Vigilantes are not new to the comic world, particularly the superhero genre. Batman may be the most famous of the bunch, and one of the many characteristics of the dark crimefighter is how both wit and might take down the baddies. As exciting as this can be for the reader, what lesson is it teaching? Survival of the fittest? Violence solves the issue every time? Writer Alex Segura decided maybe there was a better way to approach the superhero vigilante that is a little more suited for the younger audience looking up to them.
Segura chatted with The Beat about the hero and why this story is relevant to today’s world.
Deanna Destito: How did you come up with this story idea and character?
Alex Segura: I’ve always loved the urban crimefighter genre – it’s something we explore in great detail in The Black Ghost, my creator-owned ComiXology Originals/Dark Horse series. And I thought that was going to be my commentary on the space. But as my son got older, he got more and more into superheroes – he loves the mythology, the colorful characters, the villains. It was a fun process to see. But I also started reading a lot of the comics we were enjoying together from a different perspective, as a parent. I saw fights being resolved by violence. Criminals being tossed into jail indiscriminately. Blind devotion to the justice system, too. This isn’t in every comic, mind you, but it’s kind of elemental to superheroes. Many of them are super-cops. I talked it over with my wife, who is a public interest attorney, and not really a big comics reader. She said it’d be great if there was a crimefighter, a Batman-esque hero, who tried things a different way. Something that retained the high-flying adventure and colorful landscape of superhero comics, but gave readers a different message. Something kids could enjoy and parents could also get a kick out of.
Segura (cont.): Jaime is also a dad to a smart, savvy daughter. I really wanted to play with the concepts of heroism and family, because it’s something I wish we’d see more of. Jaime wants to be a good man, a good father, and a hero – which is a tall order. The bulk of this first story, the collection we’re asking people to fund, is about his initial journey toward becoming The Dusk. We see him in action, we see him learning what not to do and what might work, and we learn along with him. He’s by no means defined when we see him in costume for the first time, and that’s part of the fun.
Destito: Why do you think a book like this is important or helpful nowadays?
Destito: Why did you choose the crowdfunding route?
Segura: Two reasons: we wanted control, and we wanted to engage directly with the customers. From the moment I first got the idea, The Dusk was very personal and special to me, and it became the same for the rest of the team as we expanded. We also, cumulatively, have enough comic book experience that we know the basics of putting a book together – so it became less of a “let’s hope this publisher will put this out!” and more about how we could do it ourselves, to retain our vision and to also get it in the hands of people that wanted it.
Destito: How did you put together the creative team?
Segura: David Hahn, the artist, is a seasoned veteran of comics. I just love his work. He has a clean, dynamic style that I thought would fit perfectly. At that point, I just had the rough idea I mentioned before. So David and I went back and forth and eventually, we had bits and pieces that would become Jaime. We both got busy and it was stuck in neutral for a bit. At the same time, I was talking to Elizabeth Little, who is a dear friend, fellow crime writer, and she mentioned a desire to get into comics at some point. I love how Liz writes character – like many of my favorite writers, her plot springs from people. She creates these vivid, three-dimensional personas and that depth makes for complicated and grounded stories. I mentioned The Dusk to her, and in a few days, we were batting ideas around and I could literally see the project getting better and better with each pass. David, Elizabeth, and I are all parents of kids of varying ages, but we share the same desire to not only create a fun, dramatic superhero story but one that we can hand to our kids and feel like they’d get something out of it, too – without feeling like they’re being lectured or given homework.
Segura (cont.): I can’t say enough good things about colorist Ellie Wright and letterer Taylor Esposito. I’ve worked with each a number of times and they’re the backbone of The Black Ghost in addition to so many great credits they’ve collected on their own. Ellie’s style is bombastic and versatile, and Taylor gets the (sometimes) thankless job of lettering done with verve and style. They were no-brainers.
Segura (cont.): Editor and creative consultant Joe Illidge was the final piece. We were just talking – we’ve known each other and been pals for quite some time – and I got onto the topic of The Dusk. He asked to read the pitch and really dug it. It was very casual, and I think we just came to the idea together – that he’d be a great part of the team. He has experience in every aspect of making comics, and he’s worked inside the Batman office, too, during one of the character’s most creative periods. I knew he could zoom out and guide us to accomplish what we’d set out for ourselves. And I’ve been proven right so far!
Destito: Do you have any plans to work in this world in the future?
Destito: Any other projects coming up you can talk about or tease?
Segura: The first Dark Horse collection of The Black Ghost, co-written by me and Monica Gallagher, with art by George Kambadais, hits in May wherever comics or books are sold. My next crime novel, Secret Identity, a comic book noir in 1970s New York being published by Flatiron, arrives in 2022.
To back The Dusk, click here.