Duane Swierczynski

Apr 302013
 

The day has finally come–the long-awaited conclusion to the Charlie Hardie series, POINT & SHOOT, is now on sale in bookstores everywhere. Can’t wait until the workday ends to get your fix? Take a sneak peek at the opening pages of the award-winning Hardie trilogy’s slam-bang final chapter. Then go pick up a copy already!

1

This isn’t going to have a happy ending.

Morgan Freeman, Se7en

Near Brokenland Parkway, Columbia, Maryland—Seven Months Ago

A twenty-three-year-old hungover intern with a broken heart saved the day.

The intern’s name was Warren Arbona, and he was in a stuffy warehouse along with five other interns scanning endless pieces of paper and turning them into PDFs that nobody would ever, ever fucking read. The whole operation was strictly cover-your-ass. The interns’ bosses wanted to be able to tell their government liaisons that, yes, every page of the flood of declassified documents they released had been carefully read and scanned by an experienced member of their legal team.

“Experienced” = interns who’d been on the job for at least two months.

The new president had made a big deal about declassifying everything, the shining light of freedom blasting through the deceptions of the previous administration. A democracy requires accountability, he said, and accountability requires transparency. Which sounded awesome.

But before the PDFs could be uploaded, the president’s intelligence advisers insisted that no sensitive secrets harmful to the security of the United States would be leaked to the general public. This still was the real world.

So a white-shoe law firm specializing in government intelligence was retained to painstakingly review every line on every scrap of paper.

Nobody in the firm wanted to deal with that bullshit, so they put the interns on it.

And Warren Arbona, the intern in question, wouldn’t have noticed a thing if it hadn’t been for his cunt ex-girlfriend. He couldn’t help it. The name just jumped out at him.

He stopped the scan and looked at the paper again. Were his eyes playing tricks on him?

Nope. There it was.

Charlie Hardie.

No, it wasn’t Christy’s dad. Her dad was named Bruce or some such shit. Balding. Big asshole. Deviated septum and beady eyes. But this Charlie guy was an uncle, maybe? Some other relative? Warren had no idea.

And really, who the fuck cared. Christy didn’t matter anymore; he’d do best to put her out of his head and finish up with this scanning so he could go home and get good and drunk again.

They were all working inside the abandoned warehouse set of a canceled television show, Baltimore Homicide. The rent was absurdly cheap, and the set already had the delightful bonus of real desks and working electrical outlets, thanks to a subplot featuring a fake daily newspaper office.

So all the law firm had to do was arrange for the reams of paper—nearly three trucks’ worth—to be backed into the building, plug in a bunch of laptops and scanners, and then set the interns loose. See you in September, motherfuckers.

The working conditions were less than ideal. While an industrial AC unit blasted 60,000 BTUs of arctic air into the fake office via ringed funnels, the warehouse itself had diddly-squat in the way of climate management. So every time you left to drag in another set of files, you baked and sweated in the stifling summer heat. And then when you returned, your sweat was flash-frozen on your body. No wonder everybody was sick.

Warren had been fighting a cold since May, when he first started scanning the documents. He believed that if he polluted his body with enough tequila, the cold virus would give up and abandon ship. So far, it hadn’t worked.

But the tequila also helped him forget about Christy Hardie.

Almost.

Now the name popped up, and Warren couldn’t help but be curious. He started to read the document, which was a deposition.

Seems Charlie Hardie was an ex–police consultant turned drunk house sitter who was later accused of snuffing a junkie actress named Lane Madden.

Warren kind of wished someone had snuffed Christy after she confessed that she’d been blowing his best friend for, oh, the entire first year of law school.

Anyway, Warren remembered the Lane Madden story from a bunch of years ago. Apparently she’d been raped and killed by this house sitter guy who used to be a cop and kind of lost his mind. But the rest of the deposition was kind of boring, so Warren stopped reading and fed the pages into the scanner. Yes, they were all supposed to eyeball each page—even the partners weren’t foolish enough to tell the interns to actually read them. But Warren and his colleagues dispensed with the eyeballing crap somewhere in late May. If fingers touched a page, it was considered read. Osmosis, they decided.

