"24: Midnight Sun" - A Cure For The Summertime TV Blues

Summer is coming in a couple of months. This means sun, picnics, and, unfortunately, hiatus for most of our favorite television shows. Loyal viewers of quality programs will be forced to suffer through reruns and whatever reality-TV fluff the networks care to air. Thankfully, IDW Publishing will help alleviate some of our pain by publishing "24: Midnight Sun" this July. CBR News contacted the writers of this one-shot - J. C. Vaughn and Mark L. Haynes - to find out what new crisis has Jack Bauer running against the clock this time.

To begin with, this is actually Vaughn and Haynes' third outing with the "24" series. They have previously written IDW's "24: One Shot" and "24 Stories," both of which used a "real-time" approach of every two comic book pages equaling one hour of story time. For this latest tale though, the writers seemed pleased to inform us that they were no longer bound to the confines of this gimmick.

"Writing '24: Midnight Sun' was considerably easier because we made the commitment to get away from the strict two-pages-per-hour formula and let the events dictate what was going on," J.C. Vaughn told CBR News. "We stuck to it where it fit, but otherwise it went out the window. There's a great relationship between comics and TV or film, but they're not the same thing."

Co-Writer Mark L. Haynes agreed, saying "This book was such fun to do because we were no longer bound to this arbitrary formula. I used to joke that the only car chase we could have at that rate would be Jack chasing O.J. in the white Bronco."

Thus far, each "24" comic has examined a day in Jack's life that would impact events in the TV series. This new series continues with that theme. "'24: Midnight Sun' is set during the years between Season Two and Season Three," said Haynes. "President Palmer has opened the ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) to experimental drilling and some people are up in arms. Jack is undercover with a group of environmental activists in Alaska, trying to separate the true blue activists from a subgroup of eco-terrorists. Chase Edmonds, his partner in Season Three of the show, is his back-up. The eco-terrorists are planning a huge, world-changing attack. Jack and Chase have to stop them."

If you don't follow "24" and are concerned that you might not be able to follow the story, the writers indicated there is no need to worry. Vaughn told CBR News, "It's steeped in the language of the show, so the fan is going to get more out of it than a casual reader, but we're writing for everyone." Haynes elaborated by explaining, "We follow the show's lead and include a 'Previously on 24' section at the head of our scripts for just that reason. In addition, we include a lot of background in the dialogue so that folks can find out as they read."

When telling stories about established characters, it helps to have writers who are fans of the source material. This is definitely true in the case of Vaughn and Haynes. "J.C. and I were roommates at the time '24' premiered, and I wasn't that into the show. When he got the (Season One) DVD's, I watched them and became hooked," Haynes said. "We really thought hard about the concept until we hit upon the fact that the 'real-time' approach is just a gimmick and one that people don't really tune in to the show or buy the graphic novel for. What they are looking for is what we try to provide: cutting-edge, hard-hitting, relentless storytelling that is true to the universe and the characters. Once we came to that realization, finding the right company to bring it to comics was the next step. That company was IDW."

Vaughn continued, "At the time we pitched the story concept (for the first one-shot), IDW had a big hit with 'CSI' and we thought '24' would be a good fit for them. We liked the quality of their stuff. Jeff Mariotte, prince among men, was their Editor-In-Chief at the time and he liked the concept of the pitch and took it to their publisher, Ted Adams, who also liked it. We've still never done the original story we pitched them, strangely enough."

"24: Midnight Sun" also reunites the two writers with a previous collaborator, artist Renato Guedes ("24: One Shot"). They have both said the art they've seen thus far is fantastic. "Even better than his first work," Vaughn said.

In addition to this newest "24" adventure, both writers sound as though they're keeping very busy with upcoming projects. Vaughn is the Executive Editor of Gemstone Publishing, and told CBR News, "We just released the 35th edition of 'The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.' Our Little Lulu editions sold out the first two days they were on sale and the Iron Man editions are selling briskly. Now we're working on 'The Official Price Guide To Disney Collectibles.' My self-published romance comic, '21st Century Romances,' is at the printer now and should be out very shortly. The fourth and concluding issue of 'Shi: Ju-Nen' is either off to the printer or will be in a couple of days. And I'll have two 'McCandless & Company' comics out this year - one a graphic novel with Gene Gonzales and the other a collection of short stories with a variety of artists."

Haynes added, "I should have finished my script for J.C.'s '21st Century Romances' by now, and I probably would have if I had been listening more closely. I thought he said 'Twenty 1st Century Romances' and ended up doing this biblical kind of thing before I realized the mistake. Oh, well."

"24: Midnight Sun" is available for order in the May issue of Previews and will hit stands in July. The book will be published by IDW and is priced at $7.49.

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