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CHRIS CONDON
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DF Interview: Chris Condon makes noir bleed neon in his adaptation of Barry Gifford’s terrifying novel, ‘Night People’

 

By Byron Brewer

 

Adapted from Barry Gifford’s acclaimed novel by writer Chris Condon (That Texas Blood, The Enfield Gang Massacre), Night People is a pulsating road map of the American subconscious that follows an uneasy company of wanted criminals, cartel killers and lost souls as illustrated by a chorus of visually provocative artistic talents – Brian Level (Poison Ivy, Lazarus), Eisner Award winner Alexandre Tefenkgi (The Good Asian, Once Upon A Time at the End of the World), Artyom Topilin (I Hate This Place), and Marco Finnegan (Crossroad Blues) – through four interlocking tales punctuated by lipstick, sweat and blood.

 

In the first tale of desperation, fanaticism and murder, two ex-convicts are out on parole using their newfound freedom to purify the world of men’s evil influence . . . and leave a trail of mutilated bodies in their wake. As the psychotic dimensions of their star-crossed romance—and the twisting paths that first led them to their fateful meeting at the Fort Sumatra Detention Center for Wayward Women—come into full view, their experiment in righteousness culminates in the kidnapping of a kindly attorney whom the pair abduct just to see if they can reeducate at least one man on the planet before the demise of civilization.

 

I caught up with Chris Condon and we chatted about the coming limited series.

 

Byron Brewer: Chris, congratulations on this upcoming book, Night People. Right out of the gate, would you please talk about the pros and cons of adapting a novel for comics? Did you get to actually work with and hear suggestions, comments, etc. from novelist Barry Gifford?

 

Chris Condon: Thank you so much! It’s truly a thrill. I hadn’t done anything like this before so it was daunting, to say the least. But I’m someone who likes a challenge, so as soon as the project was offered to me, I jumped at the chance. The pros of adapting the book are that you can look at the book and know, okay, this works. If it works as a story already, that’s a hurdle that’s been cleared, which is, in a way, its own sort of relief. I don’t know if I can really think of any cons, per se, but I would say that adapting a book has its challenges. How do you fit forty, fifty, sometimes sixty pages of story into a thirty-page issue? How do you break down each chapter, each line of dialogue, and each non sequitur? What do you keep and what do you discard? When I started out the work of the adaptation, I boiled each of the four books—the novel Night People is already broken up into four books—down to which character or characters are the most important for each story. So, if a certain character was less important to the overall narrative, I might feel less inclined to include a particular portion of their story and thus, that saves me room in the issue in terms of page count and panel count. It’s tricky, but fun, in a way—creatively fulfilling in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. Barry is very much involved but he leaves the adaptation to me. He reviews everything but I can’t think of a single time where he’s given criticism. He’s mostly just said, “Chris gets it.” I can’t think of any higher compliment than that!

 

Byron: Before we tackle the first issue, tell readers about its interesting format and the array of artistic talent that will be joining you in its pages.

 

Chris Condon: It really is an interesting format. So, each of these issues are jam-packed with thirty full pages of story. Barry’s Night People isn’t your typical novel where you follow maybe one or two characters throughout the length of it. It’s comprised of snippets of life and we see various characters appear and reappear (or disappear if they happen to wind up on the wrong end of a gun, knife or arrow gun) throughout the book. I’m not sure I can say enough about the artistic talents involved. They’re all so incredibly talented and I am absolutely over-the-moon with who Oni was able to bring onboard. And each artist is perfect for their respective issues. Seeing Brian’s work coming in for issue #1 is transcendent. He’s perfect for that issue. He’s got that dark, gritty yet almost cartoony feel of a ‘90s comic. It’s wonderful stuff.

 

Byron: Zeroing in on the first issue, give us an overview of what we can expect from the story.

 

Chris Condon: The first issue is a dark ride across the American South with several characters, some more unsavory than others. We go from New Orleans to Florida and see all sorts of depraved things as we journey with them. We begin with the mysterious beheadings of two Peruvian sailors that leads an investigator to Florida, where Rollo Lamar, our big-shot lawyer with a good heart, is kidnapped by two ex-cons who preach their own feminized version of the Gospels. Add to that wild boars, hunting dogs, and a motorcycle club member with a red glass eye, and you’ve got yourself issue #1 of Night People.

 

Byron: Introduce readers to your protagonists, ex-convicts and lovers Big Betty Stalcup and Miss Cutie Early. Who are they and what makes them tick?

 

Chris Condon: Big Betty and Miss Cutie are what you’ve said—ex-con lovers. They have each had their own horrible pasts and have been failed by men throughout their lives. They see men as the weakness of the world and they are hoping to change that…through violent means.

 

Byron: What more can you tell us about Rollo Lamar?

 

Chris Condon: Rollo is a lawyer who tests Big Betty and Miss Cutie’s theory. Let’s say that.

 

Byron: Talk about the awesome art of Brian Level, your partner in crime for #1.

 

Chris Condon: I really believe that he’s the perfect artist for this issue. This is the issue that sets the tone of what this story is and Brian’s brilliant dark-tinged cartooning has brought Barry Gifford’s heightened reality to life. I’m so glad he’s here with me, riding shotgun along these dark Southern highways.

 

Byron: Chris, what other coming projects in which you are involved can you tell readers about?

 

Chris Condon: I can’t say anything! But I’ve got some big stuff coming in 2024 and 2025, one of which is with my creative partner in crime, Jacob Phillips. And no, it’s not That Texas Blood. Unfortunately, we’re going to be taking a year off from that title but we’ll be back with a great tale set in Ambrose County and starring our favorite West Texas sheriff in 2025.

 

Dynamic Forces would like to thank Chris Condon for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Night People #1 (of 4) from Oni Press is slated to be on sale March 6!

 




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