Warren looked at the clock. Just two more hours until his brain went south of the border.

But at fifteen minutes until closing, something strange happened.

Warren saw the name again, in another deposition, from another year.

Charlie Hardie.

The same fucking dude!

But a totally different file!

To have the same name pop up…with the same surname as his skanky cunt ex-girlfriend…well, that was too big a goocher to ignore.

There wasn’t time to read it all, so Warren broke a series of federal laws by stuffing the relevant pages into his North Face backpack and slipped out of the building a few minutes early. He made his Jose Cuervo run, put his feet up on a wobbly Ikea coffee table that was improperly assembled, and settled in for an evening of reading.

Now when Warren had started the scanning project, the partners had told him to look out for anything “unusual.” Like what, Warren had asked.

You know, they’d said. Unusual.

This seemed to qualify.

Charlie Hardie, it seemed, had also been involved in a top-secret military project years before he’d been accused of killing that actress. And not just your usual creepy top-secret military project. This one messed around you with at a genetic level and resulted in…well, that was the frightening part. Few survived, and the project was shut down. Dumb fucking luck? Not likely. Warren didn’t believe in synchronicity. Exhibit A seemed pretty clearly linked to Exhibit B.

This made Warren’s night, because all summer he’d been dreading the idea of not reporting a single thing to the partners. This would prove he hadn’t been dicking around all summer (even though he had). This was a genuine catch. This was justification for his summer. For his entire life.

The next morning he pushed the scanner aside and wrote a short memo, including his thoughts on the Charlie Hardie depositions, then copied it and Fed Exed it to the partners.

The partners, also happy to be able to report something to their friends in intelligence, passed it along.

This document would later be known as the Arbona Memorandum. Its shock waves would be felt around the globe.

But at first, it started with a brutal mass slaughter in Philadelphia.

*

One Mile Outside Philadelphia—Now

Of all the shocks Kendra Hardie had endured over the past few hours—the dropped call from her son, the chilling messages on the alarm keypad, the thudding footfalls on the roof, the wrenching sounds in the very guts of her house, the missing gun, and the awful realization of how quickly her situation had become hopeless—none of that compared to the shock of hearing that voice on the other end of the phone line:

“It’s me.”

Kendra’s mind froze. There was a moment of temporal dislocation, distant memory colliding with the present.

Me.

Could that really be…you?

It sounds like you, but…

No.

Can’t be you.

But then how do I know, deep in my soul, that it is you?

“Are you there? Listen to me, Kendra, I know this is going to sound crazy, but you have to listen to me. You and the boy are in serious danger. You need to get out of the house now and just start driving. Drive anywhere. Don’t tell me where, because they’re definitely listening, but just go, go as fast as you can. I’ll find you guys when it’s safe.”

Kendra swallowed hard, looked at the face of the satellite TV receiver. Three thirteen a.m. A little more than four hours since she’d stepped into own home and into a living nightmare. Eighteen hours since she’d last seen her son. And almost eight years since she’d last heard her ex-husband’s voice. Yet there it was on the line, at the very nexus of the nightmare.

“Kendra? Are you there? Can you hear me?”

“I’m here, Charlie. But I can’t leave.”

“You have to leave, Kendra, please just trust me on this…”

“I can’t leave because they’ve already called, and told me I can’t leave.”

*

Earlier in the evening Kendra had been out with a friend downtown, at a Cuban restaurant on Second Street in Old City, but found that she wasn’t really into the food, didn’t want to finish her mojito, and was tired of hearing about her friend’s first-world problems, such as arguments with interior decorators and the headache of maintaining three vacation homes on the Delaware shore. Kendra excused herself and just…left. Paid for half of the tab and split, handed the valet her stub, and drove back to the northern suburbs, leaving poor Derek to complain to somebody else about having too much money. Maybe one of the Cuban exile waiters would give a shit.

It had been that kind of listless, annoyance-filled week, and Kendra now felt foolish for thinking that a night of moderate drinking and inane conversation could turn that around.

