Does Crime Pay?

At the risk of jinxing things (no one ever talks about projects in the proposal stage, for some reason), Ramón Pérez and I are working toward putting together a new crime book for a particular publisher.  I think it should be obvious that crime fiction in various mediums has been a big influence on me, and while I suppose you could call HAWAIIAN DICK a “crime comic,” I’ve been mulling over a full-fledged leap into the genre for some time now.

At their best, crime comics have provided the medium with some of their highest artistic peaks. EC’s crime comics rose above most of the sensational stuff that dominated the racks in the fifties, and David Lapham’s STRAY BULLETS is, in my opinion, one of the most impressive achievements in modern comics history.

Obviously, Brubaker and Rucka have put their stamp on crime comics, as has Azzarello. Seeing Brubaker and Phillips work their asses off to make CRIMINAL a success has been inspiring. The same could be said of Ellis and Templesmith with FELL, which is easily one of my favorite Ellis books, and probably the best thing Ben’s ever done. I also think THE HUMAN TARGET was a Vertigo high point of the past few years, and I’m looking forward to checking out some of their new “Crime Line” OGNs, a few of which are being handled by good pals. And what is SCALPED, if not a crime book? There are a bunch of “modern” crime books listed on my message board:

In any event, here’s hoping this one flies. In my head I see it shaping up as the biggest thing I’ve done, in terms of where I’d like to take it, and what kind of emotional resonance I’d like it to possess. It’s clearly a crime book, but it’s also a character study, and, honestly, it’s exceptionally rare that we see effective character studies in genre comics. I’m not exactly sure why that is. Maybe it’s because writers are resistant to fully developing a character, knowing that the evolution might throw readers used to following characters stuck in a permanent status quo. I don’t really know.

But my biggest influence of late has been the British television model for drama, which is all about character arcs and evolution. When I was a kid in Dallas, I hooked into a couple of British comedies (Doctor in the House and The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin) that moved from series to series, pushing characters forward until an actual conclusion was reached. In the same way,  the books that thrilled me the most when I was young (Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles and C.S. Lewis’s the Chronicles of Narnia) featured characters that grew over the course of several books. In a way, I’ve slowly tried to do the same thing with HAWAIIAN DICK, but it’s been hard to maintain much flow on that book, in case you haven’t noticed…

I won’t say too much more, but I think we’ve got a good hook, a great protagonist, and, you know…one of the best artists in comics, whose sensibilities line up nicely with my own. So keep your ears large for developments and wish us luck…


Filed under My Projects

4 responses to “Does Crime Pay?

  1. Nice!

    Without going into any plot details, can you talk about the format? Limited series? On-going? How many issues? Do you have an ending in mind?

    And, yeah, you’re right: I don’t know what it is about — can we generalize here? — American comic readers, even TV & movie watchers? Why are we so afraid of seeing our characters live? We want to see crime and drama, gunfights and sex, but the moment you get into something real in a character’s life — something deep and revealing — emotions, life goals, any kind of human growth, we change the channel or pick up the next issue where someone is blasting someone else in the face with Kirby Dots.

    Me, personally? I LOVE character growth and development. I love seeing characters overcome, grow, love, LOSE, become a better person than they were before. Hell, become a worse person than they were before. I love seeing characters achieve their goals and… stop? I love closure.

    Why can’t we as an audience appreciate that more? I love a good gunfight as much as the next guy but, c’mon! Pretty soon you’re gonna run out of bullets and have to live your life.

    I’m working on a similar project as the one you described — don’t worry — minus the crime element. I can’t wait to see where my characters lead me and how it ends. The WILL be an ending and I think I have an idea which direction it is in.

    Can’t wait to see you new project as it unfolds.

    Good luck.

  2. bclaymoore

    Well, almost everything seems to start as six issues stretching longer if the first six work. I’d like to do six issue arcs, whether that’s in an ongoing (preferred) or a series of limited series (which would be fine).

  3. Good luck with this, man. Sounds like something I’d definitely want to read.

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