(Courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment)
In an exclusive interview with Villain Media, writer Anthony Del Col discusses his clever twist on the iconic teen detectives in Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie (Dynamite Entertainment). With an edgy and pulpy take, readers of both literary franchises will definitely love this crossover story of the amateur sleuths!
As we previously mentioned, the teenage brothers, Frank and Joe Hardy, find themselves accused of the murder of their father. In the small resort town of Bayport, they must team-up with the femme fatale, Nancy Drew, to prove their innocence. Will they find the real guilty party in this twisting, hard-boiled tale, complete with double-crosses, deceit and dames?
With Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie now in trade paperback, Anthony Del Col talks about updating the teen detectives to modern times, the easter eggs that book lovers will find within the installments, and a special perk that comic book enthusiasts will love about the collection.
VILLAIN MEDIA: Tell me what interested you about writing modern versions of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.
ANTHONY DEL COL: Most people think of Nancy Drew and the Hardy brothers as products of their times. Though many think of them as being from the ‘50s, they’re actually from the ‘30s. But I wanted to make them relevant today. How would three noble, upright teenagers handle a modern-day crisis, and a crisis like one they’ve never experienced before the murder of a father?
VM: Tell me about the challenges of keeping the protagonists close to their original versions, while also putting them in an original story that has never been told before.
ADC: Well, the key is to stay true to who the characters originally are – but change them up a bit. And then, with your story and obstacles, display new shades to them.
From the very beginning, I sat down and thought about who they are. All are independent, intelligent characters; especially Nancy. So I realized that she would be the one in charge most of the time. As for the brothers, I played up on the “brains” (Frank) and “brawn” (Joe) rough dissection of the two and then twisted that as the story went by. Frank is the one that is forced to be the heavy sometimes, Joe is the sensitive one.
But the most interesting thing to me was… will they change as they delve into the seedy underbelly of modern-day Bayport? Can three “good” people really go “bad” to do some “good?”
VM: Tell me about the relationship between the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. At times, Nancy is playing referee between them. The Hardy Boys think they can outsmart her as well.
ADC: Well, as mentioned above, Nancy is really the one in charge. She’s first presented as a “femme fatale,” the one calling the shots. Which she is. But as the story goes on in this first book, the first six issues, we see that veneer begin to crack. It’s one thing to put together a plan, and another thing to pull it off, and check your morals at the door.
I created a backstory in which they all knew each other as children, solving “made-up” crimes. It led to some amazing artwork by artist Werther Dell’Ederra and lots of Easter Eggs for fans of the original books. But they haven’t seen each other for years, and are forced to work together to solve the murder of Frank and Joe’s father.
VM: Where would an avid reader of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books find the Easter Eggs in the first volume?
ADC: I made a goal of including at least one Easter Egg in every issue/chapter. I can’t reveal all of them, but in the first chapter, the mysterious figure appears to Frank and Joe through a hidden staircase in a grandfather clock – a huge nod to a classic Nancy Drew mystery! The second issue has a flashback that references one of the first Hardy Boys mysteries, and so on and so forth.
VM: The Hardy Boys have a disconnect with their mother, as much as Nancy Drew has trouble connecting with her father. Tell me about this theme between parents and children.
ADC: It all started off with a question, “What is the worst thing that can happen to these characters?” For all of them, it would be the loss of a parent. So the story starts off with the murder of Fenton Hardy, and the accusations that Frank and Joe are suspects.
For Nancy, she’s also discovered something from her father’s past that caused her mother a great deal of pain. This has torn apart her close friendship with her father. So it’s a challenge; how independent can she actually be? The only people that they can all turn to for help is each other. They’re alone in this world.
One of the aspects of the earlier stories I really liked is the concept of children/teenagers outsmarting adults. So in this case they have NO adults to turn to for help; it’s all on them.
VM: I love how the artwork recreates angles and lighting you would normally see in film noir. Tell me about creating that cinematic effect with artist Werther Dell’Edera.
ADC: Werther is an amazing artist. Full-stop! When my editors Matt Idelson and Matt Humphreys pointed his artwork out to me, I realized he was the one. We had looked at a lot of artists up to that point. I love that he has a very unique look, something that doesn’t feel like a “house style.”
And yes, noir was a huge influence in the book – from the storytelling to the look. I always reference certain shots or angles from classic films; say Maltese Falcon or The Third Man. But then, Werther takes them farther and makes them his own – and better.
VM: Nancy Drew stood out to me in the issues because of her keen fashion sense. Tell me about how you and Werther Dell’Edera picked out her wardrobe.
ADC: I’ll give a lot of props to Werther for that. Early on, I worked with him and editor Matt Humphreys on modern-day style influences. My only big note was that I wanted her to have a fashionable modern-day trench coat (a nice nod to classic noirs). But other than that, I left it to Werther to come up. Perhaps him being an Italian makes him more stylish…?
VM: The first volume collects a series of interviews. You discuss the comic book process with your letterer, colorist, and cover artist. Tell me how this came about.
ADC: The creation of a comic book series, or graphic novel, takes a great deal of effort from multiple people, not just the writer and the artist. So I wanted to take a moment to shine a light on every major contributor and make people realize the work they did on it. So I was really happy to be able to have fun interviews with each of them.
The one I enjoyed the most is cover artist Fay Dalton. She seems to be a very shy person so anything I can do to point out her artwork and raise her profile is incredible. I know that she’s already gotten a couple more gigs from her work on this series so that tickles me pink.
The one interview I wasn’t able to do was with the editors, Matt and Matt, who also contributed a great deal but rarely receive any credit beyond their names in the book. But they are also shy – and they cut off my page count to stop me from doing the interviews.
VM: What other projects are you working on now?
ADC: Two months ago, Audible released my first audio thriller, UNHEARD: THE STORY OF ANNA WINSLOW, a found footage thriller that hit #1 in the U.S. and U.K. I’m excited about working in that medium again and there MAY be one or two new productions next year.
I also have an original graphic novel I’ve been working on for a while with artist Jeff McComsey and co-writer Geoff Moore that will be released the middle of 2018. I can’t reveal anything more than that – it’ll officially be announced in February – but it’s going to be a big, bold and brash historical fiction adventure that’ll have people talking with the title alone.
The trade paperback of Nancy Drew And The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie is available in stores on November 15th, 2017.
– By Jorge Solis