During the drive home her son, CJ, called. He told her he was just calling to check in—which was just about as unusual as the president of the United States dropping you an email to see how everything was going. CJ didn’t check in, ever. As CJ grew to manhood, he became increasingly like his father, complete with the delightful ability to cut off all emotional circuitry with the flick of an invisible switch. All the abuse her son had been dishing out over the years hardened her into exactly the kind of mother she’d vowed never to become. The kind of mother who said things like:

“Cut the shit, CJ. What happened?”

“Nothing, Mom. I just…”

Mom. Oooh, that was another red flag. CJ hadn’t called her Mom in…months? CJ barely spoke to her, and when he did, it was little more than a grunt.

Now a tiny ball of worry began to form in Kendra’s stomach. Was he hurt? Was he calling from a hospital or police station? Her body tensed, and she prepared to change direction and gun the accelerator.

“Where are you?”

“I’m at home, everything’s fine. Look, Mom, I know this is going to sound weird, but…what did you do with Dad’s old stuff?”

“What? Why are you asking me about that?’

First Mom, now…Dad!? For the past seven years, CJ hadn’t referred to his father as anything but “asshole” or “cocksucker” or “psycho.” Before Kendra had a chance to hear CJ’s answer, the phone beeped and went dead. no service.

Kendra continued in the same direction but gunned the accelerator just the same, all the way up the Schuylkill Expressway, then the endless traffic lights up Broad Street and finally the hills and curves of Old York Road out to the fringes of Abington Township. Home. She didn’t bother pulling the car into the garage, leaving it parked out on the street. Something in CJ’s voice…no, everything about CJ’s voice was completely wrong. Dad’s old stuff? What was that about? Why did he suddenly want to see the few possessions his father had left behind? The thought that CJ might be drinking crossed Kendra’s mind, but his voice wasn’t slurred. If anything, it was completely clear and focused, in stark contrast to the moody grunts she usually received.

And whenever CJ did go on a binge, his heart filled with raw hate for this father, not fuzzy nostalgia.

“CJ?”

The alarm unit on the wall to the left of the door beeped insistently until Kendra keyed in the code. She closed the door behind her, locked it, then reengaged the system. It beeped again. All set.

“CJ, answer me!”

And then began the nightmare.

No CJ, not anywhere. No trace of him in his room, no tell-tale glasses or dishes in the sink. The house was exactly as Kendra had left it when she left for Old City earlier in the evening. Had CJ even called from home? The call had come from his cell, so he could be anywhere right now.

Not knowing what else to do, Kendra tried him again on her phone, but still—NO SERVICE. What was that about? She could understand a dropped call when speeding down the Schuylkill, as if a guardian angel had interfered with the signal to prevent you from sparking a twelve-car pile-up on the most dangerous road in Philadelphia. But in her own home?

Maybe she could get a better signal outside. Kendra went back to the front door and keyed in the code. Two digits in, however, her finger stopped, and hung in midair before the 6 key.

The digital readout, which usually delivered straightforward messages such as SYSTEM ENGAGED or PLEASE ENTER ACCESS CODE, now told her something else:

STAY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE

“The fuck?” Kendra muttered, then lowered her finger for a second before blinking hard and stabbing the 6 button anyway, followed by the 2. Which should have disengaged the system. This time, however, there was no reassuring beep. There was nothing at all, except:

KENDRA, THAT WON’T HELP.

Then:

DON’T MAKE A SOUND.

DON’T MOVE.

NOT UNTIL WE CALL YOU.

And Kendra, much to her own disgust, did exactly as she was told, staying perfectly still and silent…

…for about two seconds, before realizing fuck this and grabbing the handle of her front door. She twisted the knob, pulled. The door didn’t move, as if it had been cemented in place. What? She hadn’t put the deadbolts on when she’d come in just a minute ago…

The phone in her hand buzzed to life. There was SERVICE, suddenly. The name on the display: INCOMING CALL / CJ.

Oh thank God. She thumbed the Accept button, expecting to hear her son’s voice, maybe even hoping he’d call her Mom again.

