Dark Horse's new graphic novel imprint, Berger Books, may draw its expectations from the sensibilities of eponymous editor Karen Berger, but with its next series, creators J.M. DeMatteis and Corin Howell are hoping to subvert expectations for crime and horror comics.
Arriving on Feb. 6, the limited series The Girl In The Bay tells the story of a murder from the perspective of its time-displaced victim. The story begins in 1969, when 17-year-old Kathy Sartori is attacked and left in Brooklyn's Sheepshead Bay only to be mysteriously revived 50 years later as if nothing happened to her. The teen is forced to investigate her own demise in a tale that mixes crime fiction, mysticism and horror.
Conceived by longtime comics vet DeMatteis and drawn with illustrative intensity by Howell, The Girl In The Bay seeks to turn the conventions of murder mysteries on their head. CBR spoke with the creative team in a rare moment when the pair were trading notes in person on how this bizarre thriller is shaping what Berger Books will be, and the publisher shared an exclusive first look inside Issue #1.
CBR: Your new book The Girl In the Bay takes its roots from crime fiction, but it branches out in a very different direction. Usually, when we see a tale open up with the death of a woman, she's the focal point of the investigation, but here she's also the lead character...
J.M. DeMatteis: Yeah. She is both the victim and the detective in this story. We set up our character immediately in the beginning. We don't need 24 pages of backstory first or whatever before the murder even happens. We get our inciting incident and the backstory immediately, and then we experience a jump in time. There's a lot of story to be told there.
Why is that a story that you particularly wanted to tell in the here and now?
DeMatteis: I tend to write very intuitively. Stores come to me like movies. I'll wake up in the morning and I'll literally have a movie running in my head where I go, "What's that? Where is this going next?" The hard part is getting to the computer and putting that movie down. The original idea for this story kind of came as a download. I was away on vacation and all of the sudden this story started coming to me, and I had to run back to my cabin to get it down and saved. Very often I follow the story and then discover the meaning in the story -- either the personal meaning to me or the meaning to the audience -- after the fact. And I'm fine with that.