THE DARKNESS After 100: David Hine Looks Forward
THE DARKNESS After 100: David Hine
David Hine is no stranger to The Darkness. No, that doesn't mean he sits around in a cave or with all the blinds drawn all day (that's only when writing Bulletproof Coffin), it means he's written the adventures of Jackie Estacado before, albeit in a mini-series.Now, as the writer on the ongoing, he's dealing with a whole new Top Cow Universe. At the end of the first big Artifacts storyline, Jackie Estacado used his daughter Hope to rewrite reality, changing things around to give him all he's ever dreamt of having. Interestingly, that included keeping The Darkness, despite his struggles with it in the past. We spoke with Hine about writing an issue #101 that is also kind of an issue #6, and what kind of Darkness he plans on bringing down upon the TCU.
DARKNESS #101 CoverNewsarama: Now, this isn't your first time writing The Darkness, but it's your first on the main series. I'll start you off with the same couple of questions I asked Phil in his run-ending interview. What IS the Darkness to you, as you begin your run?
David Hine: The Darkness is a primal force that represents the dark side of human nature. It’s not evil, because it doesn’t have any ethical sense. It’s the equivalent of the id, the part of the human psyche that allows the basic human urges free rein without limits or restraints. Possessing The Darkness is like drinking the potion that turns Dr Jekyll into Mr Hyde. Only with tentacles and Darklings.
Nrama: As you've learned more about Jackie Estacado as an individual, what do you think of him? Is he a hero? An Anti-Hero? A straight up villain? Good? Evil?
Hine: Given that Jackie has had The Darkness in his DNA since the moment he was conceived, he’s never really had the chance to be a good guy. But he has always had a decent side to him, always been loyal to his friends and the people he loves, always been courageous. So he’s an anti-hero who never had a break. What I’m going to do is give him the breaks, let him have all the good things he never had and see if he can deal with that. Will the possibility of happiness make him a good person, or is he fundamentally corrupted all the way to the core? The truth is that I don’t know the answer to that yet. I’m exploring the character without any preconceptions.
CoverNrama: With a "new" Top Cow Universe, it's implied that relationships will be different, new supporting characters might be around, and old ones might be gone. How did you make these adjustments? Was there anything in particular that jumped out initially as a necessary change to you?
Hine: I think everyone who has been following the book and the Artifacts series will know by now that Jackie has saved our universe by remaking it and that he’s made a couple of tweaks, notably bringing his lost love, Jenny Romano, back from the grave, or to be more precise, changing history so she never died. And what is less excusable, he has made Jenny the father of Hope, so that in this reborn world, Sara Pezzini never had a child. That is a terrible thing to do and will have enormous consequences. Incidentally, we have no intention of undoing or resetting this. What’s done is done and that makes things very interesting for the whole Top Cow line. Ron Marz, Tim Seeley and myself are all going to be exploring the ramifications of Jackie’s actions. The existence of Jenny, and the altered roles of Hope and Sara will be at the center of everything that goes increasingly awry in this new universe over the coming months. A lot of the new characters we’re introducing are also related to a new strand of mythology that we’ll be developing. I don’t want to say too much for now, but if you pay close attention you’ll see clues across the titles that will pay off in the future.
Interior PageNrama: You're simultaneously coming into The Darkness at "the beginning" and also deep into its existence. What unique challenges and opportunities does that situation give you?
Hine: There’s a lot of solid groundwork that has been built up over the years. The concept of the Rebirth is a gift to me as a new writer on the series because it means I’m not too tied into the existing continuity. That goes for everyone working in the Top Cow Universe. We have the advantage of starting out with the established characters and concepts, while at the same time being given virgin territory to explore. The challenge is to create something genuinely fresh and hopefully unique, while respecting the established history and personalities. I’m conscious of a duty to preserve the integrity of the characters, so that the developments in their personalities remain plausible. This is still the Jackie Estacado we know and love, but he’s being pushed into new and challenging situations.
Nrama: There have been emotional Darkness stories, and hard, violent Darkness stories; is one better than the other to you? Will your run be focusing on one more than the other?
Hine: I always focus on emotional themes, and relationships will be at the core of the story. I’ll be pushing Jackie and all the other key characters to their emotional limits. The violence in the story is more to do with plot than theme. By its nature The Darkness will always be about violence and there are some extremely brutal scenes in the first few issues. Never gratuitous though, I hope. Extreme violence is only effective if it’s set against humanity and the way it affects characters we sympathize with. If you don’t care about a character or find him or her interesting, then tearing them limb from limb is no more than special effects.
Interior PageNrama: Top Cow exclusive artist Jeremy Haun jumped right into the fray, drawing just about everyone in his arc on Artifacts. What kinds of stuff do YOU want to see him draw?
Hine: Jeremy is the perfect artist for this book precisely because he can handle the emotional themes. He knows how to hold a close-up and pace a scene to milk the emotional intensity. He also draws a mean fight scene and can do horror very very well. We teamed up before on the Jeremiah Arkham stories in DC’s Bat books, so we understand how each of us works. I know I can trust Jeremy to get into the characters’ heads and give us some intense drama, as well as draw the crowd-pleasing pin-up pages.
Nrama: How has the creative process with Jeremy been so far?
Hine: Always great. Jeremy gets where I’m coming from and interprets the scripts exactly as I want. But he also manages to surprise me. He always gives his artwork everything he’s got and he’ll always bring something extra to the table. It’s a pity we don’t meet up more often. When we do actually sit down together over a beer the conversations are incredibly productive. I guess our skills overlap. Jeremy has writing skills and I have a degree of drawing ability, and that always helps in a collaboration where words and images have equal importance.
Nrama: If you have one main goal for your run on The Darkness, what would it be?
Interior PageHine: To entertain…always… and to keep Jackie and The Darkness fresh and original. I’d like to keep the existing fans happy and also appeal to a whole new readership. That’s code for “sell a shit-load of comics!”
Nrama: Finally, David, for fans of your "big 2" work, or maybe your creator owned work, what part of those sensibilities will you be bringing to The Darkness?
Hine: I have been working on a very varied line-up of books and there’s certainly a huge difference between an X-book and The Bulletproof Coffin. I guess the Top Cow books straddle the line between mainstream and indie comics. I’m using a lot of what I learned about character, plot and pacing from mainstream comics, but the cuffs are off. There are a lot less rules about where you can take the stories and that means there are some real surprises in store.