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Frightful Friday: 10 Questions With Helloween’s Joe Harris

Kevin Community • Oct 15, 2021

 

Halloween brings with it a slew of supernatural stories of suspense, terror and horror. For over two decades, Joe Harris has been bringing monstrosities to life with his work on films like Darkness Falls for Sony Pictures, Suneater for Heavy Metal with Dylan Sprouse, and X-Files for IDW. Now he’s teaming up with the German heavy metal band Helloween for “Seekers of the Seven Keys” — a new comic from Incendium that promises to deliver plenty of thrills of its own. 
 
GLOBALCOMIX: Judging by the cover art, Helloween’s “Seekers of the Seven Keys” feels like an outrageous celebration of fantasy, humor, and mad science. How did you end up working with the ‘fathers of power metal?’
 
JOE HARRIS: I’ve always had a soft spot for 80s metal and the “Keeper of the Seven Keys” album—particularly the image of the aforementioned Keeper from the cover art—helped add to the cool, badass backdrop my childhood enjoyed. Man, I’ve worked with everyone at this point so it all comes around eventually.
 
GLOBALCOMIX: For people not familiar with the band or their music — how would you describe this story? Or is it a story that defies description? 
 
JOE HARRIS: It’s a dark fantasy story which sees a brother and sister duo of 80s teens sucked into this magical realm that’s populated by not only the Keeper, but by a menagerie of characters and concepts which have graced Helloween’s album covers throughout their long history. The seven keys of power have been lost. And everybody is trying to find them.
 
GLOBALCOMIX: With this project, you’re working with some remarkable artists — Santi Casas on the cover and Axel Medellin on the interior artwork. 
 
JOE HARRIS: Agreed!
 
GLOBALCOMIX: Having read your work on Rockstars a few years back, it’s clear that music has had a huge personal influence on you. Can you talk about how it helped define you and shape your voice as a creator?
 
JOE HARRIS: I wanted to be a musician before I’d developed into the writer, filmmaker and storyteller I would go on to become. Music is essential, to my past and present and so long as there are opportunities to give voice to megawatt, larger than life figures from rock and metal’s history… or to publish my own, creator-owned books exploring the same sort of archetypes and presences, I’m there for it.
 
GLOBALCOMIX: Incendium has really made a name for itself over the last year developing masterful stories with some of the world’s most prestigious metal bands. What is it about combining music and comics that makes stories like “Seekers of the Seven Keys” such a draw for fans?
 
JOE HARRIS: Well, first and foremost, I think the emergence of something “new” related to a band, or a specific, iconic album, is fun to check out. Or it should be anyway. I’ve been imagining the backstories and significances of famous album covers since I was a little kid, so to see "the story" behind an image that was fixed upon that record, tape or CD, can be a rare treat you never imagined you’d discover.

 

Suneater by Joe Harris and Dylan Sprouse, published by Heavy Metal.

 
GLOBALCOMIX: Beyond music, you seem to draw a lot of inspiration from horror. What, in your opinion, makes for a good horror story?
 
JOE HARRIS: Thrills. Stakes. Consequences. I admit to rooting for the killer, the evil presence, or the horror itself, often enough too.
 
GLOBALCOMIX: Describe the creative process of putting a story like “Seekers of the Seven Keys” together. Were you pounding on the keys like a percussion instrument or was it a more solitary, intimate experience for you?
 
JOE HARRIS: I type with my feet as well as my hands, like Rick Wakeman surrounded by keyboards while wearing a resplendent, flowing cape.
 
GLOBALCOMIX: Denton Tipton, your editor on X-Files Season 10 and author of Chasing the Dragon, is joining you for this story. For people unfamiliar with what an editor does, can you talk about how you and Denton work together? 
 
JOE HARRIS: You know, Denton might protest some when I insist on including things like school shootings, governmental conspiracies and political commentary sure to rattle the licensors, rights holders and parents into sending a deluge of feedback his way, but he’s almost always unconvincing. I know he loves it. He doesn’t even have to say so out loud. I got you, boo.
 
GLOBALCOMIX: Since this is ostensibly, an interview about horror, the supernatural and Halloween, care to share with us your best Halloween costume?
 
JOE HARRIS: 12-year-old Joe coming through the front door covered in shaving cream following an ambush by older kids walking home from school, was a scenario recreated and worn on more than one Halloween.
 
GLOBALCOMIX: Where can people find you online and pick up a copy of Helloween’s “Seekers of the Seven Keys”? 
 
JOE HARRIS: That’s a good question. I defer to the band’s merch store, modern day distribution channels, and prayers to the dark lords.
 
GLOBALCOMIX: Thank you for joining us Joe. To read Joe’s work on Heavy Metal’s Suneater subscribe to a GlobalComix Gold Membership. For more about his upcoming work in Helloween, visit Incendium Online here!