Saturday, October 25, 2008

And...huff...puff...yet another interview!

OK, gang, I'll admit the place has gotten a little interview-heavy, so I think this'll be the last one for a while. This one was done with the always first-rate Comic Book Resources:

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.”

My Goofiest Interview Yet!

This one is with Greg over at BludNet. I think there must've been drinking involved:


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

Interview with Project Fanboy

Hey, here's a place where I should be right at home. Check out this interview with Project Fanboy:



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.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hickman Speaks, And The World Says Shut Up!

There's a new podcast interview where you can hear my twangy, nasal, Hoosier voice here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

New Interview at Newsarama

Here's a new one that just ran today:

These days, you know when something's popular when it produces a sequel. And for Top Cow, last year's Pilot Season contest proved so popular that they quickly brought it back for a second round earlier this year. The now-annual initiative pits six one-shot "pilot comics" head-to-head for two spots as ongoing series. After all issues are released, Top Cow allows readers to vote for their favorite.

This year, the two titles that made it to the winner's circle were Twilight Guardian and Genius. In fact, Twilight Guardian received the highest number of votes, totaling 29% of the over all vote. Amid the celebration, we've tracked down Twilight Guardian creator/writer Troy Hickman to talk about winning and what's next.

Newsarama: First of all, congratulations Troy.

What's it like to win Pilot Season? How'd you find out?

Troy Hickman: What's it like? It's like getting to eat all the ice cream you want without having your tonsils removed. It's like dating the prom queen, then finding out she's actually a piñata stuffed with fun-sized candy bars. It's like rain on your weddi---oh, wait, no, that's ironic.

As far as finding out, Top Cow contacted me a day or so before they announced the winners to the public, so I had to sit on the info for 24 hours or so. I came this close to spontaneously combusting. I wanted to go to my girlfriend's work and carry her off triumphantly like in An Officer and a Gentleman, but she works in a bank and I'm pretty sure a security guard would've gunned me down.

NRAMA: [laughs] What would you say put Twilight Guardian over the top to win the contest?

TH: A lot of work from a great number of terrific people. I'd like to think we achieved this solely through creating a great comic, but truth be told, most of the credit has to go to all the people who voted, and who recommended the comic to others and urged them to vote, too. There were a number of communities out there that went the distance for us. Because Twilight Guardian is about a woman in the real world fighting crime, we received a great deal of help from the RLSH (Real Life Superhero) folks. Since I'm an avid City of Heroes player, and I've written issues of the City of Heroes comic (and scripted their counterpart in the game itself), I got TONS of assistance from the gang there and at the CoH Podcast. Then there were all the MySpace people, and my buds at the Clobberin' Times, and all the websites and message boards and...well, suffice it to say, about a gazillion people made this happen.

I also give a smidge of credit to my own anxiety and insomnia (hey, Twilight Guardian got her nocturnal patrols from somewhere). I've slept very little the last month, and used whatever free time I've had to get the word out about where to view the comic, and what to do if you dug it.
NRAMA: Rounding out the Twilight Guardian team is artist Reza. Will he be joining you on the new series?

TH: Boy, I sure hope so. I couldn't be happier with his work. When we were first planning the comic, I was worried we wouldn't be able to find someone who could deal with the more "mundane" look and feel of the comic, especially in an industry where larger-than-life is more the norm. Reza has really delivered, though. And when we do the series, I've already got some stuff planned that will give him the opportunity to really show the spectrum of what he can do.

I'd really like to talk to him directly, though. Because of the language barrier, so far we've only connected through intermediaries, and that's worked fine, but nothing compares with two creative folks shooting the breeze about this stuff. I think I need to take some language classes.

NRAMA: So what can you tell us about the new series – in the press release announcement, you said you were going to take the book "where comics haven't gone before". What can you say?

TH: I'm not going to say much, because surprise is my ally! But what I want to do is play around with the nature of the superhero genre, and maybe a bit with the medium in general. I've always said I don't like to see our beloved characters deconstructed and dissected (what I like to call the "Kryptonite Scalpel" syndrome), but I do think it's possible to take a non-invasive look at it all, and to do so without breaking the fourth wall.

I can tell you one thing: I'm going to have fun. And I think that's tremendously important. I can always tell the difference between a comic where the writer was really enjoying himself and one where he was just picking up some quick bucks, and it makes all the difference in the world. I'm going to enjoy this series, and hopefully that sense of fun and a real love for this medium will come through.

NRAMA: Have you had any concrete conversations about planning the series yet with Top Cow, or are you still basking in the glow?

TH: I haven't heard anything from them yet, but it's still very early. I've already started working on the issue-by-issue notes for the series, though, so I'll be ready to go when they are.

NRAMA: From my perspective, this is one of the biggest moments of your comic career so far. How would you rank this?

TH: Well, this is certainly one of the high points. Y'know, not meaning to sound all gosh-wow (though I guess that's what I am), I've really been fortunate in this business. I've only had something like fourteen professional comics published, but within those few issues I've been lucky enough to be nominated for a couple of Eisners, work with some of the honest-to-Zod legends of this industry, see my characters made into video games, and now win this competition. Not bad for a functional illiterate with a superfluous third nipple, eh?

NRAMA: Last question – what are you doing to celebrate?

TH: Hmmm, I thought about going to an all-you-can-eat buffet, but this diet precludes it (I've lost forty pounds so far, and that's just from my head). After all the stress of the last month, maybe I'll unwind by walking the streets tonight. You never know who you're going to run into...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Yet Another New Interview!

I'm running out of things to say! This one is with the G-Man at Comicvine.com:


Troy Hickman speaks about Twilight Guardian



Comic Vine: First of all, congrats on the win. Looks like you were in the lead for pretty much the entire time. I realize that a lot of my questions may be answered in the upcoming series so feel free to be vague when necessary. I'm not sure if you plan on going in depth about her background or not.
How much of a story do you have in mind so far to continue the Twilight Guardian's story? Is it a mini? Ongoing?

