Vault Comics recently announced their partnership with the legendary Slash of Guns Nā€™ RosesShout! Studios, and Raven Banner Entertainment for the comic book adaptation of the cult classic sword-and-sorcery movie franchise, Deathstalker. Part of the publisher’s Headshell imprint, there is a Kickstarter campaign currently running for the first issue. 

Based on a story by writer, director, and creature effects artist Steven Kostanski (Psycho GoremanThe Void), the book will feature the team of writer Tim Seeley (Grayson, Hack/SlashMoney Shot) and acclaimed artist Jim Terry (Come Home, Indio).

Deathstalker

I caught up with Seeley at NYCC 2023 to chat about the series.

Deanna Destito: What is Deathstalker about?

Tim Seeley: Well, Deathstalker is based on a film series, a Roger Corman production. The first movie came out in 1982, I believe, or 1983. And it’s essentially like a barbarian story, a lot like Conan or something, but it comes through this filter of being like a trashy, awesomely, sleazy ’80s movie.

Tim Seeley at NYCC ’23

Our comic is a sequel to the four films, and it sort of bridges a gap. There’s been a bunch of years since Deathstalker (since we last saw him), and he’s an older guy now, and he can’t stop messing up his life. He’s just a terrible person. He’s trying to be a hero, which is kind of the theme of the series, but his impulses are always wrong.

He’s been hired to escort this priestess, a beautiful priestess whose purity is supposed to be a cure for what ails the world. And she’s supposed to be a virgin, and he sleeps with her, and now the cult wants to kill him. So that’s how we open it up, and then it gets worse for him from there.

Deathstalker

Destito: Were you a fan of this movie?

Seeley: When I was like five or six years old, my dad got a VCR, which was a big deal in 1982. It was like the big, hot new technology. You could get movies at home. My dad was a huge movie buff, so every weekend he would rent like, five or six movies, and we would just sit and watch them, even though we were way too young to watch them. But it was the ’80s, so I must have seen Deathstalker ten, fifteen times. It was always on. That and Conan. Again, you’re too young for these, but there’s this whole series of, like, the sword and sorcerer and Sorceress and Barbarian Queen, all these low-budget knockoffs of Conan when we were kids, you didn’t know the difference. You just thought they were all awesome. So, yeah, I was a huge fan and watched way too much of it, and it probably ruined my life.

Deathstalker

Destito: So how did you get into this project? 

Seeley: Well, so working with Vault on a lot of other stuff, we did Money Shot and West of Sundown together, and they started this new thing, Headshell, which is their music branding thing that they’re working with Metallica. And they asked me for a different project, and I was totally ready to do that one. Then that got stalled. They said, well, we have this other thing. Would you want to do Deathstalker with Slash? I was like, Yep, sign me up. Don’t even need to tell me anymore. I’m already in. 

Deathstalker

Destito: How is it working with Slash?

Seeley: I mean, it’s super mellow. We just have Zoom calls. I think he, Steve, Jim, and I are on the same level. We understand what this is supposed to be, so we never really argue about it or anything. So far, working with Slash is just a lot of him being like, “That’s awesome.”

Storywise, it’s kind of a collaboration of the rough outline of it. Steve Kostanski, Slash, myself, Adrian, we kind of all came up with the basics, and then I do the writing, and then those guys proof it.

Destito: So for somebody who doesn’t know this property, doesn’t have that nostalgia from the ’80s, how would you sell this to them to read?

Seeley: Yeah. You definitely do not have to have nostalgia for it. You don’t have to have seen the movies at all. We set you up right away with what you need to know, but it’s a very dark and grimy barbarian story, so it’s fantasy, but it’s not like, a nice, pretty clean fantasy world. It’s a world that’s basically falling apart, and the only heroes left are not really heroes. They’re trying to be good, but they’ll take anything. And so this is a story of one of those guys. He’s a thief. He’s not a good person, but when something terrible happens, eventually he will step up to do something. So it’s very much an anti-hero kind of story.

Deathstalker

Destito: Who’s your favorite character?

Seeley: I mean, so far, it’s Evie, who is his girlfriend in the second Deathstalker movie. But we do a very different take on her because it’s been a lot of years, and she was a princess in the second one. She’s now a queen, and she has just had enough shit. So he runs to her for help, and she knows what he is. They were married briefly, so she’s great. She’s just like while the world kind of falls apart, she’s got her own little corner of it. She just has to keep that organized because she knows the moment that Deathstalker shows up, everything’s going to go to hell. So she’s kind of hanging on to her little moments of peace when she can.

Destito: Have you changed anything or added new characters?

Seeley: Yeah, we added a lot of new characters. So a tradition in the movies, whether they knew it or not, was that Deathstalker would meet a bunch of people and they would become sidekicks, and then they would all die. So we’re keeping that up. He makes friends, and then he endangers them, and then they don’t all make it. And so this one, we have a bunch of new characters, a bunch of friends. We kind of expand the world because we’re not limited by the budget of a film. So you see a lot more monsters. You see a little bit more of the mythology of the world, how it works, but it’s definitely something that you can come into having never even heard of this stuff.