Saturday, March 11, 2017

Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys: The Big Lie #1 Interview with Anthony Del Col


For fans of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Anthony Del Col's The Big Lie #1, proves to be a real treat! It's modern, it's noir, it's got classic Easter eggs and modern flair all rolled into one and it's a tantalizing mix of "good-bad boys" one-upping the local police on the trail of their father's killer - and it ends in a classic cliffhanger until the next issue out in April. 

These Dynamite published comics are part of a series of six out over the next few months, and if the title is any indication, there's much more to the story than meets the eye...

Intrigued? You should be. I've got an interesting Q' & A' with the author, Anthony Del Col below with questions from myself and comic and series book collector Todd Latoski - check it out and comment below as we're giving away an issue! I'll draw from the comments on  March 19 and the winner will receive one from the publisher, Dynamite. If you want a few clues to the series and how it came about, grab your magnifying glass and put on your detective hats and read on...

UPDATE: The drawing from comments here and at 2 Nancy Drew Facebook Groups resulted in Amanda being the winner of The Big Lie #1 issue.

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Q' & A' With Anthony Del Col

As a kid, what were your favorite books of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys and did you read similar series?

I don’t know if it’s a clichéd answer but my favorite books for both lines were the very first ones I read. For Nancy Drew it’s The Secret of the Old Clock, and for the Hardys it was The Secret of the Old Mill. I’ve actually weaved references to both in the first couple issues of the series.

My favorite series growing up were ones by a Canadian author, Gordon Korman. They were comedic versions of the same stories – teenagers doing battle against crooked adults and winning. I guess it all boils down to aspirational literature, right?

Do you prefer the vintage Nancy Drew books or the modern ones and spinoffs?

I often find myself a “classics” guy, whether it’s Nancy Drew tales or classic Hollywood flicks. I feel like reading them serves as a time machine into a different era.

If you could narrow down what traits inspire you about these characters, how would a tweet-sized answer about each one - Nancy, Frank and Joe - go?

Wow. I guess this interview’s not going to be easy, is it…?

For Nancy, I love that she’s determined and intelligent. She doesn’t let anything get in the way of helping others and doing the right thing. And she’s a great friend and daughter.

For Frank, I love how strategic he is, almost like the modern BBC version of Sherlock, a chess player figuring out what’s happening ten moves in advance.

For Joe, I love how impulsive he is. But I also find him a little more sensitive than most. I almost say he’s the tougher yet more sensitive brother.

What will longstanding fans of classic Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys be excited to see in these new tales? What will draw them out to read these new stories?

I think that longstanding fans will first realize that, though it’s an extreme concept, the characters are staying true to who they are in the original books. That’s always been a key for me, and something I’ve insisted upon.

More importantly, I think fans will be interested to see how they react to a whole new world. Fenton Hardy is dead and they only way they can figure out who did it is to pretend to be bad themselves. But can they truly become bad to go good? We’re taking them out of their comfort zone and seeing how they manage.

Nancy Drew vs. The Hardy Boys - who's your favorite - or are they equal in your eyes?

I’ll stay away from the clichéd expression of having to choose between children… because, well, let’s face it: I didn’t create these characters. I would say my favourite has been Nancy – I always like that she was solving the crimes primarily by herself. And I found her a little more daring than the brothers.


Of both series - Nancy Drew vs. Hardy Boys - which did you find to be the easiest to translate to a modern but noir style setting? 

I’ve found the writing of Nancy Drew to be the most enjoyable thus far. Though labeled as a “femme fatale” in some marketing materials, she’s primarily the leader, leaping into this adventure. But as the series goes on that role will change as a result of some interesting story elements I have in store for everyone…

What makes these traditional and timeless characters still relevant to today's readers?

Nancy, Frank and Joe are smart teenagers that are willing to do the dangerous things to help the world. Who doesn’t like that sort of storyline? What I’m doing is adding the edge to them by forcing them to integrate directly into the underworld of Bayport to solve their crime. And in doing so, this’ll make it a little more relevant.

Can you give us a sneak peek for issue #2 - what's something we can look forward to?

Well, I won’t go into any spoilers but in Issue #2 (scheduled for release in mid-April, I believe) we’re going to find out more about Nancy’s back-story, how she originally met Frank and Joe, and how she wound up in Bayport. Werther Dell’Ederra (the artist) has done an amazing job with these flashbacks. More importantly, though, we’re going to see the next step of Nancy’s plan as they dive into the seedy underbelly of Bayport.

Some fans would feel like killing off a major character is somewhat of a sacrilegious type of thing to do - so what made you dive head first into killing off a central character to the Hardy Boys - their father, Fenton?

