Darkchylde at 15: An Interview With Creator Randy Queen

Even after 15 years, Randy Queen's supernatural heroine is still having nightmares.

It was back in 1996 that Randy Queen's Ariel Chylde first made her debut at Maximum Press, ultimately making her way to Image. Chylde was a high-concept character created at the tail-end of the bad-girl craze in the middle of a decade when a torn costume and kick-ass design was enough to generate sales for a number of publishers interested in selling T&A above plot. But most of her contemporaries have, predictably, fallen by the wayside while 15 years later we're talking about a multimedia resurgence of the Southern supernatural heroine, with a series of young adult novels in the works, a feature film in development with John Carpenter, and of course, more comics.

MTV Geek spoke to her creator by e-mail recently about the roots of the character, her continued endurance, and what looks to be a bright future for more dark stories.

MTV Geek: For some of our readers who weren't around when the character first came about, tell us about Ariel Chylde and the story of Darkchylde.

Randy Queen: Ariel Chylde is a teen with a heart of gold who is cursed to become the creatures from her many recurring nightmares. She sheds her skin and a new terror emerges from her id to act on her deepest, darkest impulses, and wreak havoc on her small southern town. This year marks her 15th Anniversary.

Geek: You’ve got two trade collections of stories out. Are there any more on the way?

RQ: Last year saw a 40-page team up with Top Cow's Darkness character [mob killer-turned-antihero, Jackie Estacado], so maybe a collection of one shots and crossovers, including the one we did with Joe Quesada's Pain Killer Jane is possible.

Geek: There’s some material in Dreams of Darkchylde collection that are new for American audiences. Could you tell us about that content?

RQ: It's more an internal tale of terror as we explore Ariel's psychological terrain, and ghosts of her past. As she becomes more lucid her dreamscape begins to respond and she develops other nocturnal abilities within her nightmare.

Geek: How did you arrive at this particular design for the new statue?

RQ: We've got two, the "Deadly Dreamer" piece is based off the Dreams of Darkchylde collection cover, and is a 9" tall PVC coming from Diamond Select toys, who have been wonderful to work with. They are also releasing the mini-mates toy of Ariel, which is now available to order. At Comic-Con we'll debut a 3 foot tall fine art sculpture of Ariel Chylde from PopCultureShock Collectibles at the Sideshow booth. It's an elegant, classy, museum quality, fine art piece several years in the making. It's just beautiful. We were working on her life-size[d] in the computer--just scary sophisticated technology now. A major undertaking getting that one done.

Geek: Could you tell us a little about how production on the movie is going?

RQ: We're having the necessary meetings, and discussions to get Ariel's dark myth up on the big screen for a new audience. One thing I can't stress enough, is that this is an earnest sentiment, it's heart and passion, with dark, evocative, intense imagery, and also romance. It's not a video game movie that's just about effects—we have memorable, engaging characters. I'm so thrilled John Carpenter is onboard. His sensibilities and strengths as a story teller and director are formidable, and exactly what Ariel's story needs. He's one of our great shapers of genre cinema, whose impact and influence is pervasive, and he loves and understands who this girl is and why this story needs to be told.

Geek: Is there anything you can tell us about how the character and story will be approached onscreen?

RQ: It's treated very real world. What if this really happened to this girl living in a small, southern town? How would it effect her? Her surroundings? What would be the most logical, organic, and exciting chain of events? It's based on a comic, but this is horror story, like Steven King's 'Carrie.' It's has dark humor, but it's not silly. It's an emotional character study played straight. No nonsense. We want you to cry and cheer. We want you to feel the full power of the cinema, and have your mind and heart moved, not just your eyeballs. You see special effects in car commercials now, so they aren't special anymore. What is special is if you have anything to say with them. And we have some amazing sequences you've never seen before, which is tough to be able to say about a film anymore.

Geek: You’ve also signed a deal for a series of Darkchylde YA novels. How’s that process coming along and when can we expect the first book?

RQ: I signed with Kelly Sonnack at the Andrea Brown agency to re-platform the Ariel Chylde saga as a series of novels. I can write faster than I can draw, so this is likely where most of her new adventures will occur purely of pragmatism. I'll be able to expand her world in ways I'd never have time to draw in this lifetime. I'm excited by how it's shaping, and hope to have news soon.

Geek: Why was the jump to YA fiction a good fit for the character?

RQ: Primarily there is an exciting story to tell that's a proven, time-tested commodity which hasn't sung on that stage yet. I've been fortunate to have a strong female fanbase, and this is a teen supernatural tale. It makes perfect sense to come in with a project of [this] pedigree about nightmare mythology, which has the added benefit of being something that isn't over-saturated. It's a logical outlet to expand the character further, and I think it's also important girls have a role model who isn't completely reactionary and dependent on males to save her.

There is an underlying morality which I think the important myths have. And that's what Darkchyde: The Ariel Chylde saga is: a dark, modern myth. I'm validated by having seen the positive impact she's had on people who have written over the years. People who have medical and psychological concerns. I'm touched by that, because it means all the pain and sacrifice have had meaning. This isn't easy to do, and it's a very big reason I push forward and believe so strongly, because they've shown Ariel Chylde matters to them.

Geek: Getting back to comics, when can we expect more of the Darkchylde in that format?

RQ: I'm working on a new Darkchylde comic book called "Burning Butterflies" which is a lyrical metaphor for the necessary transformations needed in order to survive life. It also serves as a metaphor for Ariel's ability. There will also be a section of Ariel's poetry in the back. Hopefully Christmas on that one.

Geek: What else do you have coming up?

RQ: At Comic-Con we're giving away free Darkchylde movie posters and graphic novels signed by John Carpenter and myself at the Image comics booth during my signing, so please come say hello and get one. We won't have many, so come early. The Ariel Chylde mini-mates toy is up for order now, and we also have the two new collections, Dreams of Darkchylde and Darkchylde: Legacy and Redemption available now via your local comics shop or Amazon. So it's a nice 15th Anniversary for Ariel.

I can be found at www.darkchylde.com and I also post pretty frequently on Facebook because they make it so easy to update.

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Phil Hester Drags Jackie Estacado Into 'The Outer Darkness'

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