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Interview: Toby Litt and Mark Buckingham talk DEAD BOY DETECTIVES

From the pages of SANDMAN, the Dead Boy Detectives on on the case in a new monthly series.

The Dead Boy Detectives made their first appearance back in SANDMAN #25 in 1991. Charles Rowland and Edwin Paine are, as the title suggests, two boys that are dead. From different eras, these to boys met their end at the St. Hilarions School, which happens to have other ghosts and a dark nature surrounding it. Having managed to avoid being whisked away by Death of the Endless, Charles and Edwin have become detectives where no case is too small.

Last month, Vertigo debuted the first issue of a new series by Toby Litt and Mark Buckingham. We had the chance to talk to these two gentlemen about what's coming up in the series.

COMIC VINE: Is this officially an ongoing series?


TOBY LITT: Yes it is. We're hopefully going to be going with this for a considerable time. Certainly at the moment we have our plans in place for our first year. Hopefully there will be much more beyond that.

CV: Both of you guys are locked in? You're chained to your desks?

TL: We certainly are.

MB: Yeah, I'm surrounded by it. I can't actually get out of my office.

CV: What are your favorite qualities about Charles and Edwin?

TL: For me, it's their basic decency and bravery and willingness to step in and face things that are much stronger and nastier than they are. I find it exciting writing for characters who are heroes really.

MB: I have to concur with Toby. I agree totally with that.

TL: I think also I like the fact that because they're both into different kinds of detectives, Charles into the hard-boiled school and Edwin into Sherlock Holmes and that sort of more cozy stuff, they have very different approaches. They come from different worlds and obviously different eras too. There's a lot of room for misunderstanding between them as well.

CV: The first issue had an almost light-hearted tone even though the boys were killed long ago. What's the tone going to be once they return to St. Hilarions?

TL: It's a mix because they're obviously encountering things that are really difficult for them. They have a kind of energy and stuff that's always going on between them. I'd like to think that when even under pressure, they can see what's amusing about things and just how much of a mess they've gotten themselves into.

CV: Do they recall everything from their deaths? How it happened and how it felt?

TL: Oh yes. But it's going back to the school that brings it up for both of them. We'll find out more about what happened after that. As they carry on their investigation, they want to help Crystal but they also have their own agenda which is, without giving too much away, where are the bodies buried?

CV: Are there more ghosts outside of the school wandering around?

MB: We will discover that there are ghosts everywhere. The whole point with these characters is they have the opportunity to explore a world that most people can't see or aren't aware of. They're certainly going to be not just at the school but in their travels, we're going to encounter all sorts of strangeness in one location or another.


CV: From the solicits we know Crystal is in the first four issues. Can you tell us if she'll be around beyond that in any form?

MB: [pause] She's an integral part of our new team. How things will go for her in the story would be giving too much away. I think it's safe to say that we are going to be pursuing Crystal's story with as much depth and vigor as we do the boys.

CV: That's why I added, "…in any form" because you never know…


CV: Will we see the Boys in any other locations anytime soon?

TL: They're definitely going to get around. Within the first four issues, they're at the boys' school, St. Hilarions, but after that they're looking for a new home since they lost their treehouse. They're going to be looking for somewhere else to have their office and start their investigations from.

MB: And Crystal might be able to help.

CV: If she's around…


CV: Speaking of the treehouse, have we seen the last of it since they gave it away?

TL: Not necessarily. [laughs] I think we've established they find treehouses cool. They'll miss not having the treehouse that we were familiar with. I think that's something for them to deal with as the story unfolds.

CV: The Boys were involved in the CHILDREN'S CRUSADE crossover in the 90s. Any chance of seeing other characters pop in?

TL: …Well, there is a possibility of that because in getting ready to write this, I've gone back through all of the Dead Boy stories, particular the Season of Mist, their first story [in SANDMAN #25], and the Children's Crusade, particularly the first part. This is where some of the influence came from when I was writing them. I think there's a lot of stuff there that could still be explored. So in short, yes.


CV: As seen in CHILDREN'S CRUSADE, are they going to have their disguises like the big mustache disguise?

TL: The boys love disguises. Edward in particular likes his magnifying glass and to put on his flash mustache and wig. We're going to have to find out where they get that stuff.

CV: What about Death? She did say she'd be back later.

MB: We won't say anything more than the fact that yes, the potential that Death may be good to her word and one day come back to get them still hangs over them. It may or may not be relevant at some point in the future. Certainly that fear of her return is going to be something that will definitely be very much dealt with in the next few issues alongside all the other adventures they're having. I'm not going to give away anything as to whether or not we will be seeing her reappearing soon.


CV: What's coming up in the next issue? We're going to see a video game world?

TL: Bucky's done some amazing stuff coming up in this world. I was trying to describe. Crystal is so immersed in it, it's really part of her identity. When she's there, it's as much real to her as anything else. Stuff that happens to her is going to be important to what happens in her real life.

MB: It's been good fun to develop. One of the pleasures with this series is that each of the characters has their own experiences and world they've come from. All of those gives us opportunities to explore. With Crystal, we have the strange upbringing that surrounds her, being the child of a superstar artist and a pop star and that world that she's coming from. But also the worlds she sort of disappears into in order to maintain her sanity such as all the manga she reads and the video game world. We had a great fun developing those things so they have very distinctive identities of their own. They'll all play a part in the series as it unfolds.

Be sure to track down DEAD BOY DETECTIVES #1 if you didn't pick it up yet. If your local comic shop is out of copies, you can purchase it digitally HERE. DEAD BOY DETECTIVES #2 is on sale January 29.

1 Comments Refresh
Posted by The Poet

I have been really wanting a mystery based comic book series (an ongoing one that is) for my pull list. The first issue seemed fun. Will definitely look into the second issue just to see what I think.