Monday, November 8, 2010
Friday, February 13, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The fine folks at Comic Geek Speak were kind enough to nominate Twilight Guardian in the categories of "Best New Hero" and "Best Sleeper Hit/Surprise" in their 2008 CGS Awards. If you are so moved, you can vote for it here.
Also, the Pilot Season 2008 trade paperback is out in April (should be solicited in the new Previews), and this is the cover:
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Top Cow’s second annual Pilot Season competition has come and gone, and two books emerged victorious: “Twilight Guardian” and “Genius.” The two winners have each earned a new series from Top Cow, and CBR News caught up with “Twilight Guardian” writer Troy Hickman to find out what’s in store for his title character.
“Twilight Guardian is a woman who each night puts on a hoodie and a mask and patrols a nine-block area around her neighborhood,” Hickman said of his new series’ heroine. “Is she a superhero? Maybe. Is she crazy? Maybe. We're learning about her life in dribs and drabs. So far all we're sure about is that she works at a drycleaners, she lives by herself, she spends time with her mother, and she probably had some sort of romantic break-up. Also, she has 22,000 comic books, and she reads one every night (and we the readers get to see a page from each one).”
Hickman says the book has a very broad appeal, and one that is not easily summed up in solicitation copy. “It concerns twilight people, and the lonely feeling of autumn nights, and what a superhero is, and who we are as comic book readers, and about a million other things,” the writer explained. “I end up feeling like a goof because when people ask, the most accurate thing I can say is that it is what it is.”
When last we spoke to Hickman about “Twilight Guardian,” he told CBR News he thought his only chance at winning the Pilot Season contest would be if all of his distinguished competitors were hit by meteors. How does the writer account for the fact that all of his colleagues are still standing? “All the other creators were struck by meteors,” Hickman remarked. “However, Topco Labs (a subsidiary of Top Cow Entertainment) was able to clone them. So from now on, every other comic from the Cow will be written by either Jay Faerber or Josh Fialkov. Also, Rob Levin will be able to recline on a throne made entirely out of Matt Hawkins clones.”
|Pages from "Pilot Season: Twilight Guardian"|
But in all seriousness, Hickman knows he has only the fans to thank for making “Twilight Guardian” emerge victorious. “I really have to credit it to the myriad folks out there who voted for the book,” Hickman said. “Being the recipient of all that effort and consideration is the best part of all this. Well, that and winning.”
Hickman said he only learned that “Twilight Guardian” was among the winners one day before the general public. “[Top Cow Publisher] Filip [Sablik] sent me an e-mail letting me know, and at first I just assumed it was a cruel joke (he also often calls me up and asks me if I have pig's feet -- which is really mean, since I do, in fact, have pig's feet),” Hickman explained. “I have to say that I was pretty flabbergasted. We had been getting weekly reports, and ‘Twilight Guardian’ was in the coveted top two every week except the first, but I guess it never really seemed likely that I might have a shot. In fact, even now I keep expecting to hear someone say ‘Psych!’”
The upcoming “Twilight Guardian” series will see the title character deal with triumph, tragedy and Choc-ola. “I'm going to try to expand TG's world to some extent, so that we see some interaction with the world beyond her jurisdiction,” Hickman said. “Also, I want to delve more into her past and how she got this way. Comic books will also play a major role, and we're going to have some fun with them. And for those folks saying, ‘Where are all the senses-shattering slugfests?’ Well, we may have something for you, too (a punch, right in the breadbox!).”
With the new series, Hickman is attempting to strike a balance between telling an ongoing story but also writing single issues that stand alone. “I really miss the days when you could pick up a comic without having read the 247 issues that preceded it, even if it had a strong continuity,” Hickman said. “Sometimes, of course, that's not possible. When I did arcs in ‘Witchblade’ and ‘City of Heroes,’ I pretty much had to have a certain ‘continued next ish’ aspect. When I can, I prefer to write comics that can be enjoyed totally on their own, even if it's an ongoing series, like my ‘Common Grounds’ work.”
Troy Hickman, The Street Walker, and partner in crime, The Twilight Guardian
| For the second year Top Cow has released a collection of comics called Pilot Season. Every week a new issue comes out for a month and at the end, readers vote which story they love, etc and in the end the two most voted gets a shot for a mini-series! Today we're visited by one of the winners, Troy Hickman, writer of the Twilight Guardian! Greg: Welcome, all, to greatness that is my column Face To Greg! Today a crazy guy visits my mind in the name of Troy Hickman!|
Hey, Troy, how are you doing?
