Complacency can be the killer of romance, but in this upcoming OGN from Matt Hawkins, Jenni Cheung, and Linda Sejic, there are ways to fan the flames of a relationship again - even if they can be seen as unorthodox. In Image Comics/Top Cow’ Swing, Dan and Cathy are trying to find their way back to how they used to be and if it’s worth the price.
With the Swing OGN due out May 30, Newsarama spoke with Hawkins about co-writing this with his wife Jenni Cheung and their collaboration process, how autobiographical actually is Swing, and why something like open-relationships and swinging have a negative connotation in this day and age. He started with the basis of the story, the couple of Dan and Cathy.
“Cathy Chang and Dan Lincoln are a couple who got married young because of her pregnancy,” he said. “That's the beginning of the story. The story then jumps ten years and they've got two kids and are both working professionals. They have a good life but that spark of their early relationship has cooled and they want to try and recapture it. She starts googling how to spice up a marriage and sees a website about swinging. She starts doing some research and convinces Dan to just go take a look. We dive in from there.”
Working again with his wife, Jenni, on the story, Hawkins explained her contributions and how they split up the duties of creating this world.
“I lean on her so heavily to help me write intelligent women that I'm almost afraid to do it without her input now!,” he joked.
He mentioned she helps me shape out the plots and then edit the dialogue as he does all the in between.
“We've worked out that system well.” he said. “She has little interest in my more sci-fi and thriller stuff so she'll probably continue to help me carve out some of this romance slice of life genre stuff we're doing as long as there's an audience for it.”
On working with artist Linda Sejic again, Hawkins went into their relationship as creators and what her art and style means to him and for the world of Swing.
“This book is kind of a Sunstone spinoff that takes place in the same universe so working with her seemed appropriate. I love her art and she and Stjepan both have this uncanny ability to capture emotional facial expressions,” Hawkins said.
He mentioned that something like that is so very important in a book like Swing.
“In some of my books we have stuff like dragons fighting spaceships and that's easy to make look cool. Making a couple fighting look interesting is really difficult and a lot of it comes down to whether or not we're invested and care about that person. There's a lot of nuance in the art required to do that and the Sejics are a rare gem in their ability to pull that off.”
Going into the stigma and why swinging and non-monogamous relationships are frowned upon in society for the most part, Hawkins said he saw it as a lack of understanding what they really are.
“The vast majority of people could probably never do it. It requires a complete trust in your partner or it won't work. We're still unraveling sexual equality, birth control is still relatively new and a lot of other factors prevent people from being open-minded about sexuality.”
Hawkins also said that even though you’re not into that sort of scene, Swing can still be enjoyed by any reader or couple who might have been down a similar experience with trying to spice up their love life.
“You don't have to be into swinging to enjoy a slice of life book about it. I'd venture the majority of Sunstone readers aren't actual practitioners of S&M either.”
Lastly, there’s a section in the book that hints that some of Swing might actually be based on Hawkins’ own relationship. He explains that while some of it might be autobiographical, it is definitely in part biographical with people he’s met.
“We interviewed a lot of active swingers and have been to a lot of events and clubs to research this lifestyle. I find it fascinating. The shaming of consenting adults for behavior that's legal kind of makes me scratch my head. I've always wondered why people care about what other people do in the bedroom that doesn't affect them in any way and doesn't hurt kids, animals, etc. I've only been married to my wife for three years and we don't have children together so these characters are not based on us. And shhh if there are some autobiographical elements to this don't out us to our parents!”