By Ben Morse
For Marvel fans, Duane Swierczynski may be a relatively unknown commodity, but that makes him the perfect choice to pen the adventures of the X-Men's ultimate unpredictable x-factor as writer of the new CABLE ongoing series beginning in March.
Outside comics, Swierczynski has built an impressive pedigree as a full-time newspaperman who also finds time to produce acclaimed crime novels such as "The Blonde" and "Secret Dead Man." But with the new ongoing CABLE series, the scribe combines his knack for mixing science fiction, mystery and flat-out action with artist extraordinaire Ariel Olivetti's ultra-realistic style when they pick up the time-traveling mutant's exploits following his pivotal role in the blockbuster "Messiah CompleX."
Marvel.com cornered Swierczynski to learn more about his background and his plans for Cable.
Marvel.com: For those not familiar with your work outside comics, what is your background?
Sketchy. By day, I'm the mild-mannered editor of an alternative newsweekly in Philadelphia—I'm kind of like J. Jonah Jameson on Paxil. By night, I write these weird little crime thrillers about mute bank robbers and psycho femme fatales. I've also been a magazine fact-checker, a janitor in an apartment building, a newspaper bundler and a keyboard [player] in a bar band.
Marvel.com: How were you approached to write CABLE?
Slowly, with no sudden moves. And lots of tranquilizer darts—I'm a big guy.
Okay, seriously: After I wrote a few one-shots for [Marvel Executive Editor] Axel Alonso, we started talking about the possibility of a monthly series. That's when I shot him
with a tranquilizer dart and filched the idea for CABLE from his desk before he woke up. By then, it was too late.
Marvel.com: Are you a longtime comics fan? What are some of your favorite and most influential characters, creators, titles, etc.?
Oh yeah. Comics were the gateway drug for my lifelong reading addiction. And this is going to sound like so much rump-kissing, but I've always been a Marvel guy.
Cable sketches by
Spidey was my favorite as a kid; I even named my son Parker after him. I grew up on a lot of horror comics, too—WEREWOLF BY NIGHT was my first comic ever, and it came in the form of a storybook with a 45 rpm record included. Scared the living s**t out of me. I can still see the image of a wolfed-out Jack Russell leaping over a fence, and a cop's bullet searing his arm. A kind and wise English teacher in high school loaned me a collection of E.C. horror comics, which led to my later discovery of the Warren horror mags.
Later still, I fell hard for the Punisher, and later still, the X-Men. My favorite book right now is Ed Brubaker's CRIMINAL. It's everything I love about hardboiled crime fiction, only in hard-hitting 22-page doses. I only wish it were a weekly.
Marvel.com: How familiar were you with the character of Cable when you took on this assignment? How much research did you have to do?
While I've been reading the X-Men since 2000, Cable was one of those characters I knew, but didn't know much about. I missed his introduction in the 1990s, and kind of felt out of the loop. So there was a fair bit of research involved—thank God for [assistant editor] Will Panzo's extensive back issue collection—but getting to know Cable was like coming home again.
Marvel.com: What do you think is at the heart of Cable's character? What sets him apart from other X-Men and Marvel characters?
Cable's my favorite kind of character: the ultimate bad-ass with an iron-clad personal code. They're my favorites because they're the most fun to screw with. I love squeezing them until their little personal code starts going pop pop pop pop
from the pressure. Then I like to see what they do next.
Same goes with many of [my favorite] fictional heroes, which include RoboCop, Dirty Harry Callahan, Richard Stark's Parker and G. Gordon Liddy.
Marvel.com: How will your take on Cable echo and also differ from past incarnations? What will you be utilizing and what are you tossing aside?
I'm not doing a radical reinvention; Cable will—hopefully—be the same time-traveling mutant fans know and love. But it's also important the readers will be able to pick up CABLE #1 without a set of SparkNotes. So I'm focusing on the core of his character, rather than getting bogged down in too much back story.
Marvel.com: What is the mission statement of CABLE under your direction? At its heart, what will this series be about?
I think Cable, in part, is about one of life's biggest ironies—the things that make you strong are also the things that will eventually destroy you. And vice versa.
Marvel.com: How does Cable fit into the post-"Messiah CompleX" X-Men Universe? What will his relationship with the X-Men be like? Will this book have a supporting cast of familiar characters?
Cable still has a
huge role to play in
Cable will kind of be working in his own corner of the Universe. But that doesn't mean we won't see familiar faces popping up.
Marvel.com: What types of threats and villains will Cable be running up against?
The worst kinds of villains: those who might actually be right.
And the worst kinds of threats: the kind that usually put you in the ground.
Marvel.com: What do you think of your artistic collaborator, Ariel Olivetti?
I've been a fan since Ariel's work on PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL with Matt Fraction. In fact, it was around this time last year when I was reading those first few issues and wondering how the hell he was able to create those incredible photo realistic images, month after month.
Ariel's a friggin' genius. It's like he plugs this cord into his brain, then downloads what's happening in his imagination.
Marvel.com: What can we expect from the first arc of CABLE?
Brave new world,
same old Cable
You'll see how truly screwed Cable is, which will set up the rest of the series. You'll see some surprise X-characters pop up. You'll also learn how to remove a bullet from a man's chest using only kitchen shears, a few cotton balls and an old peanut butter jar, an old trick I learned from G. Gordon Liddy.
Marvel.com: Where do you see and want Cable to be, say a year from now? How do you hope perception of him will shift—or not shift?
Great question. I definitely want readers to see Cable in a different way a year from now; character growth is the essence of good storytelling. What's the fun if he stays the same the whole time?
However, I do promise one thing: Cable will not dye his hair. Not on my watch, dammit.