“Watchmen” once asked, “Who watches the Watchmen?” “Predator Hunters III” asks who hunts the Predator, the ultimate hunter? Then we at Multiversity ask creators Chris Warner and Brian Thies questions about “Predator Hunters III.” To find out all the answers to these questions you can read our interview below. Well except who watches the “Watchmen?” For that I have no answer.
“Predator Hunters III” out this February from Dark Horse Comics links back to Dark Horses’ first Predator series from 1987. “Raphael Herrera was a drug runner until the fateful night when his men were wiped out by an unearthly monster. Now, as part of the Predator Hunters team, Herrera’s worst memory is reborn. Cartel soldiers are being wiped out in the jungles of Central America, and that means the Predators have returned!”
Chris and Brian discuss what makes Predator an appealing villain, handling large teams in a comic and appealing to both new and old fans. A big thanks to the team for taking the time to answer our questions and be sure to look for “Predator Hunters III” in stores and online February 5th.
“Predator Hunters III” sounds intimidating. What is this series about? What do readers need to know going in?
Chris Warner: We’re taking up shortly after the ending of series 2, where we saw the shocking return of Raphael Herrera, whom the Hunters thought was killed in the first series. Not long after Herrera’s mysterious return, the Hunters are contacted by an operative in Belize, who alerts the Hunters that there is strong evidence of Predator activity in the jungle near a recently excavated Mayan site. And a team of Russians have arrived who are also interested in finding the alien killers.
I have seen it mentioned this series linking all the way back to the 1987 Predator comics from Dark Horse. Why do you think the Predator comics have kept their appeal to readers over 30 years? Why was this a series you both wanted to work on?
CW: When the opportunity came to work on the first Predator series back in the day, I couldn’t sign on fast enough. I loved the movie, still do, and the project seemed to fit my skill set perfectly. The Hunters series was an idea I had years ago that finally got a chance to get off the runway, so once again, I couldn’t sign on fast enough.
Brian Thies: I think it goes back to the first Predator movie in 87′. The movie was the perfect blend of action, sci-fi, and horror. Everyone involved in that movie really created something special. A formula that many have tried to replicate many times in cinema but to no avail. I don’t know if you’ll ever be able to replicate what was originally created. However, with the Dark Horse Comics Predator series, creatives are given more freedom to expand upon the mythos in a way cinema can’t. I think it’s fed a hunger the fans have for more stories, sometimes more satisfying than what they’ve experienced in the cinema.
For me Predators are fun to draw, maybe not for everyone but for me they are. I am fortunate enough that this is my second chance to play in the Predator universe, the Life and Death series being the first. It’s been about 2-3 years between ending Life and Death and starting Hunters. I’ve evolved as an artist in that time so I was excited to come back and bring those sensibilities to the universe (It’s little more detailed, a little more gory this time around). Also, when I was told Chris was continuing on as the writer of the series, it pretty much locked me in.
There have been many different approaches to the Predators over the years, what are you looking to bring both narratively and visually to the character for your version?
CW: I like to hew close to the first Predator film in terms of style—reality-based action with the Predators being the only fantastical element. And like the first movie, I prefer to keep the Predators fairly inscrutable: the characters have to infer what the monsters are up to. I’ve always felt that the less we know about the Predators, the more interesting they are. If we’re able to get inside the Predators’ heads, the stories tend to be just monster fights, not very interesting, in my view.
BT: An ominous presence, both narratively and visually. I think part of what makes a Predator alluring is the relationship with its prey. It’s like watching a lioness hunt antelope on the savanna. There is a part of you that wants to see the antelope escape but the other part of you wants to see how the lioness will savagely kill it’s prey. No different with Predators and humans. There is also the innate human curiosity of monstrosity, the macabre, and the unknown. I consider these things as I illustrate and hopefully satisfy the audience.
This series, like other iterations of Predator stories features a fairly large cast of characters. How do you handle large group of characters and still get readers invested? Is there an added challenge as an artist keeping all those people accounted for on a page?
