Partner In Crime
IDW’s Dying Is Easy, written and co-created by Joe Hill, is out now and Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows spoke to the series’ artist and co-creator Martin Simmonds about it…
TRIPWIRE: How different was it working with Joe Hill rather than David Barnett who you worked with on Punks Not Dead?
MARTIN SIMMONDS: Although Joe and David have different styles of writing, the process of collaboration was much the same. So far in my career, I’ve been extremely lucky with collaborators, and just as it was with all past collaborators, working with Joe has been a real joy.
TW: How familiar were you with Joe Hill’s work before you started to work on this?
MS: Locke & Key is one of the greatest comic book series of all time, and Joe’s written some of the best horror novels of the past couple of decades, and so I was already a big fan of Joe’s work before we worked on Dying Is Easy together. Obviously I jumped at the chance to work with him.
TW: How closely did you work with Joe?
MS: We’ve worked as closely as I would with other collaborators on a creator-owned project. Seeing as Dying Is Easy is a fair-play mystery, Joe had to write in specific details/clues into the script at certain points, and so I had to make sure they appeared in the artwork as described, and there’s always back and forth once we’re at the drawing stage, and through to the lettering, so it’s an organic process.
TW: How much did you alter your visual style for Dying Is Easy when compared with something like Punks Not Dead?
MS: Dying Is Easy is a darker, grittier story than Punks Not Dead, with a noir influence, and I wanted to reflect that in the artwork, so the characters have a more realistic look about them, plus I’ve used a lot of heavy shadows on this to lean into the noir aesthetic. I’ve tried to loosen up and incorporate more texture and generally try and make the artwork more expressive.
TW: You seem drawn to very dark subjects as an artist. What is it about the darker side that appeals to you?
MS: I guess it’s the darker subjects that suit the way I paint, so I’m drawn to it for that reason. I’m open to working on a feel-good slice of life book though!
TW: This is a crime series with a twist. Are you a fan of crime stories and what is it about them that appeals to you?
MS: I love the noir aesthetic, and so with comics, everything Brubaker and Phillips have worked on has been a large source of inspiration, as has Scalped by Jason Aaron and R M Guéra which is a phenomenal series. Dying Is Easy takes as much influence from 80/90s action films as it does from crime noir, and hopefully that comes through in the art too.
TW: Dying Is Easy is a miniseries but presumably without giving anything away, is there scope for more stories in this world with Syd?
TW: This is the third time you have worked with IDW on a series. What is it about them that draws you back to working with them?
MS: IDW are one of the biggest comic publishers in the world, who release some wonderful books, but also they’re the loveliest group of people you could hope to work with, and make the process of working on comics a smooth one. That’s a great reason to keep collaborating with them.
TW: If you had to describe the series in one sentence, what would it be?
MS: A disgraced ex-homicide cop turned stand-up comedian stars in a fair-play mystery crime thriller
Dying Is Easy#1 is out now from IDW Publishing
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