INTERVIEW: Nathan Edmondson on DANCER

In only a few short years, comics writer Nathan Edmondson has made a name for himself telling smart, military-esque thrillers — from the modern mythological bent of Olympus to his suspenseful Who Is Jake Ellis? all the way to his run on DC’s Grifter and his forthcoming Splinter Cell graphic novel series. The most recent entry into his growing bibliography is one of the most thrilling spy-centric tales comics has seen in a long time: Dancer, with artist Nic Klein.

Released in early November in a collected edition by Image, Dancer follows a retired government assassin named Alan who is content living out his days alongside his new ballerina girlfriend Quinn in Milan, Italy until he finds himself in the cross hairs of a young rogue assassin who seems to know his patterns better than he does. While looking to pick up his old tricks to fend off this unknown adversary, Alan learns that this old dog needs to learn some new trick if he’s to outsmart a younger and faster assassin than him.

iFanboy spoke with Edmondson about this international spy thriller, asking about the origins of the story, its ties to ballet, and the killer twist that turned this comic on its head. Spoilers ahead, folks.

iFanboy: Now that it’s all said and done – how do you think the Dancer miniseries matched up to the idea you had for it before the comic started?

Nathan Edmondson: Nic Klein’s execution was far more precise and moody than my outline and script ever were. Such of course is the nature of comics and with an artist as talented as Nic, you hope for the artist’s vision to take hold of your idea as much as possible.

iF: Since you obviously script ahead of him doing the art, at what point in your script-writing did you begin to adjust how you were writing to take full advantage of the comic pages he was making out of your script? And how did you do that?

NE: With most of the artists I work with I spend a lot of time chatting up front about the aesthetic, pace, tone and structure of the book. The idea being that when we hit the ground with the storytelling we do so running. Beyond that, it’s just about the working chemistry between artist and writer. With Nic Klein, for the most part, my job is just to get out of the way.

iF: You’ve written stories about spycraft and military matters before, but seeing Dancer mix in ballet is something new. How’d this factor into your life and work its way to be the core of this story?

NE: I’m such a fan of ballet, and this story, I felt, needed a motif to highlight the protagonist. Alan’s character is the real dancer in the story, of course, and his tango of death with the assassin is the real dance.

iF: I heard that Dancer was partly inspired by a reader of yours who is a professional ballet dancer? If so, can you tell us about that – and if you’ve communicated to them about Dancer?

NE: Indeed. I met a reader who was into my work, a reader who performed first at the Royal School of Ballet in London and then for the Scottish National Ballet. Incredibly talented. Her inspiration was indirect; I’ve always been a fan of Ballet, but met her whilst working out the plot for “my next spy-fi book.” It was just in time to help inspire the motif that gave the book its title.

iF: How does ballet dancing compare to being a paid assassin?

NE: As the assassin notes in the story, both require the utmost dedication, discipline, and in both, the slightest misstep may mean–in case or the other–humiliation, or death.

iF: Your earlier stories all had an international flair to them, but Dancer really seemed to push that from Milan to Berne and a few other places. Why did you choose to make this international?

NE: Nic and I were both inspired by classic espionage films like The Spy Who Came In from the Cold or The Ipcress File. Something about the mid-century Euro-aesthetic evokes the very idea of secrets and shadows for me–or at least plays most gracious host to that sort of storytelling.

iF: Spoiler alert, iFanboy readers. The big twist at the end of the first issue was that the assassin going after Alan and Quinn is a younger clone of Alan. That’s a shocking piece of story-telling there, so I have to ask; was that the first part of the story that you developed around the larger Dancer story or did it come later?

NE: Dancer began with the idea of a younger man hunting an older version of himself–or rather, and older one being hunted by a younger version of himself. The rest of the story grew from that basic idea.

iF: Trying to compete with a younger, healthier and more physical version of yourself is a unique kind of challenge – especially when this younger clone has all the training Alan has. How did this conceit play out in your mind about fighting with yourself?

NE: I don’t recall putting myself in the shoes of the character at any point, but that’s an intriguing game to play at some point. I suppose because I’m the age (younger, even) than the young Alan in the movie, so I don’t have a reference point to think back on young-me…yet.

iF: You mentioned in an interview that you and Nic Klein have already planned a subsequent collaboration after Dancer – can you tell us about that?

NE: Nic has some commitments right now, but we do have a sequel in mind. It will perpetuate the basic idea while exploring, shall we say, a new motif.


A stunning page from DANCER by Nic Klein.

The collected edition of Dancer is available now from comic stores, book stores and various online outlets now.


  1. I just got this a couple of weeks ago along with some other books. I enjoyed it. It reminded me of European espionage thrillers.