Since its inception in 1992, Image Comics has made a name for itself for its compelling creator-owned work. It is no surprise, then, that SON OF HITLER by Anthony Del Col (writer) and Jeff McComsey (artist) constantly delivers. In this story, the British Government discovers that Adolf Hitler fathered a son in the first World War. Believing this boy to be a young French baker, they track him down and send him to kill his father to end WWII. With the OGN’s hardcover releasing this week, ComicsVerse took the opportunity to explore the crooks and crannies of this spy adventure in this exclusive interview with the creators.

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CV: SON OF HITLER has a rather unique premise, but one with some interesting historical background. Anthony, where did the original inspiration for this comic come from?

Anthony Del Col (ADC): Like all goods in life, it came from grabbing coffee in Canada.

Geoff Moore (our co-creator of the book) and I were grabbing a coffee in Toronto over five years ago and he told me the legend that Hitler had fathered a child in the First World War. I immediately got excited about telling the story of that child and Geoff and I are started riffing on what the story could be (full props for the title is to him). And in that original brainstorming session the majority of our story came into place – that he’s recruited to meet and kill his father.

SON OF HITLER
Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: Tell me about the collaboration process. How did you two begin to work together?

ADC: After Geoff and I had noodled around with the story I wanted to find the perfect artist for this book. Jeff McComsey was one of the first people I had in mind. We had been introduced by a comics journalist and I thought it would be the perfect story for him.

Jeff McComsey (JMC): Anthony emailed one day and pitched me the idea. WWII spy thriller is the type of stuff I love to work on. We worked on the initial pitch that got us the OGN deal with Image, but I had a few projects to finish up first. All three of us took the time to really sharpen the story up before Anthony and Geoff produced the script.

CV: Jeff, tell me a little bit about the visual direction that you brought the story in. The world you depict is very monotone and dark. Where did you draw inspiration for this visual style?

JMC: I would say the visual look of SON OF HITLER draws equally from classic American illustrators like N.C. Wyeth and those classic Black and White era WWII flicks. Chief among those is THE LONGEST DAY.

SON OF HITLER
Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: For both of you, how has working with Image differed from your previous writing and drawing gigs?

JMC: On a personal level it’s been huge. I’ve been an Image reader since they started back in ‘92. I come from a small press background so having the help with pre-press, marketing, and all those other back end elements of publishing from the folks they have over there has been immense.  I’d love to do it again.

ADC: I’ve wanted to work with Image for years now so it was the first place I thought of. I have so much respect for what the entire team has done in the last 5-10 years, helping to publish some of the top comics in the industry. They understand the industry (publisher Eric Stephenson was actually the first person to suggest telling this story as a graphic novel instead of a monthly series) and every person has been a delight to work with.

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CV: Anthony, your story takes place throughout WWII’s warfront, but it barely touches the German front. Why did you decide to push the story away from the Nazi hub and into the “outskirts” of the war?”

ADC: This story – the first two-thirds, at least, is a classic journey story (like the Odyssey or Jason and the Argonauts). Meet our heroes (the titular character Pierre Moreau and his British spy hanlder Cora Brown) in one spot (Occupied France and England, respectively) and figure out how to get them to the target (Hitler in Berlin). But in real life, it’s never as simple as getting from Point A to Point B. Especially in the chaos of war, where you’re lucky if you’re even alive at Point A. I wanted to capture what it’s like in this sort of environment – and how people can mess up along the way. Get in their own way. It makes for interesting storytelling.

CV: Jeff, how did you approach the depictions of these different cultural hubs? Each felt very recognizable in their own ways, but still deeply rooted in this story’s aesthetic.

JMC: Research is a big part of a project like this. The good news is these places and this time are well documented. I pulled a pretty extensive library of inspiration for location, but also fashion and hairstyles.

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CV: Anthony and Jeff, you have both worked with historical fiction in the past. In fact, Anthony, many would say your career has been defined by it, with KILL SHAKESPEARE and ASSASSIN’S CREED. How have these past historical works helped to define SON OF HITLER?

ADC: It wasn’t until I started to do some media for SON OF HITLER that I realized that the majority of my stories have been set in the past. I guess I have a shtick? An oeuvre? I guess they’re all selfish acts on my behalf. If I set a story in that time period it gives me an excuse to learn more about it. Read books, watch movies, do research. I absolutely love it.

One of the lessons I’ve learned is something that may get me in trouble: not to get too bogged down by all of the historical facts but to find the story within them. And that’s what I love about historical fiction. There are so many shadow and blindspots that these are areas in which the great “what if” scenarios can exist.

JMC: With historical fiction, you have to be weary of falling too far down the reference/accuracy rabbit hole. Authenticity is important for visuals, but can stifle story if you forget the first principle of making an interesting story first.

SON OF HITLER
Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: Tell me a little about protagonist Pierre. Was it important for you, Anthony, for this character to come from such a dark past? In what ways did this help inform this character’s arc in SON OF HITLER?

ADC: The first thing I thought of when I first sat down with is: if someone is the genetic son of the worst human being on the planet, how similar would this son be? And so we played around with a number of versions – very similar, not similar, etc. And in the end we decided a middle-ground would be best. Like Hitler, Pierre has a temper and anger management problems. And also like his father, he has artistic talent (in Pierre’s case as a baker’s assistant).

JMC: I always think of Pierre as a lit stick of dynamite. The challenge for me was to try and convey this inner turmoil without it being a caricature. The fun part of that is we know eventually he’s going to go off.

CV:While Pierre is a deeply interesting character, British Spy Cora Brown is by far the stand-out star, in my opinion. What did each of you bring to this incredibly strong woman to make her place in the story so impactful?

JMC: Cora is a lot of fun to draw. I tend to keep her posture sort of open. She’s not trying to be demure.

ADC: Thanks so much for your kind words about Cora. She’s one of my favorite characters ever. It’s funny – I realized near the end of the writing process that SON OF HITLER could be the origins story of the Judi Dench ‘M’ character from the Bond films. She’s someone completely driven (in this case to find/kill Hitler) that she’s almost like a young James Bond – blunt and without much tact. But she gets the job done, and that’s key.

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CV: With SON OF HITLER in the rear-view, what new projects do you two have in the works?

JMC: I’m currently working on an OGN biography about Marine Corps general Smedley Butler for the Naval Institute Press’s new OGN imprint Dead Reckoning. I’ll be writing and drawing that one.

ADC: Well, as you’ve pointed out, I’ve done a lot of historical fiction so perhaps I should create something more modern or futuristic…? Actually, I am. I have my first project with Marvel Comics coming out this fall, which hasn’t been announced yet. And last year I dove into the world of audio dramas/podcast fiction with Audible’s UNHEARD: THE STORY OF ANNA WINSLOW. It debuted at #1 on Audible so I’m now about to start the writing of two more dramas with them. One is a modern-day piece, while the other is… guess what? A historical fiction story!

SON OF HITLER Piqued Your Interest?

The SON OF HITLER OGN hardcover is available now at all comic book retailers. To see our first hand thoughts on the story, check out our review! To learn more about Anthony Del Col, visit his Twitter @anthony_delcol or his website here. For Jeff McComsey, check out his Twitter @Jeff_McComsey or his blog.

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