In the upcoming Image Shadecraft series from writer Joe Henderson and artists Lee Garbett and Antonio Fabela, Zadie Lu barely survived high school before learning that she has a darker battle ahead in the form of fighting shadows haunting her. And now, the creative team that brought readers the Eisner-nominated comic, To the sky, will team up again to tell Zadie’s story, debuting in March 2021.
Henderson (co-showrunner of Lucifer) and Garbett (Captain Marvel) shed some light on Zadie’s story with CBR, discussing what inspired them to tell this heartbreaking story from Image Comics, centered on fear, family, and the endless discomfort of high school.
CBR: What prompted the two of you to come together again, including with colourist Antonio Fabela, to create Shadecraft?
Joe Henderson: When you find a creative partner like Lee, you don’t let him go. Or at least you try to get it back from Kelly Thompson [on Captain Marvel] when you can! Lee and I are a long-term team, we want Shadecraft to be the second book of many that we will co-create in the future.
And Antonio is just a master at what he does. And I think Shadecraft will show even more than it is capable of: its colors were lush and beautiful in To the skybut it has really been pushed to another level here.
Lee Garbett: What Joe said, but back to him. When I read one of Joe’s scripts, I can see the panel images on the page begin to take shape before me. It’s almost like reading the finished comic, except for the “how the hell am I going to draw that! “Moments. That’s a bit of magic and not something you let go easily. Basically, he’s stuck with me.
Antonio is just wonderful and part of the team, along with the brilliant Simon Bowland in lyrics. Antonio is not only an incredibly talented colorist, he is also a pleasure to work with. We look forward to keeping this team together for all the projects we have planned.
What is one thing that you know the other will bring out in your work and vice versa?
Henderson: Lee will make the fantastic feel human. That’s his super power, and it’s the one I always try to lean on. His character expression work underpins even the craziest ideas.
Garbett: Joe’s superpower is coming up with the wonderful lofty concepts that leave the rest of us wondering how come no one has thought of that before, and then go through it and find the beating heart of the story and the characters to fall in love with. with.
Shadecraft It is told through the perspective of Zadie, a high school student and younger sister to a brother who used to be the most popular kid in school before an accident left him in a coma. Why was it important to you that your main character was in high school? What did this add to the story?
Henderson: For one thing, I love high school stories. That formative moment in which you try to discover who you are and everything feels like the end of the world. From Spider-Man to Buffy, there is a relationship that I think helps to ground this story where the impossible comes to life.
In particular, for Shadecraft, teenagers are in that strange transition between childhood and adulthood. Where they need to give up their flights of fantasy (such as shadows that come to life) and face the reality of the future. But at the same time, sometimes there ARE things in the shadows. It is a perfect in-between time for this story.
Garbett: Virtually all of us have had to navigate high school situations, and school is essentially a microcosm of society. There’s conflict, politics, love, war … it can be tough to get through the day at best, but if you add fantastic darkness to the mix, it’s a whole new kind of nightmare.
What inspired the shape of the shadows? I started looking at them, maybe too long, but saw a replay of images of birds. Are shadow monsters rooted in a specific myth?
Garbett: That’s really interesting, and I love that you took the time to really look at the shadows. The shadow caster Zadie uses has a kind of image of Phoenix, and we saw that as a good metaphor for where the story is taking us. For the shadows, I wanted to keep them as organic as possible, so I used a basic wash and then moistened the artboard and dripped ink into the areas to let it transform into its own shapes. Sometimes he would blow the ink through straws or splash it with a toothbrush, anything to get an interesting image. It was like playing, really. Then I would polish them a bit more to shape them into final art. The idea is that they are constantly jiggling and moving, so I really wanted to try to convey that as much as I could in a still image. The ink forms claw and claw shapes sometimes, sure.
Similar to To the skyWilla, Zadie enters a whole new world. This one is full of shadows and things he still can’t understand. However, unlike Willa, she is more than a little unsure of herself. What do you think Willa would say to Zadie?
Henderson: I love this question because it makes me want to write a crossover! First, Willa would tell Zadie that it is very strange that everyone walk on the floor. After getting over that, I’d tell him that it’s okay to be scared. Their important being afraid, but that you cannot let it control you and that you cannot avoid the things they fear, no matter how hard you try; that makes them worse. Face them head-on. Make decisions forcefully, not fearfully, and the best way to do that is by acknowledging fear itself. And when it comes to shadow monsters … bring a flashlight.
Garbett: Yes! Crosses! It’s weird that you mention this because, in issue 2, I drew Zadie’s bedroom and was hesitant to put some numbers on To the sky scattered just in case this very thing.
I love how after exploring a zero-gravity world and its cost, the two came together to explore a world of shadows and fear. Now seems the time, more than ever, to examine the fear and power it has over us. What inspired the two of you to create a world of shadows and explore what powers you do or don’t have in Shadecraft?
Henderson: Fear is such an important part of what I write, as you can see from my imaginary conversation with Willa, it gets very tangled up in both books. To the sky It came from a childish fear that there is no roof over us when we are outside, [so] What prevents us from simply flying into space?
Shadecraft It came from my fears of what lurks in the shadows. Every time I squinted at a shadow that looked a little bad, I would tell myself that it was probably fine… But it might have also sped up my pace a bit. And let’s be honest, we live in a world right now where fear is more prevalent than ever. It is also more buildable for the great pain of our country. So being able to materialize a simple bogeyman that we’ve all been afraid of at some point has given us a great opportunity to talk about those issues. It’s easy to be afraid of shadows, because sometimes there are monsters in them. But that also means we have more reason to shed light on them.
Garbett: Yes To the sky It was about hope and triumph over intense external adversity, Shadecraft it’s about the horrors and fears within, and the choices we make to feed those shadows and allow them to grow. But, to quote Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, “All the darkness in the world cannot swallow a single spark.”
Shadecraft Issue # 1, to me, felt like a story that at its core is about what’s next … your reputation, your story, your unexamined pain and feelings, mounting anxiety, as well as literal monsters. What meaning did you intend Zadie’s story to tell or explore?
Henderson: That’s exactly it! Shadows haunt us in every moment of our lives, literally and metaphorically. What is your dark side? What are the emotions that you bury deep down, that you don’t want anyone to illuminate? Feelings you can’t seem to get rid of, guilt you can’t get rid of, no matter how hard you try?
I also love the idea that shadows need light to exist. That push / pull is a big part of Shadecraftand the emotional aspect that we will explore.
We’ve seen shadows so far at issue 1, which leads me to wonder what fans can expect in future issues as much as possible, antagonists or maybe allies for Zadie? Do we have light bearers? Is there anything you can reveal right now for readers who already support it?
Henderson: In issue 2, we will introduce a new mystery character who is either an ally or an antagonist, and Zadie will have to figure out which one. Either way, this woman has answers and Zadie will have to figure out how to get them. And at what price. But the biggest focus of the book is on Zadie and her relationship with her older brother, struggling to step out of her shadow and into her own light. For anyone with complicated sibling relationships, this book is for you!
Garbett: We’ll definitely see Zadie’s world open up, for better or for worse, and we’ll take her to places she never knew existed. There are some big decisions to make and inner demons and crazy shadow monsters to fight along the way.
Shadecraft # 1 will be released physically and digitally on March 31.
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