Troy Hickman: At the moment all I'm promised is a mini-series, and I've certainly been plotting that out. If sales warrant it, though, Top Cow might be willing to do an ongoing, so I've started thinking about ideas all down the line. Twilight Guardian is a story that takes place in the "real world," and as we all know, there's little that can't happen to a person on this planet.


CV: Will we find out her name? (We have nothing listed for her name on the site).

TH: I'm not sure. I do have a name for her if it ever becomes an issue. For now, though, I think it adds to the commonality that the readers share with her if she's only "Twilight Guardian" (and that's almost certainly how she thinks of herself).


CV: Where did the idea of a character with OCD come from?

TH: Twilight Guardian first appeared in a mini-comic trilogy I did in the early 90s called Tales of the Pathetic Club, which was about a doctor who studies people with various forms of OCD (in my opinion still one of the best things I've written). The idea for TG, and all the folks in Pathetic Club, came from my own anxiety-ridden, ritualistic noggin.


Out on patrol

CV: How long has she been patrolling? I gathered she did have a boyfriend recently and would assume she didn't go patrolling then.

TH: As far as we know, she's relatively new to this. She may have always been a "night walker" (much like her creator), but she probably donned the hoodie and mask fairly recently.


CV: When does she sleep? It seems she gets home after six, eats and prepares then goes out until dawn.

TH: She probably doesn't get as much sleep as she should, or perhaps she doesn't need that much. She sleeps from the time she gets back from her patrol (around dawn) to the time she has to go into work (probably around ten). She may slip in an occasional nap, just so she stays sharp on patrol. Not meaning to add to the autobiography here, but my own sleeping habits are pretty mixed up.


Planning her route for the night

CV: Having OCD requires the person to do repetitive behaviors. Does varying her route each night cause any anxiety?

TH: Not for her. OCD is an extremely varied condition, and its manifestations are, thankfully, also inconsistent from one ritual to another (otherwise everyone who suffered from it would be totally unable to function). We're used to seeing the stereotypes of it in fiction (Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, for example, stepping over cracks, or the germophobia of Adrian Monk), but it's often more subtle than that. I remember a friend of mine, another comics creator, telling me that in his case he's totally functional, but if he's reading a book or a newspaper, he can't put it down if the last word on the page is something negative, like "bad" or "death." He has to read to the end of the NEXT page, and hope it's at least neutral.

In TG's case, varying her route may actually be CAUSED by the OCD. Hard to say.


Will she venture outside her boundary?

CV: She mentioned not wanting to go outside her nine block area, would she if she saw a crime in progress?

TH: Good question, and one we might see answered in the mini-series. It really depends on WHY she normally sticks to her "territory." Is is the OCD? Is it, as she says, a courtesy to "other crimefighters"? Stick around.


CV: What would she do if she didn't make it home in time to go on patrol?

TH: Something else to explore. Chances are she doesn't allow herself to get put in a situation where that could occur...and how does THAT affect her life?


"Time to go."

CV: Will she have a new "heroic oath" soon?

TH: I've been thinking about it. "Time to go" is hard to beat, though...


Comics, a good source of inspiration

CV: I loved the inclusion of the old comics she used for inspiration. Will we see more?

TH: Definitely, as TG is a book about, among other things, comic books. I'll be working in more of that sort of thing, though not always in the same way. I really enjoyed doing those, though, as they allowed me to do two of my favorite things: (A) create new superheroes, and (B) work with conventions of the Silver and Golden Ages. If Top Cow would be interested, I'd really dig doing a book that's nothing BUT that kind of thing, sort of like Moore's 1963 (and a little like what I did with Common Grounds).


CV: Do her neighbors know who she is? Do they know her identity?

TH: As far as we know, they don't know who she is. It's always possible that they do, however, and they're just steering clear of the "crazy lady in the mask."


CV: There was mention of snail races and it being outlawed in that town. Have you seen snail races before?

TH: I've never attended one, but they've grown in popularity over the last ten years or so (I give the credit to the small press version of Twilight Guardian...cough cough). The famous horseracing critic John McCririck once said "It's always difficult to study the form with snails because they hide inside their shells - but it's actually much easier to commentate on the race because it's slower than horse racing."


There sure are a lot of black cats around

CV: The black cats keep crossing her path, will we learn more about them or is it just a coincidence?

TH: Oh, nothing's ever a coincidence.


CV: Does she live in a normal world or are there actual super powered people around?

TH: As far as we know, TG's adventures take place in the same world in which we live. So I guess it depends on whether you believe there are actual superpowered people around us.


CV: She carries deer jerky and mentioned hunting season coming up, does she do the hunting herself?

TH: Yes, she does. TG's adventures take place here in mid-north Indiana (a couple of folks have mistakenly pegged it as Ohio), where we do a pretty fair amount of deer hunting. She only hunts for meat, though, not for sport.


CV: Has she ever faced real danger before?

TH: Every single day.


CV: Do you have any other projects in the works?

TH: I actually have a ton of ideas that I'd like to bring to fruition, and I just need to get out there and sell some editors on them. My biggest flaw as a comic writer is that I'm not very driven to network and such (I've never submitted a pitch to an editor; they've always come to me to ask me to do stuff). I could probably use an agent, but I don't think at this point I'm well-known enough for anyone to want to represent me.


CV: Do you know anyone with OCD? (I know a couple and even my dog might have it, according to his vet).

TH: I have OCD myself, and it has come and gone throughout my life, depending on the amount of stress I'm feeling. It was at its peak in high school where, if I rubbed my shoulder along the wall of the hallway, I'd have to go back and rub it in the opposite direction to "even it out." But that was an intensely awful time for me. These days it's very minor stuff, if at all, like the fact that I never remove this bracelet that my girlfriend gave me. Most folks have some degree of OCD. It's just a matter of to what extent it affects your life. Have you ever played that game where you say "If I make it through this stoplight while it's still green, I'll get that raise at work"? That's OCD. It's the belief, conscious or otherwise, that totally unconnected actions can change things in our life for the better or worse.


