“I wanted to do a pulp character that was different from the rest” Josh Williamson talks Captain Midnight from Dark Horse
As you’ll know from this weekend’s Sunday Digest, Dark Horse Comics’ Captain Midnight is a smartly written Golden Age throwback superhero adventure from writer Josh Williamson. But what makes him different other ‘man out of time’ stories and a certain flag wielding Avenger? To get the lowdown we contacted Josh to find out the secrets behind Dark Horse‘s doer of daring deeds.
Tell us about where the idea for Captain Midnight came from? Was it a character you created or one that Dark Horse approached you to write? If so what appealed you about working on the book?
JW: Captain Midnight has been around since 1938. He even predates Captain America by a few years. He started out at a radio serial, becoming quite the popular character during that era. And I’ve always been a fan of the pulp heroes of the Golden Age, so when Dark Horse approached me about writing a series with him I was already familiar with his character and story. [Dark Horse President] Mike Richardson is a BIG life long Captain Midnight fan. So he already had a story in mind, and Dark Horse asked me for a take. Thankfully they liked what I brought to the table.
For me I wanted to do a pulp character that was different from the rest. One that was a bit smarter and more smug. To me Midnight isn’t as cavalier as most pulp heroes. He’s a bit more no nonsense. I like writing characters with a bite to them. A bit of an edge.
When did you get put in touch with artist Fernando Dagnino and colourist Ego, had you worked together before and what do you think they brought to the book?
JW: Dark Horse brought them on after we’d been working on the DHP chapters. Ego has been our colorist from the very beginning, and I’ve been happy with so I’m glad he has stayed on. Fernando and I had never worked with each other before, but I was really glad when Dark Horse told me he’d be drawing the book.
They have brought style and action. Fernando gets what we’re trying to do with the story and has added small touches to the characters and a kind of… synergy that we can’t replace. There have been a few pages that we were surprised to see that Fernando made a change that referenced earlier images in the series. Tying them together thematically. It’s been awesome.
The idea of a golden age superhero out of time in the modern world is well established (especially by a certain flag wielding avenger) so how did you set about making this book feel different and what is so unique about Captain Midnight for you?
JW: Midnight isn’t in awe or impressed by what he finds in preset day. He’s not confused or in shock. That’s what sets him apart from most “Man out of Time” stories. He arrives, and looks at our present world and is disappointed. The man is a genius first and a super hero second so I wanted to establish that he wasn’t surprised about the use of time travel, but was surprised how NOT far along we’ve come. Then we wanted to create a world around him. See how those people responded to his sudden arrival. I think with most Man out of Time stories those things are just glossed over, where we are spending some time on it
There are some great flashbacks in the first issue to Nazis in the North Pole, will you be doing more flashbacks to world war 2 (and more Nazis and polar bears) as well as stories in the modern day and if so which do you prefer to write? (and what is it about Nazis in the North Pole that is such a winning combination!)
JW: Nazi’s in the snow are a interesting visual, I’ll admit. We come back to that scene a few times throughout the series actually. We see it from a few different angles as the series progresses. So yes, there will be plenty of flashbacks. One of my favorites is issue 8, which is a flashback to an adventure in the 80s that features a few newer characters. I’m hoping to do an all “WWII” issue later down the line. Keep your fingers crossed!
We’ve seen from your work on Masks and Mobsters that you’re a fan of pulp fiction but which golden age heroes and characters inspired you for Captain Midnight? Or would you say Captain Midnight has a more contemporary edge – it has a slightly Ultimates / M:I2 feel to it as well I felt?
JW: For Captain Midnight I really only looked at Captain Midnight. There was a lot of stuff on him, and so I tried to keep it to just him. I did look a bit at Sandman from Sandman Mystery Theater and James Robinson’s Starman. But at the same time we wanted to give the world a bit of a modern edge. The conspiracy and the espionage angle is a big deal throughout the series. We’re building a large mystery that we hope people stick around to see how it plays out.
Captain Midnight has a real throwback to the golden age feel, but do you think we’re going through another ‘golden age’ right now with such a rich variety of superhero books on the stand (from the ‘Big Twos’ offerings to post modern, gritty books like The Victories?) not to mention those getting a wider audience thanks to the growth of digital comics?
JW: Oh, it’s a great time for comics. Every week I look at my pull list and I’m impressed. The quality over the last few years has been outstanding. Especially with Image and Dark Horse. It feels like people are taking bigger, better and smarter risks with our medium. I’m a big fan of options and seeing so many different genres represented and so many different ways to get comics is exciting.
Finally, if you were given the choice and could be either swept back in time to the 1940s or forward to the 2060s, which would you go for and why?!
JW: Oh man, that’s rough. I have a much darker opinion than most, very “the glass is half empty” and feel like both have great disadvantages. But I’d have to say the 2060s. It’d be interesting and in some cases scary to see how far along we’ve come as a society by then. Hopefully it’s not like what Captain Midnight went through and he comes through and is disappointed.
Really I’m glad people are looking at the books coming out, with Masks and Mobsters, Captain Midnight and Ghosted and seeing that edge there. Writing Captain Midnight has been a blast.