Rogues Portal had the opportunity to speak with writer Seth Peck and artist Jeremy Haun — part of the team behind the The Realm. The first issue came out Wednesday, September 13, from Image Comics.
Check out the Q&A below!
Rogues Portal (RP): Where did the idea for The Realm first originate?
Seth Peck (SP): The initial concept is something Jeremy came up with, the idea of unleashing creatures from myth and fantasy on the modern world. We batted the idea around, and our mutual love of post-apocalyptic settings led to the story taking place years after the initial “event” of the two universes colliding.
Jeremy Haun (JH): It’s something that I’d been wanting to do for years. Over the past decade I’d mostly been drawing work for hire projects for companies like DC and Top Cow. Jason Hurley and I were doing The Beauty for Image Comics. It was going well, and I decided I’d like to take the next step into an even more ambitious project. I’ve known Seth forever. We’d been wanting to work together our entire careers. I pitched the idea of this crazy post-apocalyptic-high-fantasy book. He dug it, and we were building the world together within a week of talking about it.
RP: Will Nolan is such a strong character. It’s hard to believe we are just meeting him. Has he been a character in the works for a while?
SP: Several of these characters were created early in the process, so we had time to refine and develop them and exactly where they fit into the story. I’ve always been a “character-first” writer, so I tend to put a lot of work into fleshing them out as individuals. Jeremy has such an eye for detail, and does such a thorough job of bringing all the design elements to life, that it really helps sell the world of The Realm as a “real” place.
JH: Will came out of those initial discussions about what we wanted the book to be. He’s a classic character— a heroic knight errant. He was our in. We were really able to build our ensemble around Will.
RP: I was impressed with the way the comic deals with high-fantasy and mythic creatures in a non-cheesy way. Was that difficult to achieve?
SP: I think that’s a testament to Jeremy’s art, and his ability to merge the fantastic with the ordinary in a way that is believable. For my part, I try and treat everyone in the story (human and non-human) as three-dimensional characters. Hopefully the result is a story with some depth and emotion that doesn’t lose the feel of its pulp origins.
JH: Fantasy can be hard to pull off. I grew up loving it— from Lord of the Rings, to Dragonlance, to Conan. Even being into all of that stuff, I felt like more often than not fantasy movies or comics didn’t quite work. I think most of that is due to a lack of connection. All of the elvish names, forgotten lands, and creatures can be a bit much to relate to. I wanted to tell a story about all of those things set in a world we understand. Goblins, wizards, and dragons are a lot easier to get into if they’re fighting against regular people in the remains of downtown Chicago or Kansas City.
RP: This world feels both real and fantastic. What inspired the landscape? Please tell me it was the product of an epic D&D session.
SP: Not one session in particular, but definitely a childhood loaded with them, and monster manuals, dungeons drawn on graph paper, VHS copies of The Road Warrior, and fantasy novels.
JH: Ha! I think it’s every D&D session I ever wanted to play. I’ve always been a big fan of post- apocalyptic stories. The Road Warrior fascinated and scared the hell out of me. I’ve been hooked ever since. I wanted a project that slammed together the insanity of a post-apocalyptic landscape with all of the stuff from a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
RP: First issues can be difficult, yet The Realm #1 has given the series a confident, high-energy start. What is the writing process like? Does it flow as effortlessly as it appears to?
SP: Sometimes it does. I think the ideas flow fast and furious, but sharpening those into a coherent story isn’t always easy. When a project lets you play with so many of the genres you love it’s easy to try and put too much into the story at once. The Realm has a large cast, and a lot of ongoing storylines, so I have been mindful of keeping it from getting too big, too fast. That said, we also wanted to jump right into the story and not waste a ton of time on exposition. Readers are smart, and while we will go back and fill in some details as we go, we knew that they’d be able to keep up if we hit the ground running.
JH: Working with a good friend makes creating a book like this so easy. We have the benefit of living near one another so a lot of the world building was done sitting in Seth’s kitchen.
RP: There is a lot of attention given to the characters’ facial expressions—especially the eyes. Can we expect to continue to see this emotive-quality to the series?
SP: Jeremy is fantastic at making these guys believable and human, so I’d say “yes, definitely”.
JH: Oh, absolutely. As big and crazy as this series gets, at its core, it’s all about the characters. I love getting in close on the cast— showing what they’re feeling. It’s part of how I tell stories.
RP: I am a huge fan of wordless panels, and The Realm #1 sprinkles these throughout. What was the arrangement process like?
SP: We discussed having them be a big part of the series visually, and we both love Mignola, who is the master of using those “beats” to enhance the storytelling. If I have a specific moment where I want one I’ll put it in the script, but most of that is Jeremy.
JH: We talked a lot about wanting those silent moments from the beginning. I think they’re really important— a bit of room to breathe. It’s not always easy to do. Scenes get big, crazy, packed with characters and action. Still, if I can pull it off, I always want to stop for just a second and find a quiet moment in all of it.
RP: I must ask. If either of you could be any fantasy creature or mythic figure, who would it be?
SP: Owlbear. See issue #6 if you also love Owlbears.
JH: As tempting as Gelatinous Cube is…I’d probably just go with an elf. I’d want a Drow, though. They look cool as hell.
RP: Who are some of your favorite writers and artists (comic-book or otherwise)?
SP: In comics: Mike Mignola, Mike Allred, Tony Moore (who is also one of my good friends), Jason Latour (another friend), Grant Morrison, Chris Samnee, Walt Simonson, Eric Powell, Henry Flint, Frank Quitely, Jason Aaron (yet another good friend), James Harren, Andrew Maclean, Stephen Green, Guy Davis, man…about a million others.
In books: James Ellroy, Joe Abercrombie (his books are AMAZING, and my favorite in the fantasy genre), Stephen King, Stephen Graham Jones, Matthew Bartlett, Joe Hill, Dan Simmons, and maybe my VERY favorite author, Laird Barron. If you haven’t read Laird Barron, stop what you’re doing and rectify that immediately.
JH: This is never easy…I always feel like I’m forgetting too many.
Writers: Warren Ellis, Jason Aaron, Grant Morrison, Tom King, Stephen King, pretty much anyone with the last name King.
Artists: Mike Mignola, Tony Moore, Kelley Jones, Rafael Albuquerque, Glyn Dillon, Fabio Moon, Jenny Frison, Bill Sienkiewicz (sp), Becky Cloonan, James Jean, Rafael Granpa.
RP: For readers like myself, eager to see more of both of your work, what are some of your past or upcoming projects?
SP: I’ve done some work on X-men, a Wolverine mini-series, and a few creator-owned projects. I’m working on some short stories, and looking at attempting a novel in the coming year.
JH: At this point in my career, I’ve drawn a ton of stuff. Here are the highlights: Battle Hymn (Image), Civil War: Iron Man/Captain America (Marvel), Arkham Reborn (DC), Red Hood: The Lost Days (DC), The Darkness (Top Cow), Riddler (DC), Wolf Moon (Vertigo), Batwoman (DC), Constantine (DC).
I’ve also co-written (with Jason Hurley) and drawn The Beauty for Image. I drew the first arc of the series, and an issue here and there since. I continue to co-write and do covers for the series. I’ve got some other stuff in the works. It’ll mostly be writing and covers on that though. I’m devoted to The Realm for the long-haul art wise.
As you can tell from this interview, The Realm #1 is a high-energy fantasy epic that should definitely be on your pull list. Check out our review!