If you're going to trust anyone's judgment in horror comic books, it should be the creator of The Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman knows a good horror and the first comic book series to be initially released by his Skybound imprint, Witch Doctor, has emerged as an immediate hit.
Created by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner, Witch Doctor follows the story of Dr. Vincent Morrow, who treats ailments of a supernatural variety. The first issue sold out in two days. Issue #2 was released right before San Diego Comic-Con, with a second pressing of the first installment hitting stores a few days after the convention ended. We met with the creators while we were at Comic-Con.
Seifert and Ketner are both from Alaska-- the former from Fairbanks and the latter from Anchorage-- but they didn't know each other until they found their ways to Portland, Oregon, where Seifert was working as a music journalist and Ketner was doing freelance illustration for alternative weeklies.
"We got paired up for this story for the Anchorage Press, which is the only alt weekly in Alaska," says Seifert. "I had written a cover story about Alaskan bands in Portland and they had him illustrate it. I really liked what he had done and approached him."
Meeting Ketner prompted a career shift for Seifert.
"I always wanted to write comics. I just didn't seem like a reasonable career goal," he says.
Initially, says Ketner, the two were just working on a project that would help boost their portfolios.
"We wanted a decent sized piece that we could print and hand out to people as proof that we could do the work as far as the artwork and writing goes," says Ketner. "The longer we talked about it, the more we got attached to this idea of a supernatural medicine doctor."
Ketner explains that they released a one-shot at a convention in 2008 and began getting attention from Portland's healthy comic book community. Word of their work gradually spread outside of their local scene and, on Preview Night of San Diego Comic-Con 2009, Kirkman emailed them.
"We weren't there," Seifert adds.
Two years later, the duo were in San Diego promoting the first two installments of the four planned issues.
"The first four-issue miniseries was to test the waters to see how the interest would be," says Ketner. "Now that the interest is clearly good, we've just announced that we're going to have a one-shot coming out this December and a new series coming out in March."
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Ketner describes Witch Doctor as a "series of miniseries."
"It's like the Hellboy model," he says. "It's the size of whatever the story arc is."
Right now, they're working with a release schedule that allows for a two-month break between every four-month story arc. They don't know if this will change, but it looks like they may be working on Witch Doctor for the foreseeable future.
Says Seifert, "Our intention is to keep doing this as long as they'll let us keep doing it."