Deadly Dancing: Nathan Edmondson Talks Dancer

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Writer Nathan Edmondson discusses the entertaining mix of killing and dancing in his new Image series.

Former assassin Alan Fisher and graceful ballerina Quinn. Already, that’s an intriguing set up, but throw in a sniper, and a Milan setting and the intrigue ramps up even more. From writer Nathan Edmondson (Who Is Jake Ellis?, and currently The Activity) comes Dancer, a 5-issue mini-series debuting in May from Image Comics, with art from Viking’s Nic Klein. With Edmondson’s track record of tense, unique action tales, and Klein’s superb artistry, this will be one deadly dance.

BROKEN FRONTIER With Who Is Jake Ellis? and The Activity, you’ve explored the spy genre and now with Dancer. Having said that, your approach is different with each new series, so what’s the appeal of returning to espionage and action?

NATHAN EDMONDSON: Dancer is a story all its own, and I don't feel that, having read it, many readers will draw strong parallels between this and any of my other works.  It will be my second performance on the espionage stage (The Activity is not espionage, for the most part, but a military thriller) but Dancer is still very, very different than Who Is Jake Ellis?.  

Dancer is truly set apart in tone and aesthetic and mood from my other work. Nic and I embraced the Le Carré and Forsythe-type spy fiction and films of the ‘60s and ‘70s in the visual approach, but as readers will discover there is a very modern hook in the book.  So just when it might start to feel reminiscent of those "classic" spy pieces, it will become a thing of its own. 

BF: There’s a pretty terrific genesis to Dancer, isn’t there?

EDMONDSON: Finding out once at a signing that a professional ballerina in a internationally renowned company was a fan of my work--wearing a shirt from one of my books to rehearsals, even--sparked me on the path toward Dancer. To be fair, however, ballet is something I've always admired; I went to a fine arts high school which boasted a widely lauded ballet company and I was constantly in awe of the dancers (and had crushes on a few of them).  I painted a series of ballet pieces (I say with some modesty) as a bit of a student of Degas.  It's hard not to be mesmerized by ballet, I think.  What it brings to the series, well, you'll have to wait and see.

BF: How did Nic Klein come onboard and how has he helped with the vision for the series?

EDMONDSON: I floated the Dancer idea past a few artists without finding the right fit; it was Christian Ward who played matchmaker between Nic and I.  I knew Nic was interested in a spy-genre title, but I didn't think he had time for a full miniseries.  At Christian's insistence I sent Nic the material and Nic jumped aboard.  

And yes, Nic's vision has helped immensely.  It's hardly worth my describing how much Nic has been part of the crafting of the book because when you see the interior work and the covers, the chemistry between writer and artist and Nic's masterful storytelling will be immediately apparent.  Nic also pushed me more toward the classic spy aesthetic, and he was very right in doing so. 

BF: Apart from Black Widow’s origin, I can’t think of any other comic that’s touched upon the world of ballet. When you first originated the concept for Dancer, was that challenge half the fun?

EDMONDSON: The funny thing is, there isn't actually that much ballet going on in the book. It's more a motif, a theme for the story.  There was a point when I was outlining the series, however--and I remember debating this a bit with my manager--when I felt I was tugging the ballet element into the story and it might not quite fit.  Then I realized the importance of the theme, and it all sort of clicked.  That, and I fell in love with the title Dancer. The question of course is, to whom does the title refer? 

BF: What can you tell us about Alan and Quinn’s relationship?

EDMONDSON: Alan is significantly older than Quinn, so I had to take care in working the relationship out to make it reasonable and believable.  It makes sense, though. Alan has seen much, he's hidden his past, he is not one to open himself up easily. He's reserved, considerate, private.  Quinn is dedicated to her craft; her utmost focus must always be on her profession.  So anything else is necessarily secondary.  So they match up well: Alan, slow to open himself up, and Quinn, who only has so much space for a partner in her life.  Both, however, have fallen for one another.

BF: Will you follow Grifter and do you hope to return to superheroics?

EDMONDSON: If by follow Grifter you mean continue to read the character--then I do look forward to seeing where he goes.  And yes, there is more "superhero" work in my future. Stay tuned.

BF: Now, be honest. On a scale from Mr Bean to Patrick Swayze, how good are you as a dancer?

EDMONSON: Depends--how many drinks have I had at this point?

Dancer #1, by Nathan Edmondson and Nic Klein, is a 32 page comic and will goes on sale May 16 from Image Comics. It retails for $3.50 and can be seen on page 190 of the current Previews catalogue.

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