CV: Those darn green lights never got me a raise.
Are there any other comics you keep up with these days?

TH: Very few, and that's mainly because of money. I do try to keep up on what's happening in the field, though. The last comic I bought? Twilight Guardian #1.


CV: What was the last good movie you've seen? Book you've read?

TH: My g/f and I went to see both Dark Knight and Iron Man. Enjoyed them both very much, but for different reasons. Last good book? At the moment I'm making my way through Neil Peart's various travel books.


PB and...B?

CV: What's your favorite kind of sandwich?

TH: Peanut butter and bologna, of course. And the autobiography continues.


CV: Anything else you'd like to mention/plug?

TH: Uh, let's see. I'd like to thank everyone who voted for Twilight Guardian, and urge you to pick up the mini-series when it comes out (which will be a while). And if anyone is looking for a comic book writer, I work cheap and fast (fill in the "your mama" joke here).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Baby Pictures!

Here's some of the artwork that was generated in the pre-production days of Twilight Guardian. I thought you might like to check it out:




This first piece was quite dynamic. Too dynamic, in fact, for the mundane tone of TG. Might make a neat take on an alternate-Earth Twilight Guardian, though.




This one was closer, but she's too young and care-free looking here. At this point, Reza and the gang were supposedly basing her on a combinating of Amanda Bynes, and Hayley Williams from the band Paramore. This is an exceptionally cute shot. It's just not TG.




And finally here's Twilight Guardian as we know and love (and are puzzled by) her. Not as frollicking, but with more going on upstairs.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another Interview!

Here's a nice interview from Girl's Entertainment Network:


On September 18th, I was officially pwned—badly. Even though the votes were close, two Top Cow Pilot Season books came out on top: Twilight Guardian and Genius. Troy Hickman, the writer for TG, agreed to take a moment to talk about his comic and the welcomed response to it, what we can expect to see next year, and my … totally being pwned.

WITA: Whoa, so how does it feel to have your book—Twilight Guardian—shine in the spotlight of the Pilot Season ‘08 Top Two? How did you react when you found out? I certainly didn’t expect the results—but the fans sure showed me! (I had to extend similar regards to the Genius writers, as well.) [Laughs] You already know that my review back in May was a little harsh. All of that aside, I can only express my congratulations and warmest wishes on your book’s success.

Troy: Stephanie, first of all let me say how lucky YOU are that I won, since I was going to blame a loss TOTALLY on you. I already had a special dartboard made up with your face on it and a blurb under it that said “Troy’s Entertainment Network” and everything. Thank your lucky stars!

How does it feel? Well, I’ve been walking on air for the last two days (and not just because I’m gellin’ like Magellan). It’s great to know that all the work I put into getting the word out there has paid off, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the folks who helped make it happen.
How did I react when I found out? Well, I’m hardly the most “emo” guy in the world, but I have to admit I got a little teary-eyed. Of course, the fact that I hadn’t slept for about two weeks prior might’ve had something to do with my emotional state. That and the bottle of cough syrup.


WITA: You’re totally right. I really dodged a bullet there, whew! (And wow, I thought I was the only one who got such a kick out of those commercials! Fellow gellin’-like-Magellan fan, high-five!) Anyway, I hope you had a well-deserved celebration! Again, my review might have been lukewarm, but there were certainly aspects I liked about Twilight Guardian when I was reading it that I thought could be very interesting when given the chance to really blossom. And now you’re getting the chance to! So I’m looking forward to see what direction you take TG. What can we expect to see next year in terms of where you’d like the book and the main character to go?

Troy: All I’m willing to say for sure at this point is that we’re going to try to make this book a little of everything. We’re going to have the humor, drama, pathos, and slightly subversive qualities that fans dug in the one-shot, as well as some new elements (maybe even some … gasp … action … though not in the way folks might expect!). We’ll find out more about TG’s life inside and outside of the hoodie, and get a greater glimpse into the entirety of her world (possibly even outside her jurisdiction!).

What I mainly want readers to know is that whether we’re laughing with her, crying with her, or are just totally creeped-out by her, we’re going to have fun, and I want them to come along for the ride.


WITA: Well, I’m looking forward to finding out what happens to this character. She certainly is a mystery at this point. As I said, there were things I enjoyed about TG. For example, the comic book references (which were very fun) and the whole concept of challenging superhero stereotypes with a realistic, everyday heroine. The latter reminded me of the basic concept of Kick-Ass or even the cool video web-series by Christopher Preksta, Captain Blasto. I hope that we get to learn more about the main character in upcoming issues. We don’t even know her name! (Do we?) Do you have ideas about her character and development in mind? Talk a little about your vision of and for the heroine.

Troy: Glad you liked the comic book “insert” pages. There will be more of that sort of thing, only different. And we’ll certainly try to keep pushing the envelope on what a superhero is or has to be.

Yeah, I’ve heard a few comparisons to Kick-Ass, but I don’t really see the similarities (and since I created TG back in the early 90s, KA certainly wasn’t an influence). I think the only commonality they have is that they’re both a bit more realistic than your typical capes-and-tights comic (though I understand Mark might be moving further away from that with more recent issues). For the life of me, I can’t see Twilight Guardian getting worked over by thugs (especially when she activates her secret Twilight powers! Uh … did I say that aloud?).
We definitely will learn more about her. My vision? Twilight Guardian is us. She’s the part of us that’s lonely. She’s the part of us that’s nerdy. She may well be the part of us that’s crazy. But I’ll let the readers decide that one.

