The Image Comics: Where Creators Own Craft panel on Saturday afternoon was probably filled with just as many people waiting for the FUNimation Industry Panel that followed, but the assembled creators were enthusiastic about their work nonetheless. Panelists included the teams for Paper Girls (writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Cliff Chiang), Shutter (writer Joe Keatinge and artist Leila Del Duca) and Alex + Ada (writer Sarah Vaughn and artist Jonathan Luna).
While Alex + Ada ended earlier this year and Shutter is over a dozen issues into its run, Paper Girls’ first issue hit stores last week (you can read my review tomorrow) so Vaughan and Chiang couldn’t talk about it too much. Though that doesn’t mean Vaughan–who writes Saga as well–doesn’t have the plot planned out. “When I start a story, I like to know the last panel of the last comic,” he said. While he wouldn’t even talk about the last panel of the first issue to avoid spoilers, he did talk generally about the comic, saying, “this book is very much about nostalgia.” He pointed to Chiang’s work as being a big part of creating that feeling. The artist said that he didn’t want the clothes to look like costume versions of the ’80s so he used his 8th grade yearbook as a reference of what authentic period clothing looked like.
Fashion in comics was a surprisingly big part of the discussion, but unlike Chiang and Vaughan, Luna and Vaughn said they deliberately didn’t try to take too many risks with the fashion of the future in which their comic is set. Like much of their process, Vaughn explained that they collaborated on the clothing, with her often sending Luna links to specific pieces on the clothing website ModCloth and letting him choose the colors. However, the book–about a man who’s given a robot as a gift and then falls in love with it–is far more concerned with technology. “I don’t actually know if we’ll ever got to where we are in Alex+Ada,” Luna said of the tech-heavy world. Though his statement that the glowing temples characters in the book have when they’re plugged into tech were intended as “a social cue” not to bother someone sounds somewhat similar to when a person wears headphones in a group of people.
Where the vision of the future in Alex + Ada is deliberately subdued, Shutter is purposely out there. “Originally, we were talking about the world being only 30% weird,” Keatinge said. However, he once he saw Del Duca’s art, he felt more confident in going stranger. The comic probably made it’s strangest move yet in the recent fifteenth issue in which the main character goes on a drug trip that gets so psychedelic that it pulls the view point farther and farther back until it finally shows Del Duca drawing the issue, it being sent to the printer and then being bought and read. Ridiculous as the moment is, the artist found it “really sentimental.” “Our comic means so much to us,” she said, “and it was kind of a restatement of that.”