EXCLUSIVE: John Arcudi is "Dead Inside" in New Crime Thriller

Linda Caruso is a police detective, though her beat isn't one you typically read about online, or see covered on cable news networks. Caruso is part of the Jail Crimes Investigation unit; there's been a murder on her turf, so she's going into prison to find the killer. The case seems open-and-shut, but what she learns along the way will unsettle her ideas about herself and her job.

Her examination unfolds in "Dead Inside," a five-issue miniseries by John Arcudi and Toni Fejzula with covers by Dave Johnson, coming from Dark Horse Comics in December. Arcudi, whose recent credits include "B.P.R.D." and "Rumble" from Image Comics, was looking for a fresh angle on a crime story when he heard about the world of Jail Crimes Investigations. His "Lobster Johnson" partner, Fejzula, also known for his striking imagery in his and Greg Rucka's supernatural spine-chiller "Veil," quickly signed up to illustrate the claustrophobic thriller.

CBR News: When did you first hear of jail crimes investigations, and how soon afterwards did you know you had a story to write?

John Arcudi: Oh, it must be at least fifteen years ago. I always thought about it, but never got around to putting together a story until about a year back.

Just to be clear for anyone who isn't familiar, jail crimes are crimes that are committed inside a prison. That makes this series almost a large-scale locked-room mystery in that regard.

Right. It's a division of a law enforcement body dedicated to investigating crimes committed inside state or county correctional facilities. In this case, it's a sheriff's department.

Linda Caruso is the detective running this investigation. How did she wind up with such an assignment?

Linda was a sheriff's deputy for several years and was marked for promotion to a detective's position. How she ended up specifically in JCD is a big part of the story.

What's the case she's up against?

A murder that seems very cut and dried. The apparent killer incriminates himself rather convincingly, but Linda's not so sure.

Where is she personally when this investigation begins?

"Dead Inside" doesn't only refer to the body found in the cell -- that's all I'll say for now.

You've worked before with Toni Fejzula on "Lobster Johnson," so I guess it's safe to assume you enjoyed working with him, but this is a different kind of story. What does Toni bring to this project?

He draws really well, so that helps -- and he can make the environment feel real. That's important to a "real world" story, that feeling we want the reader to have that these folks are real people living in a tangible, real world.

And you have Dave Johnson drawing your covers -- that should help the book stand out on the shelves.

You can't go wrong with Dave, can you? He's the best!

You're remarkably prolific for a non-drawing writer who has rarely dabbled in superhero comics. What keeps you coming back to comics with original ideas when the industry seems to often only want the old ones?

I can't see myself characterizing what some other writers work on as "old ideas," but I do know what you mean. I can only tell the stories I can tell, which may sound like a non-answer, but it's really all I got. If I'm not interested in the story I'm writing, how can I do a good job? I just keep plugging away, trying to do the best work I can.

What other projects do you have going on right now that fans can look for?

I'm currently writing another "Lobster Johnson" series with Tonci Zonjic, which is always fun, but I'm also putting together an epic-sized story which I hope to get out there early next year. So, y'know -- keeping busy.

"Dead Inside," by John Arcudi and Toni Fejzula arrives in December.

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