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Exclusive: Heather Antos Takes Us Into the Shadowy World of Shadowman

Shadowman #1

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!

Shadowman #1

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!

Shadowman #1

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?

Shadowman #1

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!

Dennis Hopeless and Heather Antos Talk Upgrades, International Threats, and Milk and Pie in Valiant’s X-O Manowar

X-O Manowar #4 cover by Christian Ward
X-O Manowar #4 cover by Christian Ward

Does Manowar make the armor? A new threat towers over X-O. Will he have the strength to bring the titan down? Out this week X-O Manowar #4 saw Aric taking on multiple threats as he attempts to figure out what it exactly means to be a superhero. All of this while the media and world is watching him. With threats both domestic and abroad what does this mean for Aric, X-O Manowar going forward? And what’s up with the armor upgrade?

We discuss this and more with X-O Manowar writer Dennis Hopeless and editor Heather Antos. Plus check out the fantastic art from Emilio Laiso!

Warning, some minor spoilers below!

GP: Hey folks! How’re you both doing on this sunny (for me, anyway) day?

Heather Antos: Well, it’s been below freezing the past several days here so…cold? I’m cold.

Dennis Hopeless: Yeah, it snowed here last night so my day started with shoveling. But at the moment I’m working across the room from the couch fort my kids just built… So I’m very amused.

GP: Last issue we saw Shanhara get an upgrade – can you walk us through how that came to happen from a creative perspective?

HA: If I recall correctly, this was the culmination of a bunch of different conversations between Dennis and I in regards to where we wanted to see Aric and Shanhara’s story go. But I can’t really get into the details just yet…the upgrade of Shanhara is only just the tip of the story iceberg to come…

DH: Yes indeed. One of our major goals for this series was to explore and expand the bond between Aric and Shanhara. The partnership, the friendship and crucial trust between them is our cornerstone. Everything happening right now, including the suit upgrade, is a step down that road.

X-O Manowar #4

GP: How much of a hand did you have in designing the new look for Shanhara? What was that process like for the team?

DH: >CRACKS KNUCKLES< I typed a vague panel description and got all the way out of Emilio’s way.

HA: I was fairly hands off, myself. Emilio is a phenomenal artist so I trusted his instincts so long as the design fit the call of the story Dennis has been building. It needed to look sleek and modern — almost how Troy would design the suit if he could — while still honoring the classic suit that we all know and love. I think Emilio nailed it. 

GP: When designing a new look, how much of that is driven by the narrative and how much of it drives the narrative?

HA: It all depends on what story you’re telling, but I find it can be a bit of both, you know? The story that comes before is going to inspire the build up of the new look the artist comes up with….but then the new design can very often inspire new stories that will come after. It’s cyclical and such a cool part of comics!

DH: Every bit of it is collaborative, in that it’s a conversation. I try to explain what I see in my head and why we’re doing the things we’re doing, but artists like Emilio almost always bring better ideas and designs than I could dream up to the table. Oftentimes, I’ll get new (better) ideas for future story beats based on the art choices. Greater than the sum of our parts.

GP: Can you tell us whether the new look is a permanent change?

HA: Nice try, but you’re getting no spoilers out of me! 

DH: Nothing is permanent. Ever.

X-O Manowar #4

GP: You’ve been taking Aric toward a more traditional style of superhero, but in this issue we actually see him apologise for not doing enough; how will that level of expectation play into the series as it progresses?

DH: I mean, yeah, it’s an impossible job… Even for Aric. But also, Aric is starting to learn how to properly communicate with the public. Troy is teaching him that it’s easier to help people who already trust and respect you… And in the age of mass media, you have to gain that trust in a few different ways at once. “I’m sorry I didn’t do better,” carries a lot of weight.

HA: I can’t even begin to imagine what the pressures of being a superhero are — and here we’re really exploring just the tip of the burden Aric has put on himself.   

GP: Heather, you edit this series as well as other Valiant ones, how much coordination is there between the various series? Are you all thinking through the impact of these changes on the rest of the Valiant universe

HA: Always. It’s super important for editorial to always be aware of what is going on in the other parts of the universe at all times and how that will impact not only their own books, but also the other editor’s books as well. There’s a ton of behind-the-scenes communication between offices about how to best integrate together. 

DH: And it’s important to me to position X-O as a much stronger and more important figure in the Valiant Universe than say… Shadowman. Because Cullen Bunn is a monster and must be defeated.

GP: We’ve seen Aric take on international threats over the course of the series; will you also have him confront domestic terror threats?

HA: I mean, in a way that’s sort of what we’ve seen with Yakiov already, isn’t it? X-O Manowar may be this great superhero that can protect us all from a galactic level, but at heart he’s a man of the people — and those he considers his family will always come first. 

DH: If it were up to Aric, he’d help/save everyone everywhere all the time. Shanhara spends a lot of time tamping down those expectations. But absolutely, yes, we have BIG BAD local threats coming up soon.

X-O Manowar #4

GP: Dennis, the last panel is quietly terrifying; how much direction did you give Emilio Laiso on that?

DENNIS: I just looked at the script and I typed 11 words for that panel. Emilio is very very good.

GP: I have to ask – what made you write Vlad Yakiov as having milk and pie as he’s waiting for his plan to unfold?

DH: A friend of mine once threatened to create a blog called DENNIS HOPELESS IS HUNGRY because I write a lot of eating scenes into my books. It’s not something I started doing on purpose, but I do think little mundane bits of humanity can add a lot of nuance to dialogue-heavy scenes. In this case, Yakiov is terrorizing this family after destroying their neighborhood… And now he’s eating their food. It’s equal parts creepy and disrespectful and shows us just how confident he is that he’s going to win.

HA: This was all Dennis! But I loved it — it’s almost comical, in a way, but also scary, too. This big scary monster of a man walking into your home and just casually starting to eat your food as he threatens your life and the lives of your loved ones? Terrifying. This big scary monster of a man doing a spittake once he realizes he’s been so easily duped? Hilarious!

GP: Thanks for answering our questions and can’t wait to see what’s next!

Purchase X-O Manowar #4: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Exclusive: Get Savage with “Creature Feature” Variants from Valiant. Get a First Look at the Covers for Issues 3 and 4!

Savage #1 debuts on February 17 from writer Max Bemis, artist Nathan Stockman, colorist Triona Farrell, and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. Published by Valiant, it’s one of the anticipated debuts for 2021. The first issue features covers by Marcus To, Christian Ward, and Stacey Lee.

Teenage heartthrob. Feral social icon. Dinosaur hunter? