Exclusive: Heather Antos Takes Us Into the Shadowy World of Shadowman
Shadowman #1 debuts on April 28th! The debut issue from master of horror Cullen Bunn and acclaimed artist Jon Davis-Hunt, with color by Jordie Bellaire and lettering by Clayton Cowles will soon be unleashed on the world.
Jack Boniface is SHADOWMAN, a powerful protector who keeps humanity safe from the demons that claw at the fabric of our reality.
The forces of darkness are awakening and they are hungry for life. Will Shadowman be able to save us all, or will the darkness devour the world as we know it?
We got a chance to talk to editor Heather Antos about the series and its place in the Valiant universe.
Graphic Policy: Hey Heather, hope you’re well! Being completely honest, this book was better than I ever expected – y’all must be excited to finally have it seeing the light of day?
Heather Antos: I’ll take “better than expected” any day — and I expected it to be great! So, huzzah! I am beyond thrilled that Shadowman #1 has finally hit the stands. I first approached Cullen about this project…gosh…a little over TWO years ago now? After pandemic delays it’s hard to believe we’re finally out there!
GP: If you had to describe Shadowman to a new reader, how would you do it?
HA: A quick TL:DR on Shadowman: Jack Boniface is a musician by day, and a demon hunter by night, essentially (Okay, it’s a liiiiiiiiiittle more complicated than that). He was born into a legacy of protecting the realm of the living from the darkness of the Deadside partnered with the Shadow Loa Bosou, but it’s not the lifestyle he would’ve chosen for himself. Torn between the life of the living and the world of the dead, Jack has to put his responsibility to protect humanity above all else. He’s a little bit Voodoo…a little bit rock ‘n roll, ha!
GP: How did the collaboration with Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt come about?
HA: Cullen Bunn and I are longtime collaborators, but I’m even a longer time fan of his horror work. For years we talked about trying to do a horror project together but it just never quite worked out…until Valiant. When I started at the company Shadowman was top on my list of characters I wanted to take a stab at — he was the first Valiant character I ever read, after all — and I knew exactly the writer for the job. As for Jon, we had never worked together previously, but I was an instant fan of his work when I saw him in Vertigo’s THE CLEAN ROOM. His open line inking style is great for horror as it misleads the reader into thinking everything is “safe”…and then you turn the page and see the grotesque horror unleash! He’s truly genius in his storytelling and is absolutely bringing his A-game in every panel.
GP: Shadowman and horror feel like chocolate and peanut butter (though maybe fire and brimstone is a more appropriate analogy…). Where did the direction for the comic come from? Was it something you had in mind before Cullen came on board?
HA: Sort of? I mean, yes, I knew I wanted to take Shadowman in a more distinct horror direction going in, but I also knew that Cullen Bunn was the writer I wanted to approach off the bat. Luckily, he said yes and turned in the most perfect pitch. The rest is history!
GP: The first issue is (almost) a complete story in and of itself; was that a happy accident or part of a larger plan?
HA: Making sure each issue was a complete story was absolutely a discussion Cullen and I had during the development of this series. One of the biggest things I wanted to make sure we explored in this series is how the Deadside looks and affects other parts of the world outside of New Orleans. The veil between worlds is wearing thin, so in each issue we see Jack travel the world in order to hunt down whatever it is that is causing these “cracks” to break between dimensions.
GP: There’s a fine balance between horror and crossing that line into gore. Is that something you’re thinking about with the series?
HA: One of the cool things about the Horror genre is that the word “horror” paints a different picture in every person’s mind. For some, it’s 90s slasher films…for others, jump scares…monsters in the night…supernatural beings…tension building thrillers…and we want to explore them all! Like every issue is a complete “episode” that adds to a larger story, we wanted to explore the different ‘tastes’ of horror throughout every issue as well.
GP: Shadowman stands out as the “horror” series of the Valiant Universe which right now is very superhero and sci-fi based. What type of work, if any, goes into making sure this series still “fits in” with the rest?
HA: What I love about the Valiant universe is the central themes of the characters have less to do with “genre” and more so to do with the characters and the roles in which they find themselves. Exploring themes like “what is the responsibility of power” is a stronger component to tying the universe together — something we see in spades with Shadowman.
GP: This might be the first time I’ve ever felt sorry for a demon. Not to spoil, but there’s a touching moment in all of the horror from an unexpected place. When developing the first issue, what was your reaction to that part? It feels unusual (in a good way) for this genre of story.
HA: Even in horror, there are two sides to every story. And without spoiling TOO much from this first issue (GO READ IT, PLEASE!!!!), it’s important to remember that not all is as it seems on page 1. Shadowman has a mystery on his hands. Why is this demon in the living Earth? And how can he stop it from happening again? What brought it here…now?
GP: If you had to design a soundtrack/playlist to read Shadowman to, what would you include?
HA: I hear the big fans over at A SOUND OF THUNDER have created just the song for this — “The Veil (Theme from Shadowman)”! Also, from my own collection, I’d HAVE to add Coheed & Cambria’s “The Dark Sentencer”.
GP: Thanks so much for chatting. Now that I’ve read the first issue, I can’t wait to read more!