D.G. Chichester took over from Ann Nocenti to write Daredevil. He is known for his Fall From Grace arc, where DD changed costumes and Elektra returned. I had initially sent these questions to Mr. Chichester last year, but due to some breakdown in 'cyberspace', his response disappeared. I thank him for resending the interview and I hope you like it.
Interview questions copyright 1998 Kuljit Mithra
Answers copyright 1998 D.G. Chichester
Kuljit Mithra: Can you give some background on how you started in the comics industry. I know you were an editor at Epic Comics. Did you make a decision to write comics before/during/after this stint?
D.G. Chichester: I've told this story more than a few times; maybe I should make up a new one so as not to bore anyone who's heard it before!
In a nutshell (which is just a down home way of saying "asylum"!)...I went to NYU film school, where in addition to charging you (or in this case my long suffering folks) a crapper full of bucks, they also pretty much hang you out to dry in terms of having to finance your student film. Oh, they front you a couple of feet of film, but it's nowhere near enough to finish anything of any length or merit (as if film students have a lot of concept of that word -- I speak from sad, arrogant experience! <G>) Anyway, made the film, broke the bank. Needed some bucks fast, so headed on over to ye olde student employment office to see what they could offer lil' ol' pathetic me. As it turned out, not much; however, there was an ad on the wall for a typist at Marvel Comics: $7.25 an hour! Not bad, even by today's standards. Well, I was/am a pretty good typist, and figured if I was going to do that it may as well as be at someplace "cool" sounding like Marvel. I'd done my stint as a comics reader up 'til the time I was 13 -- and read more than the average bear, mind you: I was fairly diligent about my weekly fix, although actually rarely read Marvels. But about the time puberty rolled in, I kind of went cold turkey on comics, for no conscious reason, and hadn't really picked one up since.
The typist job didn't happen: it had been promised to someone's niece's cousin's nephew's sister's uncle's housekeeper. But I managed to string enough words together articulately (as opposed to this interview) where I made an impression so the folks doing the interview passed on my paperwork to editorial. Jim Shooter's office was looking for an editorial assistant (read: gopher) for a lot less money, but I was desperate, so I said what the heck. I signed on as a helper-outer there for about 5 months -- answering such salient phone questions as "Can Spiderman beat the Hulk?" -- and then up and quit, to everyone's shock and surprise. No one *ever* quit Marvel, at least in that day and age. But the school semester was over, and I'd already committed to a summer gig (for more money) so hey. But over the summer, I got a call from Jo Duffy at Epic: turns out they were looking for an assistant editor, and wanted to know if I'd be into that while juggling my final college semester. I figured it wasn't a *bad* thing to have gainful employment waiting for after graduation, thinking in the back of my skull "Oh, it'll just be for a few months..." Years later, as they say...Well, the big problem was I got into it all and that was only compounded when I got bumped up to editor. Roundabout enough?
As far as the writing, that was twofold. On the one hand, I had always written, wanted to write, etc., and figured, "Hey, if I can get them to *pay* me, it's an excellent incentive to learn my craft and get better at it!" Hand in hand was the simple survival thing: Marvel paid for ****, and the only real way you could survive was by supplementing your income with freelance. Of course, the more I got into that, the more I got into it. After a point, it clearly became the direction I wanted to go in. Helping that out was reaching the juncture where I felt I was actually contributing something storywise, and not just taking their money to learn my craft! <G>
Mithra: What were some of the titles you worked on, as editor or writer, before Daredevil. I remember your work from Terror Inc., which you created with Margaret Clark and Klaus Janson.
Chichester: As an editor, I worked on Groo, The Groo Chronicles, Marshal Law, Last of the Dragons, the Elektra: Assassin collected edition, Blood, Hellraiser, and Nightbreed. As an assistant, you can work in Alien Legion, Video Jack, Moonshadow, the original Elektra: Assassin run, The Bozz Chronicles, Swords of the Swashbucklers, Timespirits, Dreadstar, and the last issue of the venerable Epic Illustrated.
As a writer up to DD, I'd worked on Power Line, St. George, Dr. Zero, Thundercats, Defenders of the Earth, Justice, SHIELD, Nightbreed, Hellraiser, West Coast Avengers, and Solo Avengers.
