The New York Comic Con is three days of tightly packed comics action, a quick but enormous event in Gotham City. Sifting through the content, we ask some of our favorite comics creators questions on their craft in The A.V. Club’s Comics Questionnaire.
Duane Swierczynski is primarily known for his crime novels, but he’s recently made a name for himself transitioning his hard-boiled man-on-the-street perspective to the world of comics. Across runs on Punisher, The Immortal Iron Fist, Judge Dredd, and Bloodshot, Swierczynski has consistently shown the challenges of heroism in the face of an unflinchingly cruel world. Now, with Archie Comics’ relaunched Dark Circle Comics line, Swierczynski has brought back one of the great pulp heroes of the 1940s, the Black Hood. This latest incarnation of the vigilante has no superpowers, just an addiction to pain killers, and takes to costumed crime-fighting to ease his guilty conscience.
If an alien species discovered The Black Hood as the only remnant of human civilization, what would they learn from us?
Duane Swierczynski: They’d go back home, quickly. They would learn that we are a fragile and troubled race. It’s a guy that tries to do the right thing. In our world if you try to do the right thing the universe pounds the shit out of you and shows you better. That happens to this guy. I love noir stories. I love seeing guys on the worst possible day and watching them scramble, and the whole series is this one long scramble as the sand goes up under his limbs. Still tries to do the right thing—that’s the worst. The noir universe hates do-gooders so it tries to pound them and punish them and that’s the fun of the series, punishing this character in a weird way. I root for him though.
The A.V. Club: So, humans as a race, we generally just like watching each other get beat up?
DS: Absolutely, yeah.
If my résumé included a whole summer spent reading The Black Hood, how could I spin that into valuable work experience?
DS: I think managing pain with narcotics could be a useful skill. Hiding your true self from you co-workers, which is totally true. Exacting justice when it needs to be dealt.
AVC: Those are all useful skills in life, but I’m not sure you’d want to bring them up in an interview.
DS: No. No. Definitely don’t interview in a black hood, that would set a wrong precedent. Set up a red flag right there.
If copyright law were no concern, what character from another game, comic, movie, etc. would you like to see crossover into The Black Hood?
DS: My Little Pony. (Laughs.] That’s the natural fit for his world. Better Call Saul or Breaking Bad? Total fit with Black Hood. Or The Wire. If David Simon had a Wire comic, man, Black Hood would be down there in Baltimore hanging out with the Wire guys.
AVC: Put the Black Hood there into some modern TV drama.
DS: Exactly. But honestly, Greg as a superhero, he has no powers. He’s an addict. He’d probably be killed quickly, I think, versus anybody. Lamest superhero I can think of, he’d be killed pretty quickly.
AVC: He’s the Walter White of super heros.
If The Black Hood were the main course of a meal, what would be the appetizer and what would be the dessert?
DS: I think a shot of whiskey before, and a cigarette and a shot of whiskey after.
AVC: Just need to soothe those nerves? Complacent going in, and then the need to get it out at the end?
DS: Yeah, actually, a shot, then punch yourself in the face, and then read it. Then a cigarette and a shot to put you right to bed.
AVC: That’s a cocktail that we could call “the Black Hood.”
DS: The punch in the face is important. Or have the bartender do it for you if it’s a full-service establishment.
AVC: You really gotta trust that bartender.
DS: Tell him, “Not the important bits. Not the moneymaker.”
How would you describe lead character Greg Hettinger’s ideal first date?
DS: The only romantic interest in the book so far is his therapist, his physical therapist. His idea of a first date is probably wetting himself and trying to crawl, I don’t know. Actually, if he was trying to up his game—although in the past he was a ladies man—I think a ride down the Frankford L, downtown, get cheesesteaks, walk South Street [in Philadelphia]. That would be his date. If she was kind of a conservative girl, maybe a Catholic school girl, show her Zipperhead downtown. Show off the best of the city in his own way. He’s probably Catholic. Wouldn’t make the first move, though. A gentle move, a little fondling, nothing hardcore until later. He’d try to read the signals. Feel her out there.
AVC: Consent is important.
DS: He’s a guy from the neighborhood. He’s a cop. Consent it very important. Exactly. He’s not a ’hood hood. He wears a hood.
Let’s say The Black Hood has been adapted into a Broadway musical. Describe the big show-stopping musical number.
DS: The book would be by Lou Reed. There would be a dirge at the end. Showstopping dirge where everyone is dead. The Black Hood is crying in his mask and the lights go down. That’s a show-stopper. Maybe a Greek chorus of like, “You’ve killed us all” or, “We’re the haunted victims of the streets of Philadelphia.” I don’t see much Broadway. Is that how it goes? Is that Broadway? Darkness and death at the end?
AVC: It can be. There are some very depressing shows.
DS: It would be that then, yeah.