CW: Dealing with multiple lead characters is a challenge—that’s a lot of balls in the air. The stories have to be about something, about the characters, but it’s not a soap opera. To keep matters more manageable, I’ve tried to rotate through the characters in terms of focus in each series. The first series is primarily about Enoch Nakai, the second about Tyler Swain, the third about Raphael Herrera. And Jaya Soames as the team leader is pretty much the co-lead in each series. So far, I haven’t had the chance to spotlight Mandy Graves, so hopefully we’ll get that opportunity. We’ve also re-introduced some old characters in the third series, but I don’t want to spoil the surprises.
BT: The main cast have their own personalities, way of dress, physical appearance, etc. All of which is very different from one another. So that’s not too hard. However, this book probably has the biggest turn around of supporting cast I’ve ever worked on. That’s been a little more challenging. I think giving them a “costume” is easiest way to keep them where they need to be. Whether it’s a particular shirt and hat combination, hairstyle, whatever, you do that and you’re okay.
The kills are important in a Predator series. How do you bring the brutality to life in comics? Anything new we have never seen before?
CW: People will need to read the story to find out!
BT: Ah, the fun stuff! I think there is an art to doing this and it really depends on how graphic you want to get with it. When you see real gore it’s often not what you imagined it might look like and sometimes it is. However, when you see it your brain knows it. I want to recreate that feeling with some of the shots, to make people feel uneasy when they look at it, yet not be able to look away. I want there to be enough that your brain makes up the worst details itself, it’s a balance you need to bring as an illustrator. I also spent some time dissecting cadavers in art school, so I try to put some of that knowledge into the drawings as well.
As far as anything new? You’ll have to read the book!
As an artist how do visually bring the powers and tech of the Predators? What can readers expect from this series?
CW: I’m not the artist on these Hunters stories, so I leave that up to whomever is pushing the pencil. I try to provide the artist with as much visual reference as I can to provide inspiration. That worked for me as an artist, and even when I’m writing, I sort of “see” my script as finished panels, so hopefully if the reference gives me ideas, with luck the artist will absorb that same visual information and let it inform their imagination.
BT: I’ve been reading a lot of manga over the past couple years and I think some of that has influenced my approach to this series. This time around I’ve added a lot more detail to the tech and the predators. The only drawback to that is I can get a little carried away with the detailing and loose track of time. I’ve moved away from some of the more impressionistic brushwork that was so prevalent in Life and Death. For fans of that look, it’s still there but used more as an accent.Continued below
How do you attempt to juggle a narrative that will surely have new readers, with established fans of all the Dark Horse Predator comics?
CW: I try to keep the continuity pretty straightforward and the stories as self-contained as possible. The stories don’t require much past knowledge for readers to follow the action. I’m amazed sometimes that some readers just freak out when they don’t know every bit of past information about the characters and what has gone before. Think of it like watching a baseball game—you can follow and enjoy the action without necessarily knowing what teams some of the players were on in previous years, right? It’s still a ballgame—just pay attention to what’s happening in front of you!
BT: I think this is more in Chris’s court. Visually, most everything has been established for me. As long as I don’t stray too much from the way the characters look I’m in good shape. Randy and Chris make sure of that.
Predator is unique in that it is that blend of horror and action. Are those elements you are focusing on with this story? Are those genres handled differently in comics?
CW: I’m not sure how to answer this, but my own philosophy on writing Predator stories is that I’m writing new Predator movies. I try to keep the tone and feel for the stories very much like that of the films. And I think Predator stories function best not just as horror and action, but as suspense and mystery. The tension makes the action and horror work. Too many comic stories today are just wall-to-wall action. I’m sure that’s great for original art sales, but I don’t think that makes for compelling storytelling. Using another sports analogy, I think that football works so well, especially on television, because of the pauses in the action. As in music, it’s about tension and release.
BT: Comics is it’s own medium. It has it’s own strengths and weakness’s, just like cinema. I think you have to depict them a little differently to maximize the medium. But, yes these are both elements that I am focusing on visually with this story. Giving the Predators center stage.
What do you hope readers take away from the series?
CW: As always, I’m just hoping the readers have a good time and maybe find something to think about here and there.
BT: To be entertained and wanting more. Hopefully, think the art looks alright too!