14 January, 2010

Max Allan Collins on the Dark Angel novels


I quickly got hooked on Dark Angel when five had a complete run through of all 42 episodes in 2002/2003. At this point the show had already been cancelled, but whilst five were showing the episodes, the three novels written by Max Allan Collins were also released.
The first novel (Before the Dawn) was a prequel, but the two that followed (Skin Game and After the Dark) provided a continuation and conclusion to the TV series.

I read After the Dark in super quick time and thought it was an excellent conclusion, featuring great action, humour and wrapping up various unresolved points. I'd also enjoyed the previous two novels so decided to send M.A.C. an e-mail saying how much I'd liked them.To my surprise I got a reply, responding to the points I'd made whilst also writing a bit about Before the Dawn and Skin Game.

Hi David --

Yours is the first reaction I've received to AFTER THE DARK, and I'm relieved it's such a wonderful one.

The difficulty with doing a prequel (BEFORE THE DAWN) is trying to do something significant (like Seth) without it seeming terribly unnatural that Max would never mention Seth to Logan, later. (Imagine having to come up with a story that had both Max and Logan in it heavily, but never meeting!)
I had to get Jim Cameron's personal permission -- which he granted in record time -- to stage Seth's death and the final fight at the Space Needle, so that I could explain the Needle's significance to Max as a brooding post.

Continuity implants, as we call them in the comics, have their dangers and you have to watch out for a negative domino effect.

But I would offer this justification: May have said something to Logan about Seth, with Logan pleading ignorance, in some moment that went unrecorded on the show. We didn't spend every hour of every day with them, and things happened off-camera. This would only add to Max's rage with Logan over this "betrayal."

The prequel came about, as I have said, because when I was approached to write the DARK ANGEL novels, I had not seen the show (though I'd heard good things about it) and needed to get up to speed, fast. By limiting myself to a prequel, I could study the pilot closely and begin writing, while I was watching tapes, catching up.

When the show was cancelled, I saw the opportunity to write a significant trilogy about DARK ANGEL -- the beginning and the end, so to speak. As you noted, I set up the possibility of another novel (or series of novels), but I do have my doubts that I or anyone will be asked to continue them. A shame.

I really like these three books and in particular AFTER THE DARK, which is one of my best "tie-in" novels (and Matt Clemens contributed greatly). SKIN GAME came off well, but was very tough, as it was conceived as a second-season type "monster" story and became, with the cancellation of the series, the first couple of episodes of a non-existent "third season," with all of the baggage of the season-end cliffhangers that would have gone otherwise unresolved. The structure of the novel required Max to play the role of "mayor" of Terminal City and, while she is in every chapter, she does not carry the ball, re: action/adventure. It worked well as the story that needed to be written, but I swore to Matt Clemens that we would have Max kicking ass throughout the final book.

And I think it's a ride. I particularly like that you enjoyed the humor, which I think is strong and in the tradition of the show, without watering down the "heavy" aspects of the story.

You can share these thoughts with any other DARK ANGEL fans you might know.

Thanks again.



Originally posted 25th July, 2003
Introduction adjusted 14th January, 2010

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