Review Fix chats with Writer Anthony Del Col, who details the creative process behind his new comic from Image, “Son of Hitler.”
Written by Del Col and fellow Canadian Geoff Moore, and with art by Jeff McComsey (FUBAR, Flutter), “Son of Hitler” is set in the darkest day of WWII as a rogue female spy handler discovers a shocking secret: that, when stationed in France during the First World War, Adolf Hitler fathered a child. The spy handler finds this young man in Occupied France and recruits him to get close to – and kill – his biological father and the end the war.
Review Fix: What inspired this series?
Anthony Del Col: A few years ago co-creator Geoff Moore told me about the legend that Hitler had fathered a child while serving in the First World War. It was never proven, despite the fact that one individual put his hand up and declared him to be the man. But that wasn’t proven. So it led to me asking the best creative question possible: “what if” it was true? Who would that person be? And would he/she fit into the war efforts at some point?
Review Fix: What was the research process like?
Del Col: I put together a time machine to go back to Occupied France and find out what living conditions were like…
Myself and the team (artist Jeff McComsey and co-creator Geoff Moore) spent a great deal of time researching the war. We were already history buffs but there’s always room for more knowledge. I also like to read fiction books in whatever era my stories take place in – I find them immensely helpful for coming up with quirky and odd ideas that can add to character or locale.
Review Fix: Was it difficult to put together? Del Col: From the moment we conceived the idea I knew I wanted Image Comics to publish it. So it took a while to work it through their system – and I’m so glad we did! From top to bottom it’s an amazingly-run company and they allowed us to create the best book possible.
Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself as a writer through this?
Del Col: In past comics I’ve either worked as a sole writer (more of my recent work) or one of a writing duo. For Son of Hitler I really wanted Jeff McComsey involved in the story part so he and Geoff and I would hop onto Skype for long sessions to discuss story, character, etc. It was sorta like a writer’s room in some respect, and I guess I took the role of head writer, which I am now addicted to being…
Review Fix: Who’s your target audience for this?
Del Col: We’ve got a lot of stuff in this story – everything from espionage to extreme violence to killing Nazis to weird medical experiments. So I would say if you like any of the above, this is the graphic novel for you. If you like stories like Inglourious Basterds, Zero Dark Thirty, The Man in the High Castle, The Boys from Brazil, Queen and Country, this is the graphic novel for you.
Review Fix: How is it different from other comic books in the genre?
Del Col: I’m actually amazed there aren’t more comics set during World War II – but I think it’s something that will be mined more frequently. In all other genres there are more stories being told of the dangers of Nazism (TV’s Man in the High Castle, the upcoming Jordan Peele Amazon drama The Hunt; in film there’s Dunkirk and The Darkest Hour; in video games you have the Call of Duty franchise and the Wolfenstein franchise). So I really do think this’ll be the beginning of more.
Review Fix: Are you worried about any backlash?
Del Col: The marketer in me says, “bring it on!” The sensitive Canadian says, “I hope not.” With a title like Son of Hitler, how could we not?
Actually, I changed the story after world events in 2017 (namely the Charlottesville riots) and there are some things in the final third of the book that may bother some people but I think it’s important to have that sort of discussion.
Review Fix: How is it different from your previous work?
Del Col: In some respects, it’s very close – like my work in Kill Shakespeare or Assassin’s Creed it’s set in a historical era with the character undertaking a journey. But in many other respects, it’s completely different. I think both Pierre Moreau (the titular character) and his spy handler Cora Brown are two of the more interesting characters I’ve created. Both have many faults yet we want to root for them to complete the mission.
And I think I’ve also created the best twist I ever will. I guess it’s all downhill from here…
Review Fix: What you want people to get out of this series?
Del Col: First off, I want them to be entertained. It’s a fun, pulpy story with lots of Nazi killing. What’s better than that?
But beyond that, I’d love for people to think about the question of nature vs. nurture. How much are we similar to our parents? How much are we different? It’s this question that’s at the core of this story.
Review Fix: How would you describe it to someone who has never read it?
Del Col: Son of Hitler is a thriller set in the darkest days of WWII as a female spy handler discovers the ultimate legend: Adolf Hitler fathered a child while stationed in France in the First World War. She finds this son and recruits him on a dangerous mission to get to – and kill – his biological father. It’s violent, has lots of espionage work, and a twist that you won’t see coming that makes it relevant to today’s world.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Del Col: I have a new series with Marvel Comics that’ll debut this fall (can’t officially announce it yet). Last year I created an audio drama with Audible that hit #1 so I’m about to burrow down and begin writing two more, both set in unique worlds. I believe one may be released at the end of this year.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Del Col: “Make America Hunt Nazis Again.”