In his 10-plus years in comics, Tyler Crook has made a name for himself on some pretty big titles. That includes joining up with heavy hitters like Mike Mignola (B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth), Jeff Lemire (The Unbelievable Unteens), and Cullen Bunn (Harrow County), cultivating a style that’s as evocative as it can routinely prove unsettling.
Now, though, Crook is going solo, as it were, with his own mini-series at Dark Horse Comics. The Lonesome Hunters is described as a “supernatural fantasy about loss, power, and destiny,” and follows a washed-up monster hunter as he teams up with a young girl for a “supernatural road trip to stop…ancient evils.” The first issue alone lives up to the promise, and it’s a powerful story about regret and second chances told in a gritty but nonetheless surreal world that only Crook could ever birth.
Ahead of issue #1’s debut on June 22, we caught up with Crook via email. There we discussed the story’s origins, his work as both writer and artist, the power of coming-of-age tales, and much more.
AIPT: What’s the elevator pitch for The Lonesome Hunters?
Tyler Crook: It’s about a very old man who is haunted by his past and a young woman who is fearful of her future and when they are attacked by some monstrously powerful magpies, they use a magical and much sought-after sword to fight them off, triggering a cascade of troubles that will follow them for a long time.
AIPT: How’s it feel to have acted as both writer and artist? How did you balance the two, and did you learn anything about yourself as an artist and/or person?
TC: It is a whole different experience from just doing the art for a book. I have written a little bit before. For example, I wrote about half of the backup stories for Harrow County. But writing a whole series like The Lonesome Hunters is something totally different. I think the think I was happiest to learn about myself is that I could do it. And I think I can do it pretty ok, too!
AIPT: Donny Cates has a few stories with giant swords (God Country, Venom, Thor, etc.), and I think you’re joining a club that uses it as a powerful storytelling device. Is there something to that, or is “killing monsters with a huge sword” just cool as heck?
TC: Yeah, magic swords are pretty cool. I remember watching The Sword and The Sorcerer when I was a kid. I can barely recall anything about the characters and plot abut I remember being obsessed with the amazing three-bladed sword. I mean, A sword is a tool that is used for something particularly specific and terrible and it’s interesting to think about what that might mean for the history of the object. And the sword in The Lonesome Hunters has a very long and interesting history.
AIPT: Without spoiling too much, the connection between Lupe and Howard has them on a (mostly) level playing field in terms of handling some of this “magic stuff.” Why is that connection so important?
TC: This series is mostly about answering that question. The short answer is that I wanted to explore a relationship where both of these characters are in over their heads. That way they really have to work together to figure out solutions to the challenges ahead of them.
AIPT: What were your inspirations here? I feel like I’m getting The Neverending Story mixed with The Road (somehow)?
TC: I’ve been describing it as Lone Wolf and Cub meets Preacher. But like my work on Harrow County, I want to tell a horror/fantasy story that is firmly rooted with emotional truth. That might sound a little highfalutin’ but I swear it’ll be fun to read!
AIPT: Press says that this book explores “the ways that youth informs adulthood.” Can you explain that a little more — what is the greater connection?
TC: Howard is a very old man. He looks like he might be in his 60s or 70s but he’s actually much older. The main thrust of his character, and what we learn in the first few pages of the series, is that he experienced a very traumatic childhood. And the pain and guilt of that experience has guided most of his decisions up until the present time. I think there is something profound about experiencing childhood trauma. Even minor traumas can affect a person until the day they die. And Lupe has had her share of terrible things happen to her. I think it’s going to be interesting to see how these two characters navigate those traumas while also fighting weird monsters with a magic sword.
AIPT: The book also touches on ideas of regret and how trauma exists over a lifetime. Is that in response to life after/amid COVID at all? Is there something to the idea that this book is about the heroism required in tackling those intense feelings, no matter your age?
TC: It’s hard not to be informed by this terrible pandemic. But The Lonesome Hunters isn’t really setting out to talk about that specifically. In fact, it was conceived and mostly written long before the pandemic even started. But you are right that the book is going to explore the issues of bravery and heroism and how those kinds of choices can be informed by trauma.
AIPT: I love that you balance a great coming-of-age story, with all the youthful energy and the like, mixed with something a tad more mature. Is that balance accurate, and why does it matter to have that specific feel to this book?
TC: I’m getting close to being 50 years old and one thing that I have learned is that we all “come of age” over and over again. I think there is always room to learn new ways of navigating the world and I love the idea of multiple generations doing that together. And it sure feels like we are entering an era when everyone is going to have to explore news ways of interfacing with the world. I think that’s going to be an increasingly important theme with this series as it goes on.
AIPT: What can you tell us about the rest of the story (without revealing too much, of course)?
TC: I can say that I have epic plans for the series and I’m hoping that this first mini does well enough that I get to tell Howard and Lupe’s whole story to the end. There are lots of weird monsters just waiting for them and I think it’s going to be a fun and satisfying journey.
AIPT: Why should anyone pick up issue #1?
TC: With The Lonesome Hunters, I’m trying to make the kind of comic that I want to read. I want to tell a fantasy/horror story that is full of heart and humanity. And I’m doing my best to make it as beautiful to look at as I possibly can. I don’t know if I can tell anybody that they should do anything. But if that sounds like the kind of story you find interesting, then consider checking it out.
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