Chuck Dixon's past and present credits include Punisher, Birds of Prey and Nightwing. Here he talks about his work on Marvel Knights. Many thanks to Mr. Dixon and Scott McCullar.
Kuljit Mithra: Before Marvel Knights began, you were quoted in the Genesis Edition as saying Daredevil, Punisher and the Black Widow were the heavyweights of the group. You spoke of a 'classical' way of portraying them. For these 3 characters, and DD in particular, what is your opinion of the classical way of portraying them, and what creators do you think showcased it the best?
Chuck Dixon: To me, the classic Daredevil is in the mold of a crusader. He's a guy who's assigned himself a hopeless task; to keep the streets of Hell's Kitchen free from crime. As a crusader he comes off a bit strident to other people looking to do the same work. That's why he's always portrayed as a loner. He likes it that way.
Black Widow is the ultimate femme fatale. She's the "woman of mystery" with the shadowed past. That mix of sex and violence and intrigue. She and DD work so well together because, on different battlefields, they've "been there, done that".
The Punisher is my favorite character of the group. My favorite in comics, actually. And as much as I hate playing the ego card I think mine is the classic version. He's a guy I can understand. He bears every negative male stereotype. He's a stoic. He reacts to violence with more and greater violence. He's trying to wash away his emotional scars in the blood of his enemies.
Mithra: Do you think there is any aspect of the Daredevil character that you feel needs some updating or improvement? Are all the 'Daredevil' stories told... that show who or what DD is all about?
Dixon: Nope. He's a good guy in the classic mold.
Mithra: Do you consider any of the characters to be the 'leader' of this group? Do you even consider them to be a group?
Dixon: They are group, of a sort. But they are held together by DD's will to hunt down the Punisher and end his career. DD assumes group leadership more out of arrogance than a consensus. Others in the group challenge him but DD believes that he stands on a higher moral ground than they. For a professed egalitarian the guy sure has a messiah complex.
Mithra: Is it fair to compare the Marvel Knights to the Defenders?
Dixon: Two different animals.
Mithra: What do you see as the fundamental difference between the two?
Dixon: Well, The Defenders is more on the cosmic threat level with the big, super-powered characters. I've tried to introduce threats to MK that are outside of the members' weight class. But the badguys the Defenders face could roll over in their sleep and crush DD and company. The books are as different as Erik Larsen is from Ed Baretto. Both real good but both very different.
Mithra: You also said that Shang-Chi, Dagger, Ghost Rider and others who appear in the series are more open to interpretation than the heavyweights. In what way?
Dixon: Simply in the fact that they don't have monthlies of their own so I'm a bit freer to show their private lives. I never show the private "secret identity" life of DD 'cause his monthly creators are handling that side of things.
Mithra: Do you feel you get enough time in the story to explore these characterizations when you have so many characters to write?
Dixon: I've always prided myself on being able to get in characterization in a very constricted amount of panels. I prefer displaying characters' personalities through what they DO rather than what they SAY.
Mithra: Has it been a job in itself to research all the backgrounds of every character? Is there any character that you had to research more than the others?
Dixon: I wrote them all from the understanding I had of them already. I'm not a comic history braniac. I just picked characters I knew and liked.
Mithra: I believe in the first issue of Marvel Knights, you mentioned that the first year of stories had been plotted out. Are the majority of stories in the second year going to be in an urban setting as well?
Dixon: They'll be staying in New York City and surroundings for the run of the book.
Mithra: One of the things I've always liked about the DD comic is the way Hell's Kitchen to me seems like it's a 'character' in itself. Take away the neighbourhood from DD and the title suffers. Is this how you feel about NYC for Marvel Knights? What is it about NYC that keeps you interested?
Dixon: It's the greatest city in the world. There are so many fantastic locales to deal with I never have to make anything up. I bought a bunch of photo books of the city and sent them down to Ed to use for reference. The city is so rich in history and mult-layered locations that we'll never run out of great settings.
Mithra: Is there going to be a rotating cast? Any general details you can give about upcoming characters?
Dixon: Luke Cage shows up this month (#11) and in the next two months a member quits.
Mithra: Any villains you can mention?
Dixon: Tombstone, Bullet, Big Ben and Bengal. Plus about a jillion killers sent by Shang's dad. And more Zaran! Can't get enough of that guy!
Mithra: One thing in the first issue of Marvel Knights that most DD fans noticed, was the Punisher's knowledge of DD's blindness. Was this an extension of the Garth Ennis Punisher, because that issue showed the Punisher with more knowledge of DD's secret abilities than had been shown previously. I noticed in subsequent issues it appeared you were trying to move away from this knowledge that the Punisher has.
Dixon: It was probably a mistake to reveal that. But DD and Punisher have fought so many times and Punisher studies all of his enemies so completely that we have to assume he at least suspects something is "different" about Daredevil.
Mithra: How has your experience been working with Ed Barreto, Klaus Janson and Nelson? Does everyone have input with the book, or is it 'you write, he pencils, he inks' etc.?
Dixon: Ed's a pal. He made only one request of me so far and I'll have to let that be a surprise. But I'm kinda left alone to fill those blank pages of script.
Mithra: Given your history with Punisher, which characters in MK do you think he respects most and why?
Dixon: Probably the Widow. He knows her history and knows she could go lethal on him. If Frank knew Shang's story he'd probably be more concerned with the Master of Kung Fu. Especially considering Shang's history.
Mithra: Do you think you would have used the Punisher in this series if he was still the version from the first relaunched Punisher series from Marvel Knights?
Dixon: The Ghostbuster Punisher? No way.
Mithra: Has the transition from Joe Quesada to Stuart Moore as editor been a smooth one for you and the creative team?
Dixon: I still get funny e-mails from Joe and Stuart seems to like the book as is. So, there's no discernable change.
Mithra: And finally, are there any other Marvel Knights projects that you are looking into?
Dixon: Not at the moment.
Chuck Dixon on the web at Dixonverse.com.
(c) Kuljit Mithra 2001
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