Eric Millikin and Casey Sorrow's Fetus-X

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NEW YORK -- Matt Hawkins said he wanted something fresh for The Darkness, one of Top Cow's flagship titles.

The president and COO of Top Cow also wanted a writer who going to be around for longer than an arc, someone who could provided a consistent run of some 20 issues or more.

He found his man in Phil Hester, who will be joined by up-and-coming artist Michael Broussard on a new The Darkness series this fall after Top Cow's "First Born" crossover.

The Continuum caught up with Hester briefly over the weekend to discuss his plans.

The Continuum: How did the gig come about?

Hester: Like Matt said, I think the powers that be at Top Cow felt the short runs from superstar writers strategy had run its course, and they were looking to get someone who could commit to a long run on the book. Rob Levin really dug some of my past work, and I'm pals with Ron Marz, so they threw my name in the hopper. I gave them several takes and a couple of them fit the bill.

The Continuum: You went through several proposals?

Hester: Yeah, nothing extensive. A lot of mini-pitches. Ironically the very first idea I had, which is also the wildest, is what they ultimately went for. I don't want to give anything away, but the old Darkness status quo is history from page one of my first issue.

The Continuum: What ultimately is your take on the character?

Hester: My goal is also Top Cow's goal. We want Jackie to be more than a bad-ass in a nice suit. It's very tough when your protagonist is a bad guy, but we need to make readers care about what happens to him. It may seem like a fine distinction, but I don't think caring about Jackie is the same thing as sympathizing with him. He's a ruthless criminal, no doubt, and there's a lot to be repulsed by, but I also think there's a lot to identify with in Jackie Estacado. I don't aim to redeem Jackie, but I do want to make him a little more human, even if I have to do that by contrasting him against some truly inhuman adversaries.

Ah, hell, who am I kidding? I want to redeem him a little bit. Too many Frank Capra movies, I guess.

The Continuum: What do you like about the character?

Hester: He's visually stunning, one of the coolest looking characters of the last 20 years. And he's not nice. It's fun to write bastards. That can also be a trap, though. It's so fun to write bastards that you can be seduced into making Jackie glib and shallow as long as he's funny or scary. Like I said, we want Jackie to be a little more multifaceted.

The Continuum: How many issues are you on board for?

Hester: I would like to string together a very long run. Years, not months. I keep getting ideas for Jackie, so I'll be around as long as Top Cow wants me around.

The Continuum: And, finally, might you be drawing some Darkness, too?

Hester: The plan is for me to jump in for a single issue once in a while. I already have a two-part idea targeted to draw. We'll see!

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