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!