In October, Mark Kidwell and TIm Vigil's Dark Kingdom returns for a new tale. Frazetta Comics provided us with this exclusive Q and A about the story with exclusive preview art from #2, and later today we'll have the entire first issue and an extended preview of #2 available for you to read right here on Newsarama.
Question: Mark, Dark Kingdom is returning in October from Frazetta Comics. Is this the return of the main character Red Morden as well?
Mark Kidwell: Definitely! Red Morden is the heart of the Dark Kingdom storyline and we’ve only just begun to shed light on the man and his adventures. The character was very well received by readers and everyone loves his name. We’ve all heard strong reactions on the net and at shows, wondering when Morden is coming back. The wait is over. More Red Morden is on the way.
Question: Nice. Will the new issue (the first new book is appearing in continuity, with the October issue being number 2 in the series) pick up where the story told in the first, one-shot issue left off? And if so, will it be difficult for new readers who aren’t familiar with the storyline to get on board?
Kidwell: First: Yes, the story picks up immediately following the events of the first issue. Second: No, absolutely not. We’ve taken great pains to ensure that new readers who didn’t get a chance to read issue #1 a year ago can jump right into the new chapters without a hitch. The second book starts with a recap, complete with illustrations from the original one-shot that will bring everyone up to speed. There are also paragraphs within the new book that revisit certain aspects of the original story.
Of course, anyone interested in reading the first issue has several options available. The original issue is still out there and available in some comic shops and online, or readers can pick up the gorgeous hardcover edition of THE FANTASTIC WORLDS OF FRAZETTA #1. Dark Kingdom is reprinted in its entirety there along with a ton of extras in an oversized, deluxe package. The third option is to pick up the less expensive soft cover trade paperback of Fantastic Worlds #1, available in August.
To reiterate, it’s not necessary to read issue 1, but I’ll tellya, the deluxe hardcover sure looks nice on your bookshelf!
Question: Excellent! Sounds like you guys have all the “Reader-Friendly” bases covered. Now, I understand that there’s something else special about the Dark Kingdom series. Something we haven’t seen in comics for a while…
Kidwell: Oh yeah. We’re all excited about it and anxious to get readers’ reaction to the books. What we decided to do, since we had so much story to tell and limited space in a standard comic book, was to do the second and third issue in a different format. For these two books, we’re going retro, back to the classic Pulp magazines of the 30’s and 40’s, where sword and sorcery fantasy fiction had its birth! It’s a prose format, novel-style, with text passages telling the story and a profuse (and I mean profuse. Tim Vigil has loaded this thing with amazing artwork!) number of spot and splash illustrations bringing Morden and his world to life.
Question: Can you be more specific, for younger readers or anyone unfamiliar with the pulps?
Kidwell: Sure. The books are similar to the classic WEIRD TALES pulp magazine where such luminaries as Robert E. Howard and HP Lovecraft premiered their timeless characters and mythos. Think of the original prose stories that introduced Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane, Cthulhu and the elder gods. Those magazines and stories were the original comic books. They hit the newsstands monthly, delivering each continuing chapter of a serialized story. The stories consisted of text, like a modern day novel, along with tons of black and white pen and ink illustrations. What we’re doing is very similar, with the addition of Jay Fotos and his amazing computer color work on the illustrations!
We’ve taken further steps to update the format for modern day comic readers as well. We’ve broken all character dialogue out into a separate color to speed readers’ progress through the text and story sections are separated by graphics to divide the book into “chapters” or sections. All the illustrations are heavily bordered to allow them to integrate smoothly into the text and they appear in the same sections as the action they depict. Overall, it’s comics meets the pulps!
Question: Where did the idea to do the series in this format come from?
Kidwell: It was kind of collaboration between Jay and I. I had approached him about producing a Dark Kingdom novel to continue the Morden saga outside the realm of comics. Jay liked the idea but wanted to clear everything with the Frazettas. Being super busy, we both just let the idea float for a while. Then, Jay called me and asked what I thought about doing a comic series in the novel format, with tons of illustrations. Evidently he and Tim had been discussing the idea as well. I’d wanted to do an illustrated prose piece for a long time and jumped at the idea.
