Late last year, bestselling thriller writer Joseph Finder was walking around Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, and ran into “a couple of guys” from DC Comics. He had just finished Vanished, a novel coming out this August featuring a young alienated teenager who is creating his own comic book. Finder thought it would be cool if he could actually produce the comic and use it to promote the novel.

Turns out those “guys” were DC Comics senior editor Will Dennis and Brian Azzarello, comic book writer extraordinaire, multiple Eisner Award winner and author of last year's bestselling graphic novel, Joker. The result of that chance meeting is The Cowl, an 11-page comic book written by Azzarello, illustrated by Spanish comics artist Benito Gallego and based on the characters and comic in Finder's novel that also offers an important clue to the prose novel's mystery.

Finder said at the time he was just looking to make sure his book's account of creating a comic was accurate. “I wanted my character to make sense, but then I thought, what if we did a real comic,” he said. Azzarello and Dennis gave Finder a “comics for dummies seminar,” and later on Dennis helped him find an artist for the project. After trying to write the comics story himself, Finder took a chance and asked Azzarello if he would write the story of a superhero comic set in a dystopian future, and he agreed. “I'm kind of a graphic novel ambassador,” Azzarello said in a phone interview. “I'm always interested in using comics in different ways.”

Finder called the comic a “great experiment,” and said St. Martin's has big plans for it. Finder has written a letter about producing the comic that St. Martin's sent to 1,000 booksellers. The comic is free and will be available online as a Web comic and a downloadable PDF at Finder's Web site, Finder and Azzarello will be interviewed about the comic on Tor.Com; the comic will be sent out with galleys of Vanished; signed copies will be given away as prizes; a video on the comic will be hosted by; and an ad announcing the comic's download will run in the New York Times.

Download the promotional PDF here!