As writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo wrap up their acclaimed run on the DC Comics series Batman, the creative duo share the news that they are working together on a groundbreaking new creator-owned comics series that will challenge readers’ expectations of a comic book — the sci-fi horror mystery, Totally Dark.
“It was a very Batman moment,” says Snyder, referring to the events that inspired the creation of Totally Dark. “I was in my study. It was nighttime, raining heavy outside, and I was thinking about some ideas for a new comic, when the electricity went out in my neighborhood. The lights were off. It was scary, but I got a cool idea from it, and I actually said aloud, ‘I shall write a comic about the dark!'”
When the electricity came back on, Snyder went to work on the pitch. “The premise of the series is that the world has gone totally dark. The sun, moon, and stars are missing from the sky, and all illumination technology — light bulbs, flashlights, even candles — won’t work. The protagonists can’t see anything, and neither can the reader.”
Snyder acknowledges the challenges of producing a comic like Totally Dark. “We’re basically throwing out the expectations and advantages of a visual medium. Readers will only see completely black pages with word balloons. No captions or visuals will be used. It’s all dialogue on a black background. Cool, huh?”
But what could cause such a strange occurrence, and who are the protagonists?
“Despite the weird premise, the comic has some realistic, grounded characters that I’m very proud of. The story is about former physics professor turned private investigator Bethany Flair and her roommate, the archaeologist and ex-Navy SEAL, Enos Humperdinck. They set out across America to figure out what is going on. Along the way, they encounter death cults, mad scientists, and alien zombie vampires,” says Snyder with a smile. “Are the characters tall or short? Are they attractive? That’s up to the readers to decide on their own, which I think is awesome.”
“When Scott told me about this, I thought it was crazy,” says Capullo. “But the more I thought about it, the more I loved the challenge of the concept.”
The artist is learning new skills as he illustrates the comic. “It’s like I’m a colorist and letterer, more than a traditional comics illustrator. There are a lot more shades of black than people might realize.”
Totally Dark will be published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint as an ongoing series beginning in October 2016. “I’m very excited about this unique concept from a great creative team,” says Vertigo’s Executive Editor Shelly Bond. “And I’m really excited that Scott and Greg chose Vertigo to publish Totally Dark. Vertigo rules!”
“I love working with the Vertigo team,” says Snyder. “Vertigo has been very supportive of this whole project, even our idea for the covers.”
The creative team is using a unique cover concept — the covers will be completely black, with no wording of any kind.
“Imagine going into a comic shop and looking at all the comics on the shelves, and there is this one comic with a cover that is solid black,” says Capullo. “I think people are going to notice.”
To promote sales, Vertigo has commissioned variant black covers for each issue, featuring cover work from such comics artists as Neal Adams, Jeff Lemire, James Stokoe, and even renowned comics and prose writer, Neil Gaiman.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” says Gaiman. “But when Scott and Greg asked me to do this, I really put everything into it. I think people are going to look at my solid black variant cover and see a dark reflection of the world.”
“This comic is a game changer for the comics medium,” says Bond with a maniacal laugh. “Totally Dark is going to take comics to a whole other level.”
Editor’s Note: April Fools! None of the comics professionals or publishers referenced above were involved in the creation of this not-for-profit parody April Fools’ Day post.