Posted by:
Byron Brewer

Exclusive: BOOM! M.E. Bryce Carlson spills the beans on his new mini-series, "Hit"



As if BOOM! Studios’ managing editor, Bryce Carlson, did not have enough to do, in September writer Bryce Carlson will give us Hit, a four-issue mini-series that takes a large look at LA’s seedy side circa the 1950s.

To find out more, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer dialed up CBN’s Wayback Machine to 1955 and joined Carlson at Mugsy’s Tavern and Clip Joint, exclusively asking the tough questions.

Cosmic Book News: Bryce, how did the mini-series Hit come about?

Bryce Carlson: A few years ago, I was standing around a holiday party and listening to a flurry of intriguing cop stories. I’m a longtime fan of the Crime/Detective/Mystery genre so I was in absolute heaven hearing about robberies, chases, and all that fun stuff. But there was a particular story that really grabbed me, and that was the one about the hit squads. Could you imagine? A special group of cops that would track criminals and then simply take them out? There was a story there I knew I had to tell and with the help of Ross Richie (CEO & Founder), Matt Gagnon (Editor-in-Chief), and Eric Harburn (Editor) over at BOOM! Studios, we were able to develop something we’re all very proud of.

CBN: As BOOM managing editor, how do you find time to fit in writing assignments of your own?

Bryce Carlson: Very carefully ... Really, my wife is probably best qualified to answer this question but I’ll give it a shot. Over the five years I’ve been at BOOM, I’ve always been good about keeping a little bit of freelance work going—mostly short form, which is easy to manage—but this project was more of an undertaking because it’s my first original series (no pressure), and it’s a period piece so the research component was substantial. It’s all about time management (fitting, coming from a managing editor) so I make time to write. Mostly, it’s waking up early and writing for a few hours before work. I used to be a night writer but when you work at a hustle-and-bustle publisher that’s growing every year … it gets harder to think when you come home from work. In fact, it was my good buddy Richard Starkings who got me utilizing the early hours of the day. We were at breakfast one morning and he told me about how when he was editing at Marvel UK, he would go in early so he could work on freelance work with a fresh and clear head. Suffice it to say, it was one of the most revelatory breakfasts I’ve ever had. Pretty sure Rich got the bill that time too so, added bonus. I’ll still write at night sometimes if I’m on a really tight deadline or find myself in the zone, but for the most part, mornings and weekends are my friends.


CBN: Tell us a little about the storyline in Hit.

Bryce Carlson: I don’t want to give too much away but it’s a story about Harvey Slater, who is a Hollywood homicide detective by day and an LAPD hitman by night. It’s 1955, Mickey Cohen is about to be released from prison, and Los Angeles is changing. After his ex-partner is murdered, Slater discovers something big and he has to make a decision. Does he handle this as a detective, or as a hitman? You’ll have to read it to find out.

CBN: Do you think crime comics are gaining in popularity?

Bryce Carlson: That’s an interesting question. I love Crime comics and will pick up just about anything but generally speaking, they don’t typically enjoy gigantic commercial success. That being said, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have done an amazing job making Criminal and Fatale critical and commercial successes, which has no doubt helped vitalize the genre in the comics sphere. The Parker series by Darwyn Cooke is another great example. And now you’re starting to see more series pop up like Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson’s Masks and Mobsters and Dynamite’s Crime line, which is encouraging. It definitely feels like we’re in a little bit of a Crime wave and hopefully it will continue to spread.

CBN: Bryce, cops gone bad are a staple of crime writers, but LAPD members as hitmen in the 1950s ...?

Bryce Carlson: You better believe it. If you look through the long and bloody history of the LAPD—from Chief James “Two-Gun” Davis’ “gun squad” to the Rampart Division’s CRASH unit—you’ll find plenty of true stories that show exactly what the LAPD is capable of. The Special Investigation Section in particular is a prime example of cops not concerning themselves with arrests, and focusing more on permanently taking specific criminals off the streets. In fact, the SIS has an interesting connection to the story of Hit, which you’ll be able to read more about in the essays I’m writing for each issue.

CBN: Any particular piece of crime drama from film or literature inspire Hit?

Bryce Carlson: James Ellroy introduced me to the world of Crime so I would say that his work is the biggest inspiration, specifically Clandestine and L.A. Confidential. There is a long list of influential novels and films I could run down but the truth is, I wouldn’t have found my way to any of them had it not been for Ellroy. What should readers take away from this mini?

Bryce Carlson: Ultimately, I just want readers to have an enjoyable Crime story. Hit has a lot to offer readers in terms of layers and symbolism and if it stands the test of multiple reads, that’s awesome, but my main concern is putting out a fun Crime story for people to dig on.

CBN: What does Vanesa R. Del Rey bring to the table? Why is her art right for this dark noir tale?

Bryce Carlson: Vanesa is my partner in crime. And she’s awesome. Vanesa brings an aesthetic that far exceeds whatever I can come up with in this little imagination of mine. She knows how to tell a story and breathe life into characters and she’s just awesome. Her ink work is inspired—it’s the main reason I’ve been posting her finished line art online, so people can see how amazing her artwork is without colors. Vanesa is one of those artists who can go dark, gritty, and disturbing, and then turn around and give you something heartfelt and sweet. I can’t imagine any artist better for Hit. Did I mention that she’s awesome?

CBN: Any present or future projects writer Bryce Carlson would like to discuss?

Bryce Carlson: The only other project I have on the immediate horizon is a short story with Frazer Irving in Adventure Time 2013 Spooktacular #1, which is coming out in October from KaBOOM! I’ve known Frazer for a while now and he’s one of my favorite gentleman artists so getting a chance to work with him as a creator is pretty surreal. Let’s just say that after you read our story, you’ll never look at mustaches the same way again ...

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Bryce Carlson for taking a break from his immensely heavy schedule to answer our questions. Also thanks to BOOM’s own Brianna Hart who helped make this interview possible.

“Hit” #1 (of 4) arrives at your local comics store in September!