Also, as I mentioned before, my ideas for the continuation of Dark Kingdom were getting too big for three comic book issues, so the prose format allows us to deliver a lot more story in the same space. Readers are gonna get a lot of actual reading entertainment out of these issues.
Question: There’s something special about the last issue in the mini-series as well, isn’t there”
Kidwell: Yeah…the surprises just keep coming. In issue four, the climax to this current mini-series, we’re turning the clock forward again, to 2009 and standard, full-blown, panel-to-panel comic book storytelling! We get most of the heavy storytelling out of the way in issues 2 and 3, so issue four is wide open for nothing but axe-swinging action. Issue four also features the first-ever Frazetta Comics crossover when Red Morden faces off against the blazing horned helm and deadly axe of the DEATH DEALER! Fans of Josh, Nat and Jay’s first DD mini-series will not want to miss this new appearance by everyone’s favorite Frazetta character. It’s axe versus axe, human versus force of nature, and… IT IS A BRAWL!
Question: Wow. If you’re a sword and sorcery fan, this series has it all. Can you tell us a little about the story?
Kidwell: Just a little. I don’t wanna spoil it or anything…
Young Finn and his grandfather Ghurrd are back from issue 1 and Ghurrd is the narrator, holding his young grandson in awe with the telling of the saga of Red Morden. His tale begins on the icy waves of the Brumal Sea, with Morden alone in the frozen wastes, searching blindly for a magic talisman with the power to breath new life into his murdered wife. In his quest for the fabled talisman, Morden will encounter monsters, witches, dark wizards, old friends and older enemies. New characters will be introduced and some old ones will return.
Readers will meet a dark haired beauty named Lhianna, whose bow is as powerful as Morden’s axe. They’ll travel to strange lands, strange dimensions and wake up in the shadow of a demon in a place called THE ISLE OF THORNS. If you think Red Morden faced the Dark Kingdom when he entered the monster’s cave in issue 1, think again. He’s only getting started.
Question: Thanks Mark. Now, some questions for the artist…Tim, what was your reaction to illustrating the prose format books? How did it compare to the standard panel to panel storytelling of comic books?
Tim Vigil: Well, it was my idea posed to Mr. Fotos that got it started. I told him over hot wings that I was doing the idea elsewhere and he said that idea would work well with mark’s ideas...
I enjoy doing single illustrations compared to comic storytelling. It gives me a chance to focus on a single idea instead of all the story movements.
Question: Were you given instructions as to what scenes should be illustrated or did you select images you wanted to depict from the script?
Vigil: Yes and no...I did layouts, then mark did layouts then I did what I thought worked well between the two
Question: Did some of the scenes from the story stand out to you and demand to be illustrated? If so, detail for us some of the images that were most exciting or enjoyable to work on.
Vigil: Mark gives a lot of visuals to work from. Being an illustrator himself, the story was imaginative and ideas were detailed and lush. So no problem finding fun stuff to doodle on.
Question: This has been your first chance to work on the Death Dealer in a comics story. Were you anxious to get your hands on the character?
Vigil: Yeah, I wanted a crack at Death Dealer and this was a chance to do it. Finding the feel of the character is hard. The way he moves and stands. I want him to be mine when you see him. I want reader reaction to be (YES!)-that’s Vigil! I’m beginning to draw the last issue now... so here I go into Death’s territory!
Question: Thanks guys. We’ll look forward to jumping into the Dark Kingdom again. Is there anything else you’d like to mention before we wrap it up?
Kidwell: Yeah, just one other thing…be sure to check out the upcoming TYRANNOSAURUS REX book from Frazetta Comics. It’s a tongue-in-cheek dinosaur romp and it’s one of the most entertaining books I’ve ever had the pleasure of working on. Jay and I came up with the plot, I wrote the script and artwork is being provided by the amazing Jeff (he really must be destroyed) Zornow! Fans of dinosaur action and prehistoric comedy-drama will be in heaven.
Thanks for taking the time to discuss Dark Kingdom!
Vigil: I hope all readers enjoy the story and art. It was fun. And for all you who are just getting to know my art, enjoy…but use caution looking up my indie work...you'll be scared.