Mithra: Did you feel Terror Inc. could have lasted more than its 13 issues? 1992 was a year a lot of companies were putting out several titles. You even had him appear in Daredevil.
Chichester: Absolutely he could've kept going and continued to make for an interesting comic! Unfortunately, the title suffered from what was at best inattention, and at worst legitimate sabotage. Terror had a strange birth -- which kind of befits him, if you know the character at all! Marvel (in the form of Carl Potts and Sven Larsen) contacted me (remember this, it's key irony in the story) about pulling the "Shreck" character from the defunct Shadowline books into the Marvel Universe. The intent was to use him as a platform from which to revamp and reintroduce many of Marvel's "classic" horror characters of the seventies: Werewolf by Night, Dracula, Morbius, etc. But after a considerable amount of work setting up the series, it turned out that what would become the Midnight Sons "horror" titles were already in the works, which negated the whole need for Terror to act as this kind of psychopomp for the other ghoulies. But Carl and Sven (and myself) were into Terror, so the go ahead was given to do his own book with his own direction, with Marcus McLaurin getting involved as editor.
But after writing about 5 issues and Jorge Zaffino finishing the first two (this is prior to the book coming out still) Carl suddenly calls me and tells me the e-in-c's review of the material is that it's now not appropriate as a Marvel book! Ostensibly, I'm told it's "too good for Marvel," but the clear message is the subject matter is rather harsh. No surprise there, but my experience had been no matter how much you tell them, "We're going to deliver a book about a s.o.b. killer for hire who steals other people's body parts!" and they nod their heads, they're always surprised when you actually do it! This is a major disappointment at this point: the suggestion is made maybe to do it as an Epic limited series, but my feeling at that time was a title coming out under the Epic imprint would not have the same cachet and potential as a "Marvel" title. In hindsight, this sin of hubris was stupid, but it was a popular mindset at the time! In any regard, we'd just about given up on anything happening with it when out of the blue the powers that be turn around and green lights the book: it was to come out along with several other "mercenary" style books. They had a group title -- something like Action Pack or some nonsense, which escapes me at the moment -- and Terror's release alongside them really sent home the message there was no intention on Marvel's part to give this book a chance.
Every other title under that "umbrella" came out with some kind of special issue: enhanced cover, trading card, some kind of useless nonsense...except Terror. At the very last minute, our "extra" was pulled for no good reason. In fact, no reason at all! Now, I'm a firm believer that all that extra crap was just that: crap. But if you're a retailer or a fan at that time, and a group of five books comes out, and four of them get these "enhancements," there's a message being sent about that orphaned fifth book: the company that's putting it out doesn't have enough faith in it to give it the same treatment. We were promised that we'd get it made up to us by having an "extra" around issue 7.
Regardless, that first issue got a BANG UP review in the Comic Shop News: they essentially said it was like nothing else coming out of Marvel. Didn't make a difference. Marvel didn't do a thing to capitalize on that. And when the time came around to get our "special" cover, we were then told the book wasn't selling well enough to justify an enhancement (when the whole point of such an extra was to *boost* sales!) It really took the wind out of all our sales...er, sails.. Finally, we were told we had until something like issue #17 to get the sales up or the book would be canceled...and after we started to implement some changes we got the ax on #13, without any chance at seeing whether those changes were going to have any effect.
Looking back, he was probably never a good match for Marvel's agenda...and trying to make him "superheroic" was, if anything, a compromise to the character.
To make a pointlessly long and rambling story short, yes, I think he could have/should have lasted past 13 issues. But he probably couldn't have done so at Marvel.
Mithra: Were you offered Daredevil, or did you actively pursue the title? Were you a big fan of Daredevil before you started writing it?
Chichester: I actively and aggressively pursued it, which frankly surprised the hell out of me 'cause that's generally not my personality (although perhaps it should be!) Steve Buccellato gave me a call over Thanksgiving holiday, tracking me down at my folks to tell me that Ann Nocenti was off the book, and Steve thought it was something I should go after. I myself didn't think so: Daredevil was a "real" Marvel Comic <G>, one of the "big" titles (although hardly treated as such by its owner!), and I didn't know if I had the stones to follow in the wake of Frank Miller and Ann Nocenti, et. al. But the more I brewed on it, the more excited I got at the idea, and I rang up Ralph Macchio to see if he'd be willing to entertain a pitch. Ralph knew and liked my work from SHIELD, so I knew I had something of an in there. Figuring in for a penny, in for a pound, I then wrote up a proposal which hinged on two things: knocking down the Kingpin and opening DD up to new story types (I felt strongly that the "teeth" in the DD/Kingpin standoff had long since been worn down, and their relationship needed new antagonism to make it fire up again), and treating the *city* as a character in its own right.
