While Clint Eastwood famously growled "Every gun makes its own tune" in 1966's "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly," the lesson to be learned from Dynamite's latest comic book set in the world of Sergio Leone's famed western trilogy may be "Each creator makes his own mayhem."
Hitting comic shops in July, a brand new series entitled "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" ships to comics shops courtesy of veteran writer Chuck Dixon and Spanish artist Esteve Polls, and Dixon promises that readers who haven't caught up with Dynamite's previous "The Man With No Name" comics won't need to worry about a thing come page one of his series.
"This is pretty much a new beginning," Dixon told CBR. "The Man with No Name means the man with no past."
Matching the writer best known for his long run on DC's Batman titles and currently heading up IDW's "G.I. JOE" reboot would seem like a natural fit, as Dixon holds a reputation amongst fans for his crisp action sequences. In fact, the writer himself thought he was the perfect fit for the book for quite a while. "Honestly, I gave Nick [Barrucci, Dynamite Publisher] a hard time when he didn't think of me for the first arcs on 'Man With No Name,'" Dixon confessed. "We've known each other for years but have never worked together. Then we talked at Wizard Chicago last year and he told me that Dynamite was starting up this new book and offered it to me. I jumped at it."
Dixon's love for spaghetti westerns stretches far beyond Leone's iconic films, although he noted the place the "Dollars Trilogy" holds in the canon. "Italian westerns are a huge favorite of mine. To get to work on the most influential spaghetti western gunfighter of them all was irresistible," he said. "Seeing the Man with No Name in action the first time was like the first time I saw a James Bond movie. Here was a guy who killed as part of his job and it seemed as easy for him as stepping off a curb. I was already a western fan, but the spaghettis pared the genre down to its essence with their 'kill or be killed' environment and characters who lived only by the gun with no remorse. Leone, and the other Italian directors, were enthralled by the kind of mysterious loner character that Randolph Scott or Alan Ladd played in earlier westerns and they took it to a whole different level."
And while he may not be well known to many American readers, artist Esteve Polls brings his own unique skill set to "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly." Starting out as a comics pro in Europe at the young age of 15, the artist has a wealth of experience drawing historical comics and knows the terrain on which the original film was shot very well. "['TGTB&TU'] was an italian production filmed in Spain, in Almeria, in the Andalucia region," Polls told CBR. "The kind of land and the ambience was pretty similar to Texas or the Mexican border, and there are still some of the sets there and are a part of the tourism in Spain.
"I saw the first 'Spaguettie Western' - as we call them like in Spain - when I was 17. You can see that IÂ´m not a young guy. Time has passed since then, but I can tell you that I have all of them in my own personal library. I remember them really well and for me they're a reference to do the pages. [I love historical books because] well, for me history has always been an important thing, and I feel part of it illustrating those images."
Dixon and Polls pick up the story of the Man With No Name in an opening arc titled "Dead Man's Hand," which draws its inspiration from real history before driving the plot straight into the mythic territory of the Old West. "'Dead Man's Hand' is a casual reference to the hand held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was shot while playing cards. Aces and Eights, if you're wondering," explained Dixon. "But here it ties into a bandit named El Jugador (The Gambler) who uses a deck of cards in a rather unusual way. It's a new story but takes place after Blondie has either lost, spent or invested the gold he split with Tuco. I think he invested it. Who could take it away from him, right? And he doesn't seem like a big spender. My story picks up with a train robber named Devereaux who has a five thousand dollar bounty on his head. The Man With No Name follows Devereaux down into Mexico where he's joined ex-Confederate soldiers who are serving as mercenaries in the army of Maximilian; the emperor of Mexico."
While Dixon admitted that the bumbling, back-stabbing sidekick from the original film, Tuco, would not appear in this volume, the character may have life down the line in the series. In the meantime, there is no shortage of vile characters to cross paths with the stone-faced hero of the piece. "There's a bunch of bad guys this time out. In addition to Devereaux and El Jugador there's also a rival bounty hunter named Mirror Eyes and a really nasty French officer named Lambert," Dixon revealed.
And when it comes to bringing Eastwood's classic character to life on the page, Dixon felt little trepidation about scripting the adventures of such a stoic and often silent man in a medium without actors or sound. "I like taciturn characters," the writer said. "I based my version of Batman on Clint Eastwood. I like characters who only talk when they have to. They internalize a lot. And I'm currently writing a lot of Snake Eyes and he never says a word! I write The Man with the original's caustic, terse way of speaking. But other, more yappy, characters fill the void. But I'm looking at Italian comics like 'Tex Willer' as a hint on pacing and so there's many pages with no words at all. Esteve and I are going for a strong visual storytelling technique here."
Of his artist, Dixon expounded, "I brought Esteve to this project. I've been aware of his work for a long time and was anxious to collaborate with him. His touch is perfect for this series. He's from Spain and knows the locales where the original movies were shot. When I asked him if he'd be interested in coming onto this with me he e-mailed back a drawing of the Man and even had the stitching on his holster right! He's expert at horses, weaponry, period trains and buildings. And he understands the physicality needed for these characters. He doesn't just draw a guy sitting on a horse. It's more integrated than that and looks entirely authentic."
Polls agreed that a strong visual will lead the way for the new series. "ThereÂ´s a thing that as the writer and the artist we know perfectly, and IÂ´m sure that Chuck agrees: the reader needs to understand the story without reading the text. ThereÂ´s the strength of a writer as good as Chuck, and he put that rhythm on the pages. I just do my best, and also the colorist Marc Rueda has given the book color like in the movies. As I said before, I have all those films. A lot of the time I sit in front of the TV and see those movies again. I think that is necessary when doing a character like [The Man with No Name] and using the correct ambiance, I must feel them inside like I'm living the action with them. So when I sit with the white board I know how he thinks."
"The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" #1 ships in July from Dynamite Entertainment and features covers by Francesco Francavila and Sergio Cariello and a foil variant by Denis Calero.