Shutter: del Duca & Keatinge Own Exploration [Interview]
February 11, 2016
IMAGE COMICS: SHUTTER often uses a double-page spread as an establishing shot near the beginning of an issue. What's the motivation behind these spreads? Does it tie into the idea of exploration, since Kate's an occasional adventurer?
JOE KEATINGE: One of my favorite aspects of comics is the control over the interaction of reader and object. It's not typical of prose novels to manage page turns, you can't turn away and use your phone and get the gist of the story of a movie (not that I'd recommend that), but to engage in a comic book, you have to engage with the comic book and we always try to think about how we can use the whole hog, so to speak, so every single page in the comic book is considered to maximize interaction and overall experience.
With the double page spreads, we typically use them to open up the scope of the story, tying into exploration, as you said. For instance, issue 14 had a transition which cut over a tight shot of Kate and the Leopard on the back of a motorcycle. You weren't clear where they were. Then as soon as you turned the page, you were immersed into the center of Rome in this gorgeous spread by Leila and Owen. You're dumped face first into it with Kate. This is also why we often do so with differing art styles—it's a jolt with a page turn to suddenly see black & white manga style art, comic strips, etc. It makes you look, as opposed to an ad for potato chips followed by a 5-panel page, if that makes sense.
IC: Similarly, Leila has utilized several art styles over the course of SHUTTER. What's it take to replicate someone's style? How do you study an art style, but still keep it "SHUTTER"?
LEILA DEL DUCA: What a great question which is difficult to answer! Let's see if I can accurately put it to words...
For me, at this point I'm really comfortable with my style and artistic instincts. It's hard to completely replicate another artist's style, which is why the Alarm Cat Funnies in Volume 2 were so much harder than the rest of the styles we've incorporated into SHUTTER. Luckily, the other styles all had room enough for me to put my own visual voice into the work, since I didn't have to stick to other styles as closely.
I guess I look at the art style I'm copying, try to get it as close as possible to that style using the tools I already have with me (brush, microns, rapidiograph, crow quill), and because I'm already so set in my ways, it just comes out as a weird mash-up between the style I'm trying to copy and mine. There's way less studying and effort than it might seem, which is usually how I roll. Design on the fly! Copy art styles hoping for the best!
IC: John Workman and Owen Gieni both have a huge impact on the visuals of the book. Tell me a bit about working with them, and why they're the best fit for SHUTTER.
LD: It's a dream! Owen is, and always will be, a colorist wizard! He gets textures and colors that I can't even comprehend and I have no idea how he does it. He elevates my linework to the highest level imaginable and I want him to color my work as long as he can. He's as versatile as me and can match my many styles, each with a unique coloring style of his own, and they always look so incredibly beautiful.
Working with John is so damn charming. He gave us a warning that his home might be out of power when this winter's superstorm hit the East Coast, so we wouldn't worry that something awful would happen to him. And he tells us delightful things like how he thinks his cats are out to get him and how he has to shovel a walkway from his house to his studio where his wife can talk to him through an intercom. It's just charming. And the work he does is phenomenal.
JK: They're absolutely essential to the team. Owen's actually the collaborator I've worked with the most, since the second half of Glory and look forward to doing so for a long time to come. There's no one remotely doing what he does with colors—a perfect mix of using new tools to create classic effects. He's a fantastic artist on his own as well, so he's able to apply that eye to how he treats Leila's linework.
John Workman is a legend. When our previous letterer moved on, I brought up Workman to someone as my gold standard letterer. And they suggested I just ask him. So, I did. Whenever I look for sound effects inspiration, I turn to him anyway, so to have him on board brings one of the series' inspirations to the creative team.
IC: Leila, at this point, you've proven you can draw anything. What do you enjoy drawing most in this series? Joe, what's your favorite thing Leila has done so far—or does on a regular basis!—in SHUTTER?
LD: Hmmm...there's been so many things I love to draw in this book that it's so hard to choose! I guess I do love a good double-page spread. As for subject matter, my favorite thing to draw is the coolest new character Joe introduces. I love doing the new character reveal, spending time making their costume, body language, and expressions just the way I want readers to see and fall in love with them. Other than that, I do love drawing Kate's face with all her varied expressions and moods.
JK: She always surprises me. While we have the storytelling styles picked out before hand—they're always in the script—what she does with it is always a shock. And seeing her continuing to level up issue-by-issue since #1 inspires me to strive to do the same from the writing side. When it comes to Shutter, she's my biggest inspiration.
IC: Kate is off-screen for a lot of this third arc, resulting in an increased focus on not just her supporting cast, but the world around them. Did any characters surprise you during the production of this arc with how they developed?
JK: Everybody, really. I have long had an overall plan for the series, but there's a truism that the characters take over at a certain point and that's definitely true here. Chris Jr is probably the one who has surprised me the most, especially where he goes by the end of the fourth arc. I never saw it coming and I'm curious what people think of him when all's said and done.
IC: Alarm Cat went from the most adorable character in the world to Cassius, who is...something else. How do you see his transition to Cassius? Is it a fall from grace, or something else?
JK: It's an evolution. One of the through lines for everybody in Shutter is no one's the same by the end. People change in life. Some people are assholes in their twenties, then chill the fuck out in their thirties. Some people are great when they're younger and go off in the deep end. Everybody has a different path. In the case of Cassius, you might call it a fall from grace, but in his eyes I think he'd view it as an evolution.
IC: I've gotta ask. There have been polls, nationwide demonstrations, even the presidential candidates have been forced to weigh in on this huge controversy...when is Kate Kristopher going to get to use her camera again??
LD: Wait....there's a presidential campaign going on?
JK: The end.