Since its debut in 2001, QUEEN & COUNTRY has been one of Oni Press' most popular and acclaimed titles, with accolades including being chosen as the Best New Series by NinthArt.com and getting nominated for four Eisner Awards. This November, Oni and Greg Rucka will debut the first spin-off series, QUEEN & COUNTRY: DECLASSIFIED. This three issue miniseries takes place two decades prior to the regular series, and focuses on Director of Operations Paul Crocker when he became Minder Two of the Special Section of the British secret service. The series will feature painted covers by Scott Morse (ELEKTRA: GLIMPSE AND ECHO). The interior black-and-white artwork is by SKINWALKER's Brian Hurtt, who QUEEN & COUNTRY fans will remember from his comics debut as the penciller of #s 5-7 of the series.
"This series actually came out of a suggestion made by Brian," Rucka explained. "Though Tara Chace is often the focus character when people talk about the series, it's just as much Paul Crocker's book as it is hers.
Brian picked up on that right away, and he said that Crocker was probably his favorite character to draw, largely for the history that registers in the lines on the old spy's face. We agreed digging into his dark past could be a fun proposition."
"Crocker has a lot of years behind him," Hurtt added. "Tara is at a point that Paul was probably at a long time ago, before the hard lessons really made him a hard man. The sort of emotional crises Tara goes through in the book are ones that he left behind somewhere along the way, putting his emotions completely on hold. There is a fascinating story there, showing what he went through to become the man he is today."
While QUEEN & COUNTRY has always had three Minders-the agents of the Special Section that Crocker leads-they've been the same three for the first year of the series. In DECLASSIFIED, readers will be introduced to two other Minders, predecessors to Tara and her associates. The story will actually show Paul Crocker in transition, moving up the ranks. He has a crucial mission ahead of him, escorting a Russian defector out of Prague, an operation similar to one he botched in Berlin. In order to avoid failing a second time, he is faced with the tough choices that will change him from a man with a life back home to a spy through and through.
Joining the team this time around on covers is artist Scott Morse, creator of MAGIC PICKLE and ANCIENT JOE, and writer/artist of the recently released ELEKTRA miniseries, GLIMPSE AND ECHO.
"Scott contacted us and said he wanted to work on QUEEN & COUNTRY," Oni Press publisher Joe Nozemack said. "It was perfect timing for us. We felt this special project needed an equally special approach, and there's no one quite like Scott Morse in this industry. He approaches each project with a different eye, and what he delivers is always amazing."
"There is a whole network of people running through the subtext of QUEEN & COUNTRY," Rucka concluded. "They are what keep the stories moving, and they all have stories of their own-a history of successes and failures, loves and loss, that have made them the people they are today. We have barely even hinted at the full breadth of what is there. DECLASSIFIED is the start."
QUEEN & COUNTRY: DECLASSIFIED #1 ships to comic book stores on November 20, 2002. It contains 32 pages of black-and-white story and art, and is suggested for mature readers. The painted cover is by Scott Morse. Each issue will retail for $2.95.
Brian Hurtt's first work as the penciller of QUEEN & COUNTRY will be collected in the MORNINGSTAR trade paperback and simultaneous hardcover, containing 88 pages of black-and-white story and art. Both will ship to comics shops on September 25, 2002. The hardcover edition will retail for $20, while the regular trade paperback retails for $8.95. Due to violence and explicit language, it is suggested for mature readers. The trade paperback ISBN # is 192999835X. The hardcover is only available in the direct comic book market.