The idea for “The Murder Mile” came entirely from one real moment in the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. I am an athletics fan through and through and as such I was mesmerized by the events of the “Miracle Mile” even though I hasten to add I was not even born then.
In 1954 only two men had ever broken four minutes for the mile, Roger Bannister and John Landy and they’d both only ever done it once in separate races. They finally met in the final of the men’s Mile at the Vancouver Games. The two leading athletes in the world at that time went head to head in a race that did not disappoint. Landy ran bravely and intelligently from the front on world record schedule refusing to surrender his destiny to chance. He had opened up a large gap which Bannister began to methodically chase down until coming off the final bend he swept past Landy. At that very moment the heroic Landy looked to the inside of the track as Bannister passed him on the outside. It is a moment that was celebrated in a bronze statue outside the Vancouver stadium….Bannister in full flow and Landy glancing the other way. Well I thought what if something else was going on? What if Landy was aware of some other thing occurring in the stadium? What if there had been a gunshot? What if someone was trying to shoot one of the runners? That is what I based this entire graphic novel on.
I had wanted to create a fully painted graphic novel for some time and I had found an idea to hook a story onto. This idea would allow me to celebrate and explore both the adventure of athletics and the mid 1950s in America. Obviously you have to build the idea a bit more and I wanted it to be a detective novel and not soley a sports story.
In the mid 1950s performance enhancing drugs were not an issue in athletics but professionalism was. Athletes couldn’t accept money and the whole idea of betting on races was outrageous! Of course way back in the later part of the 19th Century people had been betting on the outcomes of races and even rioting about it!
My first drafts had just focused on the idea of the crime being centered around betting but at a “Cartoon County” meeting in Brighton someone told me that I should also think about incorporating the 1950s cold war. Maybe a Soviet plot could be woven in.
When everything was finished the Editors at the publishers “Self Made Hero” went to work on my story and whipped it into shape. I really appreciated the way they made me justify plot points within the story and also they way they got me to revise certain sequences so that it all flowed and made sense. I really believe that when you are so buried within working on a graphic novel it becomes very easy to lose sight of the final product. That’s when you need good Editors and in Lizzie Kaye and Dan Lockwood I had some great ones. In the end I had to repaint just one or two bits and change bits of text throughout the book.
Paul Collicut on The Murder Mile