The classic Disney Afternoon animated series Darkwing Duck will soon be returning in comic book form, created for Disney by BOOM! Studios. We chatted with writer Ian Brill and covered artist Jake Myler about the upcoming comic series.
We asked Brill about the reasons behind bringing “the terror that flaps in the night” back now and what elements of the cartoon they are bringing to comic pages:
INSIDE THE MAGIC: It’s been almost 20 years or so since we’ve seen something brand new coming out of Darkwing Duck; why the decision to bring him back now?
IAN BRILL: Because lots of people – myself, my editor Aaron Sparrow, James Silvani, the artist on the book, Andrew Dalhouse, the colorist – those are just four names of people who still love the character, still have fond memories of it. We see online that there are many more people who still love this character, and we thought, hey, since we have a great number of Disney books already, let’s bring Darkwing Duck back and really have people remember how great the stories were. The brand new story’s continuing the legacy of the shows. Nineties animation was such a great time for Disney: all the Disney Afternoon stuff, Duck Tales, Tale Spin, and Darkwing Duck was right up there as one of the best shows. [We] felt it was worthy of a return.
INSIDE THE MAGIC: Is there anything you’re doing with this comic series that couldn’t or wouldn’t have been done on the TV show?
IAN BRILL: This is a four-issue mini-series, and it’s a bit bigger than a half-hour episode of the show. There are multiple villains in it. Multiple plot strands are going on at once. We’ll see Darkwing. We’ll see Drake Mallard maybe a year or so, year-and-a-half or so, after he has given up the Darkwing mantle for reasons that you’ll find out as the series goes on. [He’ll be] teaming up with Launchpad. At the beginning of the series, they are no longer working together, and you’ll see the team of Launchpad, Darkwing, and Goslyn come back together […] as well as some people on the other side of crime teaming up. Darkwing had not been seen for a while, and I wanted to make that somewhat of a mission of the plot itself – of Darkwing coming back – being one of the main parts of the story.
INSIDE THE MAGIC: So, just like in real life, Darkwing hasn’t been seen for years; it’s going to happen in the comic as well.
IAN BRILL: We don’t really suggest exactly how long it’s been. I didn’t want to age Goslyn, so it’s not 20 years like real life. But I just wanted this idea [that] St. Canard had not seen Darkwing for a while. What does that look like? What does St. Canard look like when that happens? And then, what does that do for Darkwing and Drake, especially when he comes back?
INSIDE THE MAGIC: When they approach you to work on some of these existing characters and artwork from the past, how much creative license do you really have? What control do you have over how a character looks, how they’re colored and shaded, and the layout?
JAKE MYLER: Sometimes I will have a little bit more say and other times Disney comes back and […] on certain properties, I think especially when it’s the first of a series, they’ll be a little bit more [of a] stickler about getting the characters exactly on the model. They don’t see much deviation from it. But they tend to be really receptive to having fun with it. In “The Duck Knight Returns,” that was something I wasn’t even sure that they’d be okay with, but they went with it.
INSIDE THE MAGIC: What is the creative process like in developing a cover, just in general? How does it begin? Do you start pencil sketching, or do you come up with an idea first?
JAKE MYLER: Sometimes my editors will have the idea all set and ready, and then I’ll try to take off with their idea and then sometimes they’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, come up with six ideas’ and then I’ll pencil a little rough sketch, which is called a thumbnail, and then I’ll give that to them, and they’ll approve one of them. Then we’ll take it to pencils, which I’ll do a more tight rendering. From there, they take that pencil, and they run it right over with Disney, or Disney and Pixar if Pixar is involved too. Sometimes that can take a little bit of time. I’ve had it take a few months before that’s approved. They have to allow a lot of time between when the book is coming out to get everything approved. I’ve been knowing that Darkwing Duck is going to come out for maybe half a year now. It was really, really hard to keep that secret. […] So after that, they approve it, or they get back to me and tell me they maybe have a few problems with the way something’s drawn, and I’ll redo it. And then I take it to color, and it’s done.
To hear our full interviews with Ian Brill and Jake Myler, listen to Show 266 of the Inside the Magic podcast, free to download.