Chances are you probably grew up reading either the ‘Hardy Boys’ or the ‘Nancy Drew’ novels. Those old blue and yellow-spined hardcovers on your bookshelf filled with stories of the exploits of Frank and Joe and Nancy and Bess. Just the mention of Franklin W. Dixon or Carolyn Keene brings back fond recollections for many of us, and they weren’t even real people. All the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew stories were ghost written by contract writers for years. The same goes for the ‘Bobbsey Twins’ books by Laura Lee Hope and the ‘Tom Swift’ novels by Victor Appleton Jr. These books gave literally generations of young readers the basics of deductive reasoning and entertained them all the while. The first Hardy Boys book was published in 1927 and the first Nancy Drew book in 1930 and they’ve been in continuous print ever since.
With their long-lasting popularity, it’s not surprising to see Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys occasionally resurface every decade or so for a facelift and some renewed book sales. But one thing that most any fan would definitely not be expecting is the new comic series from Dynamite Comics entitled ‘Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie.’ ‘The Big Lie’ is everything that no one would expect from a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys team-up comic. It’s gritty, violent, and hard-hitting right from the beginning. The content is grim, the artwork has a rough retro feel, and the story is quite frankly, shocking. It’s hard not to go into details without ruining the plot, but suffice it to say a fair assemblage of well-loved characters manage to make an appearance in issue one without things feeling crowded. On top of that, there are some surprising cameo appearances that might cause you to wax nostalgic.
Anthony Del Col of Kill Shakespeare fame manages to pull together tendrils of all our communal visions of Bayport from our childhood and weave them into the beginnings of a crime drama more reminiscent of an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street than a children’s mystery. On top of that, Werther Dell’Edera’s minimalist art, which echoes notes of Darwyn Cooke but with more rough realism, perfectly rounds out the feel of the story. Frank, Joe, and Nancy live very much in our present in this story and not in the picturesque Bayport that we read in novels as children. People in this world are imperfect, petty, vicious, and most assuredly real. It’s a novel approach to characters that have been relegated to childhood memories for far too long.
For those of you that weren’t raised on a steady diet of old clocks and tower treasures, never fear. ‘The Big Lie’ stands well on its own regardless of your familiarity with the original source content. It’s well-written, well-drawn and starts off a solid crime drama with a bang. Issue one is at local comic book stores now, but it’s hard to expect anything but greatness from the forthcoming issues. This one is a sleeper waiting to become a hit and whether you’re a fan of Frank, Joe, and Nancy or not, ‘The Big Lie’ is an absolute must-read for the indie comic reader. One caveat however – this comic is definitely not for young readers. It’s rated Teen+ and well deserves the rating.
I already covered how I like comics in my first comic quickie here. So on to the recommendation. This week? Jason Aaron & Jason Latour’s Southern Bastards vol 1: Here Was a Man, which compiles issues 1-4.
Property of Image Comics
This arc features a morally ambiguous Earl Tubb, who is now one of my all-time favorite characters in any media. To leave the description short and spoiler free Earl returns to the county he born in after some time away only to find it is quite different than what he remembered. He makes some friends and enemies very quickly while looking for answers. The four issues are paced great enough that even as I read the single issues I never felt that any one issue ended too quickly or dragged on.
This first arc is written extremely well, which isn’t surprising of superstar author Jason Aaron. The accompanying art from Latour fits extremely well. The visual portrayal accompanied by the story give an amazing atmosphere to Castor County. So much so that I can almost taste Boss’s BBQ.
This volume will release in stores on October 1, but Amazon has its date set for October 14 if you don’t have a LCS you go to. The Jasons’ work should be essential for any fan of mystery or crime novels. Everything about the series should have you hooked before you’re halfway through.