Vita Ayala is the writer of such comics as Age of X-Man: Prisoner X, Livewire, and Morbius. Danny Lore is the writer of Queen of Bad Dreams and has worked with Vita as an editor. Now they’re joining forces as co-writers for Dynamite’s James Bond. They recently sat down with Westfield’s Roger Ash to discuss all things Bond.
Westfield: What is the appeal of Bond for you?
Danny Lore: I love characters that are super cool and super competent at what they do. There’s a slickness there, one that no other character really embodies for me. Even when he’s wrong, he’s right, you know? Style, no matter what side of the gun he’s on.
Vita Ayala: As a character, Bond is a combination of suave charm and an unrelenting force. He’s the Terminator in a tux, a mix of sharp observation and chameleon like adaptation. He isn’t perfect, but his flaws somehow manage to ingratiate him further rather than repel. He is The Coolest.
As a franchise, I think Bond represents an idealized version of espionage. (Maybe IDEALIZED is the wrong word, because, as stated above, Bond and the white hats in that universe are not at all perfect.) There is room for riddles and stretching intellectual muscles, but there is also a healthy dose of action and dynamic drama to keep folks on the edge of their seats, whether we are talking about the books, the various motion media versions, or the comics. I love a good spy story, and I love a good action adventure, and Bond is that perfect sweet spot that can engage my brain and get me thinking about the mystery, while fulfilling my desire to see cool fights, bonkers car chases, and explosions!
Westfield: How do you work together as co-writers? Who does what?
Ayala: Danny and I did a TON of development for this story, long before the scripting phase. We have broad outlines, issue breakdowns, and page by page breakdowns. That was the two of us in a room riffing, then bringing it to our editor who would poke and prod, until we got it right.
Usually, when Danny and I work together we take turns on first pass, but for Bond I was selfish and wanted to get to read all the first drafts as if I was fresh (even knowing the page by page, things change/evolve in the execution)! I love the way Danny writes, and they were born to write Bond. So Danny is doing first passes, and I am handling notes/revisions.
I think one of my strengths is looking at a piece and finding all the areas there might be questions/holes, and shoring it up. This has been a dream to work on, because Danny never takes any changes made personally, and we have a very good back and forth style creative process.
Lore: Vita and I have been working together on books for awhile now, from even before we were pitching anywhere! Like Vita said, we do a lot of pre-scripting work to make a story like Bond work. There’s always going to be twists and turns, foreshadowing and hinting– you can’t really do a story like that without putting in the detail work. Which is beautiful for co-writing, because you already kind of need to put in some of that work to make sure that the two writers don’t contradict each other!
While I do the first passes for Bond, Vita really is a lifesaver here– they are great at sharpening both scenes and dialog in a way that really matches the classic pacing of Bond!
Westfield: What can readers look forward to in the book?
Lore: We’ve got a really wild art world ride lined up for our readers! Forgery and mysterious money trails leading back to old friends and foes– all while introducing new characters that have their own sense of style and flare on the job! I Bond is going to be in a world that is both very much his (explosions! international crime! very good looking people looking good while doing very bad things!) and very much not. I love a good heist story, a good story about forgers, and theoretically, there are a lot of shared skill sets between those characters and a spy. But how they use them and when– that’s what really fuels this arc.
Plus some familiar faces will be making an appearance as well…
Ayala: I think the whole team wanted to make a book that had weight, while also being fun. We wanted to tap into stakes that weren’t universe ending, but that had urgency, while still leaving plenty of room for the quipping-charming-flirting aspect of Bond. So, folks can look forward to what Bond does best – cracking the mystery with fancy new toys while dodging bullets and romancing the pretty ladies.
Westfield: Aside from Bond, who are some of the other characters readers will meet?
Ayala: I know Danny will talk more at length here, but I wanted to say that I am very excited that we got to create new characters (with Brandi and Reese), and also bring back some old favorites (with [redacted] and [redacted])!
Lore: Adventures like this one always need some good forgers and thieves, right? I’m super excited for readers to meet Brandi and Reese! Brandi is, ostensibly, an art fraud investigator with a bit of a past, and Reese is her trusty ‘definitely not currently involved in cat burglary’ partner. What we wanted was to build a cast that complimented Bond while pushing him to not always go in the way that he’d want to. Brandi is a character that is used to being in charge, and while she can definitely hold her own when things get dicey, she’s a civilian, and is well aware that the rules for her and Bond are different. And Reese, well…he’s very good at what he does (and probably wishes he was good at what Bond does!)
Westfield: Bond villains are almost as well known as Bond. Was it fun/challenging to create an opponent for Bond?
Ayala: It was pure fun, honestly! The puzzle of figuring out not just the Big Boss, but of how to come at Bond sideways so that the mystery of it all is believable was like the best sort of exercise (like playing DDR but for your creative brain). And honestly, I am spoiled in that Danny is an endless well of knowledge about the universe, so there was never doubt about what and who would fit into the world – the process was so smooth.
I also have a love of creating villains in general, so to get to sharpen my claws on Bond was a treat.
Lore: Creating people for Bond to come against is really fun! There’s a little bit of a video game leveling mentality that I take to it (although a lot of it is simply going back and forth with Vita until we hit gold!). Every villain is part of a gauntlet here– every villain is both a level up on, and a reaction to the last. How do we switch it up, how do we make Bond and his crew have to constantly switch modes in order to come out on top?
Westfield: You’re working with artist Eric Gapstur. What can you say about your collaboration?
Ayala: Eric is an actual genius with the pen. Whatever we think we are doing in the script, Eric is on the next level.
Danny and I both tend to make it pretty clear that the scripts are more loose guides rather than anything else, and it brings me so much joy to work with Eric because he will take our suggestions and make actual magic. And I think he is PERFECT for Bond, style and sensibility wise. It has been an absolute honor and pleasure to get to work with him on this book!
Lore: Eric is such a delight to work with! We’re trying to do a lot of different things in the script, from the more traditional Bond beats to things that I think are a little different from what expect to see. He’s been so great at not only engaging in what we put in the script, but pushing it into that kind of Bond-level slickness, really putting spins on concepts that we couldn’t possibly do in the script.
Westfield: Any closing comments?
Ayala: I think that there is something for every Bond lover in this story, and things for people new to the franchise too! It is both approachable for the new folks, and familiar with a twist for old hats.
Lore: The whole team on this book is really pumped to show you this new series! It’s for classic Bond fans, it’s for people who miss shows like Burn Notice and White Collar, and it’s for people who are just craving a great adventure! Can’t wait for you all to see it!