51 years ago - Alec Holland is born.
33 years ago - 18-year-old Alec goes to college to study biology.
29 years ago - 22-year-old Alec gets his bachelor's degree in Biology.
26 years ago - 25-year-old Alec gets his masters degree in Enviornmental Engineering.
24 years ago - 27-year-old Alec gets his doctorate in Alternative Foods.
22 years ago - 29-year-old Alec gets his second doctorate in Bio-Engineering & begins his alternate foods experiments in the Louisiana swamp.
20 years ago - 31-year-old Alec is caught in an explosion in his swamp lab and is 'turned into' Swamp Thing.
18 years ago - Swamp Thing first meets Abigail Arcane, the wife of one of the researchers sent to catalog him.
13 years ago - Swamp Thing must venture into the afterlife to recover the lost soul of Abigail Arcane. She chooses him, leaving her husband behind and hand-fasting with him in the swamps.
12 years ago - Swamp Thing discovers that he is actually a plant elemental that has absorbed the memories of Alec Holland. He almost goes insane, but John Constantine helps him find the Parliament of Trees. His daughter Tefé is born and named for the source of the Parliament's river.
5 years ago - Swamp Thing tries to stop Batman from fighting Solomon Grundy so he can become a new Earth elemental.
While Swamp Thing was created in the early seventies, he didn't really reach the height of his creative potential until the book was taken over by Alan Moore, a man that is roundly recognized as the greatest writer in the medium of comics. Also, and this is probably relevant here, the man is certifiably crazy.
The innovation of taking a character that is simply a man fused with a swamp and introducing the idea that he in fact was NOT that man, that the man had been dead all along, and that he was actually a plant elemental that THOUGHT he was that man.... that's genius. Suddenly the book was twisted and experimental, full of dark magic and bizarre hallucinations. Moore's success in Swamp Thing was an instrumental element, along with Neil Gaiman's Sandman, in creating the Vertigo imprint. It was a version of DC's world, loosely connected to their regular continuity but forever distinct where stories of profound depth and complexity were told by a who's who of brilliant talent. It was the home of John Constantine, Shade the Changing Man and the Endless.
Perhaps the most difficult part of pulling a character like Swamp Thing into our regular continuity is not just moving the seminal arc crafted by Alan Moore, but understanding just how that story sits within Swamp Thing's larger timeline.
We've built most of his story around his relationship with Abigail Arcane, the young empath who eventually becomes his wife. We want to ensure that there is plenty of time for them to forge their slow, unique bond before she eventually chooses him. That moment when she proposes to him in the swamp, they are hand-fasted, and they consummate their marriage by sharing a hallucinogenic tuber is one of the most unique comic-reading experiences available, and it absolutely needs space in our timeline.
We've made a small change by moving the discovery of his existence as an elemental rather than as Alec Holland so that it happens AFTER his marriage... specifically because of the heightened horror of having that discovery happen while Abigail is pregnant. In the comic, John Constantine actually fathers their daughter, and that's just a little weird. We like the idea that Swamp Thing is her biological father, and the body horror that comes from wondering what that will mean. Tefé absolutely has to be born AFTER the reveal that Swamp Thing is an elemental, because she's named after the Parliament of Trees river.
There are a lot of amazing stories to be told with Swamp Thing, and hopefully we've given his timeline the breadth and scope to accommodate all those stories.
This last fact is something we discovered researching Swamp Thing for this page, but it's just a little bit too fun not to include. Len Wein, the creator of Swamp Thing, got a little bit of flack from another comic writer, Gerry Conway, who had created a very similar character at Marvel called Man-Thing a year and a half earlier. Eventually, nothing came of it, because both companies realized that both characters were also very similar to a golden age character called the Heap. What's fun about this is that apparently at the time, Len Wein and Gerry Conway were roommates.