Joe Keatinge first made an impact at Image Comics with Glory in 2012. Two years and many comics later, he's making more waves at Image working on Robert Kirkman's Tech Jacket and his newest creator-owned venture, Shutter, with up and coming artist Leila Del Duca. Joe Kach got the chance to chat with Joe and Leila at this year's Image EXPO, and the two creators shed some light on Shutter, Glory, and a whole lot more!
MightyVille: Thanks for meeting with us today, guys. As you know, the Image Expo is all about the big announcements: In your case, that would be Shutter. So, can you tell us a bit more about the title than what was discussed on stage?
Leila Del Duca: I feel like you’re better at talking about this stuff, Joe [Laughs].
Joe Keatinge: Alright, cool. Well, yeah, Shutter is, uh … what is Shutter? Sorry, I just spaced out…
LDD: Our brains are a bit fried today…
[Laughs] Shutter … it’s a comic, I think…
JK: [Laughs] So, Shutter is a world-trotting adventure series, kind of re-imagined for the 21st century. You know, I love stuff like Indiana Jones, Tin Tin, and everything. I was just thinking about it years ago, I was like, “What would that be for now?” It seems like a lot of stuff, Indiana Jones especially, is trapped in all this pulp stuff. Which I love, it’s cool, but I’m like, “Put this other stuff aside, what would it be in the world as it is now?” And I had an idea for Kate Kristopher, and then something happens on an emotional character arc, but it never really seemed to come together till I met Leila at the New York Comic-Con in 2012 and I saw her art, and I was just like, “That’s the book! That’s the book right there.”
So, you had the story concept in mind..?
JK: I had the loose story concept. The only thing that changed, which is a dramatic change, is initially, it was gonna be a really grounded book in terms of real world stuff only. But then I saw Leila’s art, and we talked about she wanted to draw...
LDD: And I was like, “Anything and everything!”
JK: And I was like, “Alright, why do we need to make it a grounded book?” Not only do you want to draw all that, but you can, and you excel at it. So, you know, that’s kinda how it came to be.
What was it about Leila’s art that grabbed you, and then flipping that, what was it about the story that really drew you in, Leila? No pun intended…
JK: With Leila’s art, she can make kinda anything, no matter how absurd it is, especially in this book, have this, like, grounded, emotional core to it, you know? It’s like you ... there’s this one panel I keep referring to every interview we do, where there’s this scene in the subway and it’s Kate and she’s sitting there. But there’s a Minotaur in a suit and an astronaut and this mythological creature kid mixed with some regular humans. And I right then-- when scripted it sounds insane, but then you look at it, and that’s just a world that you get ... it seems like it makes sense. It doesn't look wacky. And it’s very ... like, the thrust of the book, all the crazy stuff aside, is Kate and everything she’s going through. And you know, as with anything, there’s a lot of personal stuff in there. And Leila just knows ... she’s a great storyteller and designer and all this, but that is just the thing that really, really drew me: her ability to make anything seem true. Does that make sense?
LDD: What really pulled me in is the stories seemed really multi-layered. The initial pitch was … yeah, it was, like, grounded in reality, but then the more we talked about it, the more we wanted it to be in this fantastical realm, but that it wasn't that big of a deal to the characters already in it because they were used to it. But, it’s also multi-layered, not only the environment, but like on an emotional level for me. Because I don’t have the healthiest relationship with my father. And so this comic is like … umm … well … Kate had a really healthy relationship with her father, and then she finds out that, like—
JK: Whoa, whoa!
LDD: [Laughs] …that stuff happens! And it kind of emanates real life for me and it’s like this comic is also a chance to draw what I imagine a really healthy father/daughter relationship being. So, it’s like fulfilling this emotional thing that I never really had as a kid. Which I’m not, like, sad about or anything. It’s just nice ... it’s a pleasant thing to feel.
Switching gears a little bit to Glory. That was your start in comics basically, right?
JK: I had worked on some other things, but, yeah, Glory was the book that launched everything for me. Literally, everything.
How was it working on a book from the old Extreme Studios camp?
JK: Well, I was a 90's kid, I was an Image kid. And to, like, work on that line was awesome. Just on a personal level, you know, to be part of that. Same thing with Shutter: it clicked when we brought in Ross Campbell [Glory artist]. And, just as a collaborator, I learned so much from that guy in terms of everything: writing, how to look at something … one of the things he taught me that I've been thinking a lot about: I've never really put it in scripts, it’s just in the back of my head, is fashion.
