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Exclusive interview: Writer Andy Diggle talks about his new book Uncanny, crime in comics, and more!

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Posted by: Byron Brewer, Contributing Editor
created 05/01/2013 - 5:19pm, updated 05/01/2013 - 5:37pm

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It is a fact that lovers of cosmic comics are also usually lovers of crime drama, and for many of us it is the 1940s Bogie style we love: gritty, street smart and violent.

A market in comics is growing for crime mystery, and a new offering to this is Dynamite Comics’ Uncanny by writer Andy Diggle (Hellblazer, Daredevil, The Losers) and artist Aaron Campbell (Sherlock Holmes, The Shadow).

To get to the bottom of this noir concoction, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively got a booth in the back at Lefty’s and had a discussion with Diggle.

Cosmic Book News: Andy, how did this project in Dynamite's new Crime Line come about?

Andy Diggle: It was pretty simple -- they asked! I've enjoyed writing genre books like The Losers, Rat Catcher, Six Guns and Green Arrow: Year One (which I approached as an action thriller rather than a superhero comic), and I guess it shows.

CBN: The thrillers you mention, like The Losers and Rat Catcher, had a great feel and were well received. Can you compare Uncanny with those works?

Andy Diggle: The Losers was heavy on the action whereas Rat Catcher was more of a procedural -- although it did have the requisite amount of gunfights and exploding helicopters! Uncanny is somewhere in between -- gritty noir in tone, with a balance of action and drama. The difference is that Uncanny also has this slight supernatural undercurrent which allows me to zig-zag off in unexpected directions.

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CBN: Tell us about Uncanny's character Weaver.

Andy Diggle: He's a professional gambler, con-man and thief for hire. On the surface he seems to have it all -- looks, skill, confidence, swagger -- but we quickly learn that it's all just a front. His amazing jack-of-all-trades skills are not really his own -- he has this ability to steal other people's knowledge, abilities and expertise for a limited time, and use them to execute his plan. But the clock's always ticking. He has to complete his mission before the stolen skills fade and he goes back to being a regular Joe. He lives this completely disposable lifestyle, always moving, but there's no safety net under him. He's hollow inside. We join him at a point in his life where he's forced to confront these aspects of himself that maybe aren't so pretty.

CBN: Are there any special foes he faces? Is he the only one with paranormal powers in the stories?

Andy Diggle: He thinks he's unique, but he quickly learns that there are other people out there with abilities even weirder than his own. He's never really questioned where he got this power from -- he figures, "Don't mess with a winning streak." It's only once he starts losing that he's forced to start finding out the truth about his own origins.

CBN: What can we expect from Uncanny as it goes forward?

Andy Diggle: After a run of bad luck, Weaver finds himself in a corner and takes a job that will lead him to team up with other players with uncanny abilities, who are trying to find the source of their own powers. Cue action, intrigue, heists, betrayals, sex and violence. All the good stuff, in other words.

CBN: Do you have any certain inspirations for your crime writing? Was there a particular work that inspired Uncanny?

Andy Diggle: My aspirations are simply to entertain with a brain. I love genre comics and movies, and I hate it when they say, "Leave your brain at the door." I like my brain where it is, y'know? I try to spin an entertaining yarn that doesn't insult the intelligence of the reader.

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CBN: What about the art of Aaron Campbell? Did you see his work on The Shadow?

Andy Diggle: I did, and it was great. He's the perfect choice for this kind of book -- his line work has all the grit and shadow you want for a noir book, but the action choreography is still crisp and clear. It's the perfect combination.

CBN: Do think there is a strong place for crime drama in the comics market?

Andy Diggle: There does seem to be. I think books like 100 Bullets, Criminal and the underrated Stray Bullets really kicked the doors open and showed comics fans there's more for them than just the monthly corporate spandex grind. Crime is hugely popular in film, TV and literature, and there's no reason that shouldn't be true of comics too.

CBN: Any current or future projects you would like to mention?

Andy Diggle: I'm having a blast writing Thief of Thieves with Robert Kirkman at Image, and Doctor Who at IDW. I'm also lining up a couple of new projects that I can't talk about yet, including a possible second crime book at Dynamite. It's fun being able to play the field.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Andy Diggle for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions, and we also thank Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Josh Green who helped make this interview possible.

"Uncanny" #1 launches from Dynamite in June!

 
 

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