Not So Sweet Tooth: Regent St. Claire talks "CandyAppleBlack"

Sometimes the world can be a dark and awful place. For some, reality can be so bad that their spirit crumbles and they want to die. This is the moment when they might meet a mysterious black clad figure named Cayce who offers them an ebony apple and a chance to end their suffering. Cayce is the protagonist of "CandyAppleBlack" a seven-issue mini-series by Regent St.Claire and published by his studio The Good Intentions Paving Company. A feature film version of "CandyAppleBlack" is also in development. CBR News spoke with St.Claire via e-mail about his comic and the film adaptation of it.

St.Claire described "CandyAppleBlack" as being Seraph Noir. It's main character, Cayce is an angel banished to Earth for two thousand years because he did not believe suicide was a damnable sin. Instead of changing his ways, Cayce's time on Earth has only strengthened his resolve. He has devised his own scheme to collect the souls of those who commit suicide. Cayce's plan earns him enemies in both Heaven and Hell.

In the first issue Cayce ends the suffering of a man who the public believes to be an arsonist and murderer, and a photographer is haunted by a childhood memory of Cayce visiting her mother.

St.Claire's experiences in "The City of Angels" were what inspired him to write "CandyAppleBlack." After a trip down into the Los Angeles subway, the story came to him. "Well, it wasn't the actual ride per se, but the station itself. It's architecture, its sterile emptiness that triggered not only new ideas for a story, but old memories of real-life events, events that weren't very happy. From what I personally know of other writers, the way I work is sort of unusual. When I get an idea, I bang it out. When I got home that night from that subway ride, I sat right down and wrote a two page synopsis that would become the basis for 'Candy.' Of course those two pages would expand like a virus into the 'Candy comic' book treatment, and along with my co-screenwriter Anthony C. Ferrante, into a full-fledged theatrical screenplay," he explained.

St.Claire had personal experience with suicide. "My own suicide attempt in 1993 was also key in developing the tone and mindset of 'Candy' and many of its characters, and losing a number of close friends to suicide over the years has also been a grim but extensive source of information on the subject."

Music is an important part of the atmosphere of "Candy AppleBlack". St.Claire composed and recorded two music pieces meant to serve as the score for "The CandyAppleBlack" film. The musical pieces are available for download from the official Web site. He also recommended the songs "Hurt," by Nine Inch Nails, "Possession" by Sarah McLachlann and "Blood & Roses" by The Smithereens, among others, for readers looking to make their own soundtrack.

Candy Apple Black originally began as a comic book treatment which St.Claire and Ferrante turned into a screenplay. St.Claire adapted his screenplay into a comic series after a few years of discouraging film negotiations.

The feature film became a possibility when St.Claire met a producer who he felt understood his story. Currently the option for the book is held by Lina Shanklin & Gilbert Mercier. "I was moonlighting at a video store in Venice across the street from my apartment, and this woman (Lina) kept coming in and renting armloads of films at a clip, so one day I asked another clerk there what the deal was. The clerk told me that this woman was a writer/director/producer who was casting for a film she was working on, and she was looking at a bunch of actors on those videos to come up with her short list. Then the clerk (who had read 'Candy') decided that Lina should read 'Candy,' so she ran down the block after her one night and gave her the script. It turns out that Lina really liked it, and although it was under option to another company at that time, she let me know that if the other company didn't get a deal for Candy, that she wanted to option it with her producing partner, Gilbert Mercier.

"The first conversation that Lina and I talked about 'Candy' lasted about three hours. I was really impressed with how she really really got it. On every level. And that's precisely the kind of person that I feel is right to be producing 'Candy.' Since then, she and Gilbert have been rabidly protective of the integrity of the work, and that is unbelievably rare to find in this town, especially when you're an unproduced screenwriter like me," St.Claire said.

The screenplay for "CandyAppleBlack" has been completed and St. Claire notes that there are small differences between the screenplay and the comic book, as might be expected. St.Claire believes the essential element of the comic is its story, and it remains intact in his screenplay. "Many meetings we've been in focused on changing the fact that all these characters are killing themselves, and could we change that so that they didn't go through with it, but it makes no sense for us to give in on that plot point. The suicides must die. Without that, there is no story. This ain't no 'Touched By An Angel.' It's more like 'Highway To Heaven' meets 'Hellraiser,'" he said.

The first issue of "CandyAppleBlack" hit comic stores in May and issue two was released in July.

St.Claire has a message for readers that might look at "CandyAppleBlack's" black clad protagonist and dismiss it as a clone of another comic franchise, "The Crow." "I'd say that they haven't read 'Candy,' because if they did, they'd see that the story and characters are night and day from "The Crow," but hey, if my work is going to be compared to something, at least 'The Crow,' 'Preacher,' and 'Sandman' are all books that I think are very good in every way.

"Actually, I think 'Candy' is, and this may at first sound like a stretch, much more like 'Charlotte's Web' than 'The Crow' in that its main character is macabre but compassionate, and whips up a little 'magic' to save an innocent life that is threatened by a brutal and heartless system. In the end, Charlotte just wants her friend and her children to survive... even though she will not. A lot of kid stuff is very potent, at least it was for me."

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