Posted - 01/31/2010 : 08:51:05 AM
Creator/Writer for The Continentals
Published by: Web Comics Nation
Interviewed by: Richard Vasseur
Rich: How did you come up with the idea for "The Continentals"?
Darrly: I'm an old noirist (lover of film noir, detective, and pulp fiction stories) from way back. Writer Dashiell Hammett and comicbook icon Frank Miller are heroes of mine. Infact it was Miller's work on The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, Sin City, etc, that really brought me back to comics. Working on "G.A.A.K: Groovy Ass Alien Kreatures" with my partner Monique MacNaughton kind of sidelined me from my roots because it was an all ages scifi adventure. But once GAAK was done in '08 I was itching to get back to playing in the dark. At the time I was watching a lot of masterpiece Theatre like Prime Suspect, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, etc. And they were showing some remakes of Sherlock Holmes stories and the great old Jeremy Brett tv series, renewing my love for the great detective. Couple that with my love of the 60's tv show "The Avengers" with John Steed and Emma Peel (and yes, even the campy movie version. Sssh!) and a retooled James Bond series with Daniel Craig as the new Bond. So I kind of formulated this hybrid that mixed all those influences together to tell a victorian murder, mystery, adventure tale that became "The Continentals"(http://www.webcomicsnation.com/moniquem/continentals/series.php) and satisfied all my urges as a noirist.
Rich: How would you describe the two agents personalities?
Darryl: Smythe and Fiona are yin and yang in the best sense of the term. Smythe is the brains, Fiona is the muscle. He's eloquent and cerebral and she's brash and impulsive. He's more comfortable applying his brain power and she's more comfortable with her gun in someone's face or her boot in someone's ass. He keeps her grounded and she pushes him to push his boundaries. They are in synch enough to at times finish eachothers sentences, but some of the best things to write are when they disagree. Sometimes it's like "get a room". LOL!
Rich: Why is this story set in Victorian times?
Darryl: Again, blame it on Masterpiece Theatre. There's a different sensibility. They talk differently, act differently. Someone spoofed The Continentals on DeviantArt about how the characters in The Continentals talk in big blocks of words. Well, that's how they talked back then. You can't have folks from the 19th century talking and acting like they do now. Why set it in the 19th century if you're just going to do that? And because it's a different time it gave me a fun way to create Fiona and let her cause a 19th century stir with her unconventional personality, manner, and fashion sense in the very same way her inspiration Emma Peel caused a stir with her own style in the 60's.
Rich: Who is the Ripper?
Darryl: I think you mean "The Mangler". And I can't tell you that. Come on now. The fun of a murder/mystery is figuring out who done it. But I do promise that figuring out who done it and why will be well worth the effort. :)
Rich: Were the two agents code numbers taken from Get Smart?
Darryl: Yes, agent 86 and agent 99 are a nod to Get Smart. And there are nods to Sherlock Holmes, The Avengers, James Bond, and others in it too. My influences tend to show in my writing.
Rich: What is the main attraction of "The Continentals"?
Darryl: The main attraction of The Continentals is that its a really well told, well drawn, murder, mystery, adventure that draws you deeper and deeper into the story with each turn of the page as you follow characters that are both interesting and engaging unravel a tangled web of intrigue as you both try to figure out who done it and why. That's what a good murder/mystery should do. And that's what The Continentals is. It's a damned good murder/mystery, with amazingly detailed black and white artwork by Monique that will just take your breath away, if I do say so myself. And I do. LOL!
Rich: Will there be more of "The Continentals"?
Darryl: Yes, there will be more of The Continentals. And the stories that follow will be much more James Bond-esque to emphasize their "agent in her majesty's service" side then the first one, which is much more Sherlock Holmes influenced.
The next adventure is called "The Continentals: The Prometheus Gambit" which I'd describe as a steampunk version of a James Bond adventure. It's about a victorian era world on the brink of world war as an arms race for futuristic "weapons of mass destruction" created by a mysterious "weaponeer" spirals out of control, possibly pitting the entire world against England as a result of a very dark secret. You'll get a peek at the very first Continentals Operation and slightly greener versions of Smythe and Fiona, a look into the home office of the A.T.S.T.K (The Continentals "secret" agency), and the introduction of The Continentals very first Bond-esque villain, who has ties to Smythe, Fiona, and the A.T.S.T.K.
