At New York Comic Con last month, BOOM! Studios announced The Last Contract, their latest series with writer Ed Brisson. Featuring artwork from Lisandro Estherren, the crime thriller series sees a retired hitman forced back into action by circumstances beyond his control, and sounded like a title that was filled to the brim with potential, even if details were a little thin on the ground.
Fortunately, to help fill in some of those blanks, we were able to sit down and have a chat with Ed and Lissanrdo about the series, and find out exactly what we should expect when it hits stores in January.
Here’s how the conversation went;
Big Comic Page: Firstly, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us.
ED BRISSON: No problem!
BCP: Firstly, for those of our readers who may have missed the announcement at NYCC (shame on them!), can you tell us a little bit about THE LAST CONTRACT?
EB: In a nutshell, THE LAST CONTRACT is about a nameless hitman who’s been out of the game for a long, long time. A REALLY long time. Our protagonist is 80 if he’s a day. The hitman life is something that he quit right at the time that others his age would have been retiring their jobs.
BUT! Someone from his past has tracked The Man down and is hell bent on making him pay for his past transgressions. At 80, he’s got to go on the run and figure out who’s trying to kill him and why.
BCP: Sounds great. Now, you’re known as a writer who can turn his hand to a lot of different genres. What is it about crime thrillers, and this story in particular, that you find so appealing?
EB: I’m a HUGE crime fan. If I had to pick only one genre to write for the rest of my life, it would be crime. Crime, crime, crime.
That’s not to discredit any other genre that I’ve worked in. I love sci-fi as well — but dirty, gritty sci-fi. Same with superheroes. I just love my fiction to spit grit.
What got me excited when I started developing this story was mainly that our protagonist is so old that everything he does is going to be harder and he’s going to have to use his wits a lot more — not so easy when you’re showing early signs of Alzheimer’s and your wits have begun to atrophy as rapidly as your muscles.
This isn’t Liam Neeson “old”, where he can take down a room of 20 armed soldiers using only a spoon. The is legit OLD old, as in, can’t get out of this chair without throwing a hip.
BUT, I don’t want to make it sound like our protagonist is harmless. FAR from it. He’s still just as deadly as he ever was, he just has to be a little more inventive, which makes him much more dangerous.
BCP: How much do we get to find out about this nameless protagonist over the course of the series?
EB: I don’t want to give away too much, but will say that we’ll never know his name. I love that in the Man With No Name trilogy, that you can have a thoroughly engaging character who can still remain a complete mystery.
BCP: Are there any other characters in particular that should readers be looking out for?
EB: Every character. No one is to be trusted. Anyone could be out there to kill The Man.
BCP: What kind of tone are you looking to strike with The Last Contract? Is this going to be a tense, slow-burning mystery, or more of an action-packed affair?
EB: It’s a mystery with some pretty big action sequences throughout. It’s also got this great streak of dark humour throughout that I’m really loving.
BCP: Let’s talk a little about the visuals. Now Lisandro, you have a very distinctive style that definitely lends itself well to a book like this. Who would you say your main artistic influences are?
LISANDRO ESTHERREN: I have numerous artistic influences, from literature to movies, from music to comic artists. In the visual aspect and the conception of comic art, Alberto Breccia, José Muñoz, Eduardo Risso, and Milton Caniff are at the core; they’re strong and constant influences on my work.
BCP: What has the collaborative process been like between you and Ed on the artistic side of the book? How much input has he had in terms of character design, etc.?
LE: The collaborative process has been awesome. From the start, I had the feeling that Ed and I were on the same page, probably for being such big fans of crime stories. Also, it was very easy to focus on the mood and the distinctive approach to the characters of the series because Ed and I kept a dynamic exchange going, from the concepts to the visuals and vice versa. So it has been a great way to create something as a team.
BCP: Are we going to be seeing the same dark, gritty approach that you used in TALL TALES FROM THE BADLANDS, or have you made any changes to fit in with this particular story?
LE: TALL TALES FROM THE BADLANDS was one of my first gigs. Published in the US in 2011, I actually drew that story back in 2006. So it has been a long time and since then, I’ve worked on my style and tried out new things, hopefully learning a lot.
For THE LAST CONTRACT, I try to combine three elements that I love: gritty black and white, the organic lines and textures from the brushes, and the subtlety of grey wash tones.
BCP: We’re definitely looking forward to seeing some of the interior artwork, but aside from THE LAST CONTRACT, what other projects do you both have coming up that we should keep our eye out for?
EB: I’ve got a crime series called THE VIOLENT coming out through Image in December. It’s a straight crime book about a father trying desperately to keep his family together, only to get himself into deeper and deeper trouble. Every time he tries to cover one transgression, he finds himself in another situation where he’s got to cover yet another crime. I’m doing that one with artist Adam Gorham, who some might know from DEAD DROP, that came out this summer through Valiant.
Also in December, my first two issues of BATMAN & ROBIN ETERNAL come out (Issues #11 and #12). It’s my first DC work and I’m pretty excited to get it out there.
LE: Right now I´m working in a couple of mystery and sci-fi anthologies for magazines in Argentina and Spain. I’m also focused on some personal projects that you’ll hear about soon.
BCP: And finally, what would you say to any readers who still might be unsure about whether they want to pick this one up in January?
EB: Don’t be a fool! Pick this book up or else I will come to your house and I will break your nose. Lisandro will come along and he’ll draw it for the entire world to see!
LE: Please do whatever Ed says! He’s got the gun!
BCP: Thanks again for your time, guys.
The Last Contract will be available to or pre-order in the November 2015 PREVIEWS, and you can check out the official solicitation info below;
Retail Price: $3.99
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Lisandro Estherren
Main Cover: Lisandro Estherren
Incentive Cover: Vanesa R. Del Rey
What’s to Love: Last year, John Wick reminded everyone why hitmen make for awesome stories. Of course, we’ve known that for years as evidenced by The Killer and Hit. Ed Brisson’s (Batman & Robin Eternal, Sheltered) take on a retired hit man who finds himself as the target is a calculated thriller that kept us guessing until the end, and newcomer Lisandro Estherren’s (Tall Tales from the Badlands) noirish art perfectly sets the mood.
What It Is: A retired hit man, known only as “The Man,” is forced back into the game when a list of his kills is leaked by a mysterious blackmailer. The list makes targets out of anyone associated with one of the The Man’s previous jobs, not to mention The Man himself. As he fights to protect those the list exposes, The Man sets off to uncover the identity of the blackmailer so he can move on with his new life once and for all, but will the truth ruin those chances forever?