Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Death Of Nancy Drew #1 isn’t out until April, but the buzz around the Dynamite series began as soon as the title of the book was released. The controversy over the iconic sleuth’s apparent murder (just in time for her 90th anniversary) was fast and in some cases furious. Through it all, however, the creators stood by their tale.
Writer Anthony Del Col (Luke Cage: Everyman, Kill Shakespeare) and artist Joe Eisma (Riverdale, Morning Glories) head up the creative team, with Salvatore Aiala on colors and Crank! on letters. Del Col and Eisma chatted with The Beat about the series and why fans old and new should give their noir take on the teen detective a shot.
Deanna Destito: First, let’s talk about the initial reactions to this comic. There was definitely an emotional response to the idea that Nancy was killed on the 90th anniversary of the character. What are your thoughts on that?
Joe Eisma: It was completely unexpected. When you have a new project announced, it’s always kind of nerve wracking, but the reaction to this really took my anxiety to another level. I understand the concerns and I think the critiques are fair, but not the personal attacks. To say I was caught flatfooted by all of it is an understatement. However, it was good to see people are so passionate about Nancy—and I really do hope they can give our book a chance.
Anthony Del Col: I’m with Joe on this. I did not expect the amount of vitriol that followed the project’s announcement directed at Joe and I. I was called a number of names and obscenities shot at me. That part didn’t bother me, but it’s not what I was expecting.
Del Col (cont.): For me, it’s a sign of how important Nancy Drew is to her fans and readers. Most people have grown up with her and are very protective of the character. As I would be, and as I am. When I first conceived of this take on her (along with the first part of the series, the hardboiled noir The Big Lie), I did so from a place of love and admiration. I wanted to tell a very unique Nancy Drew mystery and I think we’ve succeeded with The Death of Nancy Drew.
Destito: Why did you choose to tell this story for her milestone birthday?
Del Col: This story wasn’t designed for her 90th birthday but is a part of a larger story. I first pitched this hardboiled noir storyline with the rights holders, Simon & Schuster and Moxie Co. Working with them, we put together a pitch and Dynamite was brought on board as the comic publishing company. This was back in 2016, and the following year we released The Big Lie, in which Joe and Frank Hardy are accused of murdering their father and turn to Nancy to help clear their names.
Del Col (cont.): The plan was always to follow that up with taking the three to Nancy’s hometown of River Heights and having a murder there be the centerpiece. It was fairly early on that I realized the most interesting murder would be Nancy’s herself but figure out a way to still keep her as the central character. Which we have – but I can’t tell you how she is (you’ll have to read the first two issues to find out!).
Destito: Why do you think a character like Nancy has endured for nearly a century?
Eisma: Nancy is, for the lack of a better term, an icon. For so many mystery and crime fans, she’s the introduction to those genres. There are so many stories you can tell with her.
Del Col: I think Joe’s hit it on the nail with his answer. Nancy is one of the first detectives that children are introduced to. That sticks with you through your entire life. But just as importantly, Nancy is a teenager who solves mysteries and battles bad guys that most adults are unable to do. I think there’s a huge wish fulfillment as children read this. I know it certainly did for me.
Del Col (cont.): Finally, I think Nancy’s just a great role model. She’s smart, friendly and honest. You don’t find many people like those these days, and it’s great to find someone like that to look up to.
Destito: What is your favorite classic Nancy Drew story and why?
Del Col: Well, my gut instinct is to say The Secret of the Old Clock. It was my first Nancy Drew mystery and left a big impression on me. I discovered it in my grandparents’ basement when I was five or six, and my mother gave it to me (it was her old copy). So it was a bonding experience as well.
Del Col (cont.): I also wanna give a plug to the new Nancy Drew CW series. I know the writers of the show and they’re coming up with a completely new take on the characters and doing some really interesting supernatural stuff with their tales.
Eisma: The Hidden Staircase would be my usual pick, but I really enjoy The Crooked Banister for the sheer boldness of the storytelling—it’s one of her classic stories I would love to do a modern retelling of.
Destito: What will old fans of Nancy and the Hardy Boys like about this tale and what will draw in new readers who may not know anything about these characters?
Eisma: I hope readers will find in The Death of Nancy Drew a tale worthy of the canon crafted by fans of the characters. Mine and Anthony’s number one intention with this story is to tell a good mystery that longtime fans can really dig into, while also being accessible for new readers.
Del Col: For those existing/old fans of Nancy, Frank, and Joe, I think they’ll enjoy seeing the three thrust into this hardboiled noir genre and battle enemies darker than any other they’ve squared off against before. I’m a huge fan of all three detectives, and I think they’ll see my admiration on each and every page. Oh, and there’s Easter eggs, too! How could there not be?
Del Col (cont.): As for new readers, this is a really modern-day noir that leans into the tropes but tells a story about a death of a detective that meant a lot to everyone around her, the two friends that are trying to unravel it all, and a cool location (the Midwest), a place we don’t see in these sorts of things very often.
Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Death Of Nancy Drew #1 is set to release on April 1. Visit Dynamite’s website for more on the series.