Dangerous Curves Ahead: Hartnell and Bradshaw talk "Danger Girl: Back in Black"

Thu, October 13th, 2005 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

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"Danger Girl: Back In Black" #1 Issue #1, Page 1
Long before Sydney Bristow swiped her first Rambaldi artifact, another group of girls was saving the world from villains armed with ancient curios capable of unleashing mass destruction. Those girls were Abbey Chase and Sydney Savage the stars of Andy Hartnell and J. Scott Campbell's series, "Danger Girl." Beginning in November, Hartnell and new artist Nick Bradshaw take the girls on another mission with "Danger Girl: Back in Black," a four issue mini-series from Wildstorm comics. CBR News spoke with Hartnell and Bradshaw about the series, which is a cocktail of the "Indiana Jones" films, "James Bond" films and spiked with a strong tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.

"Danger Girl: Back in Black" picks up after the girls' adventure in Gotham City with the Dark Knight in "Danger Girl/Batman." "When 'Back in Black' begins, Abbey's back home (a place until now unseen in the DG series), and going on with what she likes to think as her normal life," Hartnell told CBR News. "But, as you would imagine from a super-spy action/adventure book, that 'normal life' doesn't last as long as she'd like it to.

"The girls go undercover, joining a notorious motorcycle gang in order to retrieve a Native American artifact that's been stolen," Hartnell continued. "But it's not the artifact that's feared, it's something much more-- ahem-- dangerous. It's something that the girls won't discover until they're much too deep into the mission, until they're past the point of no return. And it's also about looking cool in leather and carrying a big gun."

Upon infiltrating the motorcycle gang, the girls make the acquaintance of a woman named Ruby. "Ruby's a biker chick that the Danger Girls befriend on their journey. She's tough, smart and has a dark secret that just may come around to bite the DG's in their sexy little butts."

"Back in Black" will also include appearances by regular "Danger Girl" supporting cast members Silicon Valerie and Deuce. Hartnell also confirmed appearances by reoccurring characters like ladies' man spy, Johnny Barracuda, and the mysterious Secret Agent Zero.

Hartnell is keeping the identities of the bad guys of "Back in Black" a secret for now. "Remember, we're talking about 'Danger Girl' here-- the twists, turns and double-crossing are all part of the fun!"

Issue #1, Page 3 Issue #1, Page 16
The tone of "Back in Black" will be similar to the fun blend of action and humor Hartnell and J. Scott Cambell struck for the original "Danger Girl" mini-series. "Much heavier on the action-adventure than the past few specials," Hartnell stated. "There's humor involved, yeah. It wouldn't be Danger Girl without it!"

Campbell would love to illustrate another "Danger Girl" tale and plans to one day illustrate a full-length sequel to the original "Danger Girl" series, but right now his work illustrating 'Wildsiderz,' a new Wildstorm book which he also co-writes with Hartnell, is keeping him busy. "It's always a challenge to find another artist who has an opening in their schedule and who also fits the 'Danger Girl' style," Hartnell said. "When we do find that artist, we try to get a new book or mini series together. We've been talking to Nick Bradshaw for a while now and he found some time to do a 'Danger Girl' series, so we jumped on it. That's basically how 'Danger Girl: Back in Black' was born."

Hartnell and Nick Bradshaw had previously collaborated on Dynamite Entertainment's "Army of Darkness: Ashes 2Ashes" mini-series, where they discovered they liked working together. "Andy just hands me the script and I'll draw out a page and send it off. He writes action and humor fairly well, which are elements I love to play up with my style," Bradshaw told CBR News. "He knows what I can handle when it comes to pushing an expression or a certain scene. The best thing is they let me run wild with content and designs for these bikes the Danger Girls and posse are sporting in this series, which is all I asked."

