Today marks the release of the sixth and final issue of Vertigo Comic’s series Imaginary Fiends, which was created by Hack/Slash mastermind Tim Seeley. In the series, we follow Melba Li, a young woman who was convicted of the murder of her childhood best friend. However, Li believes her actions were caused by her imaginary friend “Polly Peachpits”, a spider-like creature ripped straight from a nightmare. Just prior to her being transferred to a federal prison to serve the remainder of her sentence, she meets FBI Agent Virgil Crockett, who believes she is able to see Interdimensional Mental Parasites (aka IMPs) and also believes in the existence of Polly. He tells her that there are more like Polly and he’s there to investigate cases where IMPs seem to be involved…and he needs her help.
In this final issue, IMP agents Melba Li and Virgil Crockett as they deal with the Fraidy Cat and her followers. Li must also face her own inner demons that she’s been desperately trying to avoid for the past several years, a past that will change her forever.
To celebrate today’s release, we’ve got an interview with Seeley about this issue, about the series as a whole, and what’s coming next for one of comic’s most interesting and exciting voices. You can read everything below!
You can read more about Issue #6 of Imaginary Fiends as well as order your copy through Vertigo’s website.
Dread Central: In this final issue of Imaginary Fiends, we learn more something very shocking and difficult about Melba’s past. Considering the revelations, what effect will this have on her as an agent of IMP in future storylines?
Tim Seeley: The big twist in issue 6 will set Melba on a redemption track more so now than ever. This is someone who has spent years blaming an invisible monster for her own actions. She’s worth more to the government free than she is behind bars, so it’ll be up to her to put things right. I think that makes for an interesting dynamic going forward, and it really reiterates the theme of this series…who’s the monster?
DC: Visually, we’re seeing some of the most surreal and violent panels in this issue. What is it like envisioning these marriages of reality and fantasy and finding a way to make them clash so viscerally?
TS: Well, thankfully I’ve got such awesome artists like Stephen Molnar and Quinton Winter to turn my words into pictures. That contrast between these childlike dreams and real-world violence really makes the horror that much more upsetting I think. We get these garish, whimsical characters that are capable of such horrible stuff. That contrast really epitomizes childhood and the fears that come with it.
DC: The scope of this story is fascinating to me as it’s tightly contained in a small Kentucky town and yet it feels so expansive and immediate. How do you make the small seem grand?
TS: In my experience, a good horror story plays with scope. You need a lot of your scares to be small, intimate and personal. But, you also want some of it to feel epic…uncontained, inescapable. Switching back and forth from this tiny town and a massive universe full of inconceivable horrors is one of the oldest tricks in HP Lovecraft’s playbook. And, for me, a guy who grew up in a small town and now lives in a major city, there’s something scarier about rural places. Big cities wear their horrors on their sleeve. Small towns hide it.
DC: With the world of Imaginary Fiends playing with the concepts of reality, there are obviously rules in our world that can be broken or played with. But what rules do you find yourself abiding by in the realm of these creatures?
TS: That was one of the toughest things about writing this story, but it’s also almost always my favorite part of making up ‘new’ monsters. Everyone already knows the rules that go along with vampires and zombies, which means it’s pretty tough to be surprised as a reader. Even harder to be frightened. The IMPS (interdimensional mental parasites) in Imaginary Fiends do have to follow certain rules…they can’t touch people who don’t believe in them, they have to feed on fear and love to interact with the world, etc, etc…and the reader gets to find those out for the first time along with our characters.
DC: The end of this final issue suggests that a Li and Crockett will be embarking on another case. When can we expect to see more of their adventures?
TS: Soon I hope! I have two sequels plotted and ready to go. I mean, we really need Melba to interact with a grown-up Brinke Calle right? Especially after what we learned in issue 6! But it’ll all depend on how the trade paperback sells, so if you’re a horror comics fan, check it out! And if you liked Imaginary Fiends, tell your friends. I know everyone is sick of hearing that, but Vertigo Comics live and die on word of mouth, more so now than ever.
DC: If you had to envision your own “imaginary fiend”, what would that creature be?
TS: Well, I’d definitely try to pick something less freaky than Polly Peachpit or The Fraidy Cat, that’s for sure. When I was a kid, I would pretend to have an imaginary friend, just so I could get away with drawing dinosaurs in pictures of my family and such. I had an imaginary friend. So, it only makes sense that karma would pay me back and assign a fat, roly-poly brontosaurus with a high-pitched annoying voice as my IMP.
DC: What are some comics you really love that you want people to know about and seek out?
TS: There’s so much good stuff on shelves right now…it’s almost too much to handle. I’ve been loving Eric Powell’s Albatross Funnybooks output. I think any horror fan would love Spookshow and Hillbilly. I’ve been loving Imaginary Fiends‘ sister Vertigo Book Deathbed by Josh Williamson and Riley Rossmo. And I’m constantly amazed by the work of my studio-mate Jim Terry, who’s currently releasing a high fantasy webcomic called Edgebright & Leofywn.
DC: What’s next for you? What other projects do you have in the works?
TS: I’m writing a wonderfully weird ass crossover for DC Comics with Injustice v. He-Man & The Master of the Universe, wherein He-Man fights Jerk Superman. I’ve also got the current Hack/Slash Resurrection series going over at Image Comics. And, a bunch of secret stuff coming down the pipeline. Read Fiends so I can get started on that sequel!