both Steve [Seeley, co-writer] and I have a love of cryptozoology, conspiracies, X-FILES, FRINGE and cheesy ghost hunting shows. It was a matter of us putting together all these things that we brought to the table and HOAX HUNTERS was born out of that. I already had Ken Cadaver as a character that I was doing something with, Steve had Murder and everything just grew from those characters. All that stuff I mentioned and having these characters, we just started off with that.
FANG: What was the idea behind Murder, the space suit full of crows? It’s definitely one the weirder characters.
MORECI: Well, Steve’s a weird guy [laughs]. We had spoke about the idea of Murder months and months before HOAX HUNTERS came out, and it was something that he had worked on for years. It had evolved from a noir character of a kaiju full of crows. He wanted something noir, full of crows and he just kept working on this idea. And who knows why? God knows where Steve’s ideas come from. He’s also an artist and did some sketches of the Kaiju Murder about four or five years ago and it’s pretty sweet. Murder really came from the annals of Steve’s mind and it really stuck; it’s this really iconic looking thing. The zero cover, which he painted, is this astronaut suit full of crows.
FANG: How did you and Steve Seeley hook up?
MORECI: It’s actually romantic as hell. We met on New Year’s Eve and I was friends with Tim [Seeley], Steve’s brother. There was this New Year’s party which I ended up going to and I met Steve at that. We’re kind of like the two weirdos that don’t interact well with other people, so we ended up interacting well with each other by default. So, we’ve been buddies since then.
FANG: Despite that Steve Seeley is an artist, he doesn’t do any of the interior art. Why is that?
MORECI: He does gallery paintings and he’s done some comic work in the past, but sequential art isn’t something he really wants to do. He’s a painter and his stuff is a little more static. It’s awesome. I love his work, but sequential art isn’t something he’s interested in tackling. He’s had great offers but he tries and he’s like, “it’s not for me.”
FANG: How is it working with another author on the comic?
MORECI: It’s good because we complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I’m more traditional and meticulous about plotting and writing the characters out. I really get neck-deep in the minutia. Steve is just crazy ideas. He’s got lots of cool, crazy ideas and we just throw them at the wall and see what sticks. It’s funny, I remember it was the three of us—Steve, Tim, and I—and Tim was like “I see how this works. You just say crazy shit and Mike makes sense of it.” That’s basically how it works. It’s like, he has such a wild imagination and it’s so much fun to listen to his ideas, and I’ll sit down and plot out the story arc and all that kind of stuff. He takes us to such wild and cool places and I rein us in and I turn it into a story with three acts and all that stuff.
FANG: Did you guys pick out your artists or were they offered to you?
MORECI: No, we had to go and find our own. With Image, they just kind of let you go out on your own and do your thing. The artists that we’ve worked with we’ve all hand-picked for particular reasons. For right now, T-Rex Jones joined the book at the end of issue ten and he has a more stylized art—sort of Ben Templesmith-esque but darker—and his style is perfect for us. We’re lucky that we’re able to switch up artists and find people who can match up with what we’re trying to do. We’ve worked with some really great people.
FANG: How do you feel working for Image comics, especially after working for smaller companies?
MORECI: It’s cool. I’ve been very lucky in my career that I’ve never had anyone breathing down my neck saying like “you can’t do this, or this.” I’ve worked with some editors who have been really cool and in general, I’ve had the pastures to roam. I would say the only restrictions I’ve had have been in my head, because there is more at stake. There are more people reading, so I feel like there is a certain onus to consider the audience and consider the marketplace. Having that in mind when I work forces me to make the story better and keep the readers in mind, which I always do. I really want people to be happy when they read the book. So, I’m lucky. Generally, I’ve always had free reign and that’s pretty cool. You can’t ask for more than that.
MORECI: I don’t know actually. I was just thinking this the other day. I was trying to write this more all-ages, more family-oriented Space Family Robinson type story and I just couldn’t do it. I have another book coming out with another company that is also darker and that’s just what happens. It’s weird. I think those stories, the darker stories, have a certain level of humor in them and I like to balance out a little bit of horror and sci-fi with some humor rather than some puns or sarcasm, or whatever. Ultimately, the stories I want to tell, the stuff like ReincarNATE or QUARANTINED, I can do that with darker tones. When I see something of hard fiction like BREAKING BAD, it’s incredible with what they are able to explore with the characters and the stories. BREAKING BAD is just so dark and gut wrenching and hard to watch, but it’s the most human show that I have ever seen. That’s what I want to do with my writing. I think there’s this human core—at least I hope there’s this human core—in everything that I do and it just turns out that that’s better and more dynamic through these situations that are darker. With zombies, or the supernatural, or the afterlife, it just comes out in that way.
FANG: How did the concept for the Annual come around?
MORECI: Honestly, we just wanted to do an Annual and admittedly, kind-of ripping off Tim because he did his annual HACK/SLASH Trailers; just a collaboration by several people doing HACK/SLASH stories. That’s what we wanted to do and we were lucky to have lots of good friends in the industry. The whole thing with HOAX HUNTERS is: we have fun doing it, people have fun reading it, and with our friends we were like “just go do a HOAX HUNTERS story. No restrictions, just do whatever you want. You don’t need to clear it with us, just have fun.”
The stories were just incredibly weird. I loved them, I love every one and that’s what we wanted, to have fun. I think if you had fun making it, it transfers to your reading experience. I think comics can use more fun and irreverent stuff that’s not all continuity or history or super bleak.
FANG: Is it something you would like to do every year?
MORECI: Oh yeah, for sure. There were so many people we wanted to include that we just couldn’t. We have plenty of people to draw from and we would love to have them. So hopefully, next spring or summer, I’d like to see it again.
FANG: Give us a fun fact!
MORECI: The first thing that comes to mind isn’t really that fun. I used to be blind in my left eye and then I had surgery, and I’m not blind anymore. That’s not very fun at all. I have a 20 month old son. I’m a dad; it’s the coolest thing I do.