Dead Boy Detectives turns Neil Gaiman’s ghostly duo into “Hardy Boys on acid”

Edwin (George Rexstrew) and Charles (Jayden Revri) are the Dead Boy Detectives, ghosts who solve paranormal mysteries.
Enlarge / Edwin (George Rexstrew) and Charles (Jayden Revri) are the Dead Boy Detectives, ghosts who solve paranormal mysteries.


For those eagerly anticipating the second season of Netflix’s stellar adaption of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels, Dead Boy Detectives—the streaming plaform’s new supernatural horror detective series—is a welcome return to that weird magical world. Co-showrunner Steve Yockey (Supernatural), who created the series, aptly describes it as “the Hardy Boys on acid.” You’ve got vengeful witches, demons, psychic mediums, cursed masks, foul-mouthed parasitic sprites, talking cats—and, of course, the titular ghostly detectives, intent on spending their afterlife cracking all manner of mysterious paranormal cases.

(Some spoilers below, but no major reveals.)

Sandman fans first encountered the Dead Boys in the “Seasons of Mist” storyline, in which the ghost Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland meet for the first time in 1990. Edwin had been murdered at his boarding school in 1916 and spent decades in Hell. When Lucifer abandoned his domain, Hell was emptied, and Edwin was among the souls who returned to that boarding school. Charles was a living student whom Edwin tried to protect. Charles ultimately died and chose to join Edwin in his afterlife adventures. The characters reappeared in the Children’s Crusade crossover series, in which they decided to become detectives.

“As far as I was concerned, this was obviously the ultimate, the finest, most commercial idea I had ever had: two dead boys and a detective agency, you’re there,” said Gaiman during a virtual media event. “Nobody else saw it. It was just this mad conviction that sooner or later, there would be somebody out there in the world who would pick up one of these comics, read it, and see the same thing. Little did I know that baby Steve Yockey was out there waiting to be infected.”

Yockey championed the project from the start. “I fell in love with the comic when I was very young and I was going through a personal loss, and I found it weirdly comforting in a psychedelic way,” he said. It’s thanks to Yockey that the Dead Boys popped up in a S3 episode of Doom Patrol when he was a writer on that series. The characters proved so popular that HBO Max ordered a pilot for a Dead Boy Detectives series in 2021. The project subsequently moved to Netflix. Per the official premise:

Meet Edwin Paine (George Rexstrew) and Charles Rowland (Jayden Revri), “the brains” and “the brawn” behind the Dead Boy Detectives agency. Teenagers born decades apart who find each other only in death,  Edwin and Charles are best friends, ghosts… who solve mysteries. They will do anything to stick together—including escaping evil witches, Hell and Death herself. With the help of a clairvoyant named Crystal Palace (Kassius Nelson) and her friend Niko (Yuyu Kitamura), they are able to crack some of the mortal realm’s most mystifying paranormal cases.

“I knew the things I wanted to hang onto in the adaptation were the relationship between the boys and Death, because that drives our action, and also this sense of, don’t wait until you’re looking death in the face to start living,” said Yockey. For his co-showrunner, Beth Schwartz, it was the close friendship between Edwin and Charles, forged out of their painful pasts, that cemented her love for the series. “It’s this horrible tragedy when you really think about it,” she said. “It’s these two boys who didn’t get to live past their teenage years. But because of that tragedy they created this amazing friendship.”

The Dead Boys came out of the Sandman canon, but that series was at Netflix, while Yockey was initially developing Dead Boy Detectives for HBO Max, So Gaiman and Yockey essentially “filed off the Sandman serial numbers” for their early scripts, per Gaiman. When the series moved to Netflix, the streaming platform’s only request was to set the story back in the Sandman universe. Charles and Edwin are evading Death to solve mysteries in their afterlife, so naturally, Kirby Howell-Baptiste makes a cameo in a pilot scene penned by Gaiman, reprising her role as Death. One other Endless makes an appearance late in the season, and eagle-eyed fans might spot nods to the original Sandman artwork in the set design.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top