It’s an interesting thing. I’ve heard a number of male fans express a real … affection for her, to the point of saying they wish they had a girlfriend like her. I think it’s a combination of her vulnerability and her love for all things geeky. And the hoodie probably doesn’t hurt. There’s something sexy about a hoodie.


WITA: As a pilot issue, I assume there might have been some things you either had to cut or wanted to put in the premiere comic but couldn’t reveal just yet—or did you manage to fit everything in the way you wished?

Troy: Well, there are certainly things I had to leave out. When you’re dealing with a single, 22-page comic story, you’ve really got to be selective about what hits the page. And it was even more so with this project, as I had to try to give the reader a feeling for TG while making them want to find out more about her and her world. That’s a very tricky proposition with a book like Twilight Guardian, where the story is driven much more by characterization than by plot. It can lead some folks to wonder if anything is really happening. But I have to have confidence that the kind of audience I’m shooting for will connect with it.

The series will give me a little more space to work with, though I’ve already got probably twice as much planned as I’ll be able to fit in there!


WITA: I’m certainly looking forward to you changing my mind with future installments of Twilight Guardian, Troy. Is there something you could throw out there to tease us with until next year, when the second issue is released? Maybe something about what you’ve got up your sleeve for the future of the book that could grab new readers or keep fans waiting in anticipation?

Troy: Well, given the nature of the book, I’m not sure what I can say as a tease. It’s not like I can allude to the fact that TG will be taking on Galactus in issue #3 (though if I can get Marvel on board…).

I will say only this: if you read the Twilight Guardian series, I think you’ll see yourself in there somewhere amidst all the shadows and streetlights. Maybe it’ll make you smile. Maybe it’ll make you sigh. Hopefully it’ll make you say “wow, I really enjoyed that.” Give us a chance, gang.


WITA: Thanks so much for your time! I’m definitely willing to give TG another chance.

New Interview

Here's an interview with me from Comixology.com:


Comixology: For readers who haven't seen the book, explain what Twilight Guardian is about-- characters, story, any relevant info about the world.

Troy: Twilight Guardian is the story of a woman who patrols the nine-block area around her neighborhood each night. She is the only main character, but her world is populated by myriad "night people" that she runs into or sees during her patrols. We don't know much about her personal life yet, beyond the fact that she's been through some sort of romantic break-up, and she seems to have a kind of OCD. Her existence has raised a number of questions with readers. Is she mentally disturbed? Is she a superhero? What do those terms mean?

The world she lives in is our world. The only conventional "superheroes" you see in the book are from the comic books she reads each night for inspiration. She doesn't get into sense-shattering slugfests, nor does she get her backside handed to her night after night.

And making the book enjoyable and compelling within that context is where it gets fun for me.


Cmxlgy: You previously had some success with Common Grounds, also published by Top Cow. Tell us about your history as a writer-- are there other comics you've created? What are your other works?

Troy: I've actually done very few pro comics so far. I did a one-shot for Acclaim, Turok: Adon's Curse, in the late 90s. Then Top Cow contacted me in 2004 about republishing my mini-comic Holey Crullers, which became the aforementioned Eisner-nominated Common Grounds series. I did two issues of Witchblade where I create the Celestine character (currently appearing in their Broken Trinity series), followed by an arc in the City of Heroes comic #4-6 (which has since been incorporated into the game, and which they were kind enough to ask me to script). I did a Hulk story with Bill Loebs for ACTOR Comics Presents, and now Twilight Guardian.

All my other stuff (Tales of the Pathetic Club, which is where TG first appeared, Made-Up Stuff is Stranger than Fiction, Yoyo the Dieting Clown, etc.) has been for mini-comics or small independents, most of which now fill up boxes in my bedroom!


Cmxlgy: I understand you teach college; what do you teach?

Troy: I teach creative writing and English at a state college here in Indiana. I enjoy the job itself, and folks tell me I'm good at it. I'm going to have to move on sometime soon, though, as I can't really support myself sufficiently this way (thank goodness for the occasional comic gig). I'd like to be writing full-time if I can ever line up sufficient comic work.


Cmxlgy: Winning contests to get your comic published (in print or online) is a little bit of a trend right now, with the Pilot Season and Zuda as two major examples. It takes a lot of promotion to get the votes to come out on top-- how did you manage to win out?

Troy: Y'know, if I weren't a writer, I think my best bet in this industry would be as a PR man. In a short amount of time, I've learned most of what there is to know about getting the word out there. In the month that Pilot Season voting was going on, I think I hit just about every message board, myspace and facebook page, website, doghouse, outhouse, and International House of Pancakes on the internet. I talked up the comic, pointed out where people could read the preview (and eventually the entirety) of it, and I urged them to check it out and vote for it if they were so moved. Moreover, I was able to enlist a lot of wonderful folks to do the same and turn this thing "viral," as the young people say!

And boy, was it exhausting. A lot of fun, though, and I met a bunch of great new people. Er...why does this sound like a promo for Matchmaker.com?


Cmxlgy: Can you tell us a little bit about the process of getting into the contest in the first place?
What did you submit to Top Cow and how did you get selected to be in the Pilot Season?

Troy: Actually, I didn't submit anything to Top Cow. They contacted me about including Twilight Guardian (which they'd had an interest in since they first talked to me about Common Grounds) in the competition. I'm sure glad they did, because I probably wouldn't have attempted it myself. I think I'm a good writer, but I'm not very good yet at selling myself. Truth be told, I've never really submitted a proposal to a comics publisher; I've just been lucky enough that they came to me. I'm learning quickly, though, that I can't just sit on my backside and continue to get lucky. If I want to work consistently, I'm going to have to get out there and do more...ugh..."networking," and letting folks know that I'm not only available, but very ready to work (this would be a good time to mention that I'm both available and very ready to work).


Cmxlgy: Now that you've won, what's the timeframe going to be on seeing the series come out?

Troy: I'm not sure yet. All I know is that the book will begin sometime next year. I've already started preliminary work on the scripts, though, so I'm...uh...available and ready to work!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Inflated Ego!

