Bringing Back The Dead with Revival Creators Tim Seeley and Mike Norton (Interview)
Creative team Tim Seeley and Mike Norton gave me an opportunity to interview them about their series Revival, a “rural noir” set in Wausau, WI, with a touch of my own nearby hometown, Merrill. It tells a truly amazing story inspired by character, crime, and the super natural. One evening the dead suddenly return… But not in any way you’ve seen before! Centered around two sisters, Dana and Em, their family’s lives change forever. As the mystery of what happens to those who have “come back” unfolds, you’re drawn deeper into a story with a cast of unforgettable people that is one of the most original on the comic and digital shelves. Read in their own words how Seeley and Norton brought Revival to life.
GWW: How would you describe working on Revival together?
Tim Seeley: A lot of work! Making long running comics is a pretty daunting task. I’m always impressed that Mike has drawn Revival this well, this long.
Mike Norton: That’s a good question, because I think it’s changed over the time we’ve been working on it. At first, we were both very involved with every aspect of the creation. Now, it’s much more of a Tim writes and I draw sort of project. It’s still creatively satisfying, but it’s a different dynamic.
GWW: How do you each define Rural Noir?
TS: Like a regular noir, but with silos and fewer street lights! I think people tend to confuse “noir” with “film noir,” so they’re surprised when REVIVAL isn’t full of shadows or in black and white. But I think it totally qualifies as a literary noir, with touches of hard-boiled fiction despite its landscape.
MN: It’s an atmosphere to me. A sort of gothic darkness in a small town setting.
GWW: With Revival ending, is it hard to let go? Do you connect for just the run of the story and move on?
TS: Well, we’re nowhere near getting to let go yet. We have the ending to make, and that’s by far the hardest part to write. My duty of the next 9 months or so is to reconnect with EVERYTHING we’ve done so far, so i can give REVIVAL the ending it needs.
MN: It would’ve been VERY difficult to let go a year ago. I think we’ve been doing this long enough and that we’ve been waiting so long to show people the stuff we’ve had planned, that I think we’re ready for it to end. Now what to do AFTER is going to be difficult!
GWW: So many people form attachments to stories and characters for a life time. Do you both feel Revival will stand up as a story that will always be remembered by fans?
TS: God, I hope so.
MN: I honestly hope so, but I’m not in charge of that!
Questions for Tim Seeley
GWW: As a long time northern Wisconsin resident, I can say, not a lot happens around here. What made you decide to set Revival in the Wausau/Merrill area?
TS: I wanted to write “something I knew” like they always tell you to do. And i felt like I’d had enough interesting and weird experiences growing up in the area, that I’d have lots of fuel for stories.
GWW: Did you always plan to have Revival tell a story within a set run? Was it always beginning, middle, and end?
GWW: Dana, Em, Wayne, and Cooper, it’s so easy to connect with them each as characters. Did you intentionally write them to represent a different stage in life, to show how each age deals with a world turned on its head in a small rural area? Or was it just meant to show how deeply The Revival impacted their family?
TS: Both I think. It was less considered than that, but yeah…pretend I’m that smart!
GWW: You’ve been keeping Em in your mind over 20 years, how was it to finally put her out for the world to see and enjoy her story?
TS: Rewarding, for sure, but much more difficult than I imagined. She comes from my teenage fascination with revenge stories, and Em is really the OPPOSITE of those kinds of stories. Revenge would have been easier to write.
GWW: Who are some of your influences in coming up with characters?
TS: People I grew up with in Wisconsin. Most every character is at least partially inspired by real people, or an amalgam of real people.
GWW: Fans will find out many unanswered questions as the Revival enters the final year. But will every question be answered? Or is it just a fun to leave something to our imaginations? Making readers return and enjoy the story again gaining something they may have missed before.
TS: I think we answer the ‘questions’ but certainly there’s room for interpretation with some things.
Questions for Mike Norton
GWW: Your art is flat out, spot on for the Wausau area. Even Counsel Ground State Park (just 4 miles from my front door) is perfect. What is your process when coming up with the local art from different towns that not a lot of people will know?
MN: I look at a LOT of reference. Tim’s provided a lot of photos too. I’ve been to Wausau several times and I’m from a similar town in Tennessee. I enjoy trying to capture that feel. I’m glad you’re able to see it come through.
GWW: Within comics you can only create so many pages with each issues, but each person is so well done. The eyes and expressions, it is really some of the best work out there emotionally. Do you work with Mr. Seeley as you draw, so that he can offer feedback? Or being a team so long, do you just know what he wants to show the reader? (I know this was covered a bit in the Deluxe Collection, but if you don’t mind for new fans or future collectors of Revival.)
MN: Tim is pretty hands off in that capacity. He and I know each other creatively enough what our strengths (and weaknesses) lie. I don’t think there’s ever been a correction he’s made over the course of the series. Drawing real people doing real things has always been something I’ve enjoyed doing, so I work really hard at it. The small moments of a character’s “acting” are the most difficult to capture in a drawing, so it’s good challenge.
GWW: Who are some of your influences for characters looks and styles?
MN: My heroes from early on have always been superhero artists like John Byrne and John Romita Sr. But I find that my influences change on an almost daily basis these days!
Finally, two fun questions for you both!
GWW: What’s it like to see cosplayers come up with some great Em hoodies?
TS: It’s a real honor. It’s one of the best parts about conventions for me.
MN: It’s honestly the best feeling ever. I mean, that’s the ultimate compliment, right? That somebody liked your creation enough to actually take time and MAKE something from it. They’re engaging in a way that most people don’t. It’s very humbling.
GWW: As a long time action figure fan myself, is there a spot set up for future Dana and Em on the shelves?
TS: Yeah, we’ll get the Mini-Mates soon. I’d love a statue myself.
MN: I would like there to be, of course! There is a Mini-Mate version of Em coming out soon, I think!