The Red Circle Comics have a long and storied history in the comic market, but an eclipse is coming — Dark Circle Comics launches from Archie in February and at the lead is a reimagining of Black Hood.
Taking the reins of this series is novelist and comic book writer Duane Swierczynski, who will be bringing his unique flair for the crime story to an all new audience of readers — and an all-new generation of Archie fans. Swierczynski shared his thoughts on the book on the eve of its final order cut-off Monday and just how different this character will be from his predecessors.
Matt Santori: Congratulations, Duane, on the new series at Archie, and thanks for taking time out to chat with Comicosity!
Duane Swierczynski: Thanks, Matt!
MSG: When approaching a character like the Black Hood, do you look back to his roots in Red Circle Comics over the years, or do you just start fresh with a new approach?
DS: I did look at the Black Hood’s pulp roots, and considered all that had come since, but I was most interested in taking the central idea — a cop is forced to wear a mask to fight crime — and applying it to our real present, set in a real city.
The funny thing is, when Alex [Segura] first approached me, I was already kicking around an idea for a good-cop-goes-bad crime novel.
MSG: Black Hood is, of course, part of a wider scope of darker, more diverse comics for Archie. How has the environment at the company been for you as a creator developing such a new type of material?
They’re couldn’t be more encouraging. Though I have to admit, every time I submit a script, I feel like I’m getting away with something.
MSG: The Black Hood has been described as a “flawed narrator” and seems far from your traditional super-heroic vigilante. What can you tell us about the character as we look forward to the first issue?
Greg Hettinger is a good cop who has a very bad day on the job.
And by “bad day,” I mean that he gets shot in the face, is left disfigured and hooked on pain meds. He still wants to do his job, and be a force of good in his city, the road back is increasingly murky. Fairly soon he’s circling the drain, and the only life preserver looks like a ratty black hood.
MSG: When you develop a protagonist that’s as dark as the Black Hood, what does that do to the construction of your villains or antagonists? Do you go darker, lighter? How do you reach that balance?
The funny thing is, The Black Hood is his own enemy — at least in the beginning.
Rest assured, though, there is a Big Bad, and he wears a mask too… but it’s pretty much the opposite of a black hood. To me, he’s the perfect villain for 2015. At least, he’s the kind of guy I look at and think, “Oh yeah, you need to be taken out.”
MSG: How is your process on comic scripting similar or different to your process of developing a novel?
The idea machine works the same way — I tend to brood and kick things around for quite a while. But when it comes to writing, I consider comics a series of sprints where you’re encouraged by your creative partners, and you get to pass the baton often. A novel, on the other hand, is a lonely marathon.
MSG: What do you feel artist Michael Gaydos is bringing to the world of Black Hood that’s unique or playing into your particular goals?
I’ve been a fan of his since Alias, and he’s bringing this stunning sense of realism to the book — which is our common goal: to make this as grounded as possible.
I’m not even thinking of Black Hood as a superhero comic; it’s more like a crime novel that Gaydos is illustrating along the way.
MSG: Any final thoughts or special teases about Black Hood for the Comicosity audience?
My apologies in advance for what happens on page two of the first issue.
Final order cut-off for Black Hood #1 from Archie Comics is Monday, February 2, so DO NOT DELAY in calling your local comic shop and ordering this book!
BLACK HOOD #1
NEW ONGOING SERIES from the brand new DARK CIRCLE imprint!
“The Bullet’s Kiss – Part 1 of 5” When Philadelphia police officer Greg Hettinger stepped into the middle of a gunfight, hot lead shredded his face—and he pulled the trigger, blind. Now Greg is waking up in a world where he’s a killer, hopelessly scarred and hooked on painkillers. What does a man do when he can no longer face the world, yet still wants to do good? He puts on a hood…
Script: Duane Swierczynski
Art: Michael Gaydos, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Rachel Deering
Cover: Michael Gaydos
Variant Covers: David Mack, Francesco Francavilla, Howard Chaykin, David Williams
On Sale Date: 2/25
32-page, full color comic
DEC141059 – BLACK HOOD #1 REG CVR (MR) – $3.99 – ON SALE 2/25
DEC141060 – BLACK HOOD #1 FRANCAVILLA VAR CVR (MR) – $3.99 – ON SALE 2/25
DEC141061 – BLACK HOOD #1 MACK VAR CVR (MR) – $3.99 – ON SALE 2/25
DEC141062 – BLACK HOOD #1 CHAYKIN VAR CVR (MR) – $3.99 – ON SALE 2/25
DEC141063 – BLACK HOOD #1 WILLIAMS VAR CVR (MR) – $3.99 – ON SALE 2/25