20 years ago, Martin Dobbs donned the cap and mask of the Dead Rabbit and became a notorious highwayman and stick-up artist until succeeding in one big scor, then he vanished. Now, he finds himself having to wearing the hood once more and in the crosshairs of the law and mob alike to save the life of his beloved wife in this action-comedy by Gerry Duggan and John McCrea.
With the series debuting October 3 from Image Comics, Duggan and McCrea took time to talk to Newsarama about Dead Rabbit from Martin’s look as the Dead Rabbit to his motivations, why he stepped away from this life of crime, and the stunning turn of events that make him jump back into it.
Newsarama: Gerry, John, the name “Dead Rabbit” harkens back to one of the street gangs in New York, so why did Martin feel fitting to call himself that?
Gerry Duggan: I wish I could swipe the credit, but I think John is the one that nailed that. It's a spot on match for his creepy look, and it's a badass thing for the character to like about - that he's descended from one of the OG gangs of New York.
John McCrea: It's all about giving him that edge, a reputation that precedes him that could give him the seconds pause which means he lives to fight again.
Nrama: Let's talk about the visuals for this guy, because I want to know what led you to this look.
Duggan: We briefly discussed a simple disguise that would allow Dobbs to go from terrifying to almost nondescript in the turn of a corner. I might have asked John what a nice Irish wool cap looked like, but John just went away and returned with the look.
I try to just set up my artists and then get out of their way. John's bringing his mask and cap to New York City for Comic-Con and then we'll go shoot some photos that might become photo variant covers. John's our first cosplayer, and hopefully not our last.
McCrea: Yeah, Gerry said hat, mask, suit and gloves - the mask started out a lot more complex but I whittled it down to the bare essentials - complicated is messy, you want something bold and simple - works well in a noir book like this... a silhouette with two red x’s.
Nrama: There's a date you mention when Rabbit stopped doing this and it's about 20 years ago. What's so specific about December 19th, 1997?
Duggan: Well, that date is the last known sighting of Rabbit. His life changed. He had met Megan and despite his many downsides she agreed to marry him, so you know their love is real. We'll be returning a bit more to the 90s and the end of Dead Rabbit and the beginning of the Dobbs family. It's going to be a really fun arc that the city of Boston will be an important part of.
Nrama: So you have him trying to live a quiet life with Megan, what can you tell us about her and their relationship because she obviously knows about his past life?
Duggan: She knows. I know how she knows, but I'm not ready to give that up just yet. We'll begin to open the world up and play a little more in 90’s Boston.
Nrama: How has Dead Rabbit's myth grown since his absence?
Duggan: I think we fall in love with the guys that get away with it. Robbers. Famous bandits have always sold well at newstands. Real world/fictional. Doesn't matter. We're hoping for the same success in comic shops with Dead Rabbit. In our world, the Boston cops don't want to hear about him, the mafia doesn't want to talk about him, and the tabloids can't get enough of him. But then, there's a whole new generation walking the streets of the Hub that may not even believe he was real.
Nrama: Why would somebody, anybody, want to return to that kind of life?
Duggan: Only out of desperation. Plenty of horrible, sweaty desperation is exactly what stories like ours need.
Nrama: What is it that you admire most about each other as creators and collaborators?
Duggan: [Laughs] Poor John. It's his turn to carry me around for a while. John has long been one of my favorite comics artists, and to be able to co-create a comic that contains so many of the things I love - it's a true dream come true to bring these characters to life and then torture them.
McCrea: Big fan of Gerry's work and when I cornered him in a pub was surprised to discover he liked my work- of course, that might have been the lead pipe that I was holding made him say so...
Nrama: Gerry, what is it about the crime world that draws you in the most because there seems to be a lot of parallels between this and Analog.
Duggan: I think both comics are really only possible because of the kind of leaders that America has been electing. Set aside Analog for a moment, it makes some guesses that Dead Rabbit doesn't. If you look at the world of Dead Rabbit -- who are the criminals? Sure, the guy in the mask is, but so are so many other.