“Star Wars” artist Lucas Marangon introduces his first creator-owned project with “Hellcyon,” a four-issue futuristic adventure from Dark Horse. Marangon both writes and illustrates a tale set on an off-world colony at the verge of civil war, as long-oppressed factions prepare to rebel. At the center of the conflict is a man torn between his connections to Earth and the planet where he was born. CBR News spoke with Marangon about the series, which debuts in April.
Marangon's "Hellcyon" is set in a far future in which Earth has colonized an untold number of planets, often stripping them of their valuable resources and abandoning settlers to their own devices. One such colony, a world dubbed Halcyon but more commonly known by the series' title, is ready to strike down the tyrannical rule Earth holds over its vassal states and chart an independent course.
“'Hellcyon' is about people fighting for their right to identity and a destiny of their own,” Marangon told CBR. “On one hand we have Nika Raguza, the protagonist, who is an adopted child who finds out his true origins were hidden from him and decides to get them back; and on the other, we have this off-world society of settlers that one day realizes they've become a nation.”
The story takes place on Halcyon, a colony of Earth that has grown lawless through neglect. “Hellcyon's” hero Nika, though, is just returning to the outpost after a decade on the mother planet. “Halcyon is a tough place to live: every once in a while its aberrant orbit forces it to approach this gas giant, and then all sorts of abnormalities happen and people must take shelter (which is why people here calls it Hellcyon),” the artist said. “But this isn't the worst thing about living in Halcyon: there's also a growing independence movement that clashes regularly with the security forces that represent Earth's interests, so a civil war is in the works.”
As to society on Earth in “Hellcyon's” era, Marangon has taken current globalization trends to create his projection of life in the future. “When I started writing the outline I felt that the planet Earth had already become too much of a domesticated world for a good adventure tale--this is especially true in the industrialized countries and it's a trend that is bound to reach every corner of the planet eventually,” Marangon said. “We have GPS, internet, cellphone and satellite coverage almost everywhere and there's hardly a place left on Earth that doesn't hold the footprint of the modern man. I just projected that notion into the future and created a planet Earth that's so predictable it's not funny anymore. So in contrast we have this new, vast and unpredictable world where people don't dare to wander unless they absolutely have to.
“Though I didn't explore the psyche of earthlings in this first arc (we'll see if the book deserves a follow up), I'd say they're not very audacious people at this point, used as they are to living in such a predictable environment,” he continued, “while halcyons, on the other hand, are definitely more flexible-minded, optimistic and adaptable to change, like the people who live in poor or otherwise unstable countries today.”
“Hellcyon” is Marangon's first creator-owned work, though he has a good deal of experience with space-faring action as the artist of several Dark Horse “Star Wars” titles. “Long before I started working as a professional, I saw 'Star Wars' as a phenomenon that should be studied carefully in order to succeed as an author,” Marangon said. “I felt very lucky when editor Dave Land first offered me a 'Star Wars' gig, because I really wanted to explore fantasy and science fiction and because I am a huge 'Star Wars' fan. All those titles helped me to understand the 'do's' and 'don'ts' of the 'Star Wars' universe (that you have to know by heart when working on any 'Star Wars' book). They also gave me the chance of writing and drawing my first short story in English for the late 'Star Wars Tales' magazine.”
As to his broader view of science fiction, Marangon told CBR that his appreciation for the genre has matured over time. “When I was a kid I always felt attracted towards science fiction because of the form: the new worlds, the societies of the future, the technology. As I grew up I also discovered the content: the depth, the thematic variety, the complexity and the social role of the good science fiction,” Marangon said. “As John W. Campbell once said: 'Science fiction should tell us what we don't want to know.'”
With the exception of a story for “Star Wars Tales,” Marangon has primarily worked as an artist for other writers' scripts. Asked how writing and drawing his own story compares to collaborating with a writer, Marangon said, “I think it's easier to work with someone else's script.”
“In my experience, writers rarely mess with the visuals beyond what's specified in the script, and when the art is done we never change anything, whereas when I am the writer, I keep making last minute changes on the script AND the pages as the book progresses,” he added. “I guess that's the con of having complete creative control, but I wouldn't change it for anything.”
Marangon did say, though, that he works from a full script, rather than composing at the drawing board or employing other direct techniques used by some writer-artists. “At Dark Horse at least, scripts must be finished for approval because editors check out everything: dialogue, page flow, character development, storytelling, you name it,” he told CBR. “But I guess I'm somewhat of a structured guy, so even if I didn't have to write a full script I'd probably end up doing it anyway.”