Troy Hickman: I'm fit as a fiddle and ready for scripting! I'm anxious to write some comics. Quick, hand me some paper and a pen. I'm turning everyone into a Skrull. C'mere, Greg, I'm painting your face green.
Greg: Dude... (fighting Troy off) quit it! Green's not my color! Jeez. Now... can you tell us about yourself for those who are ready to become big fans of yours in the very near future?
Troy: OK, let's see if I can do this in 100 words or less (not counting anything before the colon): Troy Hickman is a comic book writer known for Pilot Season's #1 book, Twilight Guardian, as well as the double-Eisner nominated Common Grounds, City of Heroes, Witchblade, Turok, ACTOR Comics Presents, and a ton of Indy and small press books you probably haven't heard of. His work tends to be equal parts comedy and drama, and focuses on characterization. He also teaches at a college in his Hoosier homeland. He hopes to work full-time in the funny-book biz sometime soon, and is going to be putting forth his efforts to make that a reality. He can also count to 100.
Greg: Only 100? What happens when you try to pass 100?
Troy: Depends. Passing 100 pineapples or hedgehogs would be hell on earth.
Greg: Whoa, 100 pinapples? Who can pass that up?
Troy: Anyone with a sphincter.
Greg: Interesting… But yes! Moving on, a few weeks ago we found out that your Twilight Guardian book won Pilot Season! Can you tell us a bit about the book?
Troy: Twilight Guardian is about a woman who puts on a hoodie and patrols a 9-block area of her neighborhood each night. It's about her and what she sees. It's also about loneliness, and the nature of superheroes, and our love for comics, and deer jerky. It's probably the most offbeat comic I've done so far, and people are either going to love it, or hate it. Or think it's just OK (RIP, Mitch Hedberg).
Greg: Well, I think it's a lot of fun. I had a blast reading. So I gotta ask, what exactly inspired you to write this?
Troy: A number of things. In a way, Twilight Guardian is an extension of what I was trying to do with my Common Grounds series, as far as trying to do an unconventional superhero book that will still appeal to fans of the genre (and hopefully pull in some non-superhero fans as well). With TG, I want to delve into what it means to be a superhero, and beyond that to ask what makes something a "superhero comic." Does that have to entail fight scenes? Do there have to be characters with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men?
As far as inspiration, much of TG is autobiographical. I too have suffered a bit from OCD, and yeah, I also have done A LOT of walking the streets at night (yup, Troy Hickman, streetwalker). I've always been much more of a night person, so I'm fairly in touch with the kind of folks that you meet when more "normal" people are sleeping. I would probably even wear a hoodie and domino mask if I could find any that would fit my gigantic Betty Boop-like head.
Greg: Heh, so what's the weirdest thing that you've encountered on your nightly patrols?
Troy: Well, you end up seeing a lot of interesting stuff through people's windows, that's for sure. That's not to say, of course, that I'm a peeping tom (I'm not saying I'm not; just not saying I AM). But that's part of Twilight Guardian, too, that voyeurism that makes us vicariously live through comics, and fiction in general. What's the weirdest thing I've seen? I'd tell you, but I want to save those little vignettes for future issues.
Greg: Ah, understandable! Okay, so you've told us about the book, but now, tell us about the girl. She's really something else, I must say.
Troy: I hope so. It's interesting; I've heard a number of male comic fans say they want a girlfriend like her. I think it's partially because she's a comic fan herself, so they know she'd be in tune with their nerditude! And I think it's also that there's something vulnerable about her without going all weepy and "emo."
As far as who she is? All we know at this point is that she lives by herself, she's close to her mother, she works at a drycleaners in her "secret identity," and she's been through some sort of romantic break-up. She prepares for her nightly patrols by reading criminology books, watching TV shows like "Quincy," memorizing the faces on America's Most Wanted, and most importantly, by reading some of her 22,000 comic books.
I like to think TG is an everywoman, or at least someone with a great commonality to many of us, especially those who have been hurt, or lonely, or outcast, or just geeky, for that matter.
Greg: Well, she does speak to the outcast and geeky, which I can see. But at the same time it seems as if she's a bit... I can't find the words, it's at the tip of my tongue... like she's unaware of reality around her. From the way she thinks of the situations and trying to branch out justice, and it's really hilarious reading it. Would you say she's out of touch with reality?
