Award-winning cartoonist Nate Powell is teaming up with writer Van Jensen for a new graphic novel. Paste Magazine today revealed the cover and an excerpt for Two Dead, Jensen and Powell’s crime thriller set in post-World War II Arkansas. The book is being published by the Gallery 13 imprint of Simon & Schuster.
The Civil Rights era deep south isn’t a new setting for Powell’s work, which includes the National Book Award-winning March trilogy with Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, and The Silence of our Friends with Jim Demonakos and Mark Long. Powell has also won both an Ignatz and an Eisner for his graphic novel, Swallow Me Whole. In a statement, Powell talks about his process of working on Two Dead alongside other books, and how those other pieces informed his work on this new book:
Finding the right approach for this story was in part thanks to those years re-imagining its format, scope, historical relationships, and how it speaks to the world of 2019. Along the way, each book I drew concurrently with Two Dead helped pave the way for its final form—Come Againallowed me to embrace the power of genre, just as March better equipped me to finding the personal focus within a larger historical context.
Jensen, a former crime reporter from Arkansas, has done work for publishers DC Comics and Dark Horse, among others. He says Two Dead is inspired by a mystery he uncovered during his reporting days in Little Rock:
My days started with turning on a police scanner and calling the coroner to see if anyone had been murdered overnight. My days often ended reporting gruesome details from crime scenes. One day, I noticed a curious detail in the halls of the Little Rock Police Department, on the plaques commemorating fallen officers, a forgotten and macabre incident from the mid-1940s. I dug into departmental records, archived newspapers, obsessed with the history. This history included organized crime, systemic racism, mental illness and unhinged policing.
You can check out Powell and Jensen’s full statements on the book over on Paste. The preview includes a first look at the cover and an 11-page excerpt, which you can read along with the official description of the graphic novel below. Two Dead is due out in stores in November.
Writer: Van Jensen
Artist: Nate Powell
Publisher: Gallery 13
Release Date: November 19, 2019
After World War II, tensions rise in a Southern city ruled by organized crime, touching countless residents as they struggle to make sense of the new world. A sudden act of violence sets off a series of bloody events between the police and mafia as they lash out against one another. As the violence worsens, desperation grows to stop it, by any means necessary.
Told in multiple perspectives—from a seemingly untouchable mafia don, to a gun-happy seasoned detective succumbing to the depths of his schizophrenia, to a newly minted police lieutenant haunted by his recent service in the war, and two African-American brothers, one mired in corruption and the other leading a local militia in an effort to see that justice is served—Two Dead is at once a white-knuckled and unputdownable thriller, a roman à clef inspired by true events, and a book about post-traumatic stress disorder and the underlying social traumas of how war and segregation affect their survivors on all fronts.
Joe Grunenwald is a writer and editor living in the Pacific Northwest. He’s taller than a lot of people but not as tall as some people.