Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse Co Creator Sean Jaffe takes some time out of his busy schedule to show us his war face!
My name is R.M. Sean Jaffe. I’ve been a writer for about fifteen years, and in that time I’ve done everything from video games to ad campaigns to novels to movies and TV, but Four Horsemen was actually my first comic. It’d always been a dream gig of mine. I actually came into writing through the weird backdoor of tabletop roleplaying, and because there was so much crossover in those worlds and fandoms, I’d always wanted to take on a comic book project.
Four Horsemen was simultaneously one of the best and hardest things I’ve ever done. I remember getting the call about working on a comic, and I readily accepted. I didn’t think much of it, assuming it was a simple gig for a some rich upper west side kid who’d hired a friend to crank out some drawings. I got the email with the concept art at my first family Christmas with the in-laws. Shocked, I asked my brother “Is that… Simon Fuckin’ Bisley?” And he nodded and loudly agreed that holy shit, it was indeed Simon Fuckin’ Bisley, right there at the dinner table, which kind of set the tone for that week, in-law-wise.
My brother Josh and I grew up as hardcore Bisley fans, going as far back as his legendary run on Lobo (Josh bought issue number one in a drugstore and we read it until it nearly disintegrated) and his Sláine stuff in 2000AD, which wasn’t easy to get back then. Amusingly, I’d even worked on a Lobo script treatment for WB back when they were still feeling out for more obscure characters to make franchises out of.
The characters and personalities leapt off the page. My first book, a now long-out-of-print RPG called “The Last Exodus” dealt with similar themes, an over-the-top religious apocalypse rooted in real-world eschatology with a heavy emphasis on Judeo-Christian Themes. Michael Mendheim and I bonded over that. We talked endlessly about secret societies and puzzles and hints hidden in the story of four horsemen as well as in the very pages themselves. Soon, I got to meet Michael Kennedy, writer of “Star Wars: Underworld” and one of my personal heroes, I felt honored to have a chance to work with such an epic team.
I did some tweaks on the core team of characters, but my primary responsibility was to create a sort of- I’m not sure if the word “realistic” applies here- vaguely consistent religious base to the characters and events, based largely on the events of the Judeo-Christian concept of Revelation, and the surrounding apocrypha. It was tricky to make it all work, as I wanted this particular apocalypse to feel holistic, and I tried to incorporate some outside elements from Islam, Hinduism, and even pagan sources as well. Furthermore, I wanted Four Horsemen to provide a knowing counterpoint to the the overwhelming Christian slant in stories of this ilk, specifically in the form of Rabbi Adam Cahill, a Jew who doesn’t believe in Hell even as he destroys it. Perhaps this is what gives him the power to do so…?
Of course, the bad guy is the most fun, and I had a particular delight in helping to develop the demonic Andrij Belarios. Trapped among the humans for millennia, this is his final gambit to be free of our earthly prison, and he couldn’t possibly hate us more. He’s literally seen it all, and he was likely completely insane before he ever even fell from Heaven- that’s the sort of evil these guys are up against. His “Eli Eli Sabachthani” speech is an almost verbatim transcription of a speech my atheist father gave me when I asked him about who Jesus was when I was a kid.
So here it is: A religious story, a war story, and even a sort of road story. Four Horsemen, when you get down to it, is a story about the resilience of the human spirit and the attainability of redemption. This is a rich vein, and a doomed world that we’ve only just begin to explore. I hope you enjoy the journey.