For hundreds of years writers have spun fictional tales of murder. They do it both to entertain and understand why heinous crimes happen. Rick Castle, the titular character of ABC’s “Castle” television series created by Andrew W. Marlowe, is a best-selling crime writer for both of these reasons. Castle, played by Nathan Fillion, has such a celebrated reputation that he’s able to serve as a police consultant on certain cases. That consulting work also helps fuel his writing career because his partner Detective Kate Beckett has become the inspiration for his latest series of novels starring a fictional police detective named Nikki Heat.
Two Heat prose novels have been released thus far, allowing “Castle” fans to get to know the fictional writer’s latest creation. Heat isn’t Castle’s only recurring character though. In the pilot episode, Castle had just published a novel killing off his first series character, private detective Derrick Storm. None of the Storm prose novels have been released, but “Castle” fans will finally get their chance to meet the late detective when Marvel Comics releases “Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm,” an original graphic novel by writers Brian Michael Bendis and Kelly Sue DeConnick (“Osborn”) and artist Lan Medina (“Foolkiller,” “Iron Man: Rapture”) this September. CBR News spoke with DeConnick about the book, which adapts the first Derrick Storm adventure for the four color format.
CBR News: Kelly Sue, you’re no stranger to comic projects that have their roots in other media. In “Comic Book Tattoo” you did a story inspired by one of Tori Amos’ songs. You also did a story for Oni’s “Yo Gabba Gabba: Comic Book Time!” graphic novel. What is it about these types of projects that interest you as a writer? And how does it feel to be telling a story inspired by ABC’s “Castle?”
Kelly Sue DeConnick: Should I be embarrassed that I never noticed a pattern? I don’t know, I don’t think of myself as, you know, “Kelly Sue: Enjoys Cross-Media Tie-Ins!” When Rantz [Hosely] asked me about the Tori book he did so because he knew I was a big fan from way back. When I was approached about the “Yo Gabba Gabba” antho, it was by [Oni Press editor] James Lucas Jones, who knows my family, knows my kids and knew how much that would mean to me. And when Bendis reached out to me on the “Castle” book it was after he’d already booked the gig and I’d heard about it and, you know, politely seethed with jealousy.
How does it feel? It feels great! I love that show. They had me at the flak jacket labeled “writer.”
We understand that Bendis, your longtime friend, spoke with “Castle” creator Andrew Marlowe before your collaboration began. Now that the two of you are working together, how would you describe your collaboration? Have you guys broken things down so one of you is plotting and the other is scripting? Or is your collaboration a little looser where each of you take passes on drafts and add to the script?
Brian wrote through page 30 and I picked up from there, scripting off his outline, and he reads my pages as I turn them in. There are a couple of pages where I specifically tried to imitate Brian’s style and it’s my hope that someone will insist that you can tell he did those pages.
Of course I’ve blown that now.
When we get to the final lettering pass, I imagine we’ll take turns going over it as a whole so that the voice is coherent. That said, I think we’ve both done a pretty good job matching the tone of the show. If there’s anything at all that differentiates Brian’s pages from mine, it’s that’s he’s much more comfortable with the interior monologue than I am and uses it more consistently. But I suspect that will be “fixed” before you ever see it, so it’ll be seamless.
From the Amazon.com description it sounds like “Deadly Storm” is a combination of two genres, spy and detective. You’ve tackled the spy genre before in some of your work for Marvel Comics, but I don’t believe you’ve tackled the private detective genre before. What was it like telling your first P.I. story? And what was it like mixing the two genres together?
A dream come true, honestly. It’s like getting to write the story of how Jim Rockford becomes Jason Bourne, as interpreted by Nathan Fillion. It’s as fun as that sounds.
It seems like the only thing we really seem to know about Derrick Storm from episodes of “Castle” is that he was a P.I. and Castle killed him off because he eventually became bored with the character. What can you tell us about Derrick when we first meet him in this story?
He’s a P.I., whose work and life are nowhere near as glamorous as he had hoped they would be. In our opening scene, he’s in a scuzzy trailer park making a video of just the thing you might imagine a P.I. would be making a video of in a trailer park. He’s soon thereafter questioning his life choices.
Luckily(?) the man he’s spying on turns out to be more than a philanderer and it isn’t long before the CIA intervenes and the woman who hired Storm turns up dead.
Have I hooked you yet?
Yes, color us intrigued! “Castle” fans are accustomed to a female character that is just as capable, and in most cases more capable, than the male lead. Will that type of character be in “Deadly Storm?” If so, what can you tell us about her?
Yes, absolutely. Just like the show, the book is brimming with smart, strong, capable women who have their own motives and challenges. It’s a large cast and I can name five women I’m proud of and interested in, but the star is really Clara Stryker, Storm’s CIA handler. She’s heavily influenced by Kate Beckett, our justification being that Castle has always been chasing down that muse.
Clara’s got a bit of Frank Serpico in her DNA. She’s dogged and she’s going after the truth regardless of the personal risk because the truth matters.
How complex and dangerous is the case that Storm and Stryker become embroiled in?
I’m not sure how far I should go into this; we end up on the beaches of Nicaragua delving into some of the less than lovely history of the CIA.
Sounds like your protagonists are in for a heap of trouble. One thing that both private detective and spy stories have in common is that the source of the trouble is usually one or a number of incredibly powerful enemies. What can you tell us about Storm and Stryker’s adversaries in “Deadly Storm?”
They are trained to dance between raindrops.
Earlier you mentioned tone and “Castle” is a series that has plenty of humor, but occasionally it can be almost be noirish, like in the recent third season finale. How would you describe the overall tone and feel of “Deadly Storm?”
Exactly like that of the show. I’m going to drop the “aw shucks” here for a moment and just say we nailed it. Because, dude — we nailed it.
We imagine quite a bit of that feel comes from the work of artist Lan Medina who has a wealth of experience drawing crime and adventure stories. What can readers expect from Lan on “Deadly Storm?”
I feel — outclassed, getting to work with Lan. Like somehow I got bumped up to the Majors by association with Brian. Lan’s work is TIGHT, his storytelling, crystal clear. It’s been exciting to watch the art roll in.
I got all worked up over a 5 panel page of Storm ON THE PHONE. Beat that…
We understand that “Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm” is an adaptation of the first Derrick Storm novel and according to “Castle” lore there are eleven other novels. If fans respond to “Deadly Storm” would you like to come back and do another Derrick Storm graphic novel? Has there been discussions about where to take the character after this?
There has been no discussion that I am aware of, but if they would have me, I would write another one of these in a proverbial New York minute.
Can you tell us anything else about “Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm?”
It’s going to surprise you, touch you, kick your ass and make you laugh. You’re gonna want a second date.