Something about it must have sounded right, 'cause Ralph gave me the gig.
I was very much a fan of the book prior to signing on: that's probably what made it so initially intimidating. As I got my sea legs under me, though, that feeling waned and I began to gain faith in my abilities and the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.
Mithra: You began writing Daredevil after the Ann Nocenti/John Romita, Jr./Al Williamson run on the comic. Nocenti has been criticized by many fans for taking Daredevil away from his roots in New York. Did you feel you had to bring Daredevil back to New York to give your vision to the character?
Chichester: Yes. I thought/think NYC is integral to DD. I enjoyed a lot of Ann's work on the book, but I don't necessarily think they were always Daredevil stories, so much as cool stories that DD happened to appear in.
Not to get too pretentious about my own work, but my feelings about DD and New York are summed up in the last line of Fall From Grace: "And the hero and city belong to each other." There are few other characters in comics you can tie so closely to a local, *if it's done right*: Batman is the other obvious one, although his relationship with Gotham is adversarial.
New York's edge-of-the-seat attitude goes hand in hand with DD's "daredevil" qualities. A perfect match, and I constantly found the city itself a bottomless well of story ideas. To treat NY as a "generic" city in the DD universe is either laziness on the part of a writer working on the character, or sheer ignorance of the opportunities.
Mithra: You first worked with Lee Weeks, and you brought back Bullseye and the Kingpin, and later on, the Owl. Do you think Daredevil works best with his old gallery of villains?
Chichester: Actually, I never used Bullseye! We had plans for him after the Elektra return, but those went south with everything else. And they were rather more interesting than him and Elektra facing off on the last page of her first fashion model issue. Shudder.
I think DD has a pretty lame rogues gallery in comparison to most other heroes. There's some good baddies in there, some of whom need(ed) revamping...but then you've also got a lot of "Huh?" types -- like Stilt Man! -- who just don't hold a menacing candle to DD's heroics. We were consciously trying to build up a rogues gallery with nasties like the Snakeroot and System Crash to fill that void.
Mithra: What do like most about the character? the least?
Chichester: His morality. There's a quality of redemption to DD: both his own, and what he generally offers to the other characters he encounters. Along with the relationship to the city, it's a very rich environment for a writer and a reader. He's generally a somewhat more "mature" character, while also preserving the wild adventure that makes action comics so much fun.
The least? The almost complete lack of support he enjoys within his own company. Frankly, your web page is about one thousand times the level of promotion DD's ever seen from Marvel.
Mithra: Most Daredevil fans know you and Scott McDaniel were responsible for the Fall From Grace storyline, which saw the costume change to the armored version. Did you feel at the time that Daredevil needed it? Why the change? What was the reaction to this change when you presented it to Ralph Macchio?
Chichester: Yes, at the time DD absolutely needed the costume change. Frankly -- and this is no revelation, I've said this many times openly and honestly -- we needed a "gimmick" to put the spotlight back on DD. Daredevil was being hugely ignored by Marvel. If it wasn't a spider or a mutant, they didn't want to hear jack about it. Our plans for building this or introducing that were being cast off by higher editorial or the promotions department (such as it was). We decided that an "event" -- even an essentially "non" one like a costume change -- would let us grab a moment of attention. And if we could do that, we could remind old readers -- and show new ones -- just how exciting the character and his world could be.
We supplemented this by making the costume change "essential" (please note the quotes!) to the story: DD was going up against major bad asses in the course of Fall From Grace, and needed heavier "armor" (although we never called it as such) to simply survive the likes of Venom, etc. On a more character driven note, the costume change was also going to drive changes and realizations within Murdock himself, that would make him consider what the old red costume meant to him, and would perhaps have eventually made him return to it in a progression that came out of the story.
