Inside Look: Darkchylde/The Darkness #1

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Ariel Chylde has made her return to comics. The star of one of the most raved about books during the mid-Nineties 'bad girl' craze, Ms. Chylde has now moved to the same barn as Jackie 'The Darkness' Estacado: the Top Cow farm. Her story resumed in Darkchylde/The Darkness #1, a book that immediately generated buzz as if 13 years hadn't passed. So, BF invited creator Randy Queen over to discuss Ariel's return from the inside out.

Contributed by Randy Queen:
One of the things I try to do when writing is find a relatability with the subject matter and the audience. Why should we care about these people? How are our emotional touchstones the same? The cresendo of this particular story for me is not the climactic battle at the end, but when Jackie frees Ariel towards the middle. One of my favorite lines is when Miss Happy (a little splinter of Ariel's mind) tells Jackie "Absense doesn't always equate to apathy".  There's no hidden meaning to that line. Just because a family member or someone you love isn't around, it doesn't mean they don't want to be, it doesn't mean they aren't thinking about you or missing you, or perhaps wishing they could be there or that things had gone differently. This line can be applied to many situations in one's life.  Just becasue something isn't right in front of you, doesn't mean someone somewhere isn't wishing it were so. Absence doesn't always equate to apathy.

In keeping with relatiablity awareness when scripting, perhaps my favorite line of the book is when Miss Happy says "Things can get cracked and broken, but they can be beautiful again." That line is the emotional heart of the story for me, because it can apply to anything. In context, it applies to Ariel and Madison, and we circle back to this on the final page. But that line can also apply to personal relationships, business matters, health matters, spiritual matters, anything that could be made whole again with effort. Things break. It happens. But they don't have to stay broken, and some times it's about choice. That's the whole story here in a nutshell.
Having the lone tear stream down Miss Happy's cheek here on panel 2 was an after thought. We set the "Lots of dark here for you to make stuff" line up earlier, specficially to reprise here, but I worried we didn't need to underline the moment with a tear, and run the risk of it being too emotionally heavy handed. But I decided to do it anyway, having some fun by adding Jackie's line that it wasn't necessary for him either because he'd already made his mind up. Jackie mentions earlier he'd likely take a bullet for Miss Happy if she asked, and I considered adding the line "much easier than the bullet" but felt the humor of his final caption was ultimately stronger.

The line "as petals take to wind--" is another favorite. I wanted to add a lyrical passage of reflection where Jackie takes a beat to observe beauty even in the heart of nightmare. Most of us have lost something or someone close to us in our lives, or will at some point, and I think it's a nice gracenote for the character that in this stirring moment of beauty -- he reflects upon the love for his departed friend. It adds another layer of emotional weight to the scene beyond him simply freeing Ariel.

As the ice is breaking down, so too are his defenses. Things he's locked away in order to heal, or perhaps just move forward and survive, are awakening as surely as Ariel is. As her walls crumble externally, for Jackie they also crumble internally.
And that emotional wave crashes right as Ariel opens her eyes as a result of Jackie's kindness.

PAGE 12 and 13
As I wrote this, it was a stunning moment -- so I underscored this by simply having Jackie echo that very sentiment on the following page. Plus I knew Sarah's colors would be gorgeous, and I wanted a subtle nod with the text while still servicing our story.


PAGE 14 and 15
Finally, the top four panels of our closing page are purposely silent, as I wanted the reader to engage thier own responses as the emotional wave settles. The rose petals in panel two flow over horizontally, drawing your eye right over to where Jackie is framed by the ice arch. The art on this panel owes much to the classical illustrations of comics artist Al Williamson. The little lizard is a frequent signature of his.


PAGE 16/17
And finally we close with a high impact visual of Ariel Chylde in all her glory. I realized Jackie is actually in the story more than she was, so I wanted to make sure she had a gatefold commensurate to the spread which reveals The New Darkness Armor. And leaping Ice Lizards are extremely cool.


I hope you enjoyed this inside look at the thought process for this sequence, and I hope you'll track down  The Darkness / Darkchylde : Kingdom Pain from Top Cow Productions at your local comic shops to see what happens on the following pages.

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