My pals Ron and Beth went to the Comic GeekSpeak Supershow, and while they were there, they commissioned the uber-talented balloon artist Pascale to create...Twilight Guardian!

Thanks so much, you guys. You are now BOTH official members of Twilight Guardian's Midnight Squad. I'll teach you the secret handshake later (it involves deer jerky).

Here are some pics:










This Is It!

We're down to the last day, gang, so if you can, vote vote vote today! And if you can convince anyone else to do the same, please do!

If they'd like to read the comic, by the way, they can do so here.

Thanks, everyone. Let's make this happen!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

This Pretty Much Says It

Here's another piece I wrote for the Pilot Season blog:


Top Ten Reasons to Vote for Twilight Guardian

10. I'm poor. Terribly, dreadfully poor. I'm so poor, when someone dies I can't even pay my respects. I'm so poor I've still got last Monday's lunch on layaway. If Twilight Guardian can get picked up as a series, it'll make a HUGE difference. Beyond that, though, it will push me that much closer to my eventual goal: to get out of my rather dead-end, low-paying, no-benefits teaching job and start writing comics full-time. Gang, I just can't keep reusing tea bags (as pillows!).

9. Twilight Guardian is an unconventional superheroine. Y'know, we hear all the time that there need to be more comics starring female characters. And we likewise hear that we need more female characters who are NOT wasp-waisted supermodels with breasts the size and heft of sixteen-pound bowling balls. Well, here's a heroine who fits the bill on both counts. Lets put our votes where our mouths are (oh, you know what I mean).

8. We're the underdog in this fight. Look, everyone loves a little-guy-triumphs-over-the-odds story, and I think that's what we've got here. Let's face it: if you walk into the average comic convention and yell, "Hey, it's Troy Hickman," you're going to get one of two responses: (A) "Who?" and (B) "The guy who did Pax Romana??" I don't have a large fanbase, I don't have a bunch of titles on the stands. I don't have projects in the works for any other sort of media. I'm a relatively obscure comic book writer, and what I have going for me are a love for the medium, and hopefully your support. So if you really want to see a David and Goliath story...well, hit that button for Twilight Guardian and start chanting "Ru-dy! Ru-dy!"

7. There is not another book on the stands like Twilight Guardian. I'm pretty sure just about everyone says that when they're promoting their book, but I think it's quite true here. It's not just the concept of a "real-life superhero," but also the execution of that idea. Twilight Guardian is a book that attempts to grab you without the conventions of a typical superhero book, and that will continue to do so (this book may become a lot of things, but you have my word that "standard" will never be one of them). We're not bound by the structures of a pre-existing comic universe or notions of what a superhero comic is required to be. Because of that, ANYTHING can happen.

6. Reza's art is terrific, and he's just going to keep getting better and better. This guy has a huge range (you should see his action shots), and he's going to be very big in this business. You, dear reader, will be able to tell folks you got in on the ground floor. And frankly, I want to keep working with the guy, and you can help me do that.

5. The members of the American Federation of Hoodie Manufacturers will thank you for it.

4. Twilight Guardian is something of an enigma, and readers haven't had a chance to puzzle through all the mysteries that surround her. We need the opportunity to answer those questions, and to piece together this life and this quest she's forged for herself. I don't know about you, but there are few things that upset me more than a comic or a TV show that suddenly disappears before the payoff. Cliffhanging is for Wile E. Coyote.

3. It you vote for it, you're invited to the big Twilight Guardian Victory Party & Barbecue Extravaganza (BYOB).

2. A lot of people have put a ton of work into this project. Besides Reza and the folks at IFS, and Rob, Mel, and the rest of the guys at Top Cow, there are also a TON of fans and friends out there who have supported and voted for this comic. As much as I want this for myself, I want it for them, too. All their efforts have meant so much to me, and part of my way of repaying them would be to pull off one hell of a Twilight Guardian series.

1. I believe it's a pretty darned good comic, and you have my word that it will continue to get better and better. Please give me that chance.

Time to go.

Troy Hickman, September 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

One of Our Own

My dear pal Mike O'Connell just posted a piece on his blog urging folks to vote for Twilight Guardian. I tell ya, this guy has been plugging TG forever now, and really going out of his way, from sending out emails to printing up t-shirts (and wearing them to conventions), and on and on.

A lot of great stuff has come out of my association with The Clobberin' Times (that's our ol' Champions rpg APA, folks), and you are definitely one of them, buddy. Thanks so much.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Twilight Guardian at #2

Gang, with a week to go, we've slipped into second place.

While the top two books get their own series, I'm really worried that one of the other books will creep up on us between now and the close of voting next week.

PLEASE, if you can, vote every day at www.topcow.com. And if you can convince other folks to do the same, I'd sure appreciate it.

If I can get a series for TG, it's going to make such a major difference in my life, so this is no small thing.

Anyway, thanks so much for all the effort you've put into this thus far. It's been incredible, as have you.

Troy

Beginnings

Here's another piece I wrote for the Pilot Season blog page:



What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been

There are obviously a number of mysteries surrounding Twilight Guardian. How did she become what she is? What prompted her nocturnal patrols? What tragedy drives her? While those questions are crucial, I'm not at liberty to answer them just yet. What I CAN tell you about, however, is how Twilight Guardian came to exist as a comic, and how it became part of this year's Pilot Season line-up.

Back in 1991, I started my own line of black & white, photocopied mini-comics (digest-sized, to be precise). Among them were titles like Yoyo the Dieting Clown, Made-Up Stuff is Stranger than Fiction, Holey Crullers (remember that one; it'll be pertinent later), and Tales of the Pathetic Club.

