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A Month of Writing Stars – Troy Hickman

Every day this month I’m going to feature a current comic book writing “star,” someone who I think is a very good writer.

I’m mostly going to try to keep from the biggest names as much as possible, because, really, do I need to talk more about the awesomeness of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Warren Ellis?

Here is the archive of previously featured writers.

Today we look at the unannounced second part of our two-part feature on writers named Hickman!


Troy Hickman is mostly known for his cool Image mini-series called Common Grounds, about a coffee shop that superheroes go to on their down time. If you had to pick one other comic to be the comparison point for Common Grounds, it would definitely be Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. The heroes and villains of Common Grounds are familiar archetypes except, of course, when they are on their down time, at which point they have all sorts of different personalities and problems.

The comic is also notable in how non-cynical the whole thing is, which is really a trademark of Hickman’s work. His work is some of the “nicest” comic book work you will see.

That doesn’t mean his work does not have some punch, because it does, it just is done in an old school style of optimism being the main goal.

If you’re interested in Common Grounds at all, do note that for the Image series (I believe it specifically was a Top Cow comic), what they did was take Hickman’s original mini-comics and have them re-drawn. And when they had them re-drawn, they did not mess around. The original 2004 Common Ground series was drawn by (each issue had two stories in them) artists such as George Pérez, Mike Oeming, Chris Bachalo, Sam Kieth, Angel Medina, Carlos Pacheco, and Ethan Van Sciver contributed a back-up story each issue while Dan Jurgens did the main story for each issue. How impressive is THAT for your first major comic book work?

Common Grounds was nominated for an Eisner Award.

Since then, I’ve looked for Hickman wherever I could find him, and he’s done some fine fill-in work on various titles.

His next big break was last year, also at Top Cow, when he contributed to Pilot Season with a series called Twilight Guardian, about a middle-aged woman (in “our” universe) who suddenly decides she will dress up like a superhero and fight crime.

And again, remember. this is a guy who is NOT cynical, so the comic goes in ways you would not expect. It’s a real fun read, and it was one of the two winners last year (which means it will eventually gets its own series).

I’m pleased, as I dig reading Hickman’s work, so it’s nice to know there’s more of it coming!

Here is his blog. I believe he’s also doing some writing for Blog@Newsarama.


Troy Hickman…Troy Hickman…wasn’t the villain in Unfunnies named Troy Hickman? It can’t be a coincidence, right?

Great choice! COMMON GROUNDS is brilliant — finding the TPB in a discount bin at an LCS a few years ago had a lot to do with overcoming my resistance to getting back into comics after a hiatus of around a quarter-century. (Considering the consequent impact on my finances, maybe I should hunt Troy down & … ummm, say mean things to him.)

I’m really, really, REALLY looking forward to PILOT SEASON as well, though I’m not clear on when we might see it. (Otherwise, it would definitely have made my “things I’m looking forward to in ’09” list.)

Uhhhh … PILOT SEASON=TWILIGHT GUARDIAN, of course. I hate it when work interferes with my posting.

I’ve heard an awful lot of good stuff about Twillight Guardian… Was it one of the pilots that got picked up?

Who drew the original mini of Common Grounds before it was re-drawn?

Man, J. Scott Campbell is god-awful. Look at the front foot of the running guy.

As someone who works in a coffee shop I now must read Common Grounds.

Blackjak —

Yep, I believe it finished first in the voting.

Common Grounds is one of my fave series ever, so many good stories in only 6 issues.
I’ve been hoping there’ll be a second series ever since – anyone know if this is on the cards at any point?

Absolutely — Troy is an amazing writer. And I’m pretty positive his work on HOLEY CRULLERS (which was the title for COMMON GROUNDS when it was first produced) pre-dated ASTRO CITY. It’s a crime that he hasn’t had more work on the shelves since the Eisner-nominated COMMON GROUNDS.

Well, how freakin’ cool is that? Thanks, Brian, I do appreciate that tremendously. And thanks to all those who have posted nice stuff. A few thoughts and answers:

* Actually, Common Grounds was up for two Eisners, Best Anthology and Best Short Story (for “Where Monsters Dine, drawn by Angel Medina, in #5). Among the other nominees in those categories were Michael Chabon and Neil Gaiman, so for once just being nominated really IS honor enough.

* The villain in Unfunnies was Troy Hicks, and Mark has said that he was NOT named after me. However, I was the villain in Mike Pascale’s Bru-Hed #3, I believe, and I also took the Lindbergh baby.

* Twilight Guardian will be out later this year, though I’m not sure exactly when it starts.

* The original Holey Crullers series that the Common Grounds scripts came from was drawn by Jerry Smith, with the final issue by Larry Blake. Both of them do great comics, too, so google ‘em.

* Rhod, there has been some talk about my bringing CG back, though nothing definite yet. I dearly miss doing it.

* Yeah, the first issue of Holey Crullers pre-dated Astro City by a few months, I think. I do remember Kurt Busiek discussing (in the Comics Buyers Guide, I believe) a similar idea around that time about superheroes eating at a sandwich shop called “Marvel Super-Heroes” (like a hero sandwich). For me, part of the inspiration came from that great issue of Marvel Two-in-One where the Thing and the Sandman have a beer and talk it out (which leads to Sandy becoming a good guy, at least for a while).

Sorry, if given the chance, I’ll ramble on incessantly.

Troy also did some good work for the “City of Heroes” comics, to the point of having one of his story arcs made into a Task Force in the actual game. He’s also quite active on the City of Heroes site’s message boards.

Seeing my story become part of the CoH game was one of the coolest things I’ve experienced as a comics writer (and the Cyrus Thompson statue in King’s Row is the icing on the cake). I love the game. I love my fellow players. I love lamp.

while looking through the clearance box at my local retailer I found a copy of the Twilight Gurardian -Pilot Season -decided to give it a try and loved it.
I thought it had little chance of winning due to be so lacking in blatant commerciality (i.e. female lead who hadn’t been sexualised, the only violence is in the comics she reads, the subtlety of the humour, the absence of plot)
Especially as the previous pilot season voting had been apparently dominated by Cyberforce fanboys (defeating one of Troy Hickman’s earlier creations so instead of having Ian Edginton explore her origins, Ron Marz killed her through decapitation) .
I was surprised to hear the Twilight Guardian won and am now trying to find the various issues of the series

I did spot a copy of the Common Grounds collection so snapped that up on name recognition

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