In the new Archaia comic Mr. Murder is Dead, an elderly cop that was once the subject of a popular comic strip called The Spook gets caught up in a mystery in the middle of a pulp, noir world.
Mr. Murder Promotional Poster"It's totally noir. People get punched and shot, and maybe in the middle of it, they'll solve who killed Mr. Murder," said Victor Quinaz, the writer of the series that's scheduled to begin in spring 2010. "I really feel like, at the core of all noir, is this really cool philosophy. If you're familiar with the Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade characters, they become the moral arbitrator. And in the end, they have to be in judgment. And this will fall in line with those old noir stories."
Quinaz is among the people being tapped to launch a new comic book series for Archaia in its partnership with Before the Door Pictures, the production company launched by actor Zachary Quinto. Quinaz is a veteran director/writer for in the movie industry, including work on the award-winning short film Chinese Dream. Mr. Murder is Dead is the second comic announced from the Before the Door/Archaia team, joining Lucid by True Blood actor Michael McMillian.
With Mr. Murder is Dead, Quinaz hopes to incorporate the visual stories told in The Spook comic strip with the more modern mystery set in a noir world.
"Our main character is Gould Kane, and he's in his 60's, and while he's still a functioning part of society, he just can't be this super-cop he once was," Quinaz said. "And our story begins with this comic strip being canceled.
"The idea is that this guy has this comic strip that's been haunting him, this former glory that is still in publication, but the story will start off with the comic strip being canceled," he said. "And that will effect the beginning of this mystery."
As Gould begins to investigate a murder, the reader will see flashbacks, but they will be told through the comic strip.
"The flashbacks will all be told through the point of view of the fictional character -- the meta-fictional character of The Spook, which is this long-running comic book character, since the 1950s, that was based on Gould Kane in his hey-day, when he was catching crooks and garnering the favor of the public," Quinaz said.
"We have flashbacks that reflect different time periods in his life. So the '50s will have that real comic strip look, and then in the '60s, you'll start seeing mutton chops and a little more grit. The '70s will dive more into shadow, and the '80s will really get dark until finally, the '90s will be almost be an interpretation of the former Spook," he said.
Quinaz has been developing the idea for the mystery for awhile, but it wasn't until he was approached by Quinto and others at Before the Door Pictures that he realized the story would be ideal for a comic.
"The idea of this story just started off with the same kind of mechanics any kind of mystery starts off with, in kind of a backwards way, where you come up with the end of the mystery and then work your way back," Quinaz explained. "But even though I had this arc of a mystery, I didn't know what to do with it, to be completely honest. I'd written mysteries before in screenplays and short stories, but I'd never figured out what would be the right place for this one.
"Once I heard what Before the Door was doing, I realized this would be perfect as a graphic novel," he said.
Quinaz said the story really started taking shape once he began working with Corey Moosa, who founded Before the Door with Quinto and Neal Dodson.
"Corey really helped me come up with the idea for the visuals that would go along with this mystery and make it so ideal for presentation as a graphic novel," he said. "As we looked at the idea, we came up with this idea to tell the story through this kind of Dick Tracy-type motif. It's set in a noir world, but it's almost like the remnants of a noir world, or an elderly noir world."
The writer said he was interested in the bigger questions that people ask when they're toward the end of their lives, so he made the choice to not only have the main character be elderly, but to set him against this back drop of a world that is asking the same types of questions .
"This noir world is like our world, because it's a world in recession," he said. "It's a world where everyone is in flux, which I feel like is very timely. Everyone seems to be looking for something new, whether it's a job or just a purpose, and we're asking bigger questions. And that's what this story is really all about."