When Keith Champagne realized how much he'd grown apart from his high school friends, the comic book writer naturally started wondering what would happen to superheroes and villains who went through similar evolutions.
What resulted is The Switch: Electricia, an OGN by Champagne and artist Tom Nguyen that explores what happens when a supervillain not only starts looking for more meaning in her life, but secretly starts doing good.
The book, which was originally developed in 2016 through Kickstarter but landed at Dynamite after a two-year delay, is now set for release July 11. Newsarama talked to Champagne to find out more about the OGN, who the title character Electricia is, how a second volume of The Switch is already in the works.
Newsarama: Keith, what's the main idea behind The Switch? It's a villain turned hero, right?
Keith Champagne: In a nutshell, yeah. The Switch: Electricia is a supervillain story about the titular character Electricia. She's become very dissatisfied with her life, not just as a supervillain but also as a human being. After years of being a menace, she hates herself, hates what she's become and hates her supervillain friends.
Bottom line, Electricia is at a point where she wants to become something better than what she is. But she's infamous, hated and wanted on every continent. She doesn't quite know how to go about making the changes in her life.
So she creates a second identity for herself and becomes a superhero named The Switch. She starts fighting crime instead of committing it and realizes it's just the chicken soup her soul needed.
Nrama: So she really takes to this new life?
Champagne: To put it mildly, yeah! And eventually, the Switch comes full circle into conflict with her old villain friends. They're hunting her, not knowing who she really is and she's trying to put them down, one at a time. It gets very complicated, very quickly.
Nrama: Is there a catalyst for her change, or is it just evolution over time?
Champagne: Just a slow evolution, a feeling of growing dissatisfied with the life of crime. The realization that she hasn't grown up to be the person her father, who died while she was young, would have wanted her to be.
Nrama: And with her name, we can probably guess that she has some type of superpowers. So this is set in a world of superpowers?
Champagne: Shocker, Electricia's powers are electricity based, and yeah, this is a world full of super powered characters, both heroes and villains.
We've got a team of villains, called Murderer's Row, which is basically the Legion Of Doom of this world. We meet about 15 members in this story, although there are more lurking out there. Murderer's Row is led by a piece of trash named LoverBoy who, for want of a better description, is also Electricia's boyfriend, as effed up and twisted as their relationship is.
There's also a team of heroes running around called the Brigade, led by a character named Transient, an interstellar visitor. There might be villains who are secretly working for the heroes, good guys that that are turning to crime and flipping over to the dark side during the life of the book.
There are a lot of shades of gray and you never know what's going to happen from page to page — what a character's true motives are, who's going to live, who's going to die. Nobody is safe and nothing is quite what it seems.
Nrama: So she's not the only one who makes "the switch"?
Champagne: No, she's not the only one who makes the switch. Definitely not. In fact, the title The Switch will carry over to future volumes we're going to do as different characters rotate into the spotlight. So in Volume 2, which is The Switch: Transient, he becomes the lead character at a real crossroads moment in his life while other characters move back into supporting roles.
Nrama: How did you come up with the idea for this story?
Champagne: I was ruminating one day, awhile back, about my high school friends and how I don't really keep in touch with anybody anymore. I mean, I'm still close with a couple and keep up with others via social media but I started thinking there could be something to the theme of how people grow apart and change over the years, how at one time someone could be so important you can't imagine them not being in your life, but you can reconnect with years later and find out you have nothing in common anymore.
My mind thinks in superheroes, so I started transposing that theme onto this story of a supervillain who has grown apart from her world and her life and is just trying to connect to something that is more true to who she wants to be now.
Nrama: People might have heard of this book before as a Kickstarter, right?
Champagne: Yeah, the Switch started out as a Kickstarter a couple years ago. We had a great campaign and have been in production on the book for what feels like forever. Finally, it's done and along the way, we came to a publishing deal with Dynamite for the book, who can help us get it out much further and farther than we had the resources to on our own.
Nrama: You and Tom Nguyen have worked together a lot over the years, haven't you?
Champagne: Yeah, Tom is one of my best friends and he and I have done a few projects together: Black Belt Hamsters, Ghostbusters, WWE comics and we've also inked many of the same books over the years. I've been watching him grow as an artist and become this fantastic talent.
I think the Switch is going to be a big coming-out party for him and it's been a long time coming. We've also got a new colorist, Robb Miller, who jumped on board to help us out and really helped make the art sing! Plus, the book is oversized, almost twice the size of a normal comic and that format really shows off the artwork.
We're all so proud of this one, it's funny, a little twisted with a real beating heart underneath the surface. We can't wait for people to finally check it out!