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Keith Davidsen Talks Reanimator & "Harnessing The Darkness Again"

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  • Keith Davidsen Talks Reanimator & "Harnessing The Darkness Again"

    This isn’t the first time that Dynamite has tapped into the world of H.P. Lovecraft, they have already had Army of Darkness Vs Reanimator in the past… but now Dr. Herbert West is moving to the center stage for the new four part miniseries written by Keith Davidsen. Byron Brewer chatted with Davidsen about the new project and delving into the horrific worlds of Lovecraft.

    BYRON BREWER: Many of us know you as a Dynamite Comics exec (his name is in itty bitty print on all Dynamite covers). Tell us about Keith Davidsen the comic book writer.

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    KEITH DAVIDSEN: It’s funny – this industry, perhaps more than any other, is populated by people who have to wear a lot of hats. As I like to joke, “I’ve done everything in this business except draw comics and run a company… because I’m not talented or crazy enough, respectively.” So while I’ve worked as an editor or marketing guy at several publishers over the years, I’ve also had a few opportunities to write comic scripts or news articles. I’d say that my favorite project thus far had been Poison Elves, a gothic fantasy series with a pretty rabid cult following. Its creator, the late Drew Hayes, gave his blessing for me to play in his sandbox, so back in its Sirius heyday and in its recent Ape revival, I would enjoy telling dark, violent stories full of killers and thieves, goblins and imps. It’s a pleasure to be harnessing that darkness again with Reanimator!

    BB: How did you happen to get attached, as it were, with the reanimation of Reanimator?

    KD: Publisher Nick Barrucci and I were spitballing ideas for potential Dynamite projects, and I proposed a February event that’d draw in a variety of the company’s most recognizable horror characters (Evil Ernie, Vampirella, Reanimator, etc.), tied loosely together with Mardi Gras as a backdrop. We’d introduce new villains, plus concepts from the Cthulhu mythos and Louisiana voodoo. While the overall event didn’t materialize, the various ideas started to blend together (like some wickedly delicious Bourbon Street gumbo) into a solo outing for Dr. Herbert West. I’m thankful that Dynamite is open to new ideas from its staff, and even more grateful that they empowered me to helm the project. We’re taking a classic literary character, one widely familiar to horror fans, and finally giving him the spotlight that he’s due in comic books.

    BB: Tell us your perceptions of Dr. Herbert West as a character. Will we see any new sides of the good doctor in this miniseries?

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    KD: When we first meet Herbert West in the new series, he’s more focused than ever on his ultimate goal: perfecting the process of reviving the dead through scientific means. In his earlier Dynamite appearances (notably in a supporting role in Army of Darkness and Prophecy), he’d dabbled in supernatural methods to resurrect zombies – but he’s since rejected that path. This is old school Lovecraft – a genius-level intellect and self-proclaimed Man of Science, dedicated wholly to his mission with little care for ethics or consequences (and if you know Lovecraft, then you know what becomes of brazen men in pursuit of forbidden knowledge). Also, there’s a whole new side of the doctor that we’re going to explore as well… but it ties into a mystery building over the course of the series, so let’s keep that a secret. Shhh…

    BB: Speaking of such, Keith, can you give us any hints at the storyline for this book (non-spoilery, of course)?

    KD: Determined to overcome death with his mad science, Dr. Herbert West recruits a new assistant and sets up his operation in Louisiana, a region of America steeped in black magic and superstition. But his experiments are costly; chemicals, equipment, and bodies are not cheap to come by. When he discovers that zombie brain fluid can be sold as a powerful narcotic, he begins to fund his research as an upstart player in the New Orleans drug trade. With the precarious balance of power upended, the Reanimator and Susan Greene draw the attention of powerful rivals, those tied with secret societies and Voodoo practices. If Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead had an unholy union, Reanimator would be its wicked little bastard child, all teeth and tentacles.

    BB: What is the import of that young pharmacologist, Susan Greene, to the story? Tell us a little about this character.

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    KD: Remaining faithful to the original source material, the Reanimator comic introduces Susan Greene, a curious young woman who can provide the audience with an average person’s perspective into his unorthodox research. The classic Lovecraft tale featured an unnamed narrator who understood the wrongness of West’s actions, but was always captivated by his work; Susan fills that role very well. She’s a decent, likeable person, but she’s a bit lost after suffering a personal tragedy, and has been drawn to darkness ever since. Through Susan, we’ll see that there’s something very tempting about casting morals aside… but can she survive crossing that line?

    BB: Why is artist Randy Valiente right for this sort of book?

    KD: Oh, there’s no doubt that Randy Valiente is the perfect artist for this project. He already cut his teeth on Dr. Herbert West in the Army of Darkness / Reanimator one-shot from last year, where his visual style really captured the sinister, creepy atmosphere of a Lovecraft tale. He’s a very versatile artist with great attention to detail, so he’ll put those skills to use as he illustrates peeling zombie flesh, simmering beakers, nightmarish Elder Gods, shattered tombs, blazing gunfights, and blood-spattered lab coats. It’s good fun!

    For more on Reanimator #1, click here.

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