Dirk Gently Goes Boldly Into Comics For IDW
Feb 26, 2015
by Vince Brusio
A left detour at the intergalactic construction site yields IDW Publishing’s new take on Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently character. Ripe for exploitation, series writer Chris Ryall admits that the temptation to have fun with Douglas’ character was just too good to pass up. As a property that was also ripe for IDWE, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency #1 (MAR150340) was put on the fast track, and this exclusive interview sheds light on the new adventures that cross paths with everyone from a serial-killing couple to reincarnated Egyptians.
PREVIEWSworld: So IDW decided that Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently novels as British detective TV comedy was ideal for a comic adaptation, correct? Is that how it went? How did the idea come about for this latest licensed project?
Chris Ryall: Well, not exactly – the comics aren’t adaptations of the novels or the past TV series, they’re entirely new stories that take place after the two (well, almost three, with the unfinished “Salmon of Doubt” story) novels.
The gist of it all is that Dirk Gently seemed ripe for – I hate this word in this context but it’s applicable – exploitation for comics, as an IDW Entertainment television venture, as any number of things. Which is to say, Douglas Adams is an incredibly hard act to follow but the characters he creates are so good, it became an irresistible idea to see if we could give Dirk new life.
So IDWE is developing Dirk for TV with Max Landis, and we’re also doing a new comic series that should link up nicely with the TV series but also stands nicely on its own.
Even as Max and company are developing a first-season plan for Dirk on TV, I’m telling an entirely different story in the comics.
PREVIEWSworld: For those not familiar with Dirk Gently, the character/show can best be described as comic, but with themes of quantum mechanics and artificial intelligence. Does that about sum it up, or would you care to add to that description?
Chris Ryall: Dirk’s thing is that he is a holistic detective, which to him means that he sees “the interconnectedness of all things.” So he solves crimes much more like, say, Columbo than Sherlock Holmes. He doesn’t pursue clues as much as he does follow disparate leads, hunches, suppositions, hypotheses, and, well, guesses, finding the connections therein even if to you, me, and everyone else in the universe, those things don’t seem to have anything to do with the larger case he’s working on.
Dirk’s the type of guy who pretended to be psychic in order to make a few bucks but proved so good at it that no one would believe he was just faking it. He’s very good at what he does, even if what he does is impossible to define.
Along the way, he tends to run into aliens, ghosts, alien-ghosts, time travel, and other such mind-expanding concepts.
Put it this way: if you want to hire someone to find Shrodinger’s cat, Dirk’s your man.
PREVIEWSworld: To get us started on the right path, we're told in PREVIEWS that our new hero arrives in San Diego, and reincarnation plays into his first decision about how to go about living in America. Care to elaborate further?
Chris Ryall: Dirk does indeed come to San Diego from England, due to…some circumstances both fully within and also out of his control. He’s not at all suited to San Diego: it’s sunny, it’s bright, it’s loud, and it’s in America. Dirk comes here following a case, and also because he’s firmly asked to leave (a story we’ll tell down the line), and then his path converges with a couple reincarnated Egyptians, a serial-killing couple, a former friend from the novels, and a few eccentrics in the city. Oh, and a possibly immortal being who just might become a nemesis for many issues to come.
PREVIEWSworld: How do you think this comic will appeal to readers of, say, crime noir or science fiction? How does it reach out and touch someone?
Chris Ryall: Well, if people are big fans of, say, the crime noir that Brubaker and Phillips serve up… they should keep reading those guys’ work because it’s so good. But if those same readers and hopefully many others want to read about a very off-kilter detective doing seemingly random things and ending up involved in multiple potentially lethal cases that all may or may not converge in an explosive way, this book will give them that.
It’s not exactly a book for hardcore detective fans as much as it is for fans of, say, Seinfeld with some mystery elements, some genre elements, some ultraviolence, many attempts at humor, some pathos, some possible romance, nods to characters and situations from the novels, some good San Diego locales, sinister agents, a murderous toga party, a detective-themed tea parlor, some missing cats and all the other things that make life worth living or at least hopefully make comics worth reading. And Douglas Adams fans, I am dying to know what you think and also never want to know what you think, since this is maybe the most pressure I’ve ever felt to deliver on the source material and fan expectations.
PREVIEWSworld: If fans want to learn more about this book, where can they go for teasers and information?
Chris Ryall: IDWpublishing.com is a good starting place, as well as all corresponding FB, Twitter, Instagram and other social hangs; I also share art (Tony Akins is killing on his first-issue pages so far, and Rob Guillory and Robert Hack’re likewise doing great work on the other covers!) and other story info and details 140 characters at a time at Twitter and Instagram at @chris_ryall. And a very early preview of issue 1 is being sent to retailers who participate in our Retail Marketing package program. There’ll also be a Dirk #1 ashcan at WonderCon, too. It’s still early days right now but Dirk’s media domination is kicking off in a big way come May and beyond.