Artist Spotlight: Duane Swierczynski

Duane Swierczynski is the Edgar-nominated author of ten novels including Revolver, Canary, and the Shamus Award-winning Fun & Games, many of which are in development for film/TV. He has written various bestselling comics for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Archie and Valiant, including Cable, Deadpool, The Immortal Iron Fist, Punisher Max, Birds Of Prey, Godzilla, The Black Hood, Bloodshot as well as his creator-owned crime comic, Breakneck. Duane is proud to have had a story in every installment of John Carpenter’s Tales For A HalloweeNight (so far). A native Philadelphian, he now lives in Los Angeles with his family.

1. First John Carpenter memory?

This is easy, because it’s burned into my brain: watching the network TV version of Halloween, on my grandparents’ huge console set, after a long hard night of trick-or-treating. Sure, the film scared the hell out of Young Me, but it also thrilled me in equal measure. Parents want to tell you everything will be okay; John Carpenter’s Halloween, however, told you the opposite—that the boogeyman is real, and the world is a lot weirder than anyone wants to admit. This notion is what hooked me on John’s films, because he always seemed interested in showing you the frightening, the weird, the uncanny… and sometimes even the pleasantly surprising.

2. How did you get started writing/drawing/lettering?

I started out writing short horror stories in class instead of paying attention to my math lessons. I used to pass them on to my friends to see if they would provoke a reaction. And when they did (“Oh man, that was so gross!”) I started submitting stories to small press horror mags—and even made a few modest sales. Real life intruded in the form of college and steady work (as a journalist), but eventually I found my way back to making up weird shit, and somehow managed to make it my full-time job. Which is insane.

3. How did you get involved with Storm King Comics?

David J. Schow answered this in his “Artist Spotlight,” but I have to set the record straight—he was the one who introduced me to Sandy King Carpenter. I was crashing in the basement level of his house in Hollywood (the same one that I blithely burned down in my novel Fun & Games, for which David has never quite forgiven me). One day David asked for my advice on a short comic script he was writing for Sandy, then invited me along to visit her at Storm King Headquarters. As it turned out, David needed zero advice when it came to writing comics; annoyingly, he’s a natural. But I walked out of that meeting with an assignment for a story, for which I’ll always be grateful.

Damn, now I really feel bad I burned down David’s house.

4. Who are your idols/mentors?

I’m not going to fall into the trap of mentioning any living idols or mentors—because I know I’ll accidentally leave someone out. I was lucky enough to have two English teachers who encouraged my mental illness… I mean, my early efforts at writing. Mr. Roache (freshman year) actually allowed me to submit fiction instead of boring old term papers (still have no idea how I was able to pull off that little scam). Mr. Oliver (junior year), on the other hand, would gently mock my love of horror fiction—and then turn around and loan me his collection of Tales From the Crypt reprints. This kind of support meant the world to Young Me.

5. What is the thing you geek out the most about and why?

Discovering new stuff—strange bits of history, forgotten writers, cult movies, obscure magazines, bizarre indie music—is often what gets me up in the morning. The best gift a friend can ever give me is a word-of-mouth recommendation about something they’re excited about. Because chances are, I’ll be just as excited. I remember a long bus trip with a friend who was gushing about Tim Powers’ Anubis Gates, and I was so freaking exciting to track down my own copy. The anticipation was delicious.

6. Guilty pleasure….food? music? entertainment? Everyone needs an escape.

I try to take pleasure in things without guilt, I do.

If I’m slightly embarrassed about any of my non-writing pursuits, it’s only because they tend to be a cliché for a man of a certain age. I like to grill on my apartment patio. I enjoy yacht rock. I make Dad jokes. I go for long walks and try to identify birds and trees by sight. Young Me would be fucking horrified.

7. The world has changed..is there anything you like in the post covid world?

I didn’t mind the forced isolation—hell, I live in my head anyway. But I don’t like that so many of us have forgotten how to “people,” if you know what I mean.

8. What change would you like to see in the world?

I’d love a magic spell that makes all gunpowder in the world chemically inert. That’s right; goodbye guns. Let’s see how far the next mass murderer gets with a tire iron and a butcher knife.

9. Favorite 2021 memory?

Wait… it’s not still 2020? I’m only half-kidding. I still think of 2019 events as having happened “last year.”

10. What brings you joy?

Crunchy whole almonds, resting on a bed of sweet soft coconut and covered in smooth chocolate.

See Duane Swierczynski’s work in these Storm King releases: