Originally publsihed at Fangoria.com on July 16, 2011
Out in stores now, DREAMS OF DARKCHYLDE VOL. 1 (Image Comics) tells the story of Ariel Chylde, a lonely teenage girl who has just suffered a major loss in her life. On her fist day of high school, not only is she picked on by the popular girls and a male teacher, Ariel discovers the building is a portal to hell. She must find a way to escape from high school alive, as demons are chasing after her across the hallways. FANGORIA spoke with creator and author Randy Queen about how he conceived the DARKCHYLDE series, his appearance at the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con and working with horror master director, John Carpenter on the comic-to-film adaptation.
FANGORIA: How did your career in the comic book industry begin?
RANDY QUEEN: Conventions were key. My first published work was a pin-up in Todd McFarlane’s SPAWN, and then nothing for two years until I got with Top Cow Productions at the San Diego Comic-con. Eventually, someone can see beyond what’s right in front of them and has an ability to connect the dots in a way others don’t and gives you a chance to run the ball and see what happens.
FANG: How did you come up with the concept of DARKCHYLDE?
QUEEN: It was primarily wanting to read something that wasn’t available and wanting to put my heart into an earnest statement that wasn’t just product. This was before the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER show was on, so the girls and monsters equation wasn’t really serviced in comics at the time. Image Comics was in full swing, and it was mostly the superhero brands. So if you’re going to spend 10 to 16 hrs a day drawing something, girls and monsters sounded fun to me. The film ANGEL HEART was in influence in the curse aspect, [SPOLER ALERT] but I spun in that Ariel was cursed while she was still in the womb. Ariel is essentially tragic, a Wolfman-type figure, who was not an active participant in how she became a monster; that was interesting to me. I also enjoyed the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films, but wanted to make the nightmare aspect more evocative and beautiful, lyrical and poetic vs. blood and guts, but that’s there too. Ariel’s character evolved out of knowing girls who were very beautiful, but observing how their beauty also made them isolated and distanced. How can people make all these preconceptions without knowing them? How could someone so beautiful be so sad?
FANG: DREAMS OF DARKCHYLDE has an interesting cast of characters—from Ariel Chylde, Kiley and the freakish-looking Big Jake. Tell us more about the relationships between these three protagonists.
QUEEN: It’s hard without spoiling, but one is revealed to be a revenge-driven poltergeist, and one is an innocent, misguided, and easily fooled protector—just a gentle, unassuming spirit. And Ariel is the girl who can become the creatures from her nightmares—but not while she’s in the nightmare. So, she develops other nocturnal abilities as she asserts control and becomes more lucid and aware of how the dreamscape responds to her.
FANG: In DREAMS OF DARKCHYLDE, Ariel has a self-reflective and lyrical prose to her narration. Big Jake, though freakish looking, is 17 years old and reacts like a typical teenager. With their dialogue being so different, is it difficult to switch back and forth between characterizations?
QUEEN: Once you understand where each is coming from, it gets easier.
FANG: In this coming-of-age tale, Ariel has trouble finding her place in her new high school, which is a living embodiment of hell. She wants to fit in, but is ostracized by the popular girls and even by a male teacher, which is such a memorable scene. Discuss the story’s themes of teen angst and self-discovery.
QUEEN: There are no new themes, so the onus is, how unique is your delivery? Angst and self-discovery continue as you leave your teenage years, and everyone feels the outcast at times. I think kindness for kindness, and courtesy for courtesy, should be a fair karmic equation in life, but it doesn’t always go that way, does it? So, you take these truths we’re all familiar with and make them mythic in a setting like this. It’s about pushing on despite pain and struggle. I won’t be around forever, so I try to be very cognizant in what type of message I leave with the reader. Some people got hung up on Ariel’s father attacking her in the first issue of the comic, and I sort of got lynched for it. But frankly, they weren’t paying attention; because if they were paying attention, they’d know that a) in a horror story, horrible things happen, and b) it’s revealed later in the story he wasn’t actually her father and c) the underlying morality and consequence of action are clearly on display on the very next page, where this person pays the ultimate price for the transgression. The tale of Ariel Chylde is a dark myth for people who enjoy dark myths, it’s not MARY POPPINS. Your first goal is to entertain, yet there has to be something woven in a bit deeper that has appealed for so long, there has to be something that still resonates over time. Those simple truths we recognize and relate to are key, and I think it’s why people have remembered Ariel and continue to care about her—she is them. She is us. And we are her. It would be a disservice not to show that life can sometimes be quite ugly; that’s the reality of fantasy.