Swierczynski on cliffhangers, violence & ‘Two Past Midnight’
As part of its 2014 original graphic novel plans, Dark Horse will publish Two Past Midnight, by Duane Swierczynski and Eduardo Francisco, which pits Captain Midnight, Ghost and X against a psychopath named Tempus. In a brief interview with ROBOT 6, Swierczynski details how a change in publishing plans actually allowed him to work in more narrative cliffhangers than he might have otherwise developed.
Tim O’Shea: What can you tell readers about the cast and plot of Two Past Midnight OGN?
Duane Swierczynski: Two Past Midnight — or as the kids call it, 2PM — is a team-up of some very unlikely heroes squaring off against a freakish mind-controlling psycho who calls himself Tempus, as in “tempus fugit,” or “time flies.” Those heroes are Captain Midnight, Ghost and X, and they’re not exactly hanging out, swapping wisecracks and eating shawarma or whatever. The story is basically a nonstop carnival of violence; there is no time for shawarma.
Who will be joining you on art for this project?
Eduardo Francisco, who didn’t flinch when I asked him to draw all kinds of bizarre violent acts. He’s amazing.
What was it about the OGN format that appealed to you with this particular story?
To be honest, I didn’t know this would be an OGN until it was finished; I wrote it as a five-issue miniseries, with traditional cliffhangers and such. Had I known, I might have played around with the structure and pacing in a different way. Comics, when you come down to it, is all about fitting an issue’s worth of story into a finite number of boxes, and those boxes typically have to fit inside 20 to 22 pages. (Unlike a novel, say, where you pretty much can let the story dictate the length.) Then again, I really do like how this turned out, so maybe the imaginary restrictions were a good thing!
What creative advantages are gained when writing in the Dark Horse superhero universe (versus writing for DC or Marvel)?
It’s not so much working for a particular company as it is working with a particular editor — and I had a blast working with Scott Allie and Jim Gibbons. They were super-supportive, yet not shy about telling me when things went off the rails, which I really appreciated.
In terms of the main heroes of the story, what do you think is the key in terms of getting inside their heads?
Knowing what they want. If you can figure that out, the rest of the story falls into place a lot easier. This applies to the bad guys, too. That, and keeping in mind that no villain ever thinks he/she is the bad guy of his/her own story. Hell, Tempus thinks he’s the star of 2PM.
Can you delve into the supporting cast for this Two Past Midnight?
I don’t want to ruin too many surprises, but you’ll be meeting a heroic cop who blinks and finds herself waking up to realize she’s done something truly horrible. And the only people who seem to want to help are a ghost, a one-eyed vigilante in an S&M mask, and a dude old enough to be her great-grandfather. Not exactly one of your better days on the job, if you know what I mean.