Dynamite has sent us something a little different today. Instead of a writer's commentary, we have Anthony Del Col talking about where the inspiration for Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie came from. You might be surprised. Art by Werther Dell'Edera and cover by Faye Dalton.
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People often ask me where I get my ideas from. The answer, quite simply, is this:
I steal them.
Okay, perhaps "steal" is the wrong term. But sometimes I read or watch or listen to other stories and find inspiration. This was the case two-and-a-half years ago when I finally read Afterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla. (I say "finally" because I didn't read these adventures until it was released as a trade paperback.) I was immediately blown away by the story, the art, and most importantly, their ability to take characters I grew up with (Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead) and in place them into a new genre, bringing new life to them (yes, this is partially a pun).
And thus, inspired, I went out looking for icons of my youth to see if I could do the same. And the result is Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie trade paperback, out in bookstores this month. In it, I take the titular teen detectives and mash them into a new genre — a modern-day hard-boiled noir mystery — and take them completely out of their comfort zone.
When I came up with the idea of rebooting these intrepid detectives, one image came to my mind: the two Hardy brothers (Frank and Joe, for those that don't remember… or mix them up all the time, which I poke fun at in the first issue/chapter) are being separately interrogated and accused of the murder of their father, disgraced police detective Fenton Hardy. I thought this was such a contrast to how we normally perceive these two "gee whiz" noble characters and thought it would set the tone immediately.
And thus we begin this grand adventure.
And whom will they turn to? Someone from their past. Their childhood past. But as we quickly discover, she doesn't have a friendly, easy path to clearing their names. But instead, a very dark idea that will find them all becoming criminals in the eyes of society in order to allow them access to the seedy underbelly of Bayport.
Yes, Nancy Drew.
Another point that people have made to me recently is that the series reminds them of Riverdale — a darker take on traditionally wholesome characters. So in some ways, Drew/Hardy: The Big Lie is similar, in some ways it's different.
First off, yes, there are similarities. Both stories involve the fallout from the murder of someone close to them. And both involve our teen characters taking the investigations into their own hands and discovering aspects of their towns they weren't aware of.
As for differences, because I only had six issues (to start off with) I wanted to stay focused on the investigation and not deviate into love triangles (though I currently have a very interesting one mapped out for a second arc if/when Dynamite picks it up). I do hint at some romantic interests, but didn't have the real estate to delve into it. I also kept the story primarily on the teenagers, not the adults.
But let's face it: both projects have launched around the same time, and I think something can be gleaned from this. As consumers we have access to a lot of new and original content. But what is closest to our hearts are our childhoods, and the characters and stories that entertained us at that time. So we're excited to dive back into that — but with modern, more grown-up takes on them. It's a bit of nostalgia, a bit of awareness, and an entry point into new stories.
So yes, I'm a thief. I steal stories from our childhoods and re-tell them in new ways. And much like Nancy, Frank and Joe in The Big Lie, I have eventually become okay with that, because it's for a bigger purpose. In my case, to entertain audiences.