Pilot Season Winner's Circle: Troy Hickman

Troy Hickman on Winning Pilot Season

These days, you know when something's popular when it produces a sequel. And for Top Cow, last year's Pilot Season contest proved so popular that they quickly brought it back for a second round earlier this year. The now-annual initiative pits six one-shot "pilot comics" head-to-head for two spots as ongoing series. After all issues are released, Top Cow allows readers to vote for their favorite.

This year, the two titles that made it to the winner's circle were Twilight Guardian and Genius. In fact, Twilight Guardian received the highest number of votes, totaling 29% of the over all vote. Amid the celebration, we've tracked down Twilight Guardian creator/writer Troy Hickman to talk about winning and what's next.

Newsarama: First of all, congratulations Troy.

What's it like to win Pilot Season? How'd you find out?

Troy Hickman: What's it like? It's like getting to eat all the ice cream you want without having your tonsils removed. It's like dating the prom queen, then finding out she's actually a piñata stuffed with fun-sized candy bars. It's like rain on your weddi---oh, wait, no, that's ironic.

As far as finding out, Top Cow contacted me a day or so before they announced the winners to the public, so I had to sit on the info for 24 hours or so. I came this close to spontaneously combusting. I wanted to go to my girlfriend's work and carry her off triumphantly like in An Officer and a Gentleman, but she works in a bank and I'm pretty sure a security guard would've gunned me down.

NRAMA: [laughs] What would you say put Twilight Guardian over the top to win the contest?

TH: A lot of work from a great number of terrific people. I'd like to think we achieved this solely through creating a great comic, but truth be told, most of the credit has to go to all the people who voted, and who recommended the comic to others and urged them to vote, too. There were a number of communities out there that went the distance for us. Because Twilight Guardian is about a woman in the real world fighting crime, we received a great deal of help from the RLSH (Real Life Superhero) folks. Since I'm an avid City of Heroes player, and I've written issues of the City of Heroes comic (and scripted their counterpart in the game itself), I got TONS of assistance from the gang there and at the CoH Podcast. Then there were all the MySpace people, and my buds at the Clobberin' Times, and all the websites and message boards and...well, suffice it to say, about a gazillion people made this happen.

I also give a smidge of credit to my own anxiety and insomnia (hey, Twilight Guardian got her nocturnal patrols from somewhere). I've slept very little the last month, and used whatever free time I've had to get the word out about where to view the comic, and what to do if you dug it.

NRAMA: Rounding out the Twilight Guardian team is artist Reza. Will he be joining you on the new series?

TH: Boy, I sure hope so. I couldn't be happier with his work. When we were first planning the comic, I was worried we wouldn't be able to find someone who could deal with the more "mundane" look and feel of the comic, especially in an industry where larger-than-life is more the norm. Reza has really delivered, though. And when we do the series, I've already got some stuff planned that will give him the opportunity to really show the spectrum of what he can do.

I'd really like to talk to him directly, though. Because of the language barrier, so far we've only connected through intermediaries, and that's worked fine, but nothing compares with two creative folks shooting the breeze about this stuff. I think I need to take some language classes.

NRAMA: So what can you tell us about the new series – in the press release announcement, you said you were going to take the book "where comics haven't gone before". What can you say?

TH: I'm not going to say much, because surprise is my ally! But what I want to do is play around with the nature of the superhero genre, and maybe a bit with the medium in general. I've always said I don't like to see our beloved characters deconstructed and dissected (what I like to call the "Kryptonite Scalpel" syndrome), but I do think it's possible to take a non-invasive look at it all, and to do so without breaking the fourth wall.

I can tell you one thing: I'm going to have fun. And I think that's tremendously important. I can always tell the difference between a comic where the writer was really enjoying himself and one where he was just picking up some quick bucks, and it makes all the difference in the world. I'm going to enjoy this series, and hopefully that sense of fun and a real love for this medium will come through.

NRAMA: Have you had any concrete conversations about planning the series yet with Top Cow, or are you still basking in the glow?

TH: I haven't heard anything from them yet, but it's still very early. I've already started working on the issue-by-issue notes for the series, though, so I'll be ready to go when they are.

NRAMA: From my perspective, this is one of the biggest moments of your comic career so far. How would you rank this?

TH: Well, this is certainly one of the high points. Y'know, not meaning to sound all gosh-wow (though I guess that's what I am), I've really been fortunate in this business. I've only had something like fourteen professional comics published, but within those few issues I've been lucky enough to be nominated for a couple of Eisners, work with some of the honest-to-Zod legends of this industry, see my characters made into video games, and now win this competition. Not bad for a functional illiterate with a superfluous third nipple, eh?

NRAMA: Last question – what are you doing to celebrate?

TH: Hmmm, I thought about going to an all-you-can-eat buffet, but this diet precludes it (I've lost forty pounds so far, and that's just from my head). After all the stress of the last month, maybe I'll unwind by walking the streets tonight. You never know who you're going to run into...

Check back with Newsarama later this week for a chat with fellow winners, Genius writers Marc Bernadin and Adam Freeman.

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