The latter comic was a quasi-slice-of-life series that had grown out of my love for comics like American Splendor (and I was overjoyed when Harvey Pekar sent me a nice note telling me how much he dug it). Pathetic Club was the story of Edward Stein, a doctor who studied individuals suffering from a variety of obsessive-compulsive disorders (a subject you might say I know from the inside out). Among his "subjects" was a woman who patroled a 9-block area of her neighborhood every night, a woman who called herself the Twilight Guardian.

Though she only appeared in a couple of pages of Pathetic Club #2, there was something about TG that really haunted me, and after the series had finished its trilogy, I knew she had to return. So the original Twilight Guardian #1, a 12 page mini-comic, was born.

And then...well, nothing. Originally I had planned it as another trilogy, but for whatever reason, that never happened.

Flash forward all the way to 2003. Tragedy had struck at La Hacienda Hickman, and my son and I were about a week away from living under a bridge. Luckily for me, though, Jim McLauchlin had taken over the helm at Top Cow, and immediately contacted me about turning my Holey Crullers mini-comic into a new full-sized series (he'd picked up the book some years earlier while he was editor at Wizard, and had them do a four-page article on my obscure little title). We quickly worked out a deal to turn my Crullers stories into Common Grounds, and boy, I'm glad we did. That, however, is a story for another day.

At the same time, though, the Cow seemed interested in doing something with another of my old minis: Twilight Guardian. So we added it to the mix as a possible future title. And then...well, nothing.

Flash forward again to 2008. Top Cow was looking for comics to be part of Pilot Season 2008, and I received a call from editor Rob Levin, inquiring if I'd like to have Twilight Guardian included in the competition. Faster than you can say "homina homina," I was working on a new version of TG, one that combined the one-shot with TG's Pathetic Club appearance, as well as a bunch of additional material.

So...will Twilight Guardian disappear once again after a single appearance? That will be up to you, folks. If you'd like to see our suburban sentinel finally receive a true lease on life, you can make that happen with your votes.

I sure hope that you do, because she's been waiting almost fifteen years to have her story told.

Troy Hickman, September 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Pic!

Here's a shot of Twilight Guardian by my pal Foo. Check out his blog here. Thanks, Foo!


Friday, August 29, 2008

Read Twilight Guardian For Free!

Newsarama is running the entire first issue here.

If you haven't already, give it a read, and if you enjoy it, please vote for it every day from now until Sept. 8 at www.topcow.com

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Page from TG's Journal

Twilight Guardian Information File (TGIF)



September 20, 2008

10:37 p.m. - I'm a bit late getting ready for my patrol tonight. A woman came into the drycleaning shop with a blouse that had a strange red stain. I believed it might be blood. I took samples and have been analyzing them with the home crime lab equipment I recently purchased online. As it turns out, the stain is apparently some sort of fruit-based compote. My best guess would be pomegranate, but I won't know for sure until further tests can be performed.

11:30 p.m. - Time to read my nightly comic. Tonight's choice is Jungle Justice #14 from 1975. The comic originally featured fairly cheap knock-offs of Tarzan and Sheena, but as of issue #5, sales were down so low that they switched to more of a superhero format, though they tried to keep it at least marginally jungle-related. The star from that point on was Bananas Froster, the super-chimp with ice powers. I particularly like this issue, as it has a reality-bending story where Bananas travels to Earth-Ultra and meets the writer and artist of Jungle Justice. It's an interesting concept. I wonder what it would be like to find out you're merely a character in a comic book?

12:00 a.m. - I don my mask and costume. I never feel more alive than I do at this moment, every night. Time to go.

1:13 a.m. – As always, I see the elderly woman in the yellow house watching "War of the Gargantuas." There is a slight change tonight, however. Normally her snack of choice tends to be a small plate of braunschweiger with crackers, but tonight it’s Bugles stuffed with what I believe to be cream cheese. I’ll enter this information in her file later.

2:24 a.m. – I see the shadowy figure on the outskirts of my jurisdiction again. What does he want? Why do I see him so often there, just on the periphery? I sense some sort of skullduggery, but I can’t be sure yet. Is he a villain? A fellow crimefighter? A sleepwalker? This is a mystery that must be solved.

2:57 a.m. - I stop for my repast at the bait shop. The machine is out of Choc-ola (due to its popularity, no doubt), so I have to make do with Bubble Up. It's a fine soda, manufactured right here in Indiana, but the lemon-lime flavor does not complement my peanut butter and bologna sandwich so well.

4:02 a.m. – Tomorrow is Trash Day, and everyone has their refuse out on the curb. In front of one house I find a pair of Wii boxing gloves. Apparently someone must’ve tired of the game already and threw them out. I discover that the pads inside can be removed, and could theoretically be replaced by weights to create a cestus of sorts. I take them with me. The uninitiated might call this good fortune, but I know that Justice provides for her agents.

4:57 a.m. - Through the window of the old Miller house, I see a man and woman, a new couple in the neighborhood, arguing. I stop to watch, in case things become heated (relationships are never easy). After a while they hold each other and kiss, then fall to the couch together. I move on; sometimes the line between crimefighter and voyeur is a simple act of discretion. I feel strange, though I'm not sure why. The sun's coming up, anyway. I need to go home.



If you want to read more about Twilight Guardian, gang, you can pick up Twilight Guardian #1 at all fine comic shops (and Newsarama.com is set to run it in its entirety later this week).

And if you'd like to see her continuing adventures, please keep voting for her every day as part of Top Cow Pilot Season 2008!

Troy Hickman, August 2008

Twilight Guardian #1 So Far!

For the second week in a row, TG has come in #1 in the Pilot Season voting. First of all, thanks all of you so much for the support you've given it. In all honesty, if I can pull this thing off, it's going to make a big difference in my life, and it's going to be because of you.

Secondly, the competition is going to heat up something fierce from this point on, so please, gang, if you can, keep voting for Twilight Guardian from now until September 8, once a day from every computer you can get your hands on. Ask you friends to vote, ask your family to vote, ask your pets to vote if you think they'll make the right choice.

