Evil Ernie #1, co-written by brothers Tim & Steve Seeley with art by Rafael Lanhellas, finds Ernie— who was in his mortal existence the teenage psychopath Ernest Fairchild—resigned to Hell, where he belongs. “After the events of the Chaos! event miniseries, Ernie has been sent back to Abaddon to serve Lucifur and be tormented for his betrayals,” co-writer Tim Seeley explained. But when Mistress Hel unleashes her new ‘lovers,’ Ernie is sent back to Earth to stop them.”
For Tim Seeley, the opportunity to chronicle Ernie’s adventures is the culmination of an interest in the character that dates back some two decades. “Steve and I first discovered Evil Ernie when the first issue (of the classic 1990s series) came out. We were both teenagers, and our dad was a big horror movie fan, so we were plenty familiar with mayhem and massacre," Seeley said. "But something about seeing this punk teenager trying to take out the entire world really appealed to us.
“So, when a new Evil Ernie series was available, Steve and I figured it'd be a great time to debut our first brother-on-brother comic book collaboration, as we return Ernie to his anti-hero/slasher movie roots. This is going to be tongue-in-cheek, apocalyptic slasher movie comic book goodness, loaded with everything that two guys spent their teenage years neck deep in: heavy metal, horror, and comics."
How do the two brothers divide the storytelling duties? Steve and I talk about what we want to see,” Tim Seeley said. “Then I break down the big beats in a ‘Marvel-style’ script. I hand it off to Steve, and he writes the full script itself.”
“Yeah, it's gone pretty smoothly thus far,” Steve Seeley added. “Plus, Tim and I come from the same upbringing—literally!—so I definitely think that our brains are on the same wavelength. We both grew up on Ernie ,so it's been relatively easy to stay on track and to stay faithful.”
As far as Dynamite publisher Nick Barrucci is concerned, there’s no better choice for Evil Ernie than the Seeleys. "Tim knows horror like few other writers in comics today,” Barrucci said. “The Seeley brothers demonstrate their knowledge of and passion for Evil Ernie on each page of the scripts, and I can't wait for fans to read this suspense and horror-filled adventure."
Evil Ernie is the biggest star of Dynamite’s Chaos line; what’s the secret of his longevity? “Ernie’s a classic bit of counterculture, both back in his original incarnation and our usage and portrayal of him,” Dynamite senior editor Joseph Rybandt said. “He’s a rebel and an anti-hero and a bad-ass all wrapped up in one. I think portraying him with humor – albeit of the darkest sort – have helped that longevity as well.”
Rybandt explained why Dynamite chose to hold the Evil Ernie series until after the completion of the Chaos! miniseries, rather than letting Ernie lead the launch. “The Chaos! miniseries was designed to set up our characters and then allow us to spin their stories into their own series/mini-series—all under the direction of Chaos! magician Tim Seeley. This is part of that plan. Back when we did our first Evil Ernie series [in late 2012 and early 2013], we had this same plan in place, but were not able to get it all together as we’d hoped. So, we retrenched and set it up again with Tim and his Chaos! series…”
In the new series, we meet an Ernie who’s so evil that even the Devil holds him back as his ultimate weapon!? How'd he get so twisted? “Ernie's ‘evil’ comes from a good place,” Tim Seeley said. “Everything horrible he does, he does out of a sick sense of honor and love. That's what makes him such a perfect general for Lucifur. He's the perfect corruption of a good soul. Life made Ernie what he is, and that's a lot more valuable to the Devil than someone just plain selfish, and easily corrupted.”
“Ernie's also complacent in hell to an extent,” Steve Seeley continued. “He knows he's deserving and guilty. So as much as he probably hates the torment and torture, he understands that he deserves it in his own twisted way. This only adds to the ultimate weapon idea because he won't rise up and revolt—there's a sick sense of loyalty there.
So even though Evil Ernie is as evil as they come, he is the Earth's only hope? How does Ernie feel about that? “Ernie doesn't see it as anything else than a chance for revenge,” Tim Seeley said. “And, he's also got a certain amount of seething teenage envy—he sees these monsters as an ex-girlfriend's new boyfriends (and girlfriend), and he doesn't like them one bit.”
“Exactly,” Steve Seeley replied. “Plus it's sort of like ‘Ernie Unleashed.’ He's been a servant to Lucifer, and at his beckon call for awhile, so him getting sent back to earth is sort of like a murderous, bloody spring break for him.”
Why doesn’t Lucifur just step back and let these bad things happen? “In the Chaos! universe, the ‘old gods’ gain power by the fear and worship of humanity,” Tim Seeley said. “If he lets Mistress Hel gain power, he potentially loses control over his own realm.”
For readers new to Ernie and his mythos, just who is Mistress Hel? “Mistress Hel is the Norse incarnation of death itself. She was one of the big antagonists in Chaos! and she's trying to regain the fear and worship of humanity,” Tim Seeley explained. “She previously used Ernie for this ends, and now she's trying it with some other lovers.”
Part of the problem with writing an evil character is making him somehow sympathetic or appealing to readers; did Seeley find that problematic with Evil Ernie? “I think Ernie is totally sympathetic,” Tim Seeley said. “Everyone has been an angry teenager with a narrow viewpoint and a broken heart. Ernie is like King Kong—we wish we could be him, shrugging off authority, taking whatever he wants, taking revenge, destroying lot of stuff. He's a punk rock icon.”
“I agree,” Steve Seeley added. “He's definitely sympathetic. He's a lost misguided teen who does stupid stuff for love. True, where you or I may have wrote an a angsty song and played it outside a window at night, he tried to cause megadeath—but when you boil it down, it's still about love and loss and betrayal.”
“There’s always going to be a place in pop culture for the anti-hero,” Rybandt added. “And Ernie is definitely an anti-hero. Ernie is deeply conflicted on nearly every level and actually has more layers than people might think. Plus, when you tap into the heavy metal/rock n’ roll aspect of pop culture, you end up with something that resonates even deeper with many fans…”
One of the most popular member of Ernie’s supporting cast is Smiley the Psychotic Button; will he play a part in the new series as well? “There is plenty of Smiley,” Steve Seeley said. “He's not a button any more, though— he's an iPod mini. Changing with the times... I'm kidding!”
Evil Ernie #1, by Tim & Steve Seeley and Rafael Lanhellas, is scheduled for October release. The first issue will feature covers by Tim Seeley (who provides the art for the main cover), Jae Lee, Carlos Rafael, Ardian Syaf, Kyle Hotz, Ken Haeser, and Andrew Mangum.
Source: Cliff Biggers/Comic Shop News