David Walker, writer of Shaft: Imitation of Life #1, talks to writer Frank Barbiere about The Precinct #3, both now on sale from Dynamite. Cover is by Sergio Davila and Ivan Nunes. Interiors are by Crizam Cristhian Zamora and Dinei Ribeiro.
FRANK BARBIERE: For the completely uninitiated, I like to say it's Hellboy meets Final Fantasy in a steampunk setting. Beyond that quick sell, I would go on to explain that it's a steampunk crime procedural with bits of a magic and fantasy thrown in. It's actually an extension of the world Bill Willingham created during Legenderry, but I was given the lovely opportunity to populate it with my own characters and think up a story unique to the setting.
DW: How did you get involved in the series? Was this something you pitched to Dynamite, or did they come to you to breathe life into it?
FB: I've had a great experience working with Dynamite, and we were discussing "what's next." The publisher, Nick Barrucci, mentioned they wanted to do a steampunk/crime book in the world of Legenderry, and I jumped at that and started pitching. And here we are! I had been thinking of a similar story for some time, so it was a great moment of creative synergy.
DW: I like the mix of genres you have going on in the story. To me, it is very much a crime thriller, with the steampunk and fantasy elements added to give it a unique flavor. Are you approaching this as a crime/cop thriller first and foremost?
FB: Definitely. I wanted to really think of a fun mystery to drive the series, and really lean into the genre of the procedural/police crime story. From there I built in the fantasy and steampunk elements, and it all kind of took shape. While I don't think it really subverts any genres, I feel by combining a few it becomes a more textured piece of fiction and works in many different tropes, which hopefully makes it more interesting!
DW: For some reason, I keep picturing Charlton Heston, circa 1972, as Mortimer Hill (or at least hearing his voice while I'm reading his dialog). Is there an actor in your mind that would be perfect for Hill? How about Acolyte Winters?
FB: Hmmm, that's a good question, haha. I really just try to think of the character traits more and let that filter through the dialogue. With Mort it's all rough and tumble, dark history, and having to grow up with a thick skin. He doesn't believe in religion or faith. With Jo, it's the opposite: she's very dedicated, spiritual and by the book. I really enjoy having their personalities conflict, and I'm glad they are coming across as full-blooded characters.
DW: The look of the world of The Precinct is very distinct to the story, the setting and the tone. How much of that are you putting in the script, and how much of that is Crizam [Cristhian Zamora]'s contribution?
FB: Crizam really has been an amazing collaborator and brought the visual world to life. I have tried to add some description into the script knowing that the world should have a "look," but he really deserves all the credit. As I've mentioned, he has to do SO MUCH design issue to issue, and constantly does an amazing job. Most artists don't receive the credit they deserve for shaping the world, so I really want to be clear that both he and our colorist make this book a visual delight, and I'm so fortunate to have them onboard as collaborators. It's easy to write "mechanical minotaur" in a script; it takes a talented artist to give that shape and character!
DW: What else do you have on the horizon that we should be looking out for?