Dan Brereton on the Lot of NUMB3RS Comic Convention Set

Long Hall

reported by Alan Belfast 10/26/07

On November 23rd, viewers of CBS cutting-edge crime drama NUMB3RS are in for a dose of realism not often experienced in a network Television show. The episode, entitled " Graphic", centers around Comic Books, their creators and the conventions they inhabit.

To this end, Dan Brereton, along with several other creators and publishers were invited to be part of the shooting of the episode and contributed artwork, books, merchandise and a general air of authenticity to the comic convention set.

CBS.com describes NUMB3RS as "a drama about an FBI agent who recruits his mathematical-genius brother to help the Bureau solve a wide range of challenging crimes in Los Angeles. The two brothers take on the most confounding criminal cases from a very distinctive perspective. Inspired by actual events, the series depicts how the confluence of police work and mathematics provides unexpected revelations and answers to the most perplexing criminal questions."

Dan Brereton had recently begun watching the show when he was contacted to help the show create a convincing convention setting for "Graphic".

"The NUMB3RS art department did an amazing job building a big time comics show from scratch." Dan explained. "My son and I walked into a lush, parallel world of comic-dom, where Nocturnals appears to be very very popular and there are possibly too many female fans... mostly,they got it right and we felt at home for the next two days of shooting."

Creators such as Russ Heath, Tone Rodriguez, Dean Yeagle, Michael Aushenker, Anson Jew, Tony Fleecs and others joined the list of authentic background, manning booths featuring their work. Heroclix Manager, Mark Tuttle ran a Wizkids booth and also joined the crowd of extras as a convention attendee. Top Cow, Image, Wizards of the Coast and other publishers sent material along as well. Vintage Toy Dealer, Scott Zilner ran several booths at once. Dan adds, "They had him moving all over the place."

"They don't usually place authentic people in sets, so the background people, extras and many of the cast were excited to have us there." Dan explained. "Extras and some crew who didn't know us were continually shocked to see some of us actually sketching at our tables. They'd assumed we were actors. I can vouch for one thing; after the last two days of reactions and background work, they wont get me confused with an actor. Ever."

Dan and other creators like Dean Yeagle and Russ Heath were surprised to find fans of their among the crew.
"I met another writer for the show, Sean Crouch, who has an Engineering Degree and wrote a college paper citing Doc Horror." (Sean agreed to supply the paper for future publication on thelocal23.com)

Dan was met by showbiz folks who were very accommodating. "I was continually surprised by the level of professionalism, patience and skill of the cast and crew. They were lovely people and made the tedium that can come of a long shooting day more bearable. NUMB3RS Art Director Katherine LeBlond has some kind of magic touch. She not only orchestrated the design and construction of a great faux comic-con, she took wonderful care of us high-maintenance artist types."

Ken Sanzel, credited writer for "Graphic" and an exec producer for NUMB3RS, used his long-time knowledge of comic books, creators and conventions (he and his wife, Laura, once ran Four Color Images, an upscale NYC gallery that sold comic art originals)to craft the story, which we will not spoil for anyone here. Suffice to say his desire to get things right led him to put out the call to his friends in Comics to help get things right for a large-scale recreation of a big comic show, right down to the smallest detail.

" Ken and I used to have long talks during the time I was writing Black Planet." Dan remembers," Ken had recently traded careers from NYPD to a career as a screenwriter. His knowledge of police work helped inform Nocturnals. I was thrilled to be able to do the same in a small way for this episode of NUMB3RS."

Dan went on to stress how important it was "for me to make sure the cops in my story reacted to Doc Horror in a way that felt authentic.

Ken would later write the Foreword to the Black Planet trade. "Ken was one of the few people who saw the merits of combining the genres of crime and horror into a single new story effort. There wasn't much of that being done back then, as opposed to now."

In Sanzel's 1998 Foreword in the Nocturnals: Black Planet trade paperback,, he states it's a combination that shouldn't work, and follows with this quote, "But the Nocturnals does work and it works in a truly inventive way."

Dan's involvement with the NUMB3RS shoot comes on the heels of the hardcover Nocturnals collection, "Black Planet and Other Stories", featuring the ground-breaking first mini-series, its follow-up Halloween special, "Witching Hour", not to mention "Clean Hands", a noir-soaked story written in 1995 and recently polished and illustrated by Dan for inclusion in the volume.

Creator Michael Aushenker will report more on the NUMB3RS shoot and will appear on Nocturnals.com and elsewhere next week.