Ralph was all for it, for the reasons above. We -- that is, myself, Scott, assistant editor Pat Garrahy, Ralph, and the rest of the DD team -- were a unique grouping of folks really committed to making the book the best it could possibly be. I don't want to second guess subsequent teams, but I don't know that that level of commitment has been matched -- and certainly not surpassed. We went out on a few limbs because of our belief in the book.
Mithra: How did Ralph Macchio react when you mentioned your plan of bringing Elektra back? Was he supportive?
Chichester: Actually, it's Ralph who ultimately suggested it. We'd bandied about the idea in a casual fashion now and again, but neither of us wanted to do it as a gimmick. On the rare occasion I thought I had a legitimate angle to use her, Ralph was cool to the idea. But as we geared up for what would become Fall From Grace, Ralph out of the blue said, "What about bringing back Elektra?" -- and it was really the missing piece that clicked together all the loose pieces of the story in my head, and became the nexus for everything tying together as well as it did. In my mind, it's always been *her* to whom the title refers. <G>
If things hadn't gelled so nicely, we still wouldn't have used her. We were very adamant about not sacrificing what was special about the character -- her "power", if you will. We thought -- and still stand behind, so far as I know -- the legit aspects of the story and her key role in it.
Mithra: I know these changes weren't exactly popular with a lot of fans. Were people more upset with the change of costume, or the 'resurrection' of Elektra? I put the quotes around resurrection, because I am sure you have read issue 190. You must have known people would be upset, especially Frank Miller himself. Does Miller have an excuse to be mad at you and/or Marvel?
Chichester: I don't track issue numbers very well, so forgive my ignorance as to the significance of #190. I do know the Elektra *story* very well, however, and the end of that is what we used as the basis of Fall From Grace. In that earlier Elektra story -- the end of her original pairing with DD -- her body has vanished in the aftermath of the final fight with the Hand. It's assumed it's been destroyed. Later, we see her climbing a high mountain, now dressed in white -- stylistically, or thematically "pure" (?) -- and the copy voices the warning "Matt must never know." (paraphrasing here -- the issues are somewhere on my fearfully overburdened bookshelves, and I risk life and limb just approaching them!) We took that as meaning that Matt's passion for her had both resurrected her and taken out the taint that poisoned her soul, giving us the opening for all the noise and disaster of Fall From Grace.
As for Mr. Miller, I can understand his concerns and even upset -- every creator knows the "pang" of someone else picking up where he left off and going off in directions that might not (indeed, probably do not) gel with the first creator's original intention. However, we all also know that when working under a "work for hire" situation such as Marvel's (a very *clearly* stated policy, I might add) that we run the risk of losing "control" of "our" creations. Don't argue the merits of the system -- it's not the greatest -- but it is honest as to what it is, and we're all grownups going into it. Unfortunately, Mr. Miller has chosen to believe that a different set of rules should apply to himself and his contributions to the Marvel Universe in this case.
As it was explained to me, he did have a long standing verbal agreement with Ralph Macchio (an individual, not "the company") that Elektra would not be put into play providing 1. A story wasn't developed that made good use of her, and 2. That Ralph maintained control of the character. As it turned out, we came up with a story that did some things to advance the character. Maybe that didn't sit well with Mr. Miller. And as it further went, Ralph later lost control of the character, along with DD, making all of that agreement (not a contract, not a pact) void anyway.
Mithra: What kind of plans did you have for both Daredevil and Elektra? You didn't really get a chance to expand because of your dismissal from the book. What can you discuss about the dismissal for those who don't know about that?
Chichester: That's a long time ago! I had more definite plans for DD in terms of him exploring his needs and personal identity through the "Jack Batlin" front, leading to him reclaiming himself through #350. There was the return of the Kingpin, in a very harsh "street wise" way, going back to his warehouse crime roots to build himself back up. We were planning on introducing several new threats to NYC, looking fill the void left by the Kingpin, and DD having to deal with it. Most of this would have been done through arcs, similar to what we started with Fall From Grace and Tree of Knowledge, alternating between "big" stories like those and more personal stories like I had done earlier in an issue I worked on with Ron Garney, 34 Hours, which was about DD doing "everyday" things around NY.