But instead, it was someone else.

*

Now, four agonizing hours later, during which Kendra heard the sounds of her own house being turned against her…she was listening to the voice of her ex-husband—an accused murderer long thought to be dead. And he had the audacity to be grilling her!

“Who told you that? Who told you were dead?”

“They called me and said if I left the house I was dead.”

“Did you call the police? Anyone at all?”

“They told me not to call anyone, or do anything else except wait.”

“Wait for what?”

There was a burst of static on the line, and then another voice came on the line. The one who’d called four hours earlier, from CJ’s phone.

The evil icy-voiced bitch queen who had her son and who claimed to have the house surrounded.

“Hey, Charlie! It’s your old pal Mann here. So good to hear your voice after all this time. Well, that magical day has finally arrived. In about thirty seconds we’re going to kill the phones, and the power, and everything else in your wife’s house. We’ve got her surrounded; I know every square inch of every house in a five-block radius. You, of all people, know how thorough we are.”

Charlie ignored the other voice.

“Kendra, where’s the boy? Where’s Seej?”

Seej: Charlie’s old nickname for CJ—See. Jay. Over time, shortened to Seej.

“Shhhh, now, Charlie, it’s rude to interrupt. You’re wasting precious seconds. Now I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to tell me that if I touch one hair on your family’s head, you’ll rip me apart one limb at a time…or maybe some other colorful metaphor? Well, you know, that’s just not gonna happen. Because you lost this one, Chuck. There’s not going to be any cavalry rushing in, no last-minute saves, no magic escapes. And you know what’s going to happen next?”

*

What should have been going through Kendra’s mind at this moment was something along the lines of:

Charlie, where the hell have you been, and why have you surfaced now? The last time we spoke it was stupid and petty conversation about a late credit card bill and I think the last word I spoke to you before disconnecting was whatever.

Or maybe:

Charlie, why didn’t you call me before tonight? Do you know how many late nights I stared at the ceiling, trying to physically will you to call me? Not to change anything or explain anything, but just to tell me what happened? Do you know how hard the not knowing was? How much it consumed me over the years, digging in deep, way past the regret and guilt and into the very core of me?

But instead Kendra thought:

Goddamn you, Charlie.

Goddamn you for doing this to us.

*

“What’s going to happen next is,” the ice bitch queen continued, “your family’s going to die. And there’s not a fucking thing you can do to stop me.”

If Kendra had any doubts that the voice on the other end of the line belonged to her husband, they vanished when he spoke again. Because his words were infused with a rock-hard defiance that had once been familiar to her, over a decade ago.

Charlie Hardie told the ice bitch queen, “I can stop you.”

Nov 202012
 

The post below comes to us from Duane Swierczynski, author of Fun and Games, Hell and Gone, and the forthcoming Point and Shoot. He’s also the writer of IDW’s new Judge Dredd series, the first issue of which drops this week.

I discovered 2000 A.D. and the world of Judge Dredd at the tender age of 15 through a somewhat unlikely source: a bootleg Commodore 64 game. The rules were simple: steer a pixelated Dredd through a digital Mega-City One and pretty much shoot everything in sight. Jonesing for more, I realized that Dredd was based on a UK comic . . . and at the time, super-tough to find here in the U.S. Add yet another frustration to my nerdy teenaged life.

Over the next 25 years, however, I snapped up all the Dredd stories that I could, savoring them like exotic treats smuggled through customs. Slowly, the future dystopia featured in Dredd snapped into place for me, and I realized that the writers and artists over at 2000 A.D. were showing us America through a twisted funhouse mirror. In short: Judge Joe Dredd is a one-man judge, jury and executioner . . . on a motorcycle. You jaywalk in front of him? Dredd will sentence you on the spot, and then next thing you know, you’ll be staring at the ceiling of a cramped iso-cube. Steal something? Kill somebody? Try to kill a judge? Well, may Dredd have mercy on your soul. (Spoiler alert: He won’t.) The stories were full of the same kind of ultra-violent satire that I’d loved in Paul Verheoven’s RoboCop. And you can’t tell me the writers of Robo weren’t tipping their helmets to Dredd, who debuted more than a decade earlier.

