Declan Shalvey teaches old dog new tricks

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Declan Shalvey has made waves in the comics industry with his outstanding stints on books such as moon knight, Venomand Wolverine. As a writer and artist, he helped shape and redefine some of the fan-favorite characters and arcs. Now he takes the time to do something brand new and on his own. old dogSet to be published by Image Comics on August 24, will be Shalvey’s dive into the spy genre, with a protagonist who could give James Bond a run for his money.


CBR sat down with Shalvey to find out more about old dog. He talked about how his work at Marvel was essential to his plans for his creator-owned series and how it helped take his skills to the next level. Shalvey also revealed which other characters have influenced old dogthe protagonist, Jack Lynch.

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CBR: How long has the idea old dog been percolated? What made you decide it was the right time for this?

Declan Shalvey: I’d say it’s been around for a long time in one form or another. I think I had a rough structure in mind after doing the Nick Fury series a few years ago, but story details clicked a few years ago, probably at the start of the pandemic/Diamond shutdown. Like everyone else, I carefully considered my options: the Punisher the series I had drawn was put aside. A concert at DC failed… How the hell was I going to do comics? ! I think it forced me to look at the projects I was working on and the direction I was going as a creator, and [it] made me draw a line between work that would pay the bills and work that would benefit me on a more creative front.


Luckily I’m in a position where I can have my cake and eat it, between paid Marvel gigs and creator-owned side projects, but I felt it was time to put my money where my mouth was. I often tell young designers to do their own thing, but it’s always harder to follow your own advice. I looked at the creators I respect and was excited by how many of them were writing and drawing their own stuff. I had to examine myself carefully and ask, “You have all the resources to make your own book…Why don’t you do it?” That’s when I decided, “I’m going to do old dog.”


I was lucky to have great Marvel projects offered to me, [so] I decided to wait a year and get more writing/art credits under my belt at Marvel. First, writing/drawing was the work I wanted to do creatively, and it also gave me time to workshop slowly old dog while having a paid gig to keep the lights on. I also took the opportunity to start coloring my own work. Marvel was really awesome giving me the opportunity to do all of the above, and now I feel like my skills are at a place where I can do an entire book at the quality and level that I really want.

Judging by the short history of Image! #1, Jack Lynch loves to joke around and have a conversation while punching people in the face. What were the main inspirations for the personality of this character?


It is difficult to attribute it to a single inspiration; much of it boiled down to what would entertain me. I guess I like more contemporary mythos: worn-out, battered protagonists who still had a bit of swagger to them. i would like to think [that] there are some of city ​​of sin‘s Marv, Raylan Givens, Clint Eastwood, Jimmy McNulty, etc. I wanted to write a miserable old bastard, [who] can still break a good line when needed.

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So, will Jack Lynch actually have the luxury of his planned retirement, or will he just keep coming back and butting heads?


Jack finds a new breath of life – a life that has been abruptly taken from him. Knocking heads is when he’s happiest. He’s useful again, and that’s exactly where he wants to be. The last years of his career were basically a kind of retirement. He’s done with that. He wants to come back.

How do you feel old dog stands out from other spy stories?

It’s hard to say, and probably not for me to say; maybe not! I definitely play on the fringes of established tropes. I think the focus of how I tell these stories will be the maker of something more original. I would say [that] maybe it’s reminiscent of some mid-era WildStorm comics; a friend compared it to Sleeper and Global frequency, which is kind of refreshing because I can’t think of a book like this in a while that isn’t as pretentious as it gets. I’m definitely going for a more grounded feel with old dog, but still keeping room for the biggest sci-fi shows. I like to draw moody stories and brooding characters, but damn it, I also like to draw things that explode.


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I love the cover of Jack sitting on a blood-covered park bench, surrounded by carnage, with pigeons circling him for food. How important was it for you to balance Jack’s obvious desire for violence with those moments? lightness?

Well, thanks to Marcos Martin for this coverage. Typical of him making a better cover for your own book than you ever could. Same for other variant cover artists like Kevin Nowlan, Chris Samnee, Greg Smallwood, etc. I really shot myself in the foot there. For your question though, that’s just something I can’t help. I love dark stories, but I can’t help but crack a joke. I don’t mean I’m like Jack, but I can channel some of that attitude; channel my bitter old-man energy into something productive.

In terms of writing, drawing and coloring, why did you decide to go completely solo here instead of working with a team – other than Clayton Cowles doing the lettering?

Why not do the lettering? Because I’m crazy, but not this mad! Well, writing/drawing was the ultimate goal of this project. I got a taste for it at Marvel and really wanted to commit to that level on a creator-owned book. I feel like I’m getting closer to – for lack of a better word – “author” work and eventually had to step up. As for coloring, honestly I was planning to contact one of the many fantastic colorists working today, but since I created old dog and while working there, I had colored my work at Marvel and honed those skills. I know it would be smarter to hire a brilliant colorist, but I felt I was up to the challenge, and if I had to commit as much as I already was, why not go all the way to the end ? I had become more interested in storytelling with colors and if I could do that on a workbook for hire, why can’t I do the same for a book I own? Same thing with designing the book…I know it takes so long, but I didn’t want to stop myself from having a full vision realized in a book.


I asked Clayton if he wanted to put it in letters, though, because I think I had to draw the line somewhere. That’s a lot of firsts for me on old dog and having a trusted collaborator like Clayton by my side helps me a lot. I like what he does too; most of the notes I’ve given him are like “You know, like in the old x-men comics!”

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What do you think was the most difficult aspect of creating old dog?

It’s a good question. It probably sounds silly, but I think the hardest part was forcing myself to do it. It’s so much easier to just take the paycheck and have fun with the toys that a company lets you play with. I like it, but I know I had to follow that compulsion to create my own thing. I have a fantastic support system, whether it’s the people at Image: my editor Heather Antos, Clayton, etc. It was time for me to take the leap. All the work involved was a huge challenge, but I know I will eventually overcome it. In the end, I think I haven’t reached the hardest part yet: seeing if anyone will actually buy and enjoy the book! With everything going on like this, I can’t hide behind a great writer or a fantastic artist or an inspired colorist. I’m a bit more exposed. If you don’t like the book, I can’t blame anyone else!


And finally, can you actually teach an old dog new tricks?

I should say yes, because even I seem to be learning more and more.

Old Dogs #1 hits stores August 24 from Image Comics.

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