Anthony Del Col takes a look at the first 12 pages of Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie #6 in this new writer's commentary, straight from Dynamite. The issue has covers by Fay Dalton and Veronica Fish with interiors by Werther Dell'Edera. Though this issue ends the Big Lie story arc, Del Col makes it clear that there will be more from Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys in the near future.
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We end this arc exactly where we began.
The very first scene back in Issue #1 was Frank Hardy being interviewed in the interrogation room at the Bayside Police Station. So I figured it was fitting to begin the final issue of this first arc at this locale. But this time Nancy Drew's being interviewed — and doing the voice-over. I thought it was brilliant of artist Werther Dell'Ederra to mimic that page with the large Panel 2, with the exact same colors. But anyone that's read this far knows that the circumstances are different.
But are they? Because on the next page…
Originally I had scripted the shooting of Nancy's father, Carson Drew, in the previous issue as a cliffhanger. But I realized that there was more story to tell in that issue and didn't want to jam it all together. Plus, I also thought it would be fun to start off this arc-finish with a BANG(!).
I decided to put this (and Page 3) in flashback to also echo the first issue, which played quite a bit with flashbacks. Yes, perhaps I'm a little too obsessed with repeating framing devices but it's something I always quite enjoy. My wife Lisa jokes with me about it, referring it to my "round about" tendency.
It's important to point out how great a job colorist Stefano Simeone did on these flashback pages, putting everything in a pinkish hue. As the series has gone on he's morphed and slightly moved the colors to a blue-and-pink esthetic, which I think is really cool.
I'm a big fan of repeated image from a similar position, so wrote this page so that the near-dead Carson Drew would always be in the same position in the foreground. But we're focused on Nancy as she goes through the stages of grief – denial, anger, acceptance, etc. I also love that even though she's in a crisis she's always thinking of others – in this case Frank and Joe and realizing they'll be pinned for the murder so ushers them out of there.
And we're back in the interrogation room.
I think I've commented on this in an earlier commentary but to me it was important to emphasize the difference between the police detective investigating the case. Chief Collig is a strong, scary guy. I modeled his look after Lance Reddick from The Wire, who was also "good police" (as they say in the show). And for the incompetent Peterson, I sent a number of photos to Werther of "shlubby" guys – the ones that you've be surprised would attain a degree of success.
One of the hardest things to write is an exposition scene. This was probably the hardest scene for me to write in this issue – so many details needed to be revealed here. I always feel bad for artists for these pages – they're necessary evils, I would say.
I'd like to comment on letterer Simon Bowland here, who deftly navigates the world balloons gracefully. He's the unheralded superstar of this series and I hope I didn't have to make things too hard for him with scenes like this.
Carson Drew's not dead! Not yet, at least…
To me this and the next page are some of the most important pages in this issue. At this point Nancy's been presented with the "facts" from Collig, and they mostly seem legit. So she's upset with her father, and yet… she has nowhere else to turn at this point. She feels upset that her father could actually be responsible for Fenton Hardy's death so she can't meet Frank and Joe Hardy. So it's just her and her father.
I love writing "zoom" panels where we slowly get closer and closer to a character as they reveal something important. Some might say it's cheating but visually I think it's important to emphasize epiphanies the character is going through.
My favorite page in this Issue is Page 21 (which unfortunately I can't talk about yet without giving away the entire story…), but my second favorite moment is this.
Nancy Drew has been a pillar and rock this entire series, not allowing herself to get too emotional. Focus on the investigation, she always tells herself. But here, in the hospital room of her near-dead father, she lets it all go. And realizes that she's partly responsible.
An important thing for me in this series is to highlight how our three leads second-guess themselves the entire time. This is a new world for them and it's natural they'll question whether they've going down the right path. Frank and Joe have gone through it, and now it's Nancy's turn.
How many scenes have we seen in television or film that are set in parking garages? Too many to mention. They're great because they've both practical (everyone parks their cars in them) but also dark places for illicit meetings.
And yes, Frank's reference to All the President's Men is a nod to a major influence for me. The ideas of conspiracies are so pervasive in culture today that I find President's Men one of the greats in that genre. And perhaps something that this story will tap into in the future.
I always like to dub these moments "Keyser Soze" moments, where everything comes together like a puzzle. A quick sequence of flashback panels lead our detectives to a realization: there's something afoot and Dad was sending Nancy a clue.
So perhaps Carson Drew's not as bad a guy as we thought?
My great editors, Matt Idelson and Matt Humphreys, always made sure that I would include some actual investigation work in this story. So this is Nancy looking for clues left in her temporary apartment. I love that Werther put the "Police Line Do Not Cross" tape right in the foreground – a really nice touch.
How could I write a Nancy Drew mystery and NOT include a magnifying glass? But, of course, this magnifying glass is cracked. I'm glad that Werther made it so subtle – I didn't want to bang this iconic image over the readers' heads. But I think it's a fun take – this is not the Nancy Drew mystery you're used to.
Another "roundabout"… In Issue #2 I set a flashback scene where eight-year-old Nancy plays with younger Frank and Joe along the beach and in the caves. So what better place to lead our adventurers to than this very cave?
And, of course, caves are very fitting for an adventure with these three. My favorite Hardy Boys cover is the one for "The Secret of the Caves" and used that as a reference for Werther.
Caves are also great places for enemies to hide, though, and we'll soon find out that Nancy's not alone in this cave…
COVER A (FAY DALTON)
What can I say about Fay Dalton's covers that hasn't been said before? The woman is an AMAZING artist and I'm so glad she's created some iconic covers (my two favorites are for Issues 1 and 3). This one is also great, where she plays with the whiteness of the first cover in the background, and in the foreground we find a dead (or injured body).
Water has always been a big theme for this story and Fay does a great job weaving it into this cover. And it plays a key role late in this issue.
COVER B (VERONICA FISH)
When I first started working on this series and talking about artists with editors Matt Idelson and Matt Humphreys, Veronica Fish's name came up really early. I really like her style – a nice blend between adult and children's. Very unique. So I became really excited when I discovered she would be able to do a cover for us for this issue.
And what a cover it is!
I like the concept of Nancy in a prison jump suit, and the magnifying glass. But the hint – just subtle enough – of blood really makes this a great cover. One of the best for this series.
I've really enjoyed putting together these writer commentaries and look forward to continuing them with a new arc, the timing of which is currently being planned out. Don't worry – there's a LOT more story where this came from.