The Mary Sue Reviews and Interviews: Leila del Duca, Creator of Shutter
Shutter starts out with an innocuous enough backstory. Well, it even starts out with me looking at our proto-protagonist Kate Kristopher and thinking “You’re wrong, kid. So wrong.” I’d kill to be mucking around on the moon for no particular reason. Probably drawing lewd things with moon rocks so they can be seen from Earth. Hey man, no one said I had to be classy while I explored new frontiers, did they?
At any rate, as far as backstories go, Kate’s is lacking in deep tragedy (although that’s implied later on) and has only a dash of deep destiny. In fact, our girl here is pretty resistant to the legacy of generations of explorers that’s being handed to her, and for once we see a parent, her dad, actually ok with that. This was my first ray of hope, that her reticence to go off exploring new frontiers is not treated like a venal sin, but that she actually has her own agency and even as a child is not pressured or forced into some family business. Works for me, anyway, and I’m glad to see that well-traveled path deftly avoided.
Fast forward twenty years from a declaration of independence on the moon, and we are introduced to a world vastly different and more wondrous than our own, but our heroine seems to treat these things as terribly mundane.
And I admit it was from this point that I was hooked. High adventure? Swearing? Wondrous urban fantasy that’s not dark, gritty, or post-apocalyptic? Our protagonist acts like a real person, without witty quips or easy handling of situations, but just a regular person with a job and maybe a bit of a history. In this first issue we get a good look at Kate, but only a taste of the world around her or the story to come, but given that I already am deeply interested in Kate herself, the plot reveal at the end of the book acts as a perfect teaser to keep reading.
If you’re a fan of Dresden Files, Fables, or other such urban fantasy, you’ll enjoy Shutter.
We scored an interview with the artist of Shutter, Leila del Duca, and she kindly took the time to answer some of our questions about this book and her work:
The Mary Sue: How did you get hooked up with Image Comics? I know you’ve been doing comics at least since you graduated college in 2007 (and knowing how comics people are, probably way before that too), but this is your first debut with a more “mainstream” publisher—how did that come about?
Leila del Duca: I got hooked up with Image Comics through [Shutter writer] Joe [Keatinge]. He’s had a healthy relationship with them for years now, and since they trust him to produce excellent stories and to pick appropriate artists, they were very welcoming when I came on board. I had submitted a project to Image a couple years before Shutter, but it didn’t get picked up for various reasons, including my artwork being far from the level it is today. Naturally, I was psyched when Joe brought me on board to work with my favorite comics publisher, and Image has been nothing but amazing and supportive since.
TMS: Given your extensive involvement in making comics in general, do you have some must-read comics that you keep up on? Any in particular that you aspire to be like?
LDL: Sadly, I don’t keep up to date with many comics, but I always devour Hellboy when I get my hands on it. I also try everything Image puts out and consider Saga one of my favorite series of all time. Other favorites include Joe the Barbarian, Y: The Last Man, Punk Rock Jesus, Asterios Polyp, and Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. If I aspire to be like any of them, I look at [Mike] Mignola, Sean Murphy, and Mark Schultz for inspiration and technique.
TMS: How excited are you to bring to life the story of Kate Kristopher? Is this genre your jam or new exploration for you?
LDL: On a scale from one to ten, my excitement is at 100. I adore drawing Kate and the world she lives in. This genre is 1000% my jam and couldn’t be more perfect for my interests. It’s a character driven story set in a fantastic world where I get to draw whatever the hell I want to while still caring deeply for the people in it! It’s so ideal it’s ridiculous. I can’t imagine drawing comics being better than this.
TMS: The first issue gave us a good introduction to Kate, but only a taste of the world and the plot — what would you tell people to keep them reading? What things do you think people just absolutely should know about this series?
LDL: Each issue introduces new personalities and settings that are so weird and ridiculous that I don’t know how someone couldn’t be entertained. Every time I see a new script, I’m blown away by Joe’s imagination and have giggling fits because I’m constantly wondering how he could possibly have written these things and have them make sense while still keeping the emotional core of the comic. If you like seeing a bunch of cool imagery, zany characters, and weird genre mash-ups, then you should keep reading. If you like seeing family mysteries unfold and how it tragically affects our protagonists, then keep reading. If you like goofy scenes mixed with sentimental scenes quickly followed by action sequences, then keep reading. I really think Shutter just gets better from here, and every issue builds incredibly on the last.
TMS: Wow! Well, thanks for your time, and it sounds like we’re all in for a really great ride!
Shutter is written by Joe Keatinge and drawn by Leila del Duca and is available from Image Comics.
Jaydot Sloane is a webcomic author/artist at Vanity Games, where she updates three times a week with silly little gag comics that are almost entirely drawn from a real life of living with two dogs, three cats, her ex husband and his girlfriend, her current boyfriend, and soon to be her first child. Kind of like Full House, if Full House were full of swearing and dog fur.