Rogues Portal had the chance to talk to Kyle Higgins about The Dead Hand, his upcoming series from Image Comics with artist Stephen Mooney, and colorist Jordie Bellaire at the 2018 Emerald City Comic Con:
Rogues Portal (RP): I’ve heard about The Dead Hand, but I was hoping to get a little more information from you about it.
Kyle Higgins (KH): It’s my third Image series, the first two being C.O.W.L. and Hadrian’s Wall. It’s my first time working with Stephen Mooney, and the first time working on interiors with Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles so it’s an exciting collaboration that’s a mixture of James Bond, Metal Gear Solid, and the best John Le Carre novels. It’s an end of the Cold War spy thriller about a small town with secrets that date back to the fall of the Soviet Union, with an espionage ring that was active during that time. It boils down to the relationship between an old spy and a little boy for the fate of the world. I’m being a little cryptic here, I know.
RP: I understand, you want to keep everything on the qt.
KH: What’s exciting is that it definitely has a lot more action than my previous Image books, so watching Stephen and Jordie knock it out of the park every issue is a thrill.
RP: So it’s got a Mr. Holmes sort of vibe to it, the retired older hero on one last ride?
KH: It depends on your definition of ‘retired’. It’s a little bit of a Then and Now story, I’ve written in narratively in a very different style from anything I’ve done before. It’s all third person narration like a novel so that allows for some dexterity in the narrative sequences, so I’m able to dive back in with interstitials into the late ’90s or into childhood. The narration carries us into those passages. The story is modern day but there are a lot of sequences that take place in the early ’90s or even back in the ’60s, so you get to see different facets of this kind of heightened spy fiction.
RP: What’s it been like working with Stephen Mooney and Jordie Bellaire?
KH: Stephen and Jordie are both delightful and incredibly talented. They’re like siblings, so it’s fun to watch them interact. Stephen and I have been working on this for quite a while and we weren’t sure whether Jordie would be interested and ultimately she was. She’s the busiest person in comics, and we were over the moon that she was willing to join us on this. I love Stephen’s art, I love Stephen’s art even more when it’s colored by Jordie. You can see in here that it’s all palette selection, so the heavy rendering styles that Stephen’s putting in this book Jordie compliments really well with flatter render style colors. It’s all about the specific palette selection.
RP: Do you find the contemporary sequences have their own feel as opposed to the flashback sequences?
KH: Yeah, a lot of the flashbacks in the first issue have this really strong red/blue contrast. You wouldn’t necessarily think of that initially because you run the risk of having it resemble a police car, but Jordie makes it work superbly, as you can see here.
RP: Oh, that’s awesome.
KH: Stephen’s chanelling Barry Windsor-Smith, with a great Weapon-X style montage page.
RP: I dig the motif of the mask.
KH: It’s an amalgamation of styles and eras and influences, like I said heightened spy fiction.
RP: So it’s not full-on Steranko Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
KH: No, but it’s also not Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy either. It’s somewhere in the middle. A nice healthy medium.
RP: With the rise of books like Ninjak, Velvet, and Queen & Country there seems to be an upsurge in spy fiction in comics. What do you think might be influencing that?
KH: I think all of these genres move in cycles. I’ve been a huge fan of what Ed Brudbaker and Sean Phillips have done for quite a while, they’ve been operating in that space for quite a while, even before Ed and Steve Epting did Velvet. It’s a genre I like and thought would be a lot of fun to play with Stephen in.
RP: Before I let you go, I have to ask: will we see another C.O.W.L. series?
KH: You’re about the fifth person to ask me that, which is always a good sign. We’ve always intended to do more, and want to do more, it’s just a scheduling thing at this point. Creator owned books can be tough to maintain, both in terms of workload as well as a financial standpoint. So we’re planning to do more, it’s just about figuring out when and in what form. But I feel the book’s following has grown in the years since we ended it. I’m curious to see if we do more if the fans come out for it.