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A Nightmare of Dragon's Blood

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A man who has written just about everywhere and touched every character stopped by to chat about his two new DC books.  One is a character he has written before, but the other is pretty new to him.  Chuck Dixon lets us in on his thoughts on Connor Hawke and Freddie Krueger, the respective stars - probably not applicable for Krueger - of the November-debuting miniseries Connor Hawke: Dragon's Blood and Wildstorm's recently launched A Nightmare on Elm Street.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Why did you want to return to Connor Hawke?  You had written most of his catalogue of stories during your Green Arrow run up until Ollie's return.  Was this miniseries just an idea that you put together based on the new status of the DCU?  

CHUCK DIXON: It’s a lot simpler than that. A Connor limited series was on Editor Michael Wright’s wish list. He presented the idea to the Powers That Am at DC with my name attached and, long story shorter, after a few outlines it was approved.  I was very pleased to return to the character.

BF: Why do you feel this is an important character to the fabric of the DCU?

CD: I think, far beyond being Oliver Queen’s son, Connor has a place in the DCU. That universe has a real lack of the kind of globe-trotting, pure adventure characters that Conner Hawke evolved into. He represents a contrast or counter-programming to the urban, weltschmerz kind of hero that the company specializes in these days.

BF: A lot has changed for the character of Connor Hawke since you last wrote him, most notably the return of his father.  How do you feel that Ollie’s return has affected the character?

CD: The fact that Ollie is back is the kick-off for what initially motivates Connor to take on the adventure offered in this story. He wants to prove that he can be the equal to his father in bowmanship. And it’s not from some sense of hubris. Connor simply feels that he is incomplete until he finds his potential in archery within himself.

BF: Similarly, the DC Universe has always been one that has prided itself on the legacy of its characters.  Connor's legacy has been constantly changing, finding out who his father is, taking over after his death, and now going back to being the "second Green Arrow", for lack of a better term.  How has this constant shifting affected Connor?  Is he someone who "knows his place" or someone who is still "searching for self"?  Where does he see his place in the DCU?

CD: Connor’s always been centered. He’s cool and unflappable for the most part. Being the “second Green Arrow” isn’t something that would affect his life except that he feels a sense of unfulfilled destiny.

BF: How has he taken to Mia Dearden joining the Arrow family?

CD: Since this is a Connor-only story, I wanted it to stand on its own. So only enough Green Arrow continuity is established to lay down Connor’s bona fides. Mia Dearden is not referenced. 

BF: What type of story will this be?  Is it a discovery tale? Straight superhero adventure?  Can we expect any guest stars? 

CD: It’s a world-spanning adventure story. Connor is drawn into events much larger than himself in search of becoming a better archer than he has been. This brings him into the world of his father’s past as he meets Shado and encounters events and temptations similar to those that Ollie did. Eddie Fyers will be along. But the rest of, the very large ensemble cast, will be brand-new characters.

BF: The story is called "Dragon's Blood" which gives the impression that this tale will have and Asian twist to it.  Connor is known as a martial artist and has, at times, been shown to be of an Asian descent.  Will this miniseries shore up any of those issues?

CD: Martial arts and an Asian setting do play a large part in the story. But readers shouldn’t assume that there’ll be any of the usual “pluck the pebble from my hand, grasshopper” tropes of the genre. I can absolutely assure you that you’ll see some action in this story unlike anything you’ve seen in a Green Arrow or Connor story. There’s LOTS of bow action as I wanted to make sure this story was about a guy who fired a bow.

BF: Will fans receive clarification on his origin? 

CD: Connor’s origin is pretty much the same as a lot of people’s origins. Without benefit of marriage, Ollie knocked up Connor’s mom and Connor found his biological dad and tried to emulate him. Nothing much to elaborate on and no reason to muck it up with more details. 

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BF: The artist on the series is Derec Donovan.  How did he become part of the book?  Was it your choice to work with him?  Is there anything in particular about his artwork that you're trying to showcase with this series?

CD: It was one of those rare times when I suggested an artist and the editor agreed with me. Derec lived in the area when I was working at CrossGen and would visit the studios quite often. I got to know him and saw lots of his work and was always impressed with his willingness to take chances and his dedication to doing his very best even on the most thankless assignments. This story presents some real challenges that I thought Derec would really appreciate. He also has a fresh, stylistic approach that suits Connor. And his ability to create blistering action scenes in a new way is perfect for this story. 

BF: Do you have further plans for the character of Connor Hawke?  Will this series set up others or is it more of a stand alone storyline? And where will you be leaving him at the end of the series?

CD: It’s absolutely a stand alone. It can be read by someone entirely unfamiliar with the character and is a complete story that doesn’t set up another story or continue into anything else.

That said, I think the story leaves Connor in an interesting place with a lot of “what happens next?” elements. If this is popular enough I’d certainly consider doing more.

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BF: Moving onto the DC/Wildstorm Horror Line of books, you have been pegged as the writer for the upcoming Nightmare on Elm Street series. How did this project come about for you?

CD: My editor at Wildstorm, Ben Abernathy, gave me my choice of the three New Line properties. It wasn’t even a question to me. It HAD to be Freddy.

BF: Were you a fan of the movie series?  Did you have to go back and rewatch the movies or do any other type of research for the series? 

CD: I was a fan. I’m not big on this kind of horror movie generally. The teens-in-peril kind of movies either bore or sadden me. But the Nightmare movies have so much more going for them. I did re-watch movies one and three when I got the assignment. Those movies are the richest as far as “getting it right” and establishing the rules of Freddy’s world. Since then I’ve re-watched them all. Beyond that, I’ve been reading about sleep deprivation. 

BF: What is it about the character of Freddie Kreuger that makes him such a popular character?  Is he as much fun to write as he is to watch (and read)?

CD: Freddy works on the same principle that made the shower scene in Psycho so shocking on its release.

We may not all go to a creepy summer camp. We may not all have our car break down on a lonely Texas road. But we ALL sleep. And we all dream. There’s something primal and deeply frightening about a sentient intelligence waiting for us in our dreams.

When you can turn the mundane on its head it’s always frightening. It’s like how a critic referred to the writing of Cornell Woolrich; “the everyday gone wrong.” 

BF: What are your plans for this series?  Will it be a series of one shot issues or is there an overarching storyline to the book?

CD: It’s a mixture of both. We have three issue arcs with single, stand alones between each arc. But there are threads of continuity running through each story. We’re also planning theme stories that take full advantage of the comics medium. I wish I could tell you some of the ideas in the pipeline, but I think they’ll be more surprising if we wait. My goal on the book is for readers to never know quite what to expect month after month. Kind of like Freddy; changing the rules and keeping you unsteady and ill at ease.

BF: The original movies were renowned for the gore and violence almost as much as the horror and suspense.  What do you think were the best aspects of this property and what type of style are you using for the book?

CD: There’ll be plenty of nasty moments and horrific fates in the stories. But I really want to explore what separates Freddy from the other slasher-type stories. The existential quality of the series is far more unsettling than the in-your-face teen-mangling. That “am I awake or asleep?” element is a kick-ass concept. 

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