When IDW announced an American version a while back, I was over the moon—never even thinking that I would be approached to write this new version. Needless to say, this is the opportunity of lifetime, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. The 15-year-old in me may never recover.

IDW editor Chris Ryall and I talked about this series covering untold tales from the earlier days of Dredd’s career—though rest assured, this ain’t Lil’ Joe Dredd. He’s no rookie; he’s been serving up justice on the mean streets of Mega-City One for quite some time. Thanks to the Judge Dredd Complete Case File that the sick folks at 2000 A.D. have been publishing, I’ve had the chance to go back and read the early Dredd stories and see what I missed—namely, a lot of giddy, high-octane mayhem. I mean that in the best possible way.

When I was pitching Chris, I told him that I’d like IDW’s Dredd to feel like a transgressive sci-fi black comedy police procedural—like Law & Order, if say, Jerry Orbach were a violent inflexible fascist. Someone who readers can’t help but root for, since he’s up against overwhelming odds in a city gone insane.

So in this first issue (see handy preview below!) I though it was important to introduce readers (both longtime Dredd fans as well as newbies) to the two main characters: Dredd, and the city itself. But beyond that, I see Dredd is also the perfect vehicle for telling every type of crime story imaginable, and the possibilities are exciting as hell, especially when you factor in future tech. I’m finding inspiration in the the lawless “Dillinger” days of the early 1930s, when emerging technology inspired both cops and bandits to elevate their games. When the bandits started using race cars for getaways, the cops responded with faster pursuit vehicles; shotguns were met with machine guns; organized criminal gangs were met with wiretapping and most wanted lists. With Dredd, I’m asking myself: what kind of games will cops (that is, judges) and robbers be playing 100 years in the future? I hope you’ll have fun with the answers in future issues.

Apr 302012
 

One of the best single issues of a comic book I read last year was Dead Man’s Party #1, a fast-moving, lean and mean hit man thriller that contained some truly crazy surprises. A few months ago, I had the chance to meet the creators: Jeff Marsick and Scott Barnett. I’ll admit it. I was nervous. Part of me expected to be shot in the head by one of them, while the other spread out some nice plastic sheeting on the floor behind me to catch the splatter. Instead, we talked about life, death, comics, mistaken identities… and of course, grisly murder.

DS: Okay, Jeff and Scott. Let’s say you’re both hitmen. I offer each of you a contract to take out the other. Who would take home the paycheck, and who’d be pushing up daisies?

Scott: Jeff’s definitely bringing home the bacon here. He’s the one with military experience; I imagine he knows about seven different ways to kill me with his eyelid, if he wanted.

Jeff: Yeah, it’d be bad news for Scott and I’d be on the next flight to Vegas.  I was an expert marksman with a pistol and rifle in the military and have a fascination with explosives and poisons, so I’ve got an array of options for Scott’s disposal.  Then again, I do tend to sleep pretty hard so Scott could probably Columbian necktie me while I’m dreaming about winning an Eisner for DEAD MAN’S PARTY.  

I hate when I’m asked this question, but that’s not going to stop me from asking you guys. What, if anything, inspired DEAD MAN’S PARTY? Or are you two just sick, dark bastards?

Scott: That’s actually two separate questions, right?

Jeff: I don’t know, that second part sounds a little rhetorical. It’s like Duane already KNOWS.

Scott: The answer to that part is yes. Yes, we are.

Jeff: So there.

Scott: {laughs} Jeff and I have known each other for years and have spoken often about collaborating on something, but until DEAD MAN’S PARTY, nothing quite stuck. Then one day about a year ago, he e-mailed me and once more suggested a collaboration, quite coincidentally, ONE day after I came up with an idea about a hitman who puts a hit on himself.

