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David Walker Talks SHAFT'S REVENGE

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  • David Walker Talks SHAFT'S REVENGE

    Shaft is coming back again to Dynamite, but in a different way. Writer David Walker, who has been writing the SHAFT comic, is putting together a 288 page novel called SHAFT'S REVENGE about the iconic character. Byron Brewer talked to Walker about the book, coming out in December.

    BYRON BREWER: David, what has it been like to handle this iconic character?

    Cover by Francesco Francavilla

    DAVID WALKER: It’s been an honor to work with such an iconic character. Shaft has been a part of my life since I was a kid, and a character that I always dreamed of doing something with, so this really has been a dream come true. I felt a tremendous responsibility in working on this new Shaft adventure, not just responsibility to all the fans, or to original Shaft author Ernest Tidyman, but to the character as well. For me, John Shaft started to feel like a very real person, and I wanted to make sure that I did right by him.

    BB: We know this is the first Shaft novel in a number of decades, but is this your first novel as a writer?

    DW: This is actually my second novel. My first is a Young Adult novel, Super Justice Force: The Adventures of Darius Logan, Book One. I was working on the sequel, when I got the opportunity to write Shaft’s Revenge. This was the first novel I’ve ever written, however, that was serialized, which was a huge challenge. Normally, I would’ve written the entire book, and then done revisions, but that wasn’t possible. Originally, Shaft’s Revenge was released digitally in chunks that came out with each issue of the comic book. I basically wrote six or seven chapters at a time, but there was never a chance to do revisions to the book as a whole—once something was done and published, it was done. This made the entire process a major challenge.

    BB: During what period of Shaft's life does this novel take place?

    DW: This book takes place shortly after Shaft’s Big Score, which was the third book by Tidyman. The story takes place some time around 1972 or ‘73, which sets it several years after the story we told in the original comic series, as well as the first three novels.

    BB: Tell us a little bit about the main plot line of the novel, if you would.

    DW: Shaft is hired by Knocks Persons, the godfather of Harlem, who appeared in the first novel. Knocks knows he is about to be killed, and he basically hires Shaft to find his killer. As he works the case, Shaft is caught up in the middle of a conflict between corrupt cops and the killer of Knocks.

    BB: Can you clue us in, in a non-spoilery way, about the inner demons Shaft must face during this novel?

    DW: Ernest Tidyman created a really interesting and complicated character with John Shaft. He is a very violent man, with a penchant for killing, he drinks too much, sleeps around too much, and he is very much aware that he’s something of a damaged person. Tidyman touched upon some of this stuff, but a lot of it was really underused material that I decided to play with.

    I wanted to explore some of what makes Shaft tick, including aspects of his youth. We learn stuff about Shaft in this book that has never been revealed before, stuff that even he didn’t know about, which serves as something of a second mystery within the story.

    BB: Finally, David, are there any more Shaft novels in the works?

    DW: Ernest Tidyman wrote The Last Shaft in 1975, in which the character was killed at the end of the book. I have an idea for how to bring Shaft back from the dead, which is something I would love to write. I think much of that depends on my schedule, and how much demand there is for another Shaft novel. I love the character so much, and he is so fun to write, that I would love more opportunities to see what kind of trouble we can get in together.

    SHAFT'S REVENGE comes out in December from Dynamite.