BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
Part Hardy Boys
part After School Special, Bill Galvan's Scrapyard Detectives
are spunky sleuths who solve mysteries and problems the 'tween target audience might also be facing. Since the series began, an eclectic mix of comic creators has joined Galvan to bring new adventures of this diverse group to life. Now, Eisner-Award winning writer J.M. DeMatteis
has joined Galvan for the fourth issue "... And Forget," which has wheelchair bound (but trying to regain the use of her legs) Jinn Lee, one of the main detectives, face-to-face with the person who caused her accident. Will she be able to forgive or on the anniversary of her accident, is that asking too much?
Galvan was happy to have DeMatteis working on an issue. DeMatteis is able to handle a diverse cast, as fans of his Justice League International
work can attest. He's also got the age group down pat as fans of his Abadazad
and The Stardust Kid
series know. "I really love seeing the characters grow and change with each new creator that comes on board," Galvan said. "Each one puts their own spin on the Scrapyard
universe, telling a story that reflects something of value that they want to say to kids. The mysteries the Scrapyard Detectives
solve are of a more personal nature [than Hardy Boys
or Nancy Drew
], involving a misunderstanding or an inability to see things from a different point of view. Another thing that sets them apart is the comic book format, which brings these 'old school' style detectives into a four color world."
"I’ve been a fan of J.M. DeMatteis
for a long time, starting with his Spider-Man
stories at Marvel
, and then his hilarious run on Justice League
," Galvan continued. "When I was in college my friend and I used to trade them back and forth, laughing at Booster and Beetle’s antics. I never dreamed that one day I’d be penciling a script from J.M.
featuring characters I helped create!"
DeMatteis told THE PULSE he is a fan of this series and that's why he wanted to work with Galvan on this issue. "I love what Bill and the folks at the Diversity Foundation
have done with the Scrapyard Detectives
: taking this kid-friendly genre (a modern day spin on the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew
) and, without hitting readers over the head, teaching them about diversity, tolerance, and compassion," DeMatteis said. "I wrote the introduction to the SD trade paperback a few years ago and when Bill asked me if I'd be interested in writing an issue, I jumped at the chance."
"Bill has taken children of different races and backgrounds and deposited them in the middle of this tried and true genre," DeMatteis continued. "Just the fact that they're the protagonists is a statement in itself. No one's pointing an arrow at them saying, "Look! There's a Latino kid! There's an Asian!" They're just kids. And the children reading SD will simply accept them for who they are. That said, this story gets into some emotional territory that isn't commonly found in the genre."
DeMatteis told us "... And Forget" is about forgiveness. "Or, perhaps I should say the limits of forgiveness ... as Jinn is unexpectedly confronted by the young man who ran her down, and put her in a wheelchair. We've also got a much lighter B-story about a new character named Katie—she's an enthusiastic (I should say over-enthusiastic) fan of the Detectives—who pushes everyone's tolerance levels right to the edge."
"So many things in this world are made more difficult because of the unwillingness to forgive," Galvan continued of the subject matter. "Jinn is faced with a big challenge -- can she forgive the person that caused her physical injury? J.M. has done a great job with this story, expanding the range of emotions for the characters, and portraying them as real kids, with all the faults and attitudes that kids in real life have. He has also introduced a great new character, Raymond’s cousin Katie. She really brings a lot of energy to the group, as well as ties into the emotional core of the story."The Scrapyard Detectives
are published as a part of the Diversity Foundation. For those unaware of that group, Galvan gave us the particulars. "The mission of the Diversity Foundation is to educate children about teamwork and the value of diversity and acceptance. The books are funded by the Diversity Foundation and we are happy to give them to schools and libraries free of charge. Teachers can use them to encourage reading and we have lesson plans that go along with the past three issues (lesson plans for this issue are in the works). They can also be used for vocabulary, social studies, and art classes as well."
"The only challenge we face is getting the word out to teachers that this free resource is available for them to use. We also have a collected edition of the last three issues as a 106 page graphic novel that we sell for $5, with all proceeds going to the Foundation to produce more single issues. To find out more, educators can visit smilesfordiversity.org
Those of you attending Wonder Con have a chance to get the latest issue of the Scrapyard Detectives as well. 100 copies will be given away at WonderCon, on Sunday, March 1st, 12:30-2:00 to fans attending The Secret Origin of Good Readers panel in Room 232/234. You can learn more about that panel here: http://www.comic-con.org/wc/wc09_prog_sun.php
Lots of other comic creators have joined Bill Galvan to create new adventures of The Scrapyard Detectives. PULSE readers can learn more about the series in these interviews: GALVAN & THE SCRAPYARD DETECTIVES GAVAN'S SECRET CASES OF THE SCRAPYARD DETECTIVES