SDCC: The Darkness/Darkchylde

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Randy Queen is the creator/artist of one of the hottest series of the late Nineties, outselling some of the biggest titles in comics. Darkchylde was a series that revolved around a traumatized high school girl Ariel Chylde, who could become the creatures from her many Nightmares. A heart-breaking story that has spawned a surprisingly large female fan base, merchandising, many comics and a staggering 261 various covers (source).

Randy's last major news was at the San Diego Comicon 2008 in regards to his new property Starfall, partnering with Top Cow Entertainment. Starfall will be sollicited after it has been fully produced and will be finished to meet deadlines.

The big news from the San Diego Comicon 2009 is that Top Cow Entertainment and Darkchylde Entertainment will publish a The Darkness/Darkchylde 30 page one-shot, which features the return of Ariel Chylde. The crossover reveals a new visual take on The Darkness when his armor gets corrupted in Ariel's Nightmares. Randy will be writing and drawing, with his partner Sarah Queens providing colors.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Randy, thank you so very much for having this conversation. It has been a long time for fans of your art to revel about and this latest news will make many fans get fuzzy inside for sure. For those fans that need to rediscover the character of Ariel Chylde, can you tell us a bit about her first, the way you perceive her and want people to know her?

RANDY QUEEN: Ariel is shy, incredibly pretty, and can become the creatures from her Nightmares. That's a good place to start! And it's been too long since fans have read a new Darkchylde comic book. Back issues can be found at our site, and the wait for a new story will soon be over.

BF: Exactly a year ago there was this tantalising news from the floor of the San Diego comicon about Starfall and now this crossover is announced to start things off for your . What is the marketing idea to do this crossover before even starting up - after the Starfall Preview - with the previous announcement?

RQ: To clarify, we are, and have been in production on Starfall. It was discussed it might be good to get a smaller project out in the interim while also engaged in the bigger Starfall marathon. To get something else out in the short term so fans won't have to wait as long to see something from us. Kind of like releasing a single before the album.

BF: What's the premise of the crossover? What's the story?

RQ: Ariel emits a psychic plea which Jackie intercepts, and enters her Nightmares to free her from a self-imposed, seven year exile (art imitating life.) She's this hauntingly beautiful princess, frozen and entombed in blood at the very frayed edge of her own psychological terrain. They both emerge different than how they entered, which is how it should be. Ariel Chylde can physically become her Nightmares. Jackie Estacado  can summon untold evils. How these character are similar, and what separates them is a fun question to answer.

BF: After doing the Witchblade/Darkchylde crossover, this will be your second Top Cow-crossover. What has changed for you during time?

RQ: Oh, boy. What hasn't changed is the real question! Let me just say that first crossover disappointed some fans and I didn't see it at the time, but I see it now. I lost objectivity and was pretty beaten up by the business and some other things, and it came out in the work. It was profitable for the publisher so it was a success on that level. The great thing is if you put these two books side by side it will look like two different artists drew them. It's still me, still recognizable for whatever people like in my work, but I'm certainly in a stronger place now. One of the metaphors for the book is "waking up" so read into that what you will.  It can mean successfully doing so, or simply recognizing the need to, tc. And I'm not saying I've done it, so everyone should make their own interpretation. I can't imagine anyone being dissapointed this go round, and it's my hope that Starfall will be a career high. So we'll see.

BF: How has the business changed as a whole for you?

RQ: Well, I still get asked to sign Randy Green's stuff, so that's intact! It will be nice to have new work out there for sure, but everyone knows that the print industry is much smaller now and fans really need to support the arts. That means not leeching or illegal downloading. Artists and writers do not have pension plans. We are nomadic, and that can be scary, okay? If publishers lose revenue from online stealing, which they are, they cut projects and lose artists to other industries, which they do. It's happening. We've been impacted by it. Fans need to take a moral and ethical stance to not actively participate in activities which damage and may ultimately destroy a medium they profess to love, and drive away artists they profess to follow.

BF: What has changed for Ariel during all this time? Will she have more control over her Nightmares and the spawned monsters?

RQ: Ariel is more feral, and a bit crazy, but I want fans to be surprised, they've waited a long time.

BF: Will we see more characters returning? I still remember the Carnival and War & Piece.

RQ: There's a new character called Madison Keller, whom I want to be secretive about for now, but my hope is you will see her again and this story will spill over. There's a lot to do with re-introducing Ariel properly, so War and Piece did not fit into this particular tale. But the humor they provided is intact.

BF: How do Ariel and Jackie hit it off?

RQ: The dialogue between them is probably my favorite thing. Spirited and hilarious. You'll think they are War and Piece.

BF: How was it for you to tackle The Darkness, being one of the flagship titles for Top Cow?

RQ: People don't realize I was maybe the second, or third guy to ever draw him. I was groomed by Top Cow initially to perhaps draw that book and I was told by David Wohl it was between myself and Jordan Raskin. You can see my take in the back of the Cyberforce Universe Sourcebook #2 book if you can find a copy. That art was colored but never seen and is now lost in time.

But Silvestri very rightly decided it should be a vehicle for his talents, and that was the right move. I'm delighted to finally get to draw him "for real", and the opportunity to design a new armor is ridiculously cool. It's like the Darkness power on crack running head long into John Carpenter's The Thing. Let's go, man! Let's GO! There's little darkling fossils stuck in there, like dinosaurs caught in tar. It's a mean, sinister interpretation. When you see it, there's no mistaking who it is. It's "Yup. That's the mother-fucking-Darkness, alright."

BF: What are your personal goals for this project? What do you hope to gain with this crossover?

RQ: My goals are to create a crossover that makes these characters feel fresh to fans. To provide a fun read, and a platform for Sarah to shine with her colors, as well as a successful book for the publisher. We hope to gain a few happy emails from readers.

BF: This big 30-page monster will also be previewing your next project -Starfall- with 8 pages of Randy Queen artwork. That is an awesome treat for fans. Will this be a preview to the series or will it act as a prelude?

RQ: It's 38 pages total -- you're getting 30 of Darkness/Darkchylde, and then another 8 of Starfall, interiors from Issue # 1, plus unseen promotional art. I'm as excited about that as what preceeds it. It's a big book. I have so much to do!

BF: Are you looking forward to fan's reaction on these projects or how do you feel about critiques?

RQ: Here's the thing. I beat myself up about the stuff. I really do. I agonize over it to A) make myself happy, and B) make the fans happy. I agonize over to the point where I get almost no joy out of the actual process. It's very difficult work that keeps you away from family and friends. You have to be an actor, a designer, an architect, a director. You need more skill sets to do this than almost any other artistic profession. Only once it's done can I enjoy it if we did a good job. So if some arm chair critic wants to throw eggs in anonymity, and tear down another person in a public forum, there's not a whole lot I can do about it. Anybody in any profession is also a human being and we get depressed when people trash us publicly. It hurts, and it's sad because it used to not be that way. Artists used to be less accessible, and you know what?

People were nicer. I know many artists who won't even read fan boards because it's too painful and they worked too hard for too many hours to read that hateful bullshit. So it would be nice if someone actually thought, "would I say this to this person's face?" before posting. I had a guy write that my work was "like a tired dog that needed to be put down", and then the guy sees me at a con and smiles and wants to shake my hand. I said "I saw what you wrote, I don't want to shake your hand." It's like, Hello! I don't hate on my craft, man, if I don't like something, It does not get my time. I feel no need to beat it up first. Let's be more positive, okay? We got into this hobby out of love and because it makes us happy. And if we're still in it, those are very likely the same reasons.

BF: What is the plan for Starfall?

RQ: To be unmercifully the most insanely fun, kick ass comic book experience you'll ever read in your lifetime. In my obituary it will be "best known for his work on Darkchylde and Starfall" and I think that's kick ass.  We're shooting for next summer.

BF: Your partner Sarah will be handling the coloring duties (and most likely also part of the design of the book?) for this project. She is a great colorist and I am curious how she has developed over the years. How is it for you, working with your partner all day?

RQ: She's developed wonderfully, and you should interview her next. What you see in the crossover is beautiful, what you'll see in Starfall will be even more so. Answer to second question: A privilege.

BF: Do you do any other jobs outside the realm of comics?

RQ: Sometimes I wash cars, and the elderly lady across the street pays me 6 bucks an hour to braid her hair and sing old Johnny Cash songs. Other times it's storyboards, and design work for games, toys and statues.

BF: What do you have planned for Darkchylde?

RQ: As much as the universe allows.

BF: Where will your next public appearance be for 2009?

RQ: Walgreens around noon. Or perhaps that old lady's house. She bakes a hell of a cookie.

BF: Any closing words?

RQ: I have a lot of gratitude for those who has been patient fans of my work over the years. I feel like I'm finally getting good, or at least approaching it, so perhaps I will soon actually be deserving of your attention.

BF: Thank you so very much for your time! Readers be sure to check out www.darkchylde.com and www.starfall.com !!

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