"Writing Their First Interaction Was Incredibly Delicious" – Del Col And McCreery Talk Sherlock Holmes vs Harry Houdini
An idea that I'm surprise if no one has ever done before. The great detective Sherlock Holmes meets the escape artist Harry Houdini. The new series from Dynamite is being written by Kill Shakespeare writers Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery, and Byron Brewer sat down to talk to the pair of creators about the project.
BYRON BREWER: First, Anthony, what did it feel like to have your work, Kill Shakespeare, nominated for a Harvey Award? Pretty cool.
ANTHONY DEL COL: Pretty cool? Actually, pretty freakin' cool! It was completely unexpected as this was the first series that Conor and I had ever done. The Harveys are voted on by fellow members of the industry so it made us feel that we had been accepted by the community.
CONOR MCCREERY: Weirdly enough at that Harvey Awards dinner we sat beside Nick Barrucci. I remember thinking he was a very sarcastically funny guy and that he seemed to have a great head on his shoulders for the business and that it would be great to work with him one day.
And they say dreams don't come true.
BB: Can you describe the process of how you and co-writer Conor McCreery work as a team?
C: It's a fluid thing – like for H&H Anthony took it on himself to bring all these amazing ideas to our first story meeting. I didn't even open my notebook to mention any of the thoughts I had – his were that amazing! After that we worked together on "breaking" the story and figuring out what the five issues will be. Writing-wise what we usually do is one guy is "lead" writer on an issue and the other guy story-edits and does a pass at the end.
A: And then if we have any disagreements we resort to Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine whose idea sees the light of day. We both competed in the first-annual World Rock-Paper-Scissors Championships a number of years ago so we're both good. Okay, alright, we both throw the same moves so it ends up as a stalemate…
C: Anthony's being modest – he actually was a quarterfinalist and lost to the eventual World Champion. So, given THAT skill set I have an excellent incentive to compromise when I'm being stubborn – GRIN.
A: I've always thought that Holmes was an amazing character but never had the nerve or gumption to tackle writing an adventure with him before. I'm so glad that Dynamite has given us the opportunity – he's a blast to write for! I feel like I'm getting smarter just by trying to get in his mind.
C: See, and writing Holmes just makes me feel dumb… wait… that was all the "research" I did for Holmes' character flaw.
BB: How does our master sleuth become involved with the great performer Houdini?
C: Well I'd like to say that Holmes is naturally drawn to other people who display excellence and that he seeks out Houdini as a way to test out another exceptional talent. I'd LIKE to say that, but the truth is, well, Holmes is in a bit of trouble when he first meets Harry. I can't say anything more though. I don't want to spoil the fun.
A: Writing their first interaction was incredibly delicious. Here we have two accomplished, smart and arrogant men in the same room, trying to test the other person. It really felt like scripting a boxing match but instead of punches they're throwing verbal jabs and witticisms. And everyone else in the room just stands back and watches these two titans go at it.
A: Our story is set in 1900, which is when Houdini is starting to blow up internationally as the master of escape. It's his first tour of London (the centre of Europe) and he's hoping to really draw in huge crowds and become an international superstar. It's interesting that most people think of him as American (and he pretty much believed it to be true) but he was actually born in Europe.
C: We've also drawn heavily on a couple of other elements of Houdini's life and sort of planted the seeds in this story. One is his love of film, and the other was his later-life obsession in "outing" spiritualists – who he felt were at best irresponsible, and at worst out and out crooks, for suggesting that there are powers beyond our understanding at work in the world.
It's that viewpoint that's going to get HARRY in trouble in our story…
BB: And the big-bad is … ?
C: Oh you can't expect we'll tell you that! For shame, well-oiled Dynamite marketing machine! For shame!
A: Conor's right – trying to get us to reveal the big bad this early would be even harder than escaping from one of Houdini's tricks. We really wanted to come up with a character that was smart as well as physically imposing, and we think we've come up with just the right fit…
BB: Are you a student of magical history or a fan of the late performer?
A: For myself, it's only lately that I've started to become really intrigued by magic. I had the fortune to meet magician Jon Armstrong (who actually created a comic series, Smoke & Mirrors, with IDW) and see a couple of his shows and left each one shaking my head at how he did it. What's interesting is that when we went last month I could already guess at some of their techniques because of research for Holmes vs. Houdini.
C: Do we count liking Gob from Arrested Development as being a "student of magical history?" Then yes. Yes, I am.
BB: What would you say about the art of Carlos Furuzono?
A: Well, I was disappointed at first that my original pitch of doing the entire series in my poorly-drawn stick figures wasn't approved… But seriously, Joe, Nick and the team at Dynamite did a great job finding and recruiting Carlos to work on this series. The early pages that I've seen are amazing and I think he's a real talent ready to make it to the next level.
C: I was also disappointed about the stick figures…
For more on Sherlock Holmes vs Harry Houdini #1, click here.
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