Weave a spell through the wires of “Hexware” with Tim Seeley – Multiversity Comics
Cyberpunk narratives have been on the rise, among them Netflix anime Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. Coincidentally, Image Comics announced a new series involving supernatural elements that is directly compared to the video game series Devil May Cry crossed with a narrative similar to another cyberpunk video game, Cyberpunk 2077. With the series hitting stores on December 7, writer Tim Seeley took took time during his one day at New York Comic Con 2022 to talk about his inspirations, along with what we can expect for this series, and offered some glimpses into another of his creations, “Hack/Slash.”
The concept of “Hexware” is considered a combination between Devil May Cry and Cyberpunk. How far do you think this inspiration goes, given that there are some elements of cyberpunk storytelling in Devil May Cry (notably the reboot timeline and some in the final, fifth game), and other things? How far does it go?
Tim Seeley: I actually don’t know what Devil May Cry is. Is it a game or…?
Yes, with Dante, Vergil… It’s an action game.
TS: I had no idea, but I think the guys at Image picked it. If it’s popular and people like it and know what it is, great. I have no idea. So it wasn’t an influence on me personally, but…
The big influence on me was really wanting to do something like the old RPG game Shadowrun. I wanted to do something that was cyberpunk and horror. Kind of instead, like magic and stuff. And also tell a story about the lack of humanity in the future and how that would affect people. So it’s kind of about people trying to get this kind of humanity back after corporations kind of took it away.
More than anything, I think it was kind of influenced by anime in general, just because they get away with doing crazy concepts like that, and we don’t in the US. Like that kind of sexy witch design was totally because I can do it in an anime or a manga and I can’t do it in an American comic, like, “No, I want to do it in an American comic, dammit.”
So yeah, I’m happy to draw comparisons to things like whatever Devil May Cry is, I’m into it.
I actually saw some similarities to Shadowrun. I wasn’t sure if it was. Did you get inspiration from your previous works? If so, which ones?
TS: For this project I spent so much time… I researched the hell out of it. What does the Bible actually say about hell? And so, I have a group of things that came out at the same time, it’s all from this area of me as a researcher. So Revealer, “The Roadie” and “Hexware” are all kind of similar in a weird way, because I wrote them at the beginning of the pandemic, sitting at home doing research, like I was looking for something to research. So I read a bunch of books about demonology, what if hell is actually in the Bible, and it kind of influenced three very different stories. The three projects refer to each other by accident, I think.
Magic takes many different forms in many different mediums, summoning entities, throwing powers around, et cetera. Is there any particular method (sorcery, witchcraft, alchemy, other) you use for this series? There is talk of neo-spiritualism and hedge magic, but which angles do you look at?
TS: Oh, boy. So basically we’re playing with stories of possession and stuff. Our character is essentially an android, a house android, in our story just a maid, but she picks up all these street religions and things like that. And one of these things that is very common in all of these is reaching out to your ancestors or lost ancestors, but also part of that set is also summoning evil spirits. So it’s kind of a combination of things that we have. Her job, and after she accepts this soul is to return to these souls that are lost.
So I took a lot of figures from mythology that are kind of monsters or characters that have all made a deal with some kind of god or devil. All of them are from literary sources, but I kind of hid them in there. So it’s kind of like a werewolf character, kind of like a mummy, kind of like a vampire, but they’re all stories where someone in the legend or the mythology sold their soul to an evil spirit.
Likewise, there is mention of divinity and hellish entities in what we have seen. How much does religion play into “Hexware?”
TS: A big part of that is the kind of conflict that’s going on now and will go into the future, which is every time there’s some kind of progress, and it’s moving toward equal rights for people, there’s always this backlash from people who are afraid of change .
TS: Reactionary, and they tend to justify it with religion. And that’s true of Christianity and Islam, and it’s a common occurrence, and it’s happened throughout human history. So a very big part of this story is the separation of two parts of America: the kind of less spiritual, religious, Christian; and the very hardcore Christian. And that is a very big part of the story is that our country separates along those lines in history.
So you won’t get to it right away. We start with nobody being religious, it’s kind of like a hobby in town, because all kinds of hardcore Christians, they’re separate. So when our character finds it, it’s much more new, it’s kind of a way for people to try to reconnect with this life they left behind.
