The Ninjabot

Interview: Brandon Seifert Talks “The Harvester”

Posted on February 18, 2015 at 9:00 am by Tyler Waterman

In The Harvester from Legendary Comics, an urban legend proves to be anything but imaginary, and woe be to those who cross his path. Last week, The Harvester earned a great review here at Geek Legacy, but series writer Brandon Seifert was kind enough to take some time to talk with us about the series and what we can expect going forward!

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Geek Legacy: I’ve seen in interviews that the initial idea for this series comes from Legendary Entertainment CEO Thomas Tull. Is it easier or harder to approach a project that stems from someone else’s initial idea?

Brandon Seifert: For me, it’s kind of both at the same time. I’ve done this a couple times, taking an existing idea that’s kind of a framework or some pieces, and fleshing it out and turning it into a comic series. With Marvel’s Seekers of the Weird that’s what I did… they had the name, and concept art, and my editor had a basic idea, but I was building out from there. So that was a familair process with The Harvester. At the end of the day, anytime I can take a particular project and have it the way I want it, have it be the ideas I want to include and write it the way I want to, that’s always going to be my favorite. That’s when I have the most fun. I really enjoy doing stuff like this. The blessing and the curse of coming up with a project from scratch is that you have to come up with everything; if it’s in there, you have to come up with it. There’s no guidelines, nothing to build off of. I like working with Thomas in general, but it’s fun for me to take his ideas, it’s almost like a writing exercise. With Thomas he had some of the overall ideas, the setting and core characters and the “big bad” that we meet in issue #2. I like working on a framework like that. Honestly, it’s easier for me, and more fun as a writer to have that in place.

GL: How much freedom did you have with the project? Did you have ideas that got shot down, or were you given a core concept and allowed to just run with it?

BS: It was kind of in the middle. Thomas already had the core concepts, and we met several times to hammer stuff out and go back and forth. There were elements I came up with that didn’t get included, that didn’t match up with Thomas’ view of the world, but on the whole I had a lot of freedom, especially after we’d firmed up the plot. It wasn’t a situation where I was given a few ideas and left with no supervision, but I had a lot of freedom and control of what I was doing.

GL: The concepts of “urban legends coming true” or “supernatural dispenser of justice” aren’t new ideas, but The Harvester still feels genuinely unique. Does having a tried-and-true foundation make writing easier or more challenging for you?

BS: I feel like it’s the latter. Every story is all mashups of things that already exist and putting them together, so you have to put them together in a fashion your audience hasn’t seen before and that resonates with them. The flip side is, if you go too far out in left field, if you go to far away from what people are used to, you run the risk of people saying “what the hell is this” and not having any entry point. I feel like, if someone can look at a comic or movie coming out, and have a touchstone for it, it gives you that entry point. It’s something I learned on Witch Doctor. A lot of fans tell us how unique it is, or how it doesn’t feel like anything else they’ve ever read, and I find that perplexing because I know where everything was stolen from in there! Projects like that can still feel very new, but having familiar tropes and structures helps prevent you from being too far into something people haven’t experienced before.

GL: How much of the character design is you, and how much did you leave up to Eric Battle?

BS: In that case, the design of the character was one of the first things that Thomas Tull told me about when we met. He had specific ideas of the Harvester being very tall, with an almost Abraham Lincoln build, with a wide brimmed hat and long coat. He had a specific background and a vague time period and specific location where he wanted him to be from. So on my end, where I contributed to the design was researching and figuring out what specific time period would make sense to get something similar to what Thomas was looking for. I took the basic outline, and found the proper decade that he could conceivably come out of. After that it was all Eric. He did a couple sketches, but it was really easy for him to nail the character.

GL: What do we have to look forward to going forward?

BS: Issue #1 for me was laying the groundwork and introducing the main characters and establishing the status quo, and issue #2 is going to be changing that, because we’re going to meet the “big bad” or arch-nemesis for the series. The machinations of that character and what he sets in motion I found really interesting, and it gets into one of the things that I like about the series, that there’s a whole lot of moral grey areas in there. Basically every character ends up doing bad things for the right reasons, and basically that’s the entire reason the Harvester exists. He’s doing things that apparently need to be done, but he’s doing things that, you know, require killing or maiming lots of people. When we introduce our villain, he is also somebody who is out to improve the world, change it for the better, but the way he’s doing it also includes killing lots of people. So it’s interesting exploring why is that ok when it’s the Harvester, why is he a hero or at least anti-hero when he’s doing this, whereas when the other guy is doing it, why does that make him the villain? I also find long-lived characters interesting, so we’ll also see backstory and flashbacks to the Harvester in previous decades as well.

GL: If the Harvester was a real entity in our own world, and you were his man in grey, where would you unleash him next?

BS: Oh, wow. Yikes. Well, if you gave me time, I could write a list for you! There are a lot of places that come to mind, lots of big situations and small situations. I’d honestly be uncomfortable picking one off the top of my head right now, if for no other reason because I know as soon as I get off the phone with you I’ll think of a different place I think deserves him more. My theory about the world is that there are a lot of places and a lot of people who… well, I believe that violence is not a solution to problems, except when violence is a solution to the problem! [laughs] I have complicated feelings about it.

The Harvester #1 released February 11th, 2015, and is available digitally through comiXology or in print at a fine comic retailer near you.

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