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J.C. Vaughn plays Detective in “Crime Scenes: A McCandless & Company Reader”

by  in Comic News Comment
J.C. Vaughn plays Detective in “Crime Scenes: A McCandless & Company Reader”

Protecting the integrity of a crime scene is of paramount importance for law enforcement officials. If a crime scene is contaminated before a Detective has a chance to go over it, the entire case could be blown. In the case of the crime scenes conjured up by writer J.C. Vaughn (“24: One Shot,” “24 Stories,” “24: Midnight Sun”), he hopes readers stomp through them with reckless disregard.

This February, Vaughn and publisher Century Comics release “Crime Scenes: A McCandless & Company Reader,” a 144 page graphic novel that brings his creator owned property back to print. We caught up with Vaughn for a quick chat to learn more about “McCandless & Company” and what he’s got in store for readers within the pages of “Crime Scenes.”

Vaughn started by describing the premise of “McCandless & Company.” “It’s the story of two best friends who come from very different walks of life, but who are both pretty good private investigators,” Vaughn told CBR News. “Carey McCandless comes from wealth and privilege. Jessica Williams earned everything herself. They got tired of being token females at a major security firm and decided to start their own detective agency. They’re joined by David Bradshaw, a would-be writer who is their assistant and serves as the storyteller. This book is the story of them getting started, and then taking on their first two cases.

As for the style of the stories, Vaughn explained, “‘McCandless & Company’ has a tinge of the procedural books, but it’s more along the lines of crime noir character studies with hints or romance, dysfunction, and snappy dialogue.”

“Crime Scenes” collects the one previously published McCandless story (originally published in 2001 by Mandalay Books) as well as an additional 94 pages of new material Vaughn’s worked on over the years while maintaining his job as Executive Editor of Gemstone Publishing or writing “24” for IDW Publishing. “The book contains the original 50-page story, a new 48-page mystery, and four shorter pieces,” said Vaughn. “They all combine to give an overall story of Carey, Jessica and David that you wouldn’t get from just one of the pieces. The book also has some amazing pin-ups and concept sketches.”

Vaughn’s joined on “Crime Scenes” by a large group of artistic talent. “Matt Busch, who is primarily known as a Star Wars artist, did the original story, ‘Dead Razor,’ assisted by Shawn Sheehan,” said Vaughn. “Chris Chua, who is an amazing talent and is doing a book called ‘Liquid Fury,’ did a brilliant interpretation of the script I gave him, ‘Best of Times.’ Ben Dale, another talented newcomer, did another short story, ‘The Interview,’ and brought his own style to it. Harry Roland, who did some seriously famous covers for ‘Famous Monsters,’ illustrated ‘No Man Is An Eyelid,’ which a lot of other creators have loved. And Gene Gonzales, who is no doubt one of the best kept secrets in comics, did two pieces. ‘Insecurities’ is a 48-page story that everyone has just flipped over. It’s the last part of the book. He also did a short story, ‘Be Your Own Charlie,’ which is the first piece in the collection. While he’s actually made a career doing things like illustrating text books, he also wrote and illustrated the highly regarded Tales of the Cherokee.

“In addition to those pieces, I have pin-ups from ‘Powers’ co-creator Michael Avon Oeming, ‘Hammer of the Gods’ co-creator Mark Wheatley, ‘Doctor Mid-Nite’ artist John K. Snyder III, ’86 Voltz’ artist Robert Hack, and ‘Shi’ creator Billy Tucci, concept sketches by Matt Busch and Shawn Sheehan, and some other material.” A cover by Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti rounds out the artistic talent on “Crime Scenes.”

“Additionally I have to thank my friends Michael Solof and Kevin Topham, both of whom have done everything from paying for art to taking retailers and creator friends to dinner,” continued Vaughn. “Neither of these guys work full time in comics, but they have believed in the project from the first time they heard about it. You can’t buy friends like these guys. I’ve tried.”

“Crime Scenes” is published by Century Comics, formerly known as Mecca Comics. “Quite frankly, I think these guys are great,” said Vaughn. “They started off with some weird projects that didn’t really seem to go anywhere – at least for me – but they picked up two great projects. The first was the autobiography of Dick Ayers. What an honest, heartfelt read! Anyone who wants to see the life of a comic artist from the era of this Silver Age legend should give this series of books a read. I really hope Century releases it as one big book now that it’s done. The other project is Jack Katz’s “First Kingdom,” which to my knowledge had never been collected before. It was a ground-breaking indy book back in the ’70s and has got to be considered a pioneering effort. When Century took on these two projects, that got my attention.

“Charlie Novinskie, who years ago was the marketing guy for Topps Comics when they hit with “The X-Files,” was the first person to get comics in TV Guide, with “Hercules” and “Xena,” and he’s been a great friend over the years, even after he left the business for a while. When he joined Century that absolutely did it for me. I wanted to work with them.”

As for the future, Vaughn says he’s got more stories cooking in his head and would love to get one or two more out there. Look for “Crime Scenes: A McCandless & Company Reader” in stores this February from Century Comics.


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