Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes novels, met Harry “Handcuff” Houdini for the first time in 1920. Doyle, widely known as a devout spiritualist, insisted that Houdini had real magical powers. Houdini, on the other hand, spent many years publicly debunking and shaming performers who claimed their shows were real, honest to God, spiritual acts.
Despite their glaring philosophical differences, the improbable pair became fast friends until they had a falling out in 1922. Doyle’s wife Jean tried to convince the world-famous illusionist that she could channel the spirit of Cecelia Weisz, Houdini’s dearly departed mother. Lady Doyle used a method known as “automatic writing” to produce a 15-page letter, supposedly from Mrs. Weisz, in English, and signed it with a cross. Cecelia never spoke a word of English, and was Orthodox Jewish. Houdini was deeply offended and his friendship with Doyle never recovered.
Eisner-nominated writer Christopher Sebela (High Crimes, Heartthrob, Injustice: Ground Zero) teams with artist Gavin Guidry (The Night Driver, Heartthrob), colorist Marissa Louise (Spell on Wheels, Escape From New York), and letterer Micah Meyers (The Disasters, The Night Driver) to bring you the mostly true story of Sir Doyle and Houdini’s unlikely friendship and the ugliness that took place after their bromance ended.
From the first time I found out that Houdini and Doyle were friends, I was fascinated. Especially when it became clear each was the opposite of what I’d expected. Doyle bought into séances and mediums whole hog while Houdini did his best to discredit them publicly and encouraged people to be skeptical. Plus, the way their friendship broke up and how publicly each one dismissed the other, it made me think how much worse their breakup could have been. It kind of begged me to write a story. -Christopher Sebela
As Houdini tries to stop Doyle from ushering in a spiritual and literal apocalypse, The Death Defying becomes a battle of wills, words, faith, science, fisticuffs, handguns and magic that stretches from the windswept menace of Stull, Kansas to the small apocalypse of Tungaska, Russia. Beliefs will be tested, lives will be threatened and the scariest specter of all is whether or not any of this is real.
The creative team is running a Kickstarter campaign through the 14th of November 2017 to fund The Death Defying #1. You can check out the campaign here to see what awesome rewards Sebela and co. have dreamt up for backers, including cameo appearances, print and digital copies of the book, T-shirts, enamel pins, and limited edition variant covers. Pledges start at just a buck. Three bucks will get your name printed in the back pages of the first issue. Every pledge pushes The Death Defying a little closer to print.
Here’s the first six pages of The Death Defying #1 to whet your appetite: