This December, one of Top Cow's flagship characters, The Darkness celebrates its 10th anniversary. One of the highlights of the "Decade of Darkness" celebration is the hotly anticipated video game release coming in the spring from 2K for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 and a series of tie-in "Level" one shots beginning in December. There can be no doubt that The Darkness is about to embark on a new wave of content and popularity. As a bonus for long time and new fans of the property, Top Cow Productions is releasing a series of inside looks at each "Level" one shot with the creators involved.
We begin this month with a look at The Darkness Level One. The "first level" takes readers back to Jackie Estacado's origin, the fateful 21st birthday when the power of The Darkness was woken within him. The issue is co-written by Paul Jenkins, who also wrote the video game, and David Wohl, co-creator of The Darkness. When asked about his experience with co-writing with Jenkins, Wohl commented, "Writing with Paul has been a great experience. I'd only worked with him as an editor before, for a little while, back when he was writing Witchblade. So I got a sense of how we could work together back then, and I looked forward to a time when we could really collaborate on something." Wohl continued by saying, "As the writer of the game, Paul has a wealth of information that has enabled us to create a comic that will heighten the experience of those who play the game, and for the non gamers out there, it will be a great read that will allow The Darkness fans to explore places in this world that they've never seen before."
The Darkness Level books are also unique in that each level has art chores being handled by a different Top Cow superstar. For Level One, Croatian sensation Stjepan Sejic was chosen for his painterly style which fits well with the tone and mood of the video game. When asked about his experience about working on a video game related project, Sejic spoke excitedly about his experiences. "At first I was a bit skeptical about the project. I didn't know what the game's story was all about, so when I heard about the new comic being based on game I was among the naysayers", he said, "Boy, was I wrong! This script is powerful, very emotional ,and in between badass to high heavens. The story is very panel rich which i appreciated. It gives a nice cinematic effect". David Wohl in turn explained how the artistic lineup affected the writing process,"We do tend to fashion each level to play to the strengths of the artists. For example, with Stjepan Sejic, I think he does incredibly visceral action sequences and moody scenes, so we made sure to concentrate on those areas in the Level 1 issue." Wohl further explained, "Whereas Eric Basaldua (artist on Level 3) is also a talented penciler who is great with action, but I wouldn't feel right giving him a script that didn't showcase a beautiful woman or two. Or three."
Sejic, himself has experience as a 3-D computer artist, worked on staying true to the video game source material, "I saw the concept art made by Mathias Snygg, who actually painted level 0 before me. So I tried to stick to the facial definitions and designs made by him to keep the consistency of the story". Both Wohl and Sejic passionaitely agree on their excitement as fans for the actual video game release in the Spring of 2007. Stjepan volunteered, "And I'm a heavyweight gamer, so hell yeah, I'm getting the game! It has some of the best ideas I've ever seen". David agreed, "Yeah, I'm a HUGE videogame fan. And a Starbreeze (the developer) fan as well. So without a doubt I'll be picking up the Darkness game as soon as possible". Stjepan pondered, "Though I'm very intrigued if there will be a multiplayer. Now there is an idea. LAN party, 20 networked computers...and a gazillion darklings running amock... sweet"! Laughing Wohl left us with this, "I'm actually currently playing "Bully" which is also from Take-Two, the publisher of The Darkness game. That's really fun, too. Oh wait, I hope (editors) Renae Geerlings and Rob Levin aren't reading this. I'm supposed to be working. Uh, well I HEAR it's a great game, anyway."