After that there will be adventures that will pit Smythe and Fiona against Hindu death Goddess cults, a shadow british government, the Ministry of Thieves, and a sinister organization known simply as "Orbis Unum". So there's good stuff ahead in the wonderful world of The Continentals for the future and for it's fans.
Rich: What is "GAAK"?
Darryl: "GAAK" is the scifi, monsters-run-amok, alien invasion adventure "G.A.A.K: Groovy Ass Alien Kreatures" (http://www.webcomicsnation.com/moniquem/gaak/series.php), the first project Monique and I worked on as a team. It's about four misfit teens named Zach, Jemmy, Plato, and Chubs who try to save their small suburban town and the world from invasion by the kooky maniacal alien Gakk and his posse of bumbling "Acme Instant Alien Kreatures" who've come to conquer the earth, wipe out civilization as we know it and, of course, meet the original cast of "Star Trek".
GAAK started in the summer of 2001 when my friend Scott Childers asked me if I'd ever considered doing a comic like the cool old creature feature movies that we used to watch as kids. From that came GAAK, which is an homage to the 50's style scifi/monster movies I used to watch on Chiller Theatre and Creature Features on tv and the 80's Spielberg and teen scifi adventures that I used to go to the movies to watch as a teen. So GAAK is best described as "The Goonies meets The Invaders from Mars". Monique and I were nominated for a Glyph Comic Award ("Rising Star" category) for our work on GAAK. And we had two production companies inquire about the movie rights for it. We published a "GAAK: Volume One" trade of it back in 2004, but we're looking for a publisher right now for the completed graphic novel. Just encase anyone out there is interested. LOL!
Rich: Why publish online as opposed to print?
Darryl: Nowadays for indy creators like Monique and me it's not an either or thing, but a matter of one medium (webcomics) complimenting the other (print comics).
Showing a comic online as a webcomic in order to build an audience for it as a future print comic/graphic novel is now more or less the guideline that has become the rule in the wonderful world of indy comic creation. You have comics like PvP, The Dreamer, etc, that started out as webcomics that became successful print comics. And then there are successful webcomics like Girl Genius that started out as unsuccessful print comics before moving onto the web where their newfound success as a webcomic led to their becoming a success as the print comic they started out as. So the power of publishing online and how it compliments print comics is undeniable.
To further prove the point, Monique and I just signed with Gary Reed and Transfuzion Publishing (http://transfuzion.biz) to release The Continentals as a series of collected trade paperbacks of the comic. Infact there should be a preview issue out soon. The Transfuzion deal largely came from the strength of The Continentals presence online. So without The Continentals being online we probably wouldn't have a print publishing deal at all.
Rich: Do you have more ideas for comics?
Darryl: Absolutely. The problem isn't a lack of ideas, but a lack of enough hours in the day. Right now I'm working on a graphic novel for kids called "Chevalier" which I describe as "The Princess Bride meets The Lord of the Rings in a Disney/Pixar movie written in Dr. Seuss rhyme starring a mouse". I've been talking with some friends of mine, Ryan Howe (artist of "Gun Street Girl") and Tiffany Ross (creator of "Alien Dice"), about doing the artwork and color. But we're still trying to find the time in our schedules to commit to doing it. So, who knows what the final "Team Chevalier" will look like. But I'll find a way to squeeze a 25th hour out of the day and get it and all the other story ideas I have in my head done.
Rich: Would you like to go back in time to Victorian times?
Darryl: No. I'm a black man. The 19th century wasn't exactly Disneyland for minorities, women, etc. So I'll stick to just writing about it.
Rich: What comics did you read as a child and do you now?
Darryl: I'll be a Spiderman and Batman fan until I die. I was born and raised in Jamaica, Queens NY. So I'd read Spiderman and Peter Parker would be riding the F train to 71st and Continental Ave or Parsons Blvd like I did, or Spiderman would be swinging across Queens Blvd in Forest Hills where I went to elementary and junior high school, or doing something else that I did everyday going to school or hanging out with my friends as a kid. So there was nothing cooler then that. And Batman is the biggest self made badass on the planet and you can't beat that.
Unfortunately though I don't get to read very many comics nowadays because I'm trying to write them. Oh, the irony. LOL!
Rich: How can someone contact you?
Darryl: I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rich: Any words for fans of your comics?
Darryl: Thank you for enjoying what Monique and I do and supporting it. And we will, with our best effort, always strive to entertain you to the very best of our ability.