The cover of Dio’s debut album Holy Diver is one of the most iconic in metal. Now, the artwork’s backstory is being written as a graphic novel set for release next year.
According to a press release:
“acclaimed horror comics writer Steve Niles will tell the tale behind the events leading to the powerful moment captured on the cover of Dio’s debut album, definitively addressing 30 years of fan speculation. Why is the priest being thrown into the ocean? Who is truly the villain in this scenario? All of these questions are exclusively answered for the first time within the pages of this 120-page graphic novel.”
Says Dio’s widow Wendy Dio about the project:
“Steve Niles tells the story behind the album cover ‘Holy Diver,’ a story about how you can’t judge a picture by the way it appears, which is what Ronnie wrote many times in his songs; that you have to see inside the person and not judge them by the way they look or by what they wear. Together with Scott Hampton’s amazing artwork they tell the story of ‘Holy Diver,’ and I know Ronnie would have given his stamp of approval on this great graphic novel.”
The novel is a collaboration between Ronnie James Dio’s estate and Z2 Comics, who have worked with countless artists of all genres on graphic novels, including the Grateful Dead, Yungblud, The Doors, Skillet and Gorillaz. ‘Dio: Holy Diver’ also reunites writer Steve Niles (Criminal Macabre, 30 Days of Night, October Faction) and artist Scott Hampton (Gotham County Line), who worked together on the ‘Simon Dark’ series for DC Comics from 2007 through 2009.
Says Z2 publisher Josh Frankel:
“We have managed to work with some of the greatest legends in both comics and music, and a DIO graphic novel with a cover by the great Bill Sienkiewicz perhaps sums that up best. This is one of the most iconic heavy metal album covers in history. We are honored to pay tribute to the originator of the universal sign of the music that he has inspired since he first took the stage with Black Sabbath 40 years ago. Working with Wendy Dio directly to ensure it is true to his vision is the next best thing to working with Ronnie James Dio himself, and we have hit a new high note with this one!”
“I’m so excited to be writing this book. I hope I do Ronnie James Dio justice,” says Niles.
Holy Diver, the album, was released in 1983 with original cover art by Gene Hunter and Randy Berett. The album was very well-received upon release, charting at number 13 in the UK charts and 56 on the Billboard 200. It has since gone platinum in the US.
Dio-Holy Diver will be released sometime in Summer 2021, though it can be pre-ordered right now. The graphic novel is available as both a standard soft-cover book and as a hard-cover deluxe edition that comes with an exclusive vinyl picture disc reissue of the album, three never before seen ‘Holy Diver’ inspired art prints and a limited edition hardcover slipcase.