Darkness v. Sovereign: A Phil Hester & Romano Molenaar Interview

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The Darkness #88 is the last issue of "The Sovereign" storyline and Broken Frontier had the chance to talk to both writer Phil Hester and Netherlands-native artist Romano Molenaar about this concluding story as well as Romano's return to Top Cow, as he's been filling in for Sheldon Mitchell, who will be continuing art duties for The Darkness in the near future.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Can you tell our readers a bit about the Sovereign to get them up to speed?

The Sovereign is an ancient king who lost his throne and his life to a past Darkness wielder. His immortal soul was cursed to inhabit effigies of his earthly form, basically statues carved to his glory as king. Being a king, there are a ton of these ruins scattered about the globe. Plus, once he knew he could jump from one statue to another, he had many more sculpted. Since he inhabits lifeless stone and metal, he can take no earthly pleasure in sensations, leaving only his grudge against the Darkness as a source of satisfaction. He's had a running feud with Jackie for the last twenty issues or so.

BF: Can you tell me how Jackie is approaching life at this point in his existence? According to the synopsis, he is being betrayed from within his close circle; I wager Jackie is about to get nasty...

HESTER: Jackie has assembled a team of sorts to deal with the Sovereign's earthly empire. He and his crew have been roaming the globe eliminating the Sovereign's host statues. Jackie is very much in revenge mode, but hasn't lost his head, and is going about it the smart way. Experience is finally sinking in.

BF: Romano, seeing your art in comics again is very nice, to say the least. I believe Bloodrayne was your latest interior comic art to be seen, after which Zenescope got you on covers, if I am correct?

ROMANO MOLENAAR: I have to check. I know it is well over five years since my last full issue. It has taken too long to work on comics, but sometimes one is forced into choices that cannot be refused. 


BF: How is it for you to be back at Top Cow, working on The Darkness yet again?

It is great (even for one issue) to work with the people at Top Cow again. It really felt like I worked with them just yesterday. I feel that the art at Top Cow is fast paced and you will get more creative freedom than anywhere I've worked for. So that makes Top Cow so favorable for me to work with. Working on The Darkness is always a crazy ride; putting the force into Jackie's expressions and letting out his powers is a true feast!

BF: How different is this Jackie compared to your prior issue, some time ago?

MOLENAAR: I think art-wise he didn't change that much except for the goatee, but he made a leap with his powers and storyline. It's more epic than ever.

BF: How are you both approaching the Darkness character at this point in his career? Is there a difference over time and if he has changed, how so?

MOLENAAR: Like I said before, his powers and the powers of the Darkness have made a huge epic leap which put Jackie way higher up the power pedestal.

HESTER: I see him as older and wiser than his previous depictions. I mean, he's still hot-headed and a bastard, but he's a crafty bastard now. He's also seen the limitations of a life of pure self-centeredness and knows there's something more. I think battle-scarred would be the best way to describe Jackie at this point.

BF: What will you be putting Jackie through in issues to come?

HESTER: Well, it's going to get rougher for Jackie. Lots of betrayal, old friends turned enemies, long lost relatives, and, oh yeah... a war between Jackie and the Darkness itself.

BF: Since 2010 is over, do tell me how 2010 was for you personally and/or comic-wise? If you look back at 2010, what are the things that stand out for you personally and business-wise?

MOLENAAR: 2010 was a crazy year: I thought I would take it a little easier (like every year). Next to my regular job as a concept artist, there were so many various projects to work on; from hand classic painting assignments to digital projects.

I think for me the highlight was the collaboration with the Cow again and finding out that I truly love drawing comic pages and the Within Temptation (a Dutch goth-band for whom Romano is doing a comic) project.

HESTER: For me, 2010 is the year I made the complete transition to full-time writer. I mean, I still drew a few things here and there, but most of my time was spent writing. I'm very thankful for all the great collaborators I got a chance to work with in 2010, especially on The Darkness. Sheldon and Romano are both amazing talents and I was very happy to see them spin my feeble works into pure gold.

BF: Knowing you both, you are always busy with new plans and new creative urges that need to get out there. What are your 2011 plans?

HESTER: Oh, boy. Well, I'm writing The Darkness, Wonder Woman, Green Hornet, Firebreather, and a few side projects, plus penciling the new Godzilla book.

MOLENAAR: HA! Finish a lot of assignments from 2010! And hopefully doing more comics. But let's not forget the European album Storm which will also start with a new storyline. 2011 is going to be MUCH busier than 2010!

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  • Steven Surman

    Steven Surman Jan 10, 2011 at 10:44am

    The concept of the Sovereign sounds awesome.

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