8.27.2014

MIDNIGHT CONFIDENTIAL



I've always loved the word 'confidential.' It implies secrets and mysteries and hidden agendas and conspiracy and collusion ... I picked up 'L.A. Confidential' by James Ellroy based on the title alone and I never regretted that.

So when I got to thinking about a side book to run as a parallel to MIDNIGHT THEATRE, the name landed smack in my face. MIDNIGHT CONFIDENTIAL is going to be about the secret stories that never see the cold light of day in Victory City. It's about heroes fighting and dying in the dark alleys and no one but the reader ever finding out how or why. It's about villains plotting and planning, colluding and conspiring in hushed whispers throughout the underworld. It's a beautiful woman with bright red lips hissing a terrifying secret in your ear and knowing you can never share it with anyone else.

So I designed some characters for it! And over the next few days I'm going to share them with you, my eight readers.

Before I get too far into this, one thing you should know is that I love poster design. Love it like a redneck loves shotguns and Schlitz. When I get enough content together for a poster I get to work, going through concept sketches, into design, letting that flow and merge into something new and really thrilling as it happens on the page. I love working in Illustrator and playing with text and copy to see what I can make that's new and reflects the story and characters at the same time.

For MIDNIGHT CONFIDENTIAL, I'd already designed up all these characters. Seven friggin' teams of heroes and villains, all with their own back stories and agendas and missions and plots. But before that it all started with one guy, DEADLINE, the ghost reporter. Not sure how the idea bubbled up in my head -- probably another couple of days without sleep that led to an 'AHA!' moment -- but I just loved the idea of having an almost-omniscient narrator who could barely affect the plot. I wanted someone with personality, a little style and a through-line of his own that could walk us through the first chapter of MIDNIGHT CONFIDENTIAL. Also, MIDNIGHT CONFIDENTIAL sounds like the name of a newspaper, so ... I don't think I need to explain that part.

Anyway, DEADLINE is a great guy to write. He's a loner by nature -- he didn't even realize he was dead until after a full weekend had passed -- and he's been a ghost long enough to have figured out some tricks. He doesn't haunt any place so much as he sort of drifts around, gathering stories and trying to do some good with what little effect he has. In his drifting he comes across the murder of THE PHANTOM AVENGER -- ironic name on purpose -- a crime fighter who's had his head beaten in with a pipe then shotgunned almost in half at the torso. PHANTOM AVENGER is now trapped in limbo, a specter shouting a silent scream until someone can solve his murder and put his soul to rest.

That initially leads DEADLINE to seeking out STREET SMITH for help. STREET's another solo guy -- his description is mad science gun and a bad attitude -- but he's a do-gooder. DEADLINE is able to communicate with him and the two decide to seek out TRAINYARD CAIN, the hobo vigilante. The murder occurred in the train yards, so it's very possible that TRAINYARD either knows what happened or had something to do with it. Course, TRAINYARD isn't exactly ... stable. He's a little off, but he's got a friend who works in the yards, BETHLEHEM STEEL. She kind of keeps him on this side of sanity. She's tough as hell, working the kind of roughneck jobs usually reserved for men only, doesn't take any crap and has a real soft spot for TRAINYARD. They're both outsiders with no other friends in a world that treats them like trash, so they need each other.


DEADLINE and STREET decide to enlist some more help in their search for justice. DEADLINE has been drifting around for awhile now so he seeks out some people he's been keeping his undead eyes on to make sure they don't tip over the line into eeeeevil.

First there's the twins, DEVIL'S DUE and DEVIL'S OWN. They grew up in a family that were servants to Victory City's blue bloods and aristocracy. Something horrible happened to their parents and they've now sworn vengeance on the old money family responsible for it. DEVIL'S DUE is fairly level-headed -- he's coldblooded, calculating -- but DEVIL'S OWN is just bloodthirsty for vengeance. The two make a nice balance for each other.

Corbeau and Renard -- French for the Raven and the Fox -- are two wealthy brats into roleplaying on a level like no others. Corbeau and Renard are not their names, of course. That's just the roles they're currently playing. Renard steals some shiny bauble or priceless gem and then Corbeau has to chase her down and catch her. It's a little weird, too, because they're cousins and he's gay. Also, I don't like the way she's drawn. Her butt looks funny.

DOUBGHBOY is interesting. She took the name from her brother, a WWI vet who came home and fought crime. He was, of course, chewed up by the city and spit out so now she fights on in his absence.

SHAX BANSHEE is our last guy. He's actually possessed by a banshee and has to constantly feed it or it will start feeding on him. He's a good person but his mother crossed the wrong Pikey gypsy and SHAX found himself cursed. Now he's got a friggin' banshee stuck in his chest.

So that's the initial line-up of good guys for MIDNIGHT CONFIDENTIAL. I don't have a subtitle for this on yet. GHOST OF A CHANCE? DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES? I'll keep playing with it until something appropriately pulp-ish pops into my head.

Tomorrow we'll meet some of the villains of the piece.

So, yeah ... I had fun with it.

S.

P.S. Here's the initial background design I did for the big poster. I'm sharing it with you as a teaser.