Jeff: Scott pitches that and I about hit the floor because I’ve had the SAME idea in my head for, oh, fifteen years or so! It all started as a movie that rolls in my head whenever the titular Oingo Boingo song plays.  Can’t explain it, it just happens. This ever gets made into a movie, that song is SO going to be in the soundtrack.

Scott:Jeff added the concept for the ‘party’ as a tradition in the assassin community. Then we mashed our disparate ideas together and came up with this series.

Jeff: We both dig spies, hitmen and cloak and dagger movies and TV shows, so all of that helped shaped our story.

Jeff, how much do you discuss with Scott before you write a script? Do you just ignore him until you have the story just the way you like it? And Scott, what’s the process like from your end? Ever read one of Jeff’s pages and think: “Uh, no. No fucking way”?

Scott: Ooh, ooh- can I answer both parts?

Jeff: What, did you miss the part where he said “JEFF, how much do you discuss…”?

Scott: No, I heard it. I just wanted to comment–

Jeff: It’s not all about you, y’know.

Scott: Wait. It’s not?

Jeff: Anyway…I try—for obvious reasons—to keep all discussion with Scott to an absolute minimum, ignoring him until I can send him a final draft of the script, with the cover page emblazoned: “ALL WORDS WRITTEN HEREIN ARE CONSIDERED CAST IN STONE.  DEVIATE EVEN SO MUCH AS BY A COMMA AND YOU WILL BE REPLACED.” Nah, I’m kidding.

Scott: Jeff’s very clever- he actually does both. He confers with me at great length, making me feel like an integral part of the process… and then ignores me and rewrites it, anyway!

Jeff: Guilty as charged. What happens is we’ve got a working outline of beats that we’ve both contributed to and that we think would look awesome. But when I write it, what seemed like a four-page scene is actually only two, or some scene we both thought would just BOOM! off the page but actually kind of sits there under a trombone so sad you can practically hear “wah wah waaaaah” in the background and it needs to be axed. So I have to modify the script on the fly.

Scott: Yeah, I have more than once looked at a finished script and said, “Hmm, that’s not exactly what we talked about… Damn, that’s pretty cool… Okay, let’s do that…”

Jeff: See? I won’t steer us wrong. Much. In all honesty, I actually take pride being the kind of writer that doesn’t grab a concept with both hands and throttle it, enslaving the artist to my own vision.  I made sure Scott knew up front (and I remind him sometimes when I feel I might be writing TOO overbearing) that look, this is how the movie plays in MY head.  I’m a slave to the DVD in MY grey matter.  Just because I write a page with five panels doesn’t mean that’s gospel.  Maybe you can do it in four or three. Just as long as the gist of the scene plays out and the dialogue fits, knock yourself out. And in truth, probably 95% of the time I change dialogue or modify the script to adapt to Scott’s artwork. All skirt-blowing aside, I think this is the best sequential storytelling I’ve ever seen him do.

Scott: Thanks, man.

Jeff: De nada.

Scott: Well, as for my end of the process- I read over Jeff’s script and lay it out as if I’m creating a movie with still images, but I also design it to push the reader’s eye in the direction I want, using the conventions of the comic book medium, such as panel layouts, dialogue and sound effects. Once I’m satisfied with the flow, I take photo reference to work from, usually of myself, since I know what I’m looking for, in terms of poses. It’s a combination of photos my wife takes of me based on my art direction and photos I take myself (out of context, these are some of the goofiest photos anyone has ever taken, so if Jeff ever hacks my computer, I’m in a lot of trouble). Then, I draw the pages, ‘paint’ them in marker and do a little retouching in Photoshop. Crime noir, served up cold.

Jeff: Ooh, I like that. “Crime noir, served up cold.” Put that on the website.

Clearly you guys are fans of hitman movies and novels, because you subvert the tropes so brilliantly. Share some of your favorites.

