Riverdale isn’t the only classic town where things are getter a bit dark. Next month Dynamite publises a new mini series called NANCY DREW & THE HARDY BOYS: THE BIG LIE #1 which finds beloved teenage slueth Nancy Drew investigating the murder of the Hardy Boys dad…a crime which they’ve been accused of comitting! Written by Anthony Del Col with art by Werther Dell’Edera, this story wll rip the peaceful facade of Bayside apart!
We asked Del COl a few questions about tearing apart America’s most belived teen detectives:
The Beat: The Hardy boys and Nancy Drew are part of a hallowed tradition of mysteries for younger readers. You’ve said you read them growing up in Canada. Can you give us a little background on the characters?
Anthony Del Col: Well, to sum them up, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were the original YA book series protagonists. Their stories were separate but were all created by the same publishing powerhouse, the Stratemeyer Syndicate. They’re teen detectives that solve crimes and mysteries in their respective smalltown America locales, often defeating adults criminals.
But that description doesn’t quite do them justice. To many, they’re representative of smalltown USA values of community and good triumphing over evil. Almost like a Norman Rockwell painting in prose form.
But they appeal to more than just Americans. As you mentioned, I grew up in Canada and read them when younger. And no, I didn’t need to smuggle them over the border to be read in Canada in place of more hockey books…
The Beat: What do you think has made them so lasting?
Del Col: I think that they’ve stuck in everyone’s minds not just because of their iconic statuses, but also for a simple equation: they are stories about underdogs defeating bad guys. Or, more specifically, teenagers besting adults. It’s a dream scenario – with minimal supervision kids can defend a family, a town, a community. This has been repeatedly over the years in pop culture, all the way up to Stranger Things this past summer.
As for current comic readers, I think that Afterlife with Archie really established that readers today are open to seeing iconic characters placed into new genres and scenarios. What makes these sorts of stories great is taking the characters out of their normal worlds and seeing how they react to new obstacles.
THE BEAT: Despite their beloved status, this mini series finds them getting perhaps more grim and gritty as the boys dad is murdered…and they are blamed. And only Nancy can clear them! Did the character adapt easily to a slightly dark take?
Del Col: What can I say? I like to throw characters into the deep end and see if they’ll sink or swim.
When I started to devise how I could update Nancy, Frank and Joe into a modern story, the noir genre immediately appealed to me. Why? Because traditionally the genre is full of seedy characters and lowlifes that are used to that ecosystem. But in this tale, the three traditionally “goodie-goodie” characters are forced to operate in the shadows of society and operate like they’re used to it. Will they thrive? Or will they fall back on their traditional ways and not hack it? That’s one of the central conflicts as we go through our initial adventure.
The Beat: What is this Nancy Drew like? We seem to have entered a new golden age of female comics characters, so where does she fit on the spectrum?
Del Col: I think Nancy Drew is not only one of the greatest female characters created, but one of the greatest characters of any gender. Like Sherlock Holmes she’s one of the smartest, but deep down she’s also one of the nicest and most honest.
As mentioned earlier, in my tale Nancy’s forced to take on the persona of a femme fatale as we first meet her. But not the sexual kind: more of the “I’m in control and six moves ahead of everyone else and let me tell you what’s happening next” kind. She’s new to the town (the story is set in modern-day Bayport, where Frank and Joe Hardy reside) and so it’s the best way for her to infiltrate the seedy underbelly that holds the key to the murder of the brothers’ father.
The Beat: Have you written mysteries before? Do you enjoy writing them?
Del Col: Longtime reader, first-time writer.
One of the things that most got me excited about pursuing the Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys’ licenses and working with Dynamite on this project is the ability to finally (FINALLY!) write a mystery. I love how mysteries are so compactly put together with hardly any fat to the stories. And specifically in the noir genre, I love how smart characters are – it’s always a game of chess and people are always aware of where they are on the board, and expecting what’ll happen many turns in advance.
The Beat: What does artist Werther Dell’Edera bring to the book?
Del Col: Other than another Italian last name to the cover?
Werther’s bringing an amazing style to this book. When my excellent editors Matt Idelson and Matt Humphreys first recommended Werther for the project I’ll admit I wasn’t aware of his work. But when I dove into what he’s done I realized immediately he had the perfect style for this series. He’s able to really capture the shadows and moodiness of the story, and just as importantly he’s great at page layouts. He’s a natural storyteller that makes the story and concept that much better.
Q: Do you have more ideas for these characters should the first series be a hit?
Del Col: Of course! THE BIG LIE (the first arc of our story) ends with a bit of a shock, one that will propel our characters into a much larger world – and even more motivation to dive into it. Ideally I think it’s a story that could continue on for a few years.
One of the things I’m sure people are speculating on is if there will be romance in our story. It’s a natural question – these are three teenagers all the same age. Plus, who wouldn’t fall in love with Nancy Drew? Well, I can’t say anything, but I think readers will enjoy the dynamics of their friendships moving forward.
Disclosure: Dynamite Entertainment is a sponsor of the website.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.