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DAN WATTERS talks THE SHADOW #6, on sale in JANUARY!

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  • DAN WATTERS talks THE SHADOW #6, on sale in JANUARY!

    DAN WATTERS talks THE SHADOW #6, on sale in JANUARY from Dynamite!

    BYRON BREWER: Dan, I think we have spoken about this with your co-writer Si Spurrier but I don’t think you have ever given us your view of the Shadow as a character. Who is he, and what does he represent from your perspective?

    DAN WATTERS: I think Si describes him particularly well when he refers to him as a “shark”. The Shadow is exactly that; a prehistoric beast that hasn’t needed to change or evolve since the dawn of the masked vigilante trope. He’s one of the originators of this trope, and will continue to represent it as he takes it to its distilled form -- the brooding, deadly killer dispensing his own brand of personal justice without mercy or remit from the dark corners of a troubled city.

    What I might add on top of that, and what makes it particularly interesting to tackle the character now, in a contemporary setting, is that unlike other older characters, who often exist on sliding timelines, the Shadow has been changed simply by his in continuity longevity. We’re still writing the same character that was running around in the 1920s as now running around in the 2010s. It would be impossible for the pressures of history to have not made small incremental changes to his behaviors and outlook, but I think even more so on the way that he's perceived from the outside. He’s been out there for almost a century at this point.

    BB: How has it been thus far working with Si on such an icon of the pulp world as the Shadow?

    DW: It’s been fantastic -- I came on to script with issue #2, and by that point Si had already spun this wonderful outline for me to sink my teeth into. I’ve co-written a fair number of books, but this was a new way of doing it formalistically, which has been really rewarding. Si’s left me plenty of breathing room and yet also been eternally supportive throughout the entire process.

    BB: Talk to us, in a non-spoilery manner, if you will, about the plottings and machinations of Leviathan as issue #6publishes in January.

    DW: Without wanting to give too much away, Leviathan is a more subjective and ontologically elusive threat than the Shadow is used to facing, something that his traditionally rather black-and-white worldview struggles with. The Shadow knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, and can therefore immediately see Leviathan for exactly what it is; however, this doesn’t necessarily make something of this scope any easier to deal with. I think that it’s a similar monster to what we’re dealing with culturally right now, particularly in the West. Once in the belly of the beast, how do you fight it off?

    BB: Mary Jerez has really been an impressive character thus far in this story. Can you talk to us a bit about her development, how you see her as a personality and her relationship with “the Shadow” in this story in particular.

    DW: Mary’s been really interesting to write, particularly when exploring the parallels between her and the Shadow; both of them are somewhat defined by their respective vocations, Shadow as vigilante and Mary as trainee doctor. However, when they meet each of them stands at a crossroads -- attempting to muddle out the right way forward for them to heal a sick world that is shifting under their feet so fast it’s hard to keep their balance.

    BB: What do you think the 1940s radio audiences listening to “The Shadow” would have made of the story now running in your series? How difficult is it to do new stories for modern readers on pulp characters?

    DW: Oh man, I really love the radio serials; the first thing I did when I was approached to come on board was to devour a huge chunk of the Orson Welles dramas, which are just wonderful slices of noirish audio theatre. I hope that the audience for that show would still recognise our Shadow – we have flashbacks to that era as well -- but as I’ve said, we’re writing that same character into another time. I wonder if a ‘40s audience might be more surprised by the sense of entropy that’s pervaded us in general, and there’s plenty of that in the book.

    Following on from that, doing new stories on pulp characters, be they existing legends like the Shadow or archetypes, are one of my favorite things to write, personally. Having these existing backbones gives you a way to root the reader, which allows you to build on and branch out in new directions.

    BB: What does Daniel HDR bring to the table here, artistically?

    DW: Daniel’s been magnificent -- our entire series has been based on an 8 panel grid, which he has wielded with aplomb, managing a perfect balance between the claustrophobic and action-orientated. Because of the way this book is structured, in each issue we have an increasingly complex flashback with an increasingly complex grid, and Daniel has entirely taken it in his stride, nailing it at every turn.

    BB: Aside from the Shadow, Dan, what else is keeping you busy, inside or outside comics?

    DW: I’m currently wrapping up a year on Assassin’s Creed: Uprising for Titan with co-writer Alex Paknadel, who is also my studio-mate at White Noise Studios, alongside Ryan O’Sullivan and Ram V. I’ve just finished writing Wolfenstein for Titan as well, and have two unannounced creator-owned projects with wonderful artists that should be coming out next year, one already confirmed with a really exciting publisher. I’m also trying to squeeze in some longform prose where time permits. So yes! Plenty busy!