Comics Features

INTERVIEW: Lyndon White, Co-Creator of A Tale of Shadows

Written by Jason Wittmer

After a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, A Tale of Shadows is returning to the crowdfunding site for the release of Book 2. We spoke with one of the comic’s creators, artist Lyndon White, about the basis for the story, the production process, and what fans can expect in the next issue of the fantasy comic.

The team behind A Tale of Shadows clearly puts a lot of hard work into each issue. Take a look at the Kickstarter campaign – there are a ton of neat rewards for those who choose to donate, so support it if you can!

(Readers Beware: Minor Spoilers for Book 1)

AP2HYC: How would you describe A Tale of Shadows to someone whose never read it before?

Lyndon: A Tale of Shadows is a fantasy comic, set in a world divided by the arrival of technology. This is happening in the town of Wavefront, with its inhabitants being a little unsure of how to react. Some don’t understand technology and fear it, while others embrace it and its benefits. Our main protagonist, Felix, finds himself in the middle of a conflict between the spiritual and the scientific.

 

AP2HYC: Where does a project like this begin? With the story or with the artwork?

Lyndon: Always with the story. It’s the most important. You can have amazing artwork but a bad story and if that’s the case, your comic doesn’t work. Tyler (A Tale of Shadows‘ other artist) spoke to me about working on comics again towards the end of 2013 and we spoke about what sort of thing we’d do if we worked together. Then I started planning story ideas and concepts and bounced a few ideas back and forth. I then worked out a rough story arc that would span over five books with the main story beats. At the time, I was working on another big project and didn’t want to write two stories at once, in case they bled into each other. From there I got in touch with Paul (who I knew from Dead Canary Comics) and he came on board as the main writer. Paul then managed to take what we had and pushed everything further and tightened everything up.

AP2HYC: Though the series dramatizes the dichotomy between science and faith, the artistic and writing style find an equal balance between being both irreverent and approachable. How difficult is it to establish a whole new world in just 28 pages?

Lyndon: World building took a lot of time, but planning everything in advance definitely paid off because you know what you’re working towards. The map that we have in Book 1 helped a lot. It gave people an idea of scale and location to where things were taking place. Then there’s the architecture. All the buildings are based on old french towns. Theres a lot of verticality to them, but they still look very traditional. As for the science and spirituality, we definitely wanted a balance. We’ve made sure we don’t say who is right or wrong. We are letting the reader make their own decision. You might have a different opinion on what’s going on based on your own experiences. As you said, we wanted it to be approachable.

 

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AP2HYC: How much planning is done for a series like this? Do you, Paul, and Tyler lay out the run of the series beforehand, or do you work primarily on one issue at a time?

Lyndon: Before this, the majority of things I’ve worked on have been a self-contained book –  with a beginning, middle and end. So I naturally started planning the story beats that way. Working together on a series of books is a little different. We planned the story beats of each book so we know exactly what happens where, so we can see the big picture. Knowing how each book ends is really important because you’ll know where things will pick up in the next book. Now that we have the “big picture,” Paul writes a script for one book, and then the artwork starts. It’s been a team effort.

AP2HYC: I personally got a sort of Kingdom Hearts meets Game of Thrones vibe when I first read this. What were some of your influences for the project?

Lyndon: Studio Ghibli was definitely a big one, which did influence the art style a little. Game of Thrones does have its finger prints in there, but scaled back a bit. Overall, it’s a mix of things. Between the three of us, we look at everything. Tyler is really into anime, I read a lot of Graphic novels and Paul just loves comics. We are all big TV and film watchers, so the influences range from concept art books all the way to the 1989 Batman. Personally, I’ve never played Kingdom Hearts, but it’s something I’ll have to check out when number three eventually comes out.

AP2HYC: In Book 1, we see the destruction of Felix’s home town – Wavefront. The introduction, however, shows a map detailing an expansive world that hints at some Tolkien-esque aspirations. How much of the outskirts of Wavefront can we expect to see throughout A Tale of Shadows? Will we ever visit somewhere like “The Nowhere Stairs”?

Lyndon: Book 1 actually starts at “The Nowhere Stairs,” but as for how Felix gets there, you’ll have to wait and see. The map will change and get bigger from issue to issue and will always be on the inside front and back covers. So as things change in the story, the map with reflect those changes. Readers will see more locations as we go on.

AP2HYC: Felix spends much of the first issue “waiting for something to happen.” In a particularly funny moment, he’s later delighted when the shit’s kicked out of him, believing that something is “finally happening.” How important is the integration of humor into the series?

Lyndon: The humour comes from Paul and it’s definitely important. Theres a bit of a dark undertone to the whole story and if you combine that with people shouting about religion and science, things can get a bit dry. You don’t want to bore people with too much lingo. Plus, the humour reflects Felix’s character. He is a bit of a smart ass and a street rat. He isn’t your typical hero running to save a princess from a tower, unless he gets a kiss of course.

AP2HYC: Do you think science and faith can coexist harmoniously? Or are technology and spirituality mutually exclusive?

Lyndon: Story-wise, you’ll have to wait and see. Personally, I’m all for whatever makes you happy. Whatever works for you. I think they can work together and coexist, but again these things come down to the individual.

AP2HYC: You successfully funded Book 1 on Kickstarter earlier in 2015. How has the experience altered your approach for the Kickstarter campaign for Book 2?

Lyndon: Every time we go on Kickstarter, we make sure we have a finished product. This is so there’s very little risk and we just need the money to print the book. As long as people support us, this is what we will keep doing. Thankfully, people are kind enough to help us out and seem to like what we are doing. Since we are on Kickstarter for Book 2, we want to keep the barrier to entry as low as possible. You might have missed us the last time we were on Kickstarter, so every backer gets a downloadable PDF of Book 1. So it’s easy to jump on board. I’d say this is the biggest thing we’ve changed. The pledges are identical to the first Kickstarter, but now it’s just as easy to join in.

AP2HYC: Without giving too much away, what can we expect in Book 2?

Lyndon: Our friend described it as being the same, but better. More detail and line work is in the panels to bring the townspeople of Wavefront to life. The colours are richer and give a clear impression of a day and night cycle, so as a reader you can see the days passing. In writing terms, more symbolism, more witty writing. Book 1 was based around the start of something, the beginning and the setup. In Book 2, we are heading into the heart of the story and getting to spend more time with our main characters. So far, we have only shown artwork from the first few pages and there’s a reason for that. Hopefully, when you read Book 2, you’ll get a reaction that will only happen the first time you read it. If we’ve done our job right.

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A Tale of Shadows’ Kickstarter campaign is over two-thirds of the way to its goal. Support the project before November 23rd when the funding period ends!

Have you read A Tale of Shadows? Are you going to check out Book 2? Sound off in the comments, or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Jason Wittmer