Jeff: Favorite hitmen?  Good grief, where do I start?  There are real-life killers like Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski, Chuckie “The Typewriter” Nicoletti, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (aka Carlos the Jackal) and Mossad operatives.  In literature there’s Lawrence Block’s Keller, Barry Eisler’s John Rain, the fantastic “Day of the Jackal” from Frederick Forsyth, Anton Chigurh from Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country For Old Men” and Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne.  In movies you’ve got Javier Bardem’s Chigurh, Matt Damon’s Bourne and Tom Cruise’s Vincent from “Collateral”.  Oh, and I’ll even drop some old school on you:  Henry Silva as Billy Score in the Burt Reynolds movie, “Sharky’s Machine” AND stuntman Dar Robinson (who, incidentally, set a world record for a stunt in “Sharky’s Machine”) as albino hitman Moke in another Burt Reynolds movie, “Stick”.  But I think above and beyond them all, my favorite hitman has to be Jean Reno’s Leon, from “The Professional”.  

Scott: He said share SOME of your favorites. Not every one of them.

Jeff: That was a small list. I can go on, y’know.

Scott: Oh, I know. And on and on and on. Now me, I’m less of a hitman fan and more of a general crime fan. For movies, I give the nod to the Bourne trilogy, though. Cool stuff. As for novels, I went through a period where I was reading a lot of non-fiction crime stuff as research for an unrelated series I’d like to do someday. Books that covered pretty much every facet of the criminal justice system, from FBI profilers and real murder cases to SWAT teams and evidence collection (CSI). As for fiction, would I be kissing too much ass to say I just finished your Hell & Gone and loved it?

Jeff: Is there such a thing as kissing too much ass?

Scott: I hope not.

Jeff: Y’know, I’ve read every Duane Swierczynski book that’s out there—

Scott: Hey, you’ve got a little brown on your nose.

Jeff: Quiet, you. Like I said, I’ve read all his books and I can only draw one conclusion: this guy’s got issues, man. I love it.

Scott: And he calls us sick and dark?

Jeff: I know, right?

Do you have a specific number of issues in mind for DEAD MAN’S PARTY? Or is this a story that could keep on going, piling up more dead bodies with every issue?

Jeff: This is actually a funny question.  The first outline was four issues. I checked, double-checked, even triple-checked the math.  Yep.  Four issues.  Scott okayed it and the first issue hits the New York Comic Convention proudly proclaiming “#1 of 4″.  Convention ends, I sit down ready to start scripting issue two, look at the outline, start plotting out and come up with FIVE issues now.  I even start from the END and work BACKWARDS.  Yep.  Five issues now.  

Scott: Yeah, it really needs that fifth issue to really do justice to what we have planned.

Jeff:In my defense, Your Honor, I present Exhibit A:  ”The Punisher” mini-series from Marvel in 1986.  Issue one said it was four issues, but it ended up being five.

Scott: However, since we’ve started, we’ve developed at least four other story ideas that all take place in this little world.

Jeff: I think it would be cool to create a sort of “Dead Man’s Tales” kind of universe that runs for about fifty issues or so. As long as we can keep doing original and unique stories and don’t turn ourselves into masters of cliche, we’ve got room to run.

Scott: I’m in!

BONUS QUESTION for Scott: Have you forgiven me for inscribing your book to “Steve,” instead of “Scott”? Are you afraid that your alter ego will come to life, a la Stephen King’s THE DARK HALF?

Scott: A little backstory here- Duane graciously reviewed DEAD MAN’S PARTY #1 before it went to print, so when we found out he was at New York Comic Con, I stopped by the Mulholland booth to introduce myself (we hadn’t yet met in person). Duane signed a copy of Hell & Gone for me; just as I returned to the DEAD MAN’S PARTY booth to show it to Jeff, I read what he wrote, “To STEVE- Congrats on Dead Man’s Party! -Duane Swierczynski”. Sonuvabitch! And here I’ve been so careful spelling HIS surname correctly!

Jeff: Which ain’t easy.

Scott: Exactly. Sowhen I last saw him, I busted his stones about it, and now I think I’ve traumatized him. {Laughs} I’ll say this, though- Duane has now given me this alter ego, which I can blame any poor behavior on. Wasn’t me; it was Steve. I know, isn’t that guy an ass?

Stay tuned tomorrow for an excerpt of Dead Man’s Party.

 

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