Interview: Brandon Seifert on HELLRAISER: THE ROAD BELOW

Brandon Seifert, who you may know as the writer of Witch Doctor, is starting up a new series at BOOM! Studios, and it features a female Pinhead. Hellraiser: The Road Below, with art by Ibriam Roberson, will be available soon, with more information in upcoming solicitations, but for now, we’ve got Seifert with some answers.

iFanboy: What spin are you bringing to the world of Hellraiser? And for the people who don’t know, how would you describe the world of Hellraiser outside of the image of Pinhead?

Brandon Seifert: The world of Hellraiser is one step removed from ours. People go about their lives like we do, and while some believe in magic and Hell, most probably don’t. But in Hellraiser, Hell is very real. The souls of sinners go there when they die — and if you solve the wrong puzzle, you can end up there much quicker! In this cosmology, the servants of Hell are the Cenobites — which is a term for monks who live in communities together, rather than monks who live by themselves. Pinhead’s the most recognizable aspect of the Hellraiser world — but he’s just one Cenobite. One of many. And their job is to punish people for the crimes they committed during life.

The spin I’m bringing to Hellraiser is a focus on the characters involved. In the story I wrote for this year’s Hellraiser Annual, I did a character study on Captain Elliott Spencer, the man who used to be Pinhead. In Hellraiser: The Road Below, I’m focusing on Kirsty Cotton. We’ve seen Kirsty make lots of hard decisions during the course of the main Hellraiser comic series, and we’ve seen some come back to haunt her. In The Road Below, Kirsty’s going to have to face effects of her choices that were inevitable, but that she never considered. No good deed goes unpunished, after all — and we all know what the road to Hell is paved with.

iF: Are you concerned with pleasing both longtime Hellraiser fans and bring in new people? How do you reconcile that?

BS: Honestly, my biggest concern is in pleasing both fans of the Hellraiser films, and fans of the current Hellraiser comic. I tried to approach The Road Below in a way so that you didn’t have to be caught-up on the main Hellraiser title to enjoy it — but so that, if you’ve been following along the whole time, it adds more facets to the experience of reading the comics.

But I strongly believe that comics need to be accessible to new readers — and I don’t think anybody’s going to have trouble following along with The Road Below, whether or not they’ve had prior contact with Hellraiser!

iF: You’ve got a lady Pinhead, but there’s certainly more to it than that. What’s so great about lady Pinhead. I understand she is likely not called lady Pinhead.

BS: What’s great about the “Lady Pinhead” in the current Hellraiser continuity is — she’s actually Kirsty Cotton, the “final girl” from the first two Hellraiser movies! Kirsty had her life ruined by the Cenobites when she was young, she spent her adult life fighting a guerilla campaign against Hell — and then she ended up replacing the old Pinhead. She did it as part of her war on Hell — but when she became a Cenobite, she found out what their actual mission is… and she discovered she agreed with it.

Or she agreed with it for a while, at least — and it’s that “true believer” Kirsty we’re seeing in The Road Below, the one who thinks she’s doing something righteous by imprisoning and punishing sinners.

The other thing about the Pinhead Kirsty that’s different from the old Pinhead, Captain Elliott Spencer, is: Captain Spencer didn’t start being an evil bastard when he became a Cenobite, he’s always been that way. Whereas Kirsty’s the same good-hearted, well-intentioned person we’ve always seen. But it’s her good intentions that get her into trouble.

iF: In Witch Doctor, you had horror elements an humor, but without that goofiness, you’ve now got to make a comic book scary, which seems like a difficult thing. How do you tackle that challenge?

BS: I honestly think it’s harder to combine humor and horror than it is to just do one or the other. When you’re trying to make something funny AND scary, that’s two conflicting reactions you want to pull out of people. It can be really hard to balance the two, and not let one or the other dominate. Doing something that’s just scary, or just funny — that’s much more straightforward.

But that said, my take on Hellraiser definitely has more light moments than the movies gave us. At the beginning of the series, at least — once we establish that this is going to be a horror story, we pretty much stay there.

iF: In conceiving this story, was there anything you thought up that actually scared you?

BS: It’s pretty hard for me to scare myself with my own ideas! There’s lots of things I come up with where I’m like, “This would be scary for this reason and this other reason” — but I’ve got a detachment from it so it doesn’t really hit me very hard. (On Witch Doctor, there have been a whole bunch of things we’ve done that disturbed or grossed people out — and that’s always a little surprising to me, because I’m so clinical about it. ‘What, you thought demonic botfly larva bursting out of a kid’s stomach was gross? You have trouble looking at a man with transparent skin and muscles sitting in a bathtub of ice? Oh, okay. ’)

iF: That is disgusting. Thanks Brandon. 


  1. I wanted to get into Hellraiser comics but I just never ended up picking up a copy. With this team, I think I will actually make sure to grab a copy this time.

  2. The current Hellraiser series is great. I recommend it to anyone that had interest in the films (as stated in the interview it’s in direct continuity with the first two movies) or interest in horror comics in general. There should be more of us!

    I also liked WITCH DOCTOR so I’m looking forward to this new run.

  3. “Wolfman got nards!”