Created by Don McGregor and Gene Colan
NATHANIEL DUSK is the 1930's private eye walking the mean streets of Depression-era New York City in two wonderful comic book mini-series put out by DC in the mid-eighties. No masks, no tights, no super-powers, it marked a real return to DC's Detective Comics roots, and the days of Slam Bradley, et al.
Dusk is a WW I veteran who saw action in the trenches. Upon his return Stateside, he joined New York's finest, trying to maintain as much of his integrity as possible, but he couldn't stomach the corruption that he saw, and so hequit from the force in 1931, to became a private eye. He maintains a rented office in the East 80's with the name on his office door saying 'Nathaniel Dusk - Private Investigator' on the obligatory pebbled glass door, and keeps the obligatory bottle of scotch in the lower right hand desk drawer. Yet, despite the pretty generic set up, the series is actually quite good. McGregor adds just enough depth and humanity to the script, that, coupled with Colan's roughly-sketched rendering style,a combination of pencil and watercolor with virtually no inking, we're treated to a good solid tale and a warmly-nostalgic view of the genre we rarely get to see, much less in a comic book.
The first series, Lovers Die at Dusk, kicks off on January 31, 1934, with Dusk about to wrap a case up by giving photographic evidence to a married society woman about her husband's extra-curricular activities. Soon enough, Dusk's lover , Joyce Gulino, a woman with two small children (Jennie and Anthony), is killed and becomes the focal point of the entire series as he tries to solve her murder.
A lot of research and period color shows up in series. In Lovers, the NYC taxi strike of 1934, during Mayor LaGuardia's tenure as mayor, is worked in, and the second series includes Nathaniel taking the kids to the Capitol Movie Emporium to catch "some light-hearted mystery called "The Thin Man" stasrring Myrna Lo and William Powell, and the 1934 Fourth of July fireworks.
McGregor, who's a contributor to this site, also scripted Detectives, Inc. for Eclipse, another great mini-series about private eyes. It's also worth looking for. And Gene Colan is an artist's artist, one of the true greats, working for most comic book companies at one time or another.
The opening page also contains a dedication to Robert Culp, "who writes from the heart, shoots straight, and would make one helluva Nathaniel Dusk." The second series offers a dedication to McGregor's mother-in-law, and the Private Eye Writers of America "who helped the P.I. survive all those whacks on the cranium and fusillades of bullets."
File compiled by Peter M. Bellani and Kevin Burton Smith . And thanks to Mark Shinton for the tip.