Exclusive look at Gilbert Hernandez’s extraterrestrial comic ‘Twilight Children’
We’ve got an exclusive preview of Gilbert Hernandez’s “Twilight Chldren.” It’s set in a sleepy little beach town populated with mysterious glowing orbs that appear and disappear frequently. But the residents seem pretty immune to the globes’ radiating beauty until one of them explodes.
The comic book is just one of the titles that DC’s Vertigo line will introduce in October. Twelve No. 1s to be exact, all exploring Vertigo’s brand of genre fiction – horror, fantasy, crime thriller, sci-fi. The line has drawn on diverse talents such as Michael Allred, Holly Black, Lauren Beukes and Gail Simone.
Renowned artist Darwyn Cooke was also one of those drawn to the opportunity, so to speak. It was not just the ability to help create a new title with “Twilight Children,” but specifically to create one with Hernandez.
“‘Twilight Children’ has me excited in a way I haven’t felt since I started work on ‘Parker.’ To enter Gilbert’s world and help him bring this remarkable story to Vertigo and our readers...well, I’m gushing, it’s an honor,” said Cooke in an earlier press release.
Hernandez is best known as part of the Hernandez brothers team (along with Jaime and Mario) who’ve written the long-running alternative comic “Love and Rockets.”
“Twilight Children” takes the same type of storytelling vibe that “Rockets” displays. Hero Complex caught up with Hernandez to chat about “Twilight Children,” working with Cooke, and his style of storytelling.
Where did the inspiration for the setting of “Twilight Children” come from?
Since I started comics 30 years ago, I always started out my stories -- especially if I had writers block or idea block -- basically from my neighborhood when I was growing up. I would have my point of view or the world’s point of view from my neighborhood. Sometimes the story would stay in that area, and then some stories would evolve from that -- it’s just based on ideas. And then most stories would just start in this little beach community -- fishing and boating -- where there’s an extraterrestrial presence. How would people who are living simple lives react to it.
Yeah, there’s still regular small-town happenings going on. Relationships, small-town politics ... was there anything in particular that inspired it?
No. That’s just where I’m coming from -- I just like it. I live in a world that’s always in the neighborhood. There’s different people and that’s where my stories come from.
Ela is a mysterious being who appears, innocently enough, to be alien. Is there any hint to who Ela is and where people go when they touch the orbs?
[The whole story] gets more complex and characters are reacting more emotionally. There’s only so much that they understand about what’s going on. They accept what’s going on with the extraterrestrial presence, and they react to it emotionally, but they don’t know what’s going on. There are just these things that are showing up because of this presence, and they just try to deal with it in a calm way. I didn’t want to make one of those ‘crazy aliens are coming from outer space,’ like with the military and that kind of thing. I wanted to keep it very low-key with people trying to maintain their sanity with all of these strange things going on.
The art enhances the fact that this is a small-town happening. How does it complement the story for you?
For me, it was ideal to have Darwyn Cook draw the book. I’ve known his work before and I wanted basically to take what I’ve done before and have someone else interpret it. This is the kind of story where if I’d done this myself and done it my own way, it would’ve been similar to things I’ve done before. But working with Darwyn, who simply wanted to work with me just because he wanted to work with my ideas.... I knew he was interested in what I’ve done before, so I gave him basically that world, but I wanted him to shine in the way he wanted to with the art and the storytelling. Which he has done, and is amazing. It’s just such a good-looking book, and the story is so well told. I really think people are going to like it. I really like what he’s done with it.
Did you think about it in a cinematic style?
It’s not a conscious thing, but I do think more along the lines of how a movie flows as opposed to a comic book. I look and I get inspired on how to tell a story. I don’t really look at comics for that, comics are a different type of storytelling. I just have a different perspective on that.
What are the differences in terms of storytelling?
TV is mostly dialogue and people talking to each other. It’s very dialogue-heavy -- and I’m talking about a well-written show -- especially cop shows and crime shows ... it’s people just yakking their heads off. I wanted to move away from that and just allow -- almost like a silent movie -- the images and the story and the way the characters move through the story tell the story more than what they’re saying. Even though I have a lot of dialogue in the story, I just prefer a quieter way of telling the story. I used to be very verbose, with a denser story. But these days, I just like a smoother ride.
What would you consider to be your style of writing?
When it works -- and I’ve done different styles before -- but when it works it’s just me telling a story and being naturalistic. I’m not saying that my dialogue is realistic, or what I’m writing is a realistic type of story. but it just feels naturalistic. That’s what I’m trying to do, [and] that is what I want you to feel.
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