|BEN AARONOVITCH & ANDREW CARTMEL
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DF Interview: Ben Aaronovitch & Andrew Cartmel blend crime drama, mysticism in Rivers of London: Night Witch
By Byron Brewer
A police vehicle on a routine prison transfer in north London is stormed by Russian hoodlums seeking to free a very particular prisoner. Their target is a witch, a very powerful witch who doesn’t want to be free. As you’d expect, chaos ensues.
To find out more about this highly anticipated miniseries from Titan Comics, Rivers of London: Night Witch, Dynamic Forces sat down with writers Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel.
Dynamic Forces: Andrew, tell us a little about how this new Titan comic book came about.
Andrew Cartmel: As a matter of fact, Titan approached Ben about the possibility of doing it – he has fans in high places! Which was serendipitous, because Ben had been looking for a chance to try his hand at writing comics (he’s a natural, by the way), and I’d always loved the medium and was looking to expand my range beyond the stuff I’d already written for Doctor Who and Marvel and Judge Dredd.
DF: As you mention, both of you are credited as writers on the book. Can you tell us the process about how that goes, who did what?
Andrew Cartmel: Well, basically Ben lounges around on a black silk divan in yellow pajamas smoking opium and I do all the work. Slightly more accurately — we develop a detailed storyline over the course of a series of phone calls and lunches, then one us takes the lead on it and does most of the grunt work of writing the script, and hands it back to the other to edit and to added scenes — and of course lavish praise on it. Then on the next one we swap roles. The most important thing is to meet frequently for lunchtime discussions, at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, our favorite hangout.
DF: Ben, who is Peter Grant, as a character?
Ben Aaronovitch: Peter Grant is a police officer in the Metropolitan Police who works for the Special Assessment Unit, aka The Folly, investigating the strange, weird and supernatural cases that the rest of the Met would rather not deal with. His boss is DCI Thomas Nightingale who is literally a wizard of the old school and he works with the obligatory Scottish pathologist Dr. Walid.
DF: Without spoilers, can you tell us a little about Night Witch’s storyline?
Ben Aaronovitch: The case centers around Russian expats in London, particularly Varvara Sidorovna Tamonina, an unusually well preserved veteran of the Great Patriotic War where she served in an all-women’s magic regiment known to their terrified German enemies as the Night Witches (not to be confused with the famous all-women’s aviation regiment whose precision night-time bombing earned them a similar nickname).
At the start of the story, she’s keeping her head down and serving time at Holloway Prison when Nestor Yakunin, a modern oligarch, tries to break her out to deal with the kidnapping of his daughter.
She wants nothing to do with it, but entanglements with her past drag her, Peter and Nightingale into a complicated case involving Russian and British forest spirits, gangsters, river goddesses and the Russian meaning of the word “nostalgia.”
DF: What does artist Lee Sullivan bring to the table here?
Andrew Cartmel: I’ve always said Lee was a top drawer artist, but I didn’t realize just how high up that top drawer was. He has genuinely excelled himself with Rivers of London. There was a famous American cartoonist of the golden age called Noel Sickles and they used to say he could draw anything, and Lee also has that ability. He can draw animals, machinery, landscapes, architecture — and above all, people. Ben and I are constantly surprised and delighted by the stuff he comes up with. Sometimes he even improves on the imagery we put in the script. When he does that, we change the script to match what Lee has done. So that everything will synch up when they do the lettering. And also of course so we can take credit for it. But you also must take note of the contribution of our dazzlingly talented colorist, Luis Guerrero. Luis adds another dimension to the comic. We are very, very grateful to be working with Luis and Lee.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions. Rivers of London: Night Witch #1 hits stores today, March 16th!
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