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Interview: Bryce Carlson and Vanesa R. Del Rey Talk HIT

Find out about the upcoming noir series from Boom! Studios.

There's something really fascinating about pulp noir and crime stories. The fact that we're seeing a resurgence of the genre is a great thing.

While we're on the subject of great things, Boom! Studios is ready to unleash another new series. They have been on a roll lately so when word came out they had a new LA noir story set in 1955 by Bryce Carlson and Vanesa R. Del Rey, it's safe to say HIT is going to be something to keep an eye out for.

We took the opportunity to speak with the two about this new series to find out more.

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Comic Vine: How did HIT come about?

Bryce Carlson: It all started with a story I heard from a longtime Los Angeles Police Department officer. While telling countless tales of his decades on the force, he mentioned "hit squads" and at that exact moment, I knew I had a story to tell. I pitched it to Ross Richie (CEO & Founder) at BOOM! Studios, he loved it, and then I spent a couple years researching and developing it with BOOM!, which led to us finding an absolutely perfect interior artist in Vanesa. I know I praise her like crazy every time I talk about the book but it's because I truly believe in her art and abilities -- I've been around long enough and seen enough artists to recognize truly great talent when it's staring me square in the face. Match all that with Ryan Sook wanting to do covers, Archie Van Buren refusing to let anyone else touch the colors, Ed Dukeshire threatening me if he wasn't on lettering duties, and Eric Harburn (Editor) and Matt Gagnon (Editor-in-Chief) at BOOM! helping me significantly elevate the project, and you have a very narrow look at how HIT came about. I could go on for hours about what my wife Lindsey had to hear and see at home while I was working on it...

CV: How did you become attached to HIT?

Vanesa R. Del Ray: I got an e-mail from Dafna Pleban at BOOM! early this year. She wanted to test me for a series but it ended up not working so I got transferred on to Eric Harburn and Bryce with HIT! It's been an awesome trip since.

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CV: Does the story mainly take place in LA?

BC: HIT almost exclusively takes place in L.A., which results in a nice little tour of the city throughout the series. The only places we visit outside of the greater Los Angeles area are Cleveland for a hot second and somewhere in the open sea off the Ventura County coast. It's a purely L.A. story where the city is it's own character so it's showcased in every issue.

CV: What sort of research was involved in establishing all the details or did it just come from your love of the genre?

BC: God, there was a lot of research. I already had a great base from my love for the genre and growing up in Southern California, but nowhere near what I needed to make HIT truly authentic. I read, I studied, and I could probably rack up at least a couple prison sentences with my Google search history. It was a major goal of mine to make this a truly genuine story that properly presents the era and that took copious amounts of time. What guns were standard issues for LAPD officers? When did the Hollywood Division Police Station move to Wilcox? What cars were popular? What streets and bars existed? What was the socio-political climate of Los Angeles? There were so many questions that needed answers and while books and online research can get you a ton of answers, there were some things I only figured out because I took the time to talk to people and interact with the city. It was far and away the most fun I've ever had researching.

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CV: How dark and gritty can we expect things to get?

VR: Very very dark and gritty. The script gives room to have fun with the ink and not shy away from blacking out large areas and using random tools to get cool effects on the page.
I found out that using my fingerprints was useful to depict blood on a carpet. The genre lends itself to that sort of treatment.

CV: What sets HIT apart from other pulp noir tales (besides the fact that it's gonna be awesome)? Is there room for more stories after this mini?

BC: That's a question that readers will be able to answer better than me. But I will say that what I hope sets it apart from other pulp noir stories are the characters and the voice. The fact that it's a story about the police acting as hitmen sets it pretty far apart from most stories in the genre but I'm more interested in seeing characters like the protagonist Harvey Slater stand out as original, and telling a story in a familiar genre but in a new way.

The ending of the miniseries ties the main story up nicely but also blows things wide open. If this is the only HIT story that people get to experience, it will be fully satisfying. But if there's an opportunity to continue strolling in the dark, there's plenty of more story to tell.

HIT #1 is on sale September 11, 2013. Be sure to let your local comic shop know you need a copy.