JK: You keep it in mind how important fashion is, not just to, like, show people in different regions of the world, but personality. A lot of people reflect. I never thought of that before Glory. He was always really mindful of that, like really. It just became a big thing, like really caring about so much stuff. And his ability to convey emotion in just about anything is just so good. So, it was awesome.
You handled a strong female lead remarkably well in Glory. It struck a chord with a few female readers we've spoken to. Was there an intent to maybe try to appeal to women more so than men, or anything like that?
JK: I’m gonna say something kinda shitty: I’m just trying to write human beings. And you know what? Half the human beings I know … are women! So I wasn't going into it being like, “I gotta do this big political statement!” That always seemed so weird to me. I dunno … like, “Why is Kate Kristopher like this?” Because … that’s the character, that’s who she is.
I’m not all like, “What’re the ladies gonna think of this," or, "What’re the dudes gonna think of this.” The best advice I ever got about writing comics was actually from Matt Fraction way back. He was like, “Just write the comic you wanna read.” So, that’s what I’m doing.
Alright … great answer. Leila, what were your thoughts initially when you read Glory?
LDD: I loved it. I love Ross’ stuff—
JK: Oh, come on. You can be honest … don’t worry about it.
LDD: Okay … I loathed it and I still do … [laughs] no, just kidding…
Worst female lead ever! [Laughs]
LDD: Glory was awesome! I love Ross’s work because he draws different body types, both female and men, and I loved how Glory started off, like, normal looking and then she got all huge and bulked out, but then she changes based on her mood and what happened to her in the story. It’s awesome, and then Joe’s writing was amazing. I feel like he didn't waste time with anything. The pacing was great and really interesting stuff happened every chapter. Yeah, the plot and character development was great.
JK: Thank you!
LDD: No problem!
JK: Yeah, I think that got-- not by you-- but I think that got misreported. It’s not so much that we’re … Delcourt is a French publisher. And, at least in the book that we’re-- I mean, when Frank’s schedule opens up-- that we’re doing … will be published by Image in America and then Delcourt will do it in France. So, not you guys, I forget who, bleedingcool or whatever, worded it like, “It’s gonna go to Delcourt only!” And no, that’s not the case.
Yeah, I remember the promotional picture had the Image logo on it.
JK: Right! So, whenever it happens, I dunno when, but whenever it happens, it’ll be an Image book.
Are you doing any other work with Delcourt?
JK: Yeah, well, they’re doing Glory in April and, uh, that’s all I can say…
OK, I’ll read between the lines there…
JK: Let me put it this way: I’m very happy with Delcourt. I mean, I go there … I go to France every year for the Angouleme show. And maintaining our foreign rights, which is why it works with Image because we do, it’s really important to me how stuff is represented, and Delcourt, I think, is one of the best publishers in the world, much less the French region.
Frank mentioned it was more freedom, lack of censorship, being able to do more of what he wanted.
JK: Well … Image doesn't censor us. We can do whatever we want with this book. I mean, they published Black Kiss… [Laughs]
Yep, enough said there! I think Frank was referring to other publishers.
JK: I agree.
The new Tech Jacket Digital … more on the release than the story itself: So, not previously announced, all three issues just done and released online. What was the story behind that?
JK: Well, I’ll tell you, it was a long time waiting…
JK: Robert Kirkman is a buddy. Even more so than that, he’s someone I've admired professionally for a really long time and I’ve always really wanted to work with him. And when Skybound launched was around the same time I went into writing full time. And he was like, “We should do something sometime,” and I was like, “Please! I would be honored.” And, I dunno, just kicking some loose ideas around, I think I just asked him, “What’s going on with Tech Jacket? Why don’t you bring that back? That was awesome.” And he was like, “Yeah, maybe, someday, I don’t know.” And then, just out of the blue, I think he called me or something and was like, “Pitch me a Tech Jacket three issue mini-series, something to release digitally, all at once. Something like binge watching … the Netflix model.” And I was in for that … big! But the thing that sold me the most he was like, “I think we’re gonna get Khary Randolph to draw it,” and I was like … he’s a guy I've admired as well for so long and he’s such an amazing … like, he can just do blockbuster, huge explosions. He’s just so good and I was sold no matter what for any of those elements. But working with Khary … he’s astonishing. Whatever I’m writing, I think those three issues are some of the best action comics on a visual level I've seen in years.
Alright! Well, thanks for your time today, Joe and Leila. I’m definitely looking forward to Shutter!
JK: My pleasure.
LDD: Thank you!
Be sure to pick up Shutter #1, on sale April 9th, then come back here and let us know what you thought of the debut issue, or any of Joe's other work!
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