A lot of our plans in the DD office revolved around pushing the character very strongly, and almost building a "pocket" universe around him (in spite of Marvel's non interest in their own property!). We had plans for several mini-series to bolster the ongoing book, including "Hell's Kitchen", which was to be a sort of DD Year 2, and "Original Sin" which was a time travel story where DD ends up back in the late 1800s NY, in the time of Boss Tweed and Tamanny Hall. I was very much looking forward to both of those. We'd also started feeling out a DD/Predator book, at least within Marvel.
My getting fired was, as far as I know, just an idiotic decision. <G> Peter Principle in action. I don't know what was really up with that, as it was never ever discussed with me officially. After Marvel was "split up" into 5 editor in chiefs (remember that grand scheme boys and girls?), DD was taken away from longtime editor Ralph Macchio, and landed in Bobbie Chase's "Edge" universe, a supposedly "edgy" corner of the Marvel U. Marie Javins was given the hands on chore of editing DD, but while she was away on vacation, Bobbie gave the title to another writer, Marc DeMatteis. When Marie returned, she was told of this news, and that I was off the book...but that I wasn't to be told this! (Nope, all this time later, I still don't get this logic!) Anyway, I've known Marie forever and a day, so she of course did tell me. And that was anticlimactically that. While Bobbie never had the professionalism to discuss the matter with me directly, the skinny I heard was that she considered my stories "too hard" for the "average" reader. Too many syllables, too many notes, who knows? Nothing like having little faith in your audience, I always say!
Mithra: Was making Matt become 'Jack Batlin' a good idea? J.M. DeMatteis took this and made Matt crazy... and put him back in the yellow and then the red costume.
Chichester: Yes, making Matt *assume* the Batlin i.d. was an excellent idea -- of course it was, I came up with it! <G> It was the logical progression of the events in Fall From Grace, in terms of Matt feeling he had to protect his friends from the possible repercussions of the "revelation" that Murdock might be Daredevil. More importantly, it opened up a story direction for us where Matt was going to explore who he was by being *deprived* of that identity via conscious choice. In other words, he hadn't been forced out of who he was (as in Born Again) or driven mad: he'd made this tough choice for the good of others, but was still *completely* cognizant of who he was and what he was missing: there's a scene or two in Tree of Knowledge where he's got that "Matt Murdock" room where he can reminisce. This was all working toward him realizing how *important* the lawyer half of him was/is (I assume it still is...), and would have led up to a big "return" in issue #350 (we were very much planned ahead!)
I think Marc DeMatteis is an exceptional writer, but from what I saw of his "interpretation" of the Murdock/Batlin issue, he was just completely off base. That kind of pseudo-psycho stuff worked like gangbusters in stories such as the Spidey-Kraven arc he did, but it had no place with DD. My feeling it wasn't true to the character, or what he'd gone through to get to that particular point: he never thought he *was* Jack Batlin. It was a mask, same as Daredevil. Clearly, I'm not objective!
Mithra: You recently wrote Daredevil/Batman:Eye For An Eye. Is it better for you to work for different companies 'freelancing', considering what happened at Marvel? You've written Sliders for Acclaim, The Suit for Virtual Comics and Motorhead for Dark Horse.
Chichester: I've always been a freelancer, from the day I left staff at Marvel. Most of us are: it's the nature of the very vicious beast! In rare instances, some talent is put on contract, where they may draw a higher page rate and get some medical benefits in exchange for exclusivity...but that's not common. I did a *lot* of work for Marvel in the early days of my being strictly freelance, so it can seem that I was strictly in their employ...but that was not the case.
You have to remain flexible to take advantage of whatever opportunities are out there. Especially in today's harsher job market. And it can make things interesting: you deal with more personalities and properties that way!
Mithra: How difficult was it to make Daredevil/Batman happen? Could this crossover have been made 10 years ago?
Chichester: DD/Bats was really a pretty straightforward proposition, excepting Marvel's grueling contract process. Ralph Macchio offered me the book, I of course snapped it up, and we got going on the story with Batman editor Denny O'Neil almost immediately. Things got off track when both Lee Weeks and I asked to see a contract or at least a letter of commitment from Marvel regarding the conditions of payment and such. This stretched on well over a year, and when we finally heard back, Marvel completely reneged on their promises of payment, which ultimately drove Lee off the project. While this was disappointing, and it did derail my own train of thought *considerably*, it finally led to *something* like a commitment (for new, less attractive terms). The one positive thing to come out of it was bringing Scott McDaniel onboard as artist, which I couldn't have been happier with! This allowed me to throw out the old story, and focus anew on something fresh that meshed well with what me and Scott could bring to the table.