And again, thank you so very, very much.

Troy

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why We Fight

Here's another piece of mine that just ran on the Pilot Season blog, in case you missed it:


We Can Be Heroes (and not just for one day)

Not long ago, I received a very nice letter of comment from someone who enjoyed Twilight Guardian, someone who probably understands her quest better than most. His name is the Crimson Fist, and he's a superhero.

No, he's not the stereotypical, media-driven notion of a superhero in the real world. He's not a used car salesman dressing up like "Rebate Man" for his new spate of commercials. He's not even Mark Millar's Dave Lizewski from "Kick Ass" getting his head handed to him by thugs on a nightly basis.

No, the Crimson Fist is one of the (at least) hundreds of folks out there patrolling our neighborhoods who are part of the RLSH (Real Life Super Hero) community. These are individuals who have decided that one person can make a difference in their corner of the world, so they don a mask and colorful costume and take to the streets.

No, they don't save us all from a Skrull invasion (that I know of). No, they don't keep the Red Skull from getting his hands on the Cosmic Cube. But if I ran into a mugger, I'd sure be glad to have one of them around. If someone were burglarizing my apartment, I'd be overjoyed if a RLSH were there to send the thieves packing, or to alert the police. Heck, even if I was in the situation I went through a few weeks ago, when I lost a contact lens during one of my late-night strolls, I'd be proud to have a superhero down there with me, on my hands and knees in someone's driveway, searching with a flashlight at 2 a.m.

Some people might compare these masked protectors with neighborhood watch groups, or to organizations like the Guardian Angels, but I'd say a more apt comparison might be made to a man named Lenny Skutnik. I've written about Lenny before, written about how, in January 1982, he risked his own life when Flight 90 crashed into the Potomac River. Lenny Skutnik jumped into the frigid water to save a woman who was too exhausted to grab the rope that had been lowered to her.

I don't think there's anyone among us who wouldn't consider him a hero, but think about this: if, instead of his street clothes, Lenny Skutnik had worn a big red "S" on his chest, he wouldn't been indistinguishable from a superhero. No, not just indistinguishable; he would have BEEN a superhero. And for my money, he was anyway.

When asked about it all, Lenny Skutnik said "I wasn't a hero. I was just someone who helped another human being. We're surrounded by heroes. What made this different was that it was caught on film and went all over the world." And he was right.

So whether it's the Crimson Fist in Atlanta, Zetaman in Portland, Insignis in Salt Lake City, Tothian in NYC, or any of the rest, real life superheroes are out there doing what they do. For some it might be breaking up a fistfight between teen-agers, helping someone who locked the keys in their car, passing out "survival kits" to the needy, or getting the word out about a blood drive or Toys-For-Tots event. For others...well, who knows? That darned Cosmic Cube is still out there somewhere.

And in a nine-block area of the midwest, a young woman in a hoodie and domino mask does her part.

Keep voting Twilight Guardian, gang.

Troy Hickman, August 19, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Behind the Mask

Here's a little piece I just wrote for the Pilot Season myspace blog regarding TG:


Who Guards the Guardian?

In some of the recent interviews I've done regarding Twilight Guardian, I've noted that the book seems to serve as a real Rorschach test for her audience. How a reader responds to the one-shot can tell us a great deal about his/her take on comics, on superheroes, on the narrative form, and on and on. In fact, it's one of the facets of the book that makes me particularly proud.

Last night, though, I realized that Twilight Guardian herself is going through something of a Rorschach test as well. With the advent of the Watchmen movie, I've started reading the trade paperback collection to my girlfriend Lea (one of the nice things about our Felix/Oscar, Carville/Matalin relationship is that she's almost completely unfamiliar with the world of comics, which allows me to see a lot of my favorite things anew through her eyes).

As I read the first-person narratives from "Rorschach's Journal," I was struck by the similarities to TG's own nightly reports, and I began thinking about the two charactyers, about their differences and commonality.

Obviously, they're both masked crimefighters who prowl the night. They're both fiercely dedicated to the concept of justice. They've even both worked in the garment industries in their secret identities (I'm never going to look at One-hour Martinizing the same way again). But are they really cut from the same cloth?




When it comes down to it, Rorschach is an ultra-violent vigilante, while TG has never done anything more extreme than marring the paint of an expensive car. Rorschach is definitely a cynical misanthrope, but Twilight Guardian seems to retain a genuine bond with and affection for the people of her nine-block "watch."

Rorschach, through the lineage of the Question (the character he was originally going to be), was spawned by the Randite/objectivst beliefs of the great Mr. Steve Ditko. And Twilight Guardian? Well...I guess she was spawned by the rampant insomnia and night-time wanderings of the not-so-great Mr. Troy Hickman.

So, given their similar drives, their shared obsessions (and my own love for both characters), what has kept our heroine from becoming another Rorschach? At the risk of going all Hallmark on you, I think it's love. Rorschach was raised, if you can use that word, by an abusive prostitute. Twilight Guardian's mother, on the other hand, is a woman who bakes raspberry squares and buys sock monkeys from church rummage sales for her adult daughter. Rorschach was never shown having any sort of romantic connection with another human being, while we know that TG has experienced at least one great love.

Ah, but perhaps that's where the questions begin. We know that the aforementioned love is a love lost, and we might well assume it's part and parcel of what drives TG into the night. So, having potentially lost that firewall between grim avenger and the "friendly policeman on the corner," is Twilight Guardian destined to become...something else? Will she eventually trade in her deer jerky and funnybooks for breaking fingers and dropping perps down elevator shafts?

Only time will tell. Time, and readers' continued interest in knowing the truth. So keep voting Twilight Guardian, my friends, and we shall see.

Troy Hickman, August 14 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Twilight Guardian #3 and closing!

