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Interview with Steve Orlando

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I had the opportunity to chat with Midnighter writer, Steve Orlando.  He had a lot of great things to say about the character, his process, and was even generous enough to answer some of my other questions.  If you’re not doing so already, do yourself a huge favor and add Midnighter to your monthly pull list.  It’s easily a top ten book of the month and is only picking up steam.

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JEFF HILL: What draws you to the character of Midnighter?  You write him so well and it is truly a breath of fresh air in the comic book world.

STEVE ORLANDO: It’s his outlook! The idea of living and experience life, living with no secrets, not shame, and not regrets. I find that extremely interesting. And I think even for superheroes, that’s an easy thing to say and a harder thing to do. So it’s fascinating to me to watch Midnighter build this new world around himself, and then plug the cracks in the foundation as they form – and when he plugs cracks it’s usually in the most violent, entertaining way possible. And that is one of the other most interesting things about Midnighter, and the reason I love him. He’s a man living by action movie rules, and that’s a crazy, unpredictable, exciting world to live in.

JH: Often times, especially in superhero comics, diversity is dismissed by the masses as either controversial for the sake of controversy or downright tacky.  Your portrayal of the character and his supporting cast is anything but.  Do you have any pointers for creators who aren’t quite pulling it off in modern comics?

SO: I think in any case it comes down to working to create characters, and not caricatures. With any character, regardless of background, you want to make sure they have dimension, interests and traits that go beyond the way they’d appear on a casting sheet. A lot of people are doing a great job, and more is on the way!

JH: What are a few of your favorite “classic” Midnighter stories?

SO: Without question, my favorites are The Authority #1 – #12, and Midnighter (2006) #8. Those stories form the core definition, I think, of the character, and certainly the seed material for our interpretation.

JH: Do you have any influences in the comic book world?  Any you’d like to work with on a project?

SO: Definitely! It goes without saying that I am an enormous fan of Warren Ellis, as well as Jack Kirby, Matt Silady, Feth Fish, and Peter Milligan. And I would be excited to work with any and all of them! I also have been lucky to be in contact with Bryan Hitch, who has been a wonderful supporter of Midnighter, as well as Howard Porter, who I would love to work with some day.

JH: Switching gears a bit, what was the best piece of advice you ever received on “how to break-in” to the comic book industry as a creator?  Alternatively, what would you add or remove to said advice?

SO: I have been lucky to have Steven T. Seagle, Joe Kelly, and Will Dennis as my mentors for the past sixteen years since I started trying to work in comics, and continuing today. And from day one, the told me never to stop, to keep getting better, to seek out real critique, not gladhandling, and find out what I was doing wrong so I could improve on. They all told me to write every day, to treat writing like a job if I wanted it to someday be my job. And most importantly, never show anyone work that has a “but” attached to it. Show the work that is the best you can possibly create. Be professional, be on time, and be assertive but respectful.

JH: Are there any clues or hints you can give us for the future of Midnighter?

SO: Hmm. New people to punch, new ways to punch them, and new places to hide the bodies. Midnghter will be mixing it up with faces he’s never seen before – and hopefully we’ll be serving up some of the showdowns you’ve been waiting for since Midnighter joined the DCU.

JH: Do you have any interest in doing a Stormwatch comic?  Or possibly bringing back The Authority?  Maybe even just putting the team(s) back together as supporting cast or storyline guest star?

SO: Sure! Midnighter certainly has his own supporting cast now, and building that world around him was a big part of the launch. But given the right moment, and the time to build out Midnighter’s world even further, it would be fun to work with those characters, re-meet them for the first time. I love the concept of Stormwatch and I love the concept of The Authority. Those are characters that, like Midnighter, I grew up with. And it would be an honor to work with them. Hell, I used to read the death of Jenny Sparks before each of my swim meets in high school to get psyched for my event. I love them.

JH: Speaking of old teammates… any plans for a reunion with Apollo?

SO: Apollo, as you’ve seen, already plays a role in Midnighter’s story, and he always will. I think their interplay is fascinating regardless of what their romantic situation is. Midnighter HAS a boyfriend right now, but that doesn’t mean we won’t continue to see Apollo have an important influence on the book, and Midnighter’s life – just like many of our first loves can influence us in our own lives.

JH: When is Midnighter going to throw down with Batman?  And I’m not talking Jim Gordon Batman (although that would be pretty cool, too).  Is there a chance that the two biggest bad asses in the DCU will come to blows or (even better) be forced to team up?

SO: Why not both? There’s always a chance. Midnighter certainly has fun with Grayson.

JH: Speaking of Batman, who are some of your other favorite DC heroes (or villains… or anti-heroes) and which ones would you like to tackle next?

SO: Prince Ra-Man! Ask anyone! But I also love Martian Manhunter, Wesley Dodds, Doctor Fate, the Specter, Amanda Waller, Batwoman… I could go on. I’ve been reading Who’s Whos and Handbooks since I was a kid!

JH: And in closing, Midnighter has been a genuine delight to read.  I was a bit skeptical at first when I saw that it was listed as a solo and an ongoing title, but have been routinely pleasantly surprised.  It has received a “Pick of the Week” from us here at Comic Booked several times and we’re all dying to know: Are there any other projects you’re currently working on that you would like to mention?

SO: Definitely! Starting in October, I will be part of Batman and Robin Eternal, with my first two issues landing that month, drawn with amazing detail and action by Scot Eaton! For Midnighter readers, this is one not to miss – Batman and Robin Eternal has the biggest and most complex fight scene I have written in my career. And Scot has knocked it out of the park! We’re introducing a new, historic villain to Batman’s world, someone that influences his mythology to the core, with eyes and fists everywhere. Plus, it will have all the globetrotting adventure and food details Midnighter readers have come to expect from me. And in October, I am incredibly excited for people to check out Justice League – Darksieid War: SHAZAM. Working with the explosive Darkseid War story from Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok, I’m showing the world what happens with Shazam meets the New Gods. It’s CC Beck meets Jack Kirby, with amazing art and designs from Scott Kolins and the debut of some brand new Gods to the DCU. I am truly honored to be a part of it, and I can’t wait for people to see what we’ve been working on!

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So there you have it.  Steve’s  a great guy and has a lot of cool projects coming up…  Which ones will you be checking out?  (The correct answer here is simple: All of them.)  Thanks again for your time, Steve.  And thanks to the folks at DC for helping facilitate this great interview opportunity.

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