I don't think time has anything to do with this crossovers happening: it's really about personalities, between the companies and within them. Ralph and Denny have an excellent rapport, which made this book very possible.
Mithra: You worked on Daredevil/Batman with Scott McDaniel. You've also worked together on Elektra:Root of Evil and Assassins for Amalgam. Can you describe how the two of you work together so well? Was the Daredevil series the first time you two had worked together?
Chichester: Scott and I get along so well because we never talk. The few times we have have turned into screaming matches over who would win in a fight between Godzilla and Mecha-Godzilla, so it's really better we don't address each other except through intermediaries or attorneys.
Seriously...yes, DD was the first time we had worked together, and I'm very thankful for the force above for bringing us together on that project and subsequent ones. Once Scott "keyed in" to his style -- really beginning with DD #319, and just building since then -- I've found him to be just about the perfect visual stylist for the kind of stories i like to tell. My plots tend to be very detailed, but with Scott I can almost break things down into a shorthand (well, relatively speaking...they're still heavy!) because he just takes the word images and brings them onto the page as art that delivers dynamic punch and emotional resonance. By being so forceful in that imagery, it also allows me to explore new things in the final script since I don't have to reiterate what he's "said" so well with the art.
We've never really discussed it in detail -- maybe we should -- but we really just click. I like to think the level of detail I bring to the story inspires him to do what he does. He's always free to deviate from the written word (at his own risk! <G>), but I think because I give him a strong play by play it gives him a stronger foundation to then stray away from. (As opposed to having a looser plot, where he's then having to do double duty on breaking things down and *then* trying to be creative about it!) Certainly from my end, I know that the pictures I see in my head look best when Scott McDaniel draws 'em.
Mithra: Does it bother you that some people call Scott McDaniel's work 'similar' to Frank Miller?
Chichester: The person who really started this offensive ball of bile rolling was almost certainly Mr. Miller himself, and the fact of that is really shameful. He actually wasted time in one of his Sin City letter columns calling Scott and at least one other artist thieves for "plagiarizing" his art style. Really contemptible. There are so many great stylists in comics who have used very graphic approaches: Alex Toth, Maltese, Will Eisner! Scott certainly was inspired by Mr. Miller's work -- there's a lot there to be inspired by! -- but it quickly became evident that his approach to page design, coupled with his body language and own use of black/white was a unique look all its own. I'd challenge anyone with two gray cells to rub together to look at Scott's work today and mistake it for anyone but Scott! Scott's one of the few artists whose work you can look at and see a consistent arc as he's really honed his craft: to denigrate him as some cheap knock off is really insulting.
Mithra: Any projects in the works with McDaniel that you can talk about?
Chichester: Nothing to speak of. Scott and I kept in touch, and we've talked about this and that, including a children's book...but nothing directly on either the front or back burners.
I'm sure we'll collaborate again; I know I look forward to it!
Mithra: During the Fall From Grace story and the Elektra:Root Of Evil limited series, you produced some interactive demos for both comics. Do you think comics and computers will eventually come together? Will there be paperless comics in the future? You're already experimenting with The Suit, for Virtual Comics.
Chichester: I think there's a definite place for storytelling in new (computer) media. I don't think those will be comics, per se, and it's a mistake to even call things "interactive comics" or "digital comics". Calling them such is good for trying to get someone interested -- everyone gets a light bulb over their head and goes "Oh yeah!" -- but no one really knows what it means yet! Comics has a hard enough time with its own language -- 99% of our language is stolen from other forms of media: film "cuts" and "pans", etc. To then try and kludge that into an even newer media, which has no language or structure of its own yet...brrr! I get chills just thinking about it!
There's certainly a "natural" combination of the comic style visuals and computer graphics, and involving an audience in that somehow can be a fun thing. By the time it reaches a point where it actually works in terms of storytelling -- either on the computer screen, or as part of some transportable "reader" (as super Gameboy or somesuch!) -- my impression (and hope) is that it will be something so different that you can't call it comics. It's something new, something its own. That's going to take a while...or at least a willingness to experiment!
