Dynamite Entertainment recently announced a new installment of the Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys comic book series, whose upcoming release is tied to the 90th anniversary of the iconic sleuth’s creation. There was only one problem: It was revealed that in the comic, Nancy Drew is dead. io9 spoke with the writer and artist behind the series, who say there’s more than meets the eye.
Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys: The Death of Nancy Drew is the latest teenage sleuth team-up from writer Anthony Del Col and artist Joe Eisma, colorist Salvatore Aiala, and letterer Crank!. It’s a follow-up to Del Col’s 2017 Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie series, which Del Col described as a film noir-style take on the legendary young detectives.
In an interview with io9, Del Col shared his love of the characters growing up, especially reading their stories with his mom, but emphasized he always found himself identifying more with Nancy Drew (despite folks telling him he should be reading the Hardy Boys because he was a boy). He said their adventures even inspired him to become a writer.
His latest Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys installment garnered an intense reaction when it was announced on Thursday. In the press release (as shared by Newsarama), Dynamite described the new series like this: “Nancy Drew is dead! Or so it seems, as to celebrate her 90th anniversary the famous literary character’s mysterious fate is investigated.” Eisma’s stark and eye-catching cover shows the Hardy brothers standing over Nancy Drew’s grave, and the story is about their investigation into her supposed death, which “follows one of her highest stake investigations into organized crime.”
This announcement led some folks to accuse the team of “fridging” Nancy Drew—a term that writer Gail Simone coined in 1994, based on a Green Lantern comic, that describes stories that kill off a female character to motivate a male character’s actions. However, the folks behind the series told io9 that’s not the case, with Eisma adding that he would never have agreed to work on a comic book that did something like that.
“I personally am not a fan of fridging as a plot device, and I wouldn’t have agreed to draw a book that had that as a plot element,” he said. “I just hope folks will give us a chance to tell our story.”
The pair wouldn’t reveal publicly what happens in the story for fear of spoilers, but Del Col emphasized that Nancy is a key figure and The Death of Nancy Drew is, at its heart, her story. He also cited a connection to the 1944 noir film Laura, which could provide some clues for sleuths wanting to do their own digging.
“Nancy is in the series—I will not say whether it’s through flashback or whether she’s still alive. I think one of the things that was lost in the press release and in this coverage is that it’s noir, so we play a lot of the noir tropes. I mean, Laura is a great example of a film that we heavily leaned into in the creation of The Death of Nancy Drew,” he said. “And, much like the original series, where it boils down to the interaction between the three of them and they solve the crime, there will be a lot of interaction between the three main characters.”
The pair said they understand the feedback that’s emerged since their comic book was announced—Eisma said he “respect[s] that this has really drummed up some concern in people.”
Evolving talks around representation in media have resulted in more awareness over how certain demographics are depicted. Sometimes works can make mistakes, give the wrong impression, or flat-out do something wrong—even when it’s unintentional. In this case, a big part of the backlash was because the press release tied the comic book to the 90th anniversary of Nancy Drew. It came across as callous to think that someone’s idea of celebrating the near-centennial of this beloved character was to kill her off. When asked about this, Del Col said The Death of Nancy Drew is a sequel to The Big Lie and wasn’t created for the 90th anniversary of the character, adding that the connection cited in the press release was a coincidence.
In any case, it looks like the initial announcement of The Death of Nancy Drew was missing a few details, which is par for the course with comic solicitations. Dynamite framing the near-centennial of one of fiction’s greatest female characters as a story of her death for a couple of guys to solve was, in short, not a great move. But it looks like there’s another investigation to be had here, finding out the truth behind the truth of The Death of Nancy Drew. The case may not be solved yet, but at least the clues are pointing in a hopeful direction.
Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys: The Death of Nancy Drew debuts in April.
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