Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ian Rankin on Comics

Via staff comics guy James N:

Ian Rankin, best-selling author of the Inspector Rebus series, will have his first graphic novel released this summer. It's kicking off DC Comics/Vertigo's new crime imprint and stars London's occult detective, John Constantine.

Comics website Newsarama featured a two-part interview with Rankin about Dark Entries, his love of comics, and his approach to writing for a new medium.

Part One; Part Two

NRAMA: See, I was going to ask if you were going to have Constantine going to Edinburgh...

IR: Sadly, no. It’s mostly set in a haunted house in England. So it’s his territory – rather than take him to mine, I’ve gone to his territory. And he’s got a gig as a psychic investigator. It’s sort of like of those reality game shows where people are locked up together, but there’s a haunting going on, and people are starting to disappear, which is great for the ratings. But Constantine is brought in to see if he can solve the mystery.
So I structured it almost like Ten Little Indians, you know, the Agatha Christie mystery, where people are disappearing one at a time. It’s sort of tongue-in-cheek.

NRAMA: So this won’t have a supernatural element...?

IR: Oh, it will. Big time.

NRAMA: I was wondering about that, because of the nature of the crime line.

IR: Oh, yeah. But I had to be true to Constantine’s universe, and he’s always battling demons. So there were always going to be demons in the story. It wouldn’t just be a haunted house scenario; it would grow and grow until we had the demons of Hell involved. Which is something I don’t normally get to write about, so it was quite fun.

But what appeals to me is that he’s like a private eye. He’s got the coat, and he’s shambling around with the bottle of Scotch on the table when he goes home at night, and he takes these cases where he just gets sucked in. There’s a mystery he’s trying to unfold, and he operates almost like the Sam Spade character from classic American crime fiction, only with a horror twist, a supernatural twist.

Plus, he doesn’t have superpowers. He can’t fly. And he’s not a billionaire, so he can’t afford to build a flying ship or a rubberized suit that’ll take bullets and things. He’s only got his own wits that he lives by. He’s as human as you and I. Well, there’s the question as to whether he has some demon blood running through him, but that’s making this more difficult to discuss. (laughs)

And he’s fallible. He’s very fallible. People get killed around him, and it’s his fault sometimes. He screws up. And that’s what I like about him.

Rankin isn't the first best-selling novelist to write for DC Comics:
  • Fellow Scot Denise Mina wrote two Hellblazer graphic novels (Empathy is the Enemy and The Red Right Hand), and helped Rankin adapt his scripts for his artist.
  • Greg Rucka, author of the Atticus Kodiak thrillers, has written many excellent Batman stories and gave us a worm's eye view of Gotham City through its corrupt police department in Gotham Central.
  • Brad Meltzer wrote a murder mystery that drew attention from all of DC's superhumans in Identity Crisis as well as launched the latest version of the Justice League of America.
  • Even Jodi Picoult has written a Wonder Woman graphic novel.
  • Paul DiFillipo, Mike Carey, Peter David, Douglas Rushkoff, and of course, Neil Gaiman are some of the other authors who have graced comics with their literary genius.
Dark Entries will be available from us in August, and the other graphic novels mentioned can be special ordered today.