From the information we see, there is talk of a Marks family, and, as you mentioned, Who-Where, the android girl. What can you tell us about the characters of “Hexware?”
TS: Well, the family – I guess I have to tell you a little about the world. The story is that it’s a city that’s a combination of a bunch of cities in the Midwest that have sort of been combined into this one giant urban zone, and they’re essentially separated from the rest of America. And we understand that there has been a kind of big conflict, a kind of war. And so our characters live in the upper levels. And the upper levels are like you can never touch the street. The street is where the more economically challenged people live, and the upper levels are where the mean live, and they kind of travel around on skyways that connect the buildings. So our family lives in Trump Tower, and it’s now called the centrist, because Trump is long forgotten, and the family are people of means. They work with pharmaceuticals, and they work with spiritual counseling, and then they got money. And Jesi is their child. So you see very much from their point of view. So when there is a terrorist attack, they are the targets of this attack, because they are people with means. So it ties into the story, and I guess it’s a lot more complicated than I thought it was. But you get the basic idea.
Cyberpunk stories deal with all kinds of technology. I know there are androids in the world, but what else can we expect from a technological point of view?
TS: Well, I think part of it is pharmaceutical technology. So we don’t have much to do… there are no major computer issues, everything that has been shut down because of how dangerous it was. So basically we have this society that’s very drugged up, because of depression, anxiety, fear… So it’s really like a — we don’t do a lot of that, you know, there’s no hackers, or riggers, or some of the things that are usually in cyberpunk, because one of the things that I thought was that it would be one of the first things that was shut down because these are the things that are readily available that would turn on each other, so they have somehow got rid of that kind of thing. So the technology is kind of the remnants of this giant war that happened.
But you said there is an android.
TS: Well, there are robots, yes. But they are not networked. They have androids, but on purpose they make them kind of limited so they can’t connect to each other. But they use this. It’s something else if this is disconnected from humanity, that they have these androids that they become like pets in some way. So most people with means have house androids. There are also police androids, they call them ambassador androids. So that’s a big part of the story that we’ll dive into when we get there.
With the release of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners on Netflix, it’s a pretty solid place for anime-style cyberpunk narratives. Did any early looks at the series inspire you in any way for how things could go, or was it really a happy accident?
TS: Well, I think there’s something in the air, when you get this idea that you can’t trust technology, you can’t trust people who control the technology, I mean there’s a place for cyberpunk in the middle of it.
What parts of your story do you think might appeal to fans of cyberpunk stories that don’t necessarily have any supernatural elements?
TS: I mean, it’s really the “punk” part, this idea of the counterculture aspects of it. What the people who are under control, what kind of society they build. Also cool outfits, lots of leather, so the aesthetic is definitely included.
I’d like to switch gears from “Hexware” (no pun intended) to another one of your traits: “Hack/Slash”. We had the fifteenth anniversary milestone edition in 2019, and “The Crow: Hack/Slash” in 2020, but aside from the newer Kickstarted hardcovers, do you have any stories going on in that world?
TS: ‘Hack/Slash: Kill Your Idols.’ That’s the serialized story we’re dealing with. Six parts, six pages each, in Image Comics’ 30 [Anniversary] anthology, started in issue 5, runs through issue 11. And Stefano [Caselli] and I’m working on things for it. We teamed up again to do “Hack/Slash: Kill Your Idols”. We had a lot of fun with it, we miss working with each other so we are definitely working on more things together.
Do you have any upcoming things like…? Unless there are things you can’t really announce yet.
TS: We just haven’t gotten there yet.
TS: We’re still working on it, and still finishing the last part, part six. So it’s a lot of work. The way we did it was I’d try to write a script, but then I’d draw six pages and Stefano would finish and make them better, and we didn’t realize how much work that would be.
Is there anything else you want people to know about “Hexware” before it comes out in December?
TS: If you like my horror stuff, this is kind of in the realm of things that I’m obviously into. There’s a little bit of “Hack/Slash,” there’s a little bit of “Revival,” but there’s a lot of this that I don’t usually get to do , like science fiction stuff, so I tried to make it all my fear of what would happen. It’s like all those things. It’s kind of all my fears about what might happen to America, and to people, and kind of our connections to each other, all that.