The Dead Boy Detectives:

Charles Rowland & Edwin Paine

Created by Neil Gaiman

Originally created by Neil Gaiman in his popular Sandman series from DC/Vertigo, EDWIN PAINE (1916) and CHARLES ROWLAND (died 1990) are two British schoolboys who have shuffled off this mortal coil -- but that hasn't stopped them from making like the would-be Hardy Boys of the afterlife, investigating cases that involve the supernatural.

And for Charles and Edwin, there definitely was life after Sandman. In "The Dead Boy Detectives and the Secret of Immortality," a four-issue mini-series written by Ed "Scene of the Crime" Brubaker and drawn by Bryan Talbot and Steve Leialoha, the ghostly boys -- who operate their detective agency out of a tree house -- investigate the macrabre case of bodies of homeless children washing up on the shores of the Thames.

But I suppose you're wondering how a couple of dead kids ending up running a detective agency. Evidently Charles and Edwin refused to head off with Death to the afterworld, and instead spent years together haunting assorted theatres and libraries learning how to become first-rate detectives. Trapped for eternity in between worlds, locked in perpetual youth, with Death always on their case, they can't really be seen by mortal adults, although children can see them.

Get it? Me neither , or at least not exactly-- but then, I was never a Sandman fan.

So I just accept it, because the Dead Boys are pretty fun. Definitely for adults, although older kids will probably get a kick out of this light-hearted boys' adventure with its supernatural overtones and easy-going humour, despite the macarbre trappings -- sorta like Harry Potter as a P.I.

And that's a notion that must have crossed the minds of the good folks at DC/Vertigo, because in the summer of 2005, the boys returned in their own manga digest, with text and art by artist Jill Thompson. In it, the boys traveled to Chicago on a missing persons case, where they're forced to go undercover at an all-girl's school.

The proposed series never quite caught on, but in 2014, Vertigo decided to try again, this time with a monthly series, which lasted twelve issues.


    (1989-96, DC/Vertigo)
    Monthly series
    Created and written by Neil Gaiman
  • "Season of Mists: A Prologue" (December 1990, #21)
  • "Season of Mists: Chapter 1" (January 1991, #22)
  • "Season of Mists: Chapter 2" (February 1991, #23)
  • "Season of Mists: Chapter 3" (March 1991, #24)
  • "Season of Mists: Chapter 4" (April 1991, #25)
  • "Season of Mists: Episode 5" (May 1991, #26)

    (2001, DC/Vertigo)
    4-issue mini-series
    Created by Neil Gaiman
    Writer: Ed Brubaker
    Art: Bryan Talbot, Steve Leialoha
  • "The Secret of Immortality (Part One)"
  • "The Secret of Immortality (Part Two)"
  • "The Secret of Immortality (Part Three)"
  • "The Secret of Immortality (Part Four)"

    (2005, DC/Vertigo)
    144 pages, digest-size
    Created by Neil Gaiman
    Written and drawn by Jill Thompson

    (2014-15, DC/Vertigo)
    12 issues
    Writers:: Toby Litt. Mark Buckingham
    Art: Ryan Kelly, Lee Loughridge, Gary Erskine

  • "Schoolboy Terrors: The New Girl" (February 2014, #1)
  • "Schoolboy Terrors: Ghost Knives" (March 2014, #2)
  • "Schoolboy Terrors: Soul-Stripped" (April 2014, #3)
  • "Schoolboy Terrors: School Blazers" (May 2014, #4)
  • "Halfway House: Topsy-Turvy" (June 2014, #5)
  • "Ghost Snow: Higgedy-Piggedy (July 2014, #6)
  • "Ghost Snow: Flakes" (September 2014, #7)
  • "Ghost Snow: Twirls" (October 2014, #8)
  • "Ghost Snow: Swirls" (November 2014, #9)
  • "Ghost Snow: Drifts" (December 2014; #10)
  • "Ghost Snow: Drifts" (January 2015, #11)
  • "Yonda" (February 2015, #12)


Collects Dead Boy Detectives #1-6

Collects Dead Boy Detectives #7-12


A listing of all the private eyes who have shown up in DC comics.

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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