Troy: Well, that's a good question, and it's one of the questions I hope the book raises. Is she at least a little crazy? Think about this: Spider-Man does exactly the same thing she does. It's just that TG does it without super-strength or wall-crawling. So is Spider-Man crazy? And as far as justice, I think Superman is as concerned with justice as TG. Is Supes a fruitcake?
Y'know, I've gotten a lot of great support for TG from the Real Life Superhero community and its members. It's interesting, in talking to these men and women, how many of them jokingly refer to themselves as "a little crazy." Is that what it takes to be a hero? You tell me.
Greg: Well, I think the reason why it does seem a bit weird seeing TG do all that is due to the confines of the story. It's written as if done in a real life setting, and also it's just the way she views everything. And I was actually about to ask you about the real life superheroes who's written to you after they've read this. How has their response been?
Troy: Very, very positive. I think they respond to the fact that I take what they do very seriously, and I appreciate the kind of heart and mind that goes into dedicated part of your life to helping others, even when that service involves putting on a mask and some spandex. They're some of our best, let me tell you. I hope to bring more of the RLSH mentality into Twilight Guardian as we go along.
Greg: That's really awesome. But while you're getting all this positive reactions, I recall reading something about the age of TG herself. I suppose there's a bit of controversy?
Troy: Ha, yeah. I intended for TG to be around 35 or so, which came as a surprise to a number of fans, who not only thought she was in her twenties or younger, but seemed noticeably upset about it! Some said it was because they thought it made her too tragic or "pathetic" if she's 35, and in a few cases I think it was simply because they thought she'd no longer be of a dateable age for them (and people say SHE'S crazy!).
I'm not sure her age is going to be a great factor in future issues, but we'll see.
Greg: Heh, I actually like that she's in her mid-30s. It's not too often you get books and characters like this and the age adds more dynamic to the character because now you really want to know exactly what’s up with her. Can you tell us how long you've been working on this character?
Troy: Twilight Guardian first appeared in Tales of the Pathetic Club #2, a mini-comic I did in the early 90s. She only appeared in a couple of pages, but I dug the character, so I did a one-shot with her shortly thereafter. The script for the new Top Cow version of TG is basically the script from those two appearances, then enhanced with stuff like the comic insert pages and the like. So she's been around pretty much in the same form for about fifteen years now. It's good to see her come out of the mothballs.
Greg: Yeah, that's actually pretty cool! Without spoiling much, what can we look forward to in the upcoming mini or so?
Troy: In the mini-series, Twilight Guardian will be flying her tie-fighter right into the heard of the evil Death Star, and...oh, no, wait, that's Plan B. I think what we will be getting is a fleshing out of TG's world, and maybe some venturing outside her nine blocks a bit, in an unusual way. Will there be supervillains? I guess that depends what you consider a supervillain (I don't know about you, but my local cable company gives me at least as much grief as Dr. Doom does). Will she gain superpowers? Maybe...but what if it's the ability to avoid spiderwebs-in-the-face as she moves along the sidewalk at night? What I can tell you is that I will go to superhuman efforts to try to make it a series that folks will love.
Greg: Well, I'm keeping your word on that.
Now before we wrap this up, I was asked to ask about your sweet ride. What's that about?
Troy: Ha! You've apparently been reading my blog (www.troyhickman.blogspot.com). There you can see pics of what my buddy Jason dubbed "The VeHickle." It's my "new" car, a strange sort of '97 Cougar. It has best been described as a "pimped out granny mobile." That thing'll blow you off the road, though. And you can often see me burning down I65 with my torso out the sunroof, steering with my legs, and tossing deer jerky to grateful onlookers. Look for me soon on a major highway near you.
Greg: Heh heh. What if you get stopped by the Twilight Guardian?
Troy: I'll write a scene where she and I go share some comics and a peanut butter & bologna sandwich (and then I win the lottery and discover the Fountain of Youth).
Greg: Haha! Thanks for stopping by, Troy. Any last words before we exit?
Troy: Sure, try these: juxtaposition, cognizant, fructose, widget, sesquipedalian, grubstakes, mung, fandango, ubiquitous.
Greg: And there you have it. Mr. Troy Hickman, ladies and gentlemen. Say good-bye, Troy.
Troy: Adios from me and Guardián Crepuscular!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Ryan Eldridge: The Twilight Guardian seems to be the exact opposite of everything one would expect from a super-hero character. What was the inspiration for the character?