It was important right off the bat to show readers that this wasn’t a typical Hardy Boys story. And to take them out of their comfort zone. Killing off Fenton Hardy accomplishes these two things and increases the stakes for the boys. If they don’t navigate this new world properly they may end up the same way.

If they made a film version of your take on Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys - who would you cast as Nancy, Frank, and Joe and why?

I would see this as more of a television series, actually – an ongoing mystery along the lines of Fargo, Riverdale, or some other captivating television.

We used a LOT of style references for the series’ original art, but three references that came closest were Cara Delevigne or Ellie Fanning for Nancy Drew, a younger Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Frank (especially him in Brick, one of my inspirations), and a young Tom Hardy for Joe.



What made you think that ND/HB would transition well into the monthly comic format?

The series Afterlife with Archie was my original inspiration, where the Riverdale characters are mashed up into a zombie story. I loved the idea of taking well-known characters and putting them into a new genre. So I conceived this hardboiled noir take on Nancy, Joe and Frank.

What interested me the most was not doing a “mystery of the week” (or, I guess, “mystery of the book”) format and instead create an ongoing investigation and world. So our story begins with delving into Fenton Hardy’s death but will grow into a much bigger world that the three need to enter.

Why choose Dynamite for the publisher?  Is it because of Dynamite's success with other licensed properties?  Did you take it to any other publishers first?


I had worked with Dynamite on a previous series and really liked what they do. But the biggest thing was that they had the most passion to tell this story. Juan Collado, the company’s president, really liked this concept and thought it could work. Another huge factor for me deciding to go with Dynamite was a new editor they had brought on, Matt Idelson. Matt oversaw some big noir comic titles while working at DC Comics, including Ed Brubaker and Darwyn’s Cooke’s reboot of the Catwoman, and I’m trying to emulate their work as much as possible.

Did you have a say in the choosing of an artist for the series?

I was heavily involved. Matt (Idelson) and assistant editor Matt Humphreys first recommended Werther, and I immediately became a fan. He did a book, Dark Entries, that I thought captured a unique noir vibe. And I wanted something a little different from what people regularly see in their comics.

What do you think of Werther Dell'Edera's artistic rendering of the characters?  How do you think it fits with the story you are telling?

Nancy, Frank and Joe are entering a rough world, and I like how Werther’s art is a little rough in that way. It’s different and stands out. 


In writing each issue, how explicit are you with the description for each panel?  Or do you give Dell'Edera more freedom with rendering the panels - is it more collaborative?

I tend to be as descriptive as possible in my scripts, often including links to reference points (a background, the look of a person, etc.). I like to use that as a starting point but give Werther freedom to move from there. I sometimes will say that certain panels should be big but give him freedom to play around with. Werther’s a great storyline and naturally can figure out where to focus the action.

The first issue provides cameos of several other Stratemeyer characters - do you plan to integrate others into the story as it progresses as Easter Eggs for the ND/HB fans out there?

Yeah, I’m going to work all Stratemeyer characters into this story as we journey through it. As well as Easter eggs – I want to have at least one small reference to earlier Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew adventures in every issue, whether it’s a character emerging from a secret tunnel or setting adventure in a series of caves.

Did you and the artist sit down and work out character sketches for all of the characters (not just ND and HB) before Dell'Edera started on the art for issue one?  Were there any characters designs that you initially did not feel worked?

The first thing we do is always put together character design – it’s the most important element to every project. The character we spent the most time on was Nancy. We needed to find the perfect balance between who she’s traditionally seen as but to give her the proper edge. 


Why choose the limited series route rather than an ongoing series?  Was that Dynamite's decision or yours?  Do you see this as being a "series of limited series"?  Is it a one-time limited series, or do you have plans for future series if this one sells well?

Most comic series are launched as a limited series and, if they do well, will expand to a regular series. And that’s the goal with this one. If Dynamite’s happy with sales (thus far really strong!) and reviews (also really good!) then they’ll switch it to ongoing. So if anyone’s reading this and enjoys the series, please let Dynamite know (@dynamitecomics) – they like to hear what the readers wants!

And yes, I’ve already mapped out what would happen for Issues 6 – 12 and then beyond if the people like how I’ve started this journey.

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Don't forget to leave a comment below and let us know what you think of these new comics and the interview. What are you looking forward to in the next issues to come and what do you think the "big lie" is? I'll draw a winner on the 19th. Good luck!

Images courtesy of Dynamite

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Nancy Drew Books: Scary Things Kids (& Adults) Do #95


It's the rare-and-yet-super-duper-exciting "40 Mystery Story" edition of The Quest of the Missing Map! 

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Nancy Drew Books: Scary Things Kids (& Adults) Do #94


Nancy's silhouette was never the same after falling down the Hidden Staircase and getting conked on the head! D o u b l e V i s i o n...