In Image’s new comic Shadecraft — from Lucifer’s Joe Henderson and artist Lee Garbett — Zadie Lu’s already in the thick of an existential darkness following a family tragedy that would make any teenager’s life difficult to get through. Her grief and anxiety take on an entirely different energy, though, when she realises that the darkness and shadows she’s felt pressing in around her are, in fact, quite alive and coming for her, and she’s thrust into a desperate fight for her life that takes a supernatural turn.
Though the shadows hunting Zadie are the source of her fear, she soon learns they may also be the key to her salvation. That dichotomy’s something that factored into how Garbett and Henderson went about crafting Shadecraft’s story. Speaking with Gizmodo about the series, Henderson explained how establishing a visual language with Garbett that conveyed how Shadecraft’s shadows — which are at times both intangible and three-dimensional constructs taking up space — was one of their first challenges.
“A big appeal of every book I do with Lee is throwing him impossible challenges and seeing him rise to the occasion,” Henderson said. “In Shadecraft, he’s not just playing with two-dimensional shadows, he also has to portray them stepping into three dimensions without losing the sense of grounded reality.”
Garbett described how the process of developing different kinds of states for the book’s shadows to appear in was also a challenge fitting of Shadecraft’s concepts.
“With the shadow-caster scene I wanted to keep the shadows clean and translucent so we get a sense of Zadie and the beauty and wonder of images thrown against the walls and objects,” Garbett detailed. “For those moments I laid down ink on wet areas of the board and let them bleed and grow as they pleased. This gave them a much more organic feel that I could then push into mysterious shapes and faces.”
All comics are deeply collaborative efforts that are opportunities for all of the creatives involved to flex what talents they bring to the project, but Shadecraft’s the sort of book where both the writing and the illustrations are more than the sum of their complementary elements. Though the story’s mysteries are only teased out just a bit in the first issue, the visuals alone are reason enough to stick with the book and see what becomes of Zadie as she learns more about the things that go bump, and not just in the night.
Shadecraft #1 is in stores now.