Interview: Marc Silvestri

To coincide with the launch of The Darkness videogame, SciFiNow caught up with the Top Cow series’ co-creator, Marc Silvestri. Turns out that he can talk just as well as he can draw…

marc_silvestri_at_comicon_20061To coincide with the launch of The Darkness videogame, SciFiNow caught up with the Top Cow series’ co-creator, Marc Silvestri. Turns out that he can talk just as well as he can draw…

The mafia, dark powers, nice suits, sharp dialogue – was it always the
intention to make a cool comic?

Dark and sexy was always the intention but I think when we brought in writer Garth Ennis he brought the cool with him.

How difficult was it to balance the mob side of the plot with the magical? Were you ever concerned that the two situations might not marry well?
It was always a risk but the idea was to do just that. Take a risk. The other comic companies weren’t doing anything like The Darkness. To us that signaled we should. The idea of giving someone like Jackie the kind of power usually reserved for stand-up guys made him compelling. Using the mob as his impetus for being a tough guy made it easy for the reader to understand because everyone already knows that it’s a tough-guy world. Once that’s clear you can make the leap into fantasy. I think the cliché would have been to make him an everyman and throw him into this dark place. Jackie starts in a dark place that gets darker.

Amidst the action there were always very funny lines (“We have to stop him from having sex!” still sticks in the mind). How important a role do you think humour has had in the series’ success?
Humor was always important. The Darkness is an unpleasant world so you have to cut the tension and make it palpable. Rule number one in creating a lasting character is you have to make sure the reader/viewer/player wants to be him. Plus sharp, funny commentary provided by your character adds to his likeability. The best horror movies usually have a moment of comic relief before the hatchet abruptly finds another target.

Was it fun having a character like Jackie who, unlike so many other comic characters, wasn’t abhorred by the idea of murder?
His matter-of-fact approach to mayhem was key. It’s part of the dark ironic humor of the comic. All the writers we’ve had on the book, Paul Jenkins included, have understood that. But remember, he targets thugs and miscreants that probably had it coming anyway!

Few comic book licences have made a successful transition to game format. Are the media too disparate to ever really complement each other?
No, as with most things it’s about the execution. Starbreeze just knew how to adapt all the elements of the comic into great gameplay.

The comics industry is perceived to be a diminishing one – what’s your take on it?
Ironically, the technology that allows developers to make comic-based games and studios to make comic-based movies so immersive and believable has been both a blessing and a curse for our industry. Comics are, and always will be, a great source of content for other media so that’s exciting. But at the same time, when you’ve got a whole generation brought up on that other media and not on comics it can create an issue for publishers. We as publishers must embrace and exploit this dynamic to stay healthy and be able to continue publishing comics in the traditional sense. That said, new comic fans are born everyday so as long as enough of them pop up, comics in their current form can thrive. Plus, as small as it is, comics are still a great way to judge what the mainstream will respond to. Hollywood has just in the last few years really begun to understand that. I guarantee you, six years ago, 99 out of 100 people didn’t have a clue what The X-Men was.

What are your plans now?
More comics and more games!

Any developments with The Darkness movie?

Interest is starting to build but just like with the game, we’re going to be very careful who we get in business with.

Sex or The Darkness?
Can I pick sex in the dark?
Picture credit: Pinguino.