Folks, Twilight Guardian is currently third in the Pilot Season voting, and closing in on the vaunted #2 position. We just need to get out there and vote, vote, vote, and she'll get her own mini-series! Voting will continue from now until September 8, and you can vote ONCE PER DAY (on each computer), so if you can, please get out there and help make this happen!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Quick Note From Canadiana

Thanks for all the votes, gang! Please keep it up! Voting lasts from now until September 8th, and despite the tremendous odds, I think we can do this!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Vote Twilight Guardian!

OK, folks, Pilot Season voting has begun! EACH DAY, you can vote here or here (more sites later). I need your help, gang. Vote every day if you can (voting last all through August) and if you can get your pals to lend a hand, that'd be great. Thanks in advance for any help you can give. I'm in Canada, but I'll be checking in daily with updates and such. Vote Twilight Guardian!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Some folks just...get it. I received this letter the other day, and, well, you read it:

"Mr. Hickman,
Hello! My name is The Crimson Fist, and I am a superhero based in Atlanta, Georgia. Much like your main character in the book Twilight Guardian, myself and others world-wide (our numbers range in the low 200's) have developed superheroic identities and set out into our communities to help try and make the world a safer and all-around nicer place to live. I picked up a copy of Twilight Guardian on a whim while on a trip to the comic shop and I was thrilled to see a character that I could relate to on such a personal level. I love the book, and have encouraged all my fellow heroes to read it as well.
I am writing to thank you for the wonderful first issue, and to tell you that I am encouraging all of my fellow heroes to vote for the series to continue once the polls open next month. I hope to see more in the future!
My best to you and yours, -- The Crimson Fist
http://myspace.com/HeroATL
Justice Never Sleeps."


Frankly, the Fist's note filled me with hope, both for Twilight Guardian and the folks who understand the comic, but even more for us all. As I've said, maybe the world IS going to hell, gang, but it doesn't have to be a one-way trip. Thanks, CF.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Just Talkin' 'Bout Twilight Guardian!

Here is a new interview with me about Twilight Guardian and other stuff by the always sharp and insightful Gwen at Comics and...Other Imaginary Tales.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Geeky Brethren!

Here's a nice review from Jack Bauerstein at GeeksofDoom.com:


"What do you get when you have a superhero that patrols the night on foot, helping people change flat tires, and eating beef jerky to sustain their energy? Well, you get The Twilight Guardian.


Written by Troy Hickman of Common Ground fame, Twilight Guardian tells the tale of a young woman who goes to work in the morning like everyone else excepts at night, she protects her neighborhood in a hoodie and a mask as The Twilight Guardian. She combs the area, searching for villains to thwart but usually she just heads home and reads her comics, hoping to hone her craft.


To call this comic wickedly bizarre is an understatement. It is definitely unlike anything that is out on the comic racks today or perhaps even ever. I know I have never read a book where I laughing at just how ridiculous the story was but at the same time, greatly amused by the whole idea. Is the Twilight Guardian really a superhero or is she just a crazy person? Perhaps she is in on the joke and knows something the reader and those around do not know. This comic has so much potential and can go in so many directions, it would be crazy for Top Cow to not consider continuing this series.



Hickman does his best toeing the line between serious drama and tongue in cheek scenarios. He definitely knows how to stage a scene. There were many times where I thought something superhero-esque would happen only to realize it was a false alarm. It is very mundane and just overall not too exciting, yet oddly innovative. This is truly a comic book that keeps its feet on the ground yet soars to new heights by just being something off beat and unique. I also like how readers get a chance to read some of the comics that the Twilight Guardian uses as her learner manuals. They are hilarious and poke some serious fun at comic books.


My only complaint about the book is the art. The artist Reza is good enough, but I think a more dynamic, bombastic artist should have been assigned to the book. It would have given the book a bit more of that superhero feel to it, adding to the suspense of whether or not the Twilight Guardian has powers or if she will gain some over the course of the book.


If you want to read something strange, bizarre, and unlike anything you have ever read, you need to pick up Twilight Guardian. It is strangely satisfying even if it is not what you expect."


Thanks so much, Jack!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Artwork!

Below are a couple of depictions of Twilight Guardian by the massively talented Christopher Tupa. I think you'll agree that they cook with gas! This guy needs to be doing comics on a regular basis, and soon. You can see more of Christopher's stuff here.

And if you'd like to see your sketches of Twilight Guardian and crew in this space, send 'em along!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Twilight Guardian Video Review

Our pal Amber has posted a review of TG on YouTube. Check it out!






I need to mention, btw, that Amber is currently in the top two for a major costume contest, and she could really use your support! Go here to check out the costumes and place your vote. Thanks, Amber, you're super!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

San Antonio Spurs...Readers to Check Out Twilight Guardian

Here's a nice piece from Jeremy Martin at the San Antonio Current:

The Twilight Guardian, an anonymous loser pretending at superherodom, patrols well-trod territory, but Hickman’s (Common Grounds) skill at character development sets this series apart. So far, anyway. The story, told through terse, personal journal entries, is largely uneventful, but the protagonist, a lonely girl patrolling her suburban neighborhood for evildoers, is compelling and sympathetic. The issue occasionally falters when Hickman attempts a Tick-like mockery of the Guardian’s misguided sense of “justice,” but the endearing attempts of the main character to escape her failed relationship and mundane existence as a dry cleaner by mimicking her favorite comic-book characters makes Twilight Guardian worth reading. Her late-night prowling leads only to the discovery of misdemeanors — teenagers making out in a parked car, a man urinating in his neighbor’s flower bed — but also to other lonely people acquainted with the night: a woman continously watching the same monster movie, a man shooting baskets until his love returns. And it’s this secret knowledge of the friendless people without purpose that gives Twilight Guardian a meaningful voice. Though misguided and ineffective superheroes are standard fare in comic books, Twilight Guardian’s underlying concept — becoming a superhero as a distraction from the isolation of modern-day young adulthood — is novel and at times even heart-defrosting.