Troy Hickman: Gosh, I hope she's not the exact opposite, or she'll be out there committing crimes! You have a point, though; she doesn't really follow the standard superhero template. Twilight Guardian has some inner urge that drives her to patrol the streets at night, even though she's not necessarily going to encounter Arnim Zola or the Ultra-Humanite (and if she does we'll undoubtedly be getting a cease and desist letter!). The inspiration for her comes from my own sleepless nights walking the streets of suburbia, and from all the quirky but compelling folks I've met along the way.
RE: The character herself actually comes from another series you self-published. Why don't you tell our readers a bit about that book and what lead you to bring the character to Top Cow.
TH: Twilight Guardian first appeared in my Tales of the Pathetic Club series, which dealt with people suffering from various manifestations of obsessive-compulsive disorders. The series was semi-autobiographical, as I've had some experience with OCD myself. Top Cow was interested in TG some years back when they contacted me about doing my Common Grounds series, but she sat on the shelf for a few years until Pilot Season provided the proper time and opportunity for her to return. The script for the Top Cow version of TG was basically an amalgam of her Pathetic Club appearance and the one-shot spin-off I did with her in 1995, with a bit of new material added, such as the parody comic pages.
RE: One of my favorite characters from the Pathetic Club books was Dr. Stein, any chance we're going to be seeing any of him in this series?
TH: No, probably not in this series, as the Pathetic Club stuff was not included in the Twilight Guardian deal. I would like to eventually do a recreation of it, though, in the same way I've done with Holey Crullers/Common Grounds and Twilight Guardian. I'm proud to say a lot of folks really dug that series, and I think it holds up today. I'd prefer to do it as a creator-owned series, though (my first), if Top Cow or someone else is interested (obviously Twilight Guardian would not be included in the new version).
RE: Let's talk a bit about the contest itself. Twilight Guardian developed quite a large grassroots support movement. Did you ever expect people to connect so well with the character?
TH: No, I can't say that I did. I went into this just being happy to have a new book on the shelves. I figured I'd have a nice one-shot that I could be proud of, and that, heck, maybe would manage NOT to come in last if I were lucky. And then the first week of voting came around, and TG was in third position. Since Top Cow was giving the top TWO books a series, I started thinking maybe it wasn't too crazy to believe I might have a slim chance. So I started beating the bushes something fierce, and I guess it worked.
RE: What do you think caused people to relate to her in the way they did?
TH: I think they possibly see a lot of themselves in her. She's a comic reader herself, and someone who's gone through heartbreak. More than that, though, she's looking for something out there, and I'd guess most of us are doing the same in some way.
RE: Your creative team on this book included artist Reza. Was it difficult collaborating across language barriers?
TH: Well, it wasn't too different, really, as pretty much all the "pro" comics I've done so far have consisted of me writing a script, giving it to my editor, then waiting to see the finished art. I haven't been able to really collaborate much yet, and that's something I'm looking forward to eventually. In the case of TG, though, I'm guessing there may have been some additional issues with communication, especially since my script was probably not the most conventional thing in the world, but we seem to have worked it out. I'm overjoyed with Reza's art.
RE: Artistically, one of my favorite aspects of this book was the inclusion of the snippets from fake silver age books. Are we going to see more Mantelope?
TH: We will if I have anything to say about it. Coming up with those pages was one of my favorite parts of doing this version of TG. As I went through the script, I found myself really looking forward to those pages. We'll definitely be looking at more of TG's comic collection in the mini-series, and I've got some other comic-related plans as well. And who knows? Maybe someday I can do a separate series with the likes of Mantelope, Heatnik, the Flaming Flag, and the rest.
RE: Both Twilight Guardian and your Eisner nominated series Common Grounds are based on books you wrote over ten years ago. In the time between, how much have the characters changed for you?
TH: They've actually changed very little. The scripts for the Common Grounds stories are almost verbatim from the original Holey Crullers versions, and Twilight Guardian is just a more developed version of her mini-comic appearances. The characters in both books have kind of a Silver Age vibe, so perhaps they have something of a timeless quality to them.
RE: Have you ever actually eaten a peanut butter and bologna sandwich?
TH: It's my favorite sandwich, and I've probably eaten a couple thousand of them (is it any wonder I'm the picture of health that I am?).
RE: Lastly, you've hinted that you were planning to take this series in a direction nobody would expect. Just between you, me, and the entire internet, are you at liberty to spill any secrets?
TH: Nope! Seriously, though, I think Twilight Guardian is unlike anything else on the stands right now, and I hope to keep it that way. I'll do my best to entertain the readers, and give them something that'll evoke a laugh and maybe a teary eye or two. I think that's the least we should expect out of our comics, and I'll certainly give it my best shot.