The Suit was an interesting experiment, but crippled by a number of restrictions placed on it: some creative, some editorial, certainly in the fact they were charging for a product that no one had seen in a medium that has yet to prove it can sustain that kind of commerce!
Mithra: Speaking of computers, many of your stories involve some type of technology. Are you writing what you know, or trying to make the stories seem more modern? How did you get interested in computers and the Internet? You made pictures of the Daredevil/Batman comic available on your web page.
Chichester: I write what I know, and what I'm interested in. Technology seems a natural hook for a lot of the kinds of stories I tell. I think technology is a great, double edged sword: very cool and gleaming to look at, potentially deadly to touch. There's so many boneheaded and dangerous things happening in that world that they just seem to inspire twisted stories that can muck up the lives of ordinary folks.
I don't believe in just putting a "tech" spin on something to make things more modern. (For example, taking a hoary old bootlegging story, and swapping out booze for designer drugs -- boring!) What I was keying into at the end of my DD run was something I'd really have liked to explore: technology at the street level fueling a criminal economy. Cell phones and tech weapons, etc., in the hands of some really anti social characters. By giving these things a "real" legit scitech hook -- like DD's "biomimetic" costume, for example -- I think it gives the stories an extra edge of reality. Certainly more than "And here's my death ray!"
I hated computers when I was younger, but once they started making 3.5 inch disks in fancy colors, I really got into it. It reminded me of those funny little colored squares Mr. Spock used to stick into the Enterprise console on the original Star Trek, and *that's* how I wanted computers to work! Now I'm thoroughly into it, to the detriment of my wrists and bank account.
Mithra: Explain the origins of the 'Grease' story from #317-318. You even brought back the Stilt-Man for it.
Chichester: While I was writing DD, I was a voracious reader of New York Newsday, in my opinion the best city paper. I kept a clip file of odds and ends about New York that I'd regularly incorporate into the book, and one of the bits I came across well prior to that story was an article about actual "grease wrangling": thieves dumpster diving for old grease and selling it on a kind of black market. I always wanted to use it somewhere, and it just seemed to slide (sorry) into place as we geared up for Fall From Grace. While we didn't consciously intend it, it served as a nice piece of "fluff" before the heavy thunder and lightning of Fall From Grace.
I completely enjoyed it, myself, as it gave me a chance to indulge humor that "macho" comics doesn't usually allow...not to mention I got to do an enormous in joke on It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, one of my favorite movies!
(Un)naturally, we got letters from irate readers who took us to task for *daring* to introduce anything like levity into Daredevil. In the interim, I would hope said letter writers took the time to GET A LIFE! <G>
Mithra: Any plans for a Daredevil/Batman sequel? Is there a character that Daredevil should crossover with?
Chichester: I understand DC is doing their own Batman/Daredevil book, but I'm not involved in it or aware of the details.
DD can team with about anybody. But I think he's a great character in his own right, and I tend to think strong stories that feature him prominently would be a good thing. <G>
Mithra: What are you working on right now, and in the near future?
Chichester: Finishing this interview...<G>
Currently, I'm scripting #11 and #12 of Bloodshot, scripting #14 of Magnus, and plotting/scripting #15 of the Robot Fighter as well.
A few other comic related things in the proposal stage, but that's much like purgatory: you don't know when they're going to let you out, and once they do you're not sure if you get an up or down elevator. More news as it's fit to print.
On other fronts, I've been working on gaming trivia for some Internet outfits -- notably Prodigy -- and I'm just finishing up the game manual and strategy guide for the new Might and Magic computer game. This is notable, because the company took the tact of presenting the whole nine yards as being in the voice of a character from the game world. He not only explains the backstory and walkthroughs, but also the interface. The challenge was to stay consistent with that, and not drop out completely into a dull "push click point" that most manuals adopt. Not something a lot of comics fans might search out, but it's a cool game. <G>
Many other irons in the fire, but it's taking a long time for them to heat up!
(c) Kuljit Mithra 1998
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear
Black and White
Roberto De La Torre
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Elektra Hand Devil
Fall From Grace
Justin F. Gabrie
Devin K. Grayson
Alex Irvine & Tomm Coker
Mark Steven Johnson
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