In Brooklyn Blood, a serial killer is on the loose—and when strange clues lead down a paranormal path, a detective confronts his inner demons to solve the case. After returning from a tour in Afghanistan, detective Billy O’Connor returns home to a Brooklyn he doesn’t recognize. As he tries to resume his normal routines, his PTSD is easily triggered and he suffers severe hallucinations. Once he begins to work a gruesome homicide case, however, O’Connor has difficulty sorting out what’s real—and after he uncovers some strange clues, he’ll have to face the unthinkable to bring the killer to justice.
From New York Times bestselling writer Paul Levitz and Eisner nominated artist Tim Hamilton (Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451), Brooklyn Blood was originally published and serialized in sixteen chapters in Dark Horse Presents. The story also marks the first story Levitz (who served as DC Comics as a writer, the company’s youngest editor ever, and as its former President & Publisher) has written in four decades to be published by a company other than DC Comics.
Later this week, Levitz will attend the San Diego Comic-Con, where is among 16 names on the shortlist for the Eisner Award Hall Of Fame.
Both Paul and Tim took time from their busy schedules to discuss the book, its genesis and execution.
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FOG!: Paul, first of all congratulations on your Eisner Hall of Fame nomination. You’ve been involved in the comics industry for over five decades, spending much of that time at DC Comics. What do you still find appealing about comics as a storytelling medium?
Paul Levitz: It’s just a wonderful medium…the ability to convey a story using visual tools is so different from straight prose, and the collaborative process often improves my work enormously.
I think we’re in a second Golden Age of comics, with the expanding range of types of stories we’re telling, and it’s great to be a small part of that.
FOG!: Brooklyn Blood draws on a number of themes that you never explored in your superhero work: Brooklyn’s history, police procedural, PTSD, Lovecraft. What was the genesis of the project?
Paul Levitz: I wanted to write a mystery using my old hometown as background, since Brooklyn is cool now (it certainly wasn’t when I was a kid).
Thinking about Brooklyn’s history, I realized that three of the nastiest mass deaths in NY history happened within very close proximity, and that became the seed of the story.
I loved detective stories since I was a kid, growing up on (and learning from) Christie, Sayers, McBain and the rest, and I took a lot of my process from there.
The PTSD and Lovecraft elements seemed to simply grow naturally as the story evolved.
FOG!: Tim, how did you get involved in the project?
Tim Hamilton: I came to work on this because Christine Norrie suggested me to Paul (thanks Christine!). At least that’s what Paul said. I guess he saw my Fahrenheit adaptation and liked my work. So it’s not a very dramatic story. I worked with Dark Horse in the 90’s and always had a great working relationship with them so that was a plus. I was able to create most all of the visual elements with this story. Creating is what excites me. I’m a person who gets bored drawing other people’s creations so that’s one of the things that appealed to me.
FOG!: Paul, was it refreshing to have no responsibility other than writing the book?
Paul Levitz: Even when I was publisher at DC, if I was writing a book I tried to stay in my lane and let the editor and other involved executives do their part. That was particularly easy when I was working with editors like Karen Berger or Joe Orlando.
FOG!: Tim, was it daunting at all to work with an industry icon like Paul?
Tim Hamilton: I don’t mean this as a slight against Paul, but I was tasked with adapting and illustrating Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 a few years ago! I freaked out about working on a Bradbury book for a few days, and then sat down and did the best job I could like I always do! Bradbury was the only time I felt a bit daunted. After that everything else seems like cake.
FOG!: How much research did you prior to writing? Did you discover anything that surprised you that you knew you had to incorporate into the book?
Paul Levitz: I hadn’t originally thought to incorporate the Ft Greene monument in the story, or the old Stone House. I think Tim suggested the former, and I blundered on to the latter waiting for a lunch appointment in Brooklyn one day. Serendipity is great.
FOG!: Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Tim Hamilton: Biggest? As young guy I loved Frank Miller, Monty Python and Hitchcock. As I got older I tried to destroy all those influences in my work and let new ones in, because I didn’t want (and still don’t want) to calcify or stagnate. Influences later in life include David Passalacqua, Maria Bamford and…Akira Kurosawa. Yes, I still like older directors and movies. There are new directors and movies I like, but I guess I calcified a bit after all in that department. CGI allows anything to be presented on the screen today. Before CGI, directors had to make different choices about what they could afford to show when it came to special effects. They had constrictions and that created more creativity in some ways. But I’m digressing.
FOG!: What do you have coming up?
Tim Hamilton: As a freelancer…nothing concrete. More work in The New Yorker (I hope). My next children’s book will find a publisher (I hope). A pitch I have in mind will come together (I hope). The next issue of my one man anthology, Rabbit Who Fights is being constructed.
You can find all the back issues here: Gumroad.com/TimHamiltonRWF
Paul Levitz: Haven’t announced the next mini-series project yet, but pages are finally coming in. Watch this space, as they say.
FOG!: What are you currently geeking out over?
Tim Hamilton: Do I geek out over things? I’m reading some books I’m behind on such as Oryx and Crake and the rest of that Margaret Atwood trilogy. I really enjoyed the first book and want to finish the other two before it becomes a tv show. I do enjoy well made tv. Looking forward to a new season of Better Call Saul in August! The Expanse is great also. I’m enjoying that José Muñoz Sinner collection that just came out!
Paul Levitz: Jenette Kahn (my secret source for mystery author recommendations for many years) has turned my onto Joe Ide’s IQ novels. And on tv, I’ve adored the velocity of The Good Place, and am trying to stop my head from spinning from this season of Westworld. Will probably watch it again just to try to decode it all.
Brooklyn Blood arrives in comic stores and via digital this Wednesday!