Bradshaw brings his own distinct style to the world of "Danger Girl" which he hopes will inject the book's action sequences with a vibrant, turbo charged feel. "My style is fairly cartoony. Coming from a professional animation background, how could it not be? But I've tried to tone down the exaggerated cartoon style a tad. I like to keep the loose lines and hyper movements animation principles allow me to really push the 'action' element of the story," Bradshaw explained. "As far as how mine and Jimmie's [colorist Jimmy Charalampidis] style will be different from past issues? Well, you'll all have to judge for yourselves, but we're hoping people will feel like they're watching an animated feature film unfold in print. Painted, slightly more rendered backgrounds and cell shading on the characters. They really fly off the page."

Bringing his own style to Danger Girl and following in the footsteps of J. Scott Campbell was challenging for Bradshaw. "The first issue I was being very, very anal about every page," Bradshaw admitted. "Then I sort of realized that I can't do that with every issue. I can't do what Jeff did with his take on it. I had to bring my flavor to the table and all I can do is hope people dig on it. I'm more comfortable with the characters and I trust Jimmy to make the stuff look great and pop off the page. And, honestly, the first issue being done and started into the second, I can say it looks pretty dang good. I am very pleased with the final product. I hope people will be happy and the fans satiated with the Danger Girl fix."

Character sketches by Bradshaw.
"Danger Girl" is a series starring beautiful women and bursting at the seams with over the top action, but it was important for Bradshaw to also bring to life the mundane aspects of the Danger Girls' world. "Even though these ladies are super spies extraordinaire, I wanted to draw them as down to earth girls next door you know? Like from the first pages of 'Danger Girl: Back In Black' #1, you see Abbey on a day off. I like that I get to draw that part of her day. Not just the parts with her kicking ass!" Bradshaw explained. "Although there's plenty of her kicking ass! There's an element in this story of a few plots going on that readers are vaguely made aware of that are building throughout this series and gonna come slamming together, which is pretty cool. But... bare bones? It's just a fun book."

The cast member of "Back in Black" that Bradshaw had the most fun bringing to life was Ruby, the biker that Abbey and Sydney meet when they go undercover. "I have a crush on Ruby," he said. "She's just a hardcore, belching, beer buster biker chick! She's loads of fun! She's a walking extreme sport/Spike TV special! I really want to cut loose with her in the next few issues."

Some fans might think that with Bradshaw's work on "Army of Darkness," he already has experience illustrating one Danger Girl character, Johnny Barracuda, who in the past had been depicted as a doppelganger of actor Bruce Campbell, who portrayed Ash in the "Army of Darkness" film. "Barracuda will live again, but it wont be 'the Bruce' caricature I used in 'Army of Darkness,'" Bradshaw said. "He'll have the personality, but it'll be a slight difference in design. I've had to rein some facial elements in when drawing Johnny so as to not channel Ash. My colorist, Jimmy Charalampidis, who's my toughest critic, will spot it from time to time and give me due warning. We're totally collaborative on the art chores, I find it makes for a better product."

For Bradshaw, one of the most enjoyable aspects of "Back in Black" was working again with Hartnell and Charalampidis. "Working with Andy again is always fun," he stated. "I like collaborating with Jimmy, too. We went to college together and we've been kind of growing together as an art team. He knows what needs to be done with my art and if you compare the stuff we were doing on 'Army of Darkness' a year ago to what 'Danger Girl' will look like, it's amazing. I also dig on getting nasty e-mails from Jimmy at 4:00 in the morning with a whack of creative expletives because of all the detailed line work he needs to fill in. But I'm sending him a ham at Christmas so he stays happy."

"Danger Girl: Back in Black" will be especially pleasing to certain comic fans. Andy Hartnell recommends the series to, "Anyone who likes their comics to punch them in the face. And by that I mean a big punch of hot girls, wild adventure, spy-thriller action and intrigue, and a few good laughs. 'Danger Girl: Back in Black' is going to deliver a good time. It's a punch you'll enjoy, I promise!"

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