The dead, bloodied body of disgraced police Det. Fenton Hardy lies in his study. His teenage sons Frank and Joe are taken away, accused of the crime. And a femme fatale named Nancy Drew is on the case to find the culprit.
The scene is the opening of Laurier alumnus Anthony Del Col’s (BBA ’00) latest comic book series, Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie, released by Dynamite Comics in New York. In Del Col’s hardboiled noir reboot of the classic characters, Joe and Frank Hardy turn to Nancy Drew, newly envisioned as a seductive siren, to help prove their innocence. It’s the first step in a downward spiral through the seedy underbelly of their small town. This is not the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys that your parents – or grandparents – remember.
Orchestrating the murder, of course, is the story’s author, Del Col, a business graduate with a fondness for great murder stories. He’s combined his strong creativity with skillful business management, introducing innovative storylines into the highly popular field of comics and graphic novels.
“Readers and audiences today are savvy,” Del Col says. “They consume so many stories and their awareness of what’s come before is so vast. As a result they can get bored easily.
“So what I try to do with my stories is mix things up by taking characters that people already know and inserting them into new genres or stories. As a storyteller it’s great to be able to play in big sandboxes, but bring new games to them.”
Del Col has achieved notable status in the comic book industry for unique spins on established characters. His first entry was the hit Kill Shakespeare – co-written with fellow Laurier alumnus Conor McCreery (BBA '99) – a mash-up including the Bard’s greatest characters, including Hamlet, Juliet, Lady Macbeth and Richard III. In a Game of Thrones-style adventure, the characters are on a quest to kill a wizard by the name of Shakespeare. Del Col and McCreery are currently adapting the series for television with Universal Cable Productions, the company behind Mr. Robot and The Royals.
When Del Col and his wife, Lisa, moved to New York in 2014, he found new opportunities to explore a wide range of other mediums, including audio dramas. He’s excited about an upcoming project, an audio thriller with Audible, the world’s largest audio book company.
“Audio projects can be really interesting,” Del Col says. “Look around you. Look at the number of people commuting or walking down the streets today with their earbuds in. Most of them are listening to music, but more and more are now listening to podcasts like Serial or S-Town.
“People are open to unique audio productions and I think some of the more innovative and unique stories in the coming years will be experienced through those earbuds.”
Del Col has also just finished co-writing an historical fiction graphic novel set during the Second World War, due for release in early 2018 by Image Comics, one of North America’s largest comics companies. Like Kill Shakespeare and his upcoming Audible project, it is about – you guessed it – murder. When asked about his fascination with murder stories and historical characters, Del Col laughs and pauses a moment to consider his answer.
“Death is the basis of all good drama, I guess. But I like to think that I use it as a device to allow my characters – and the audience – to think about appreciating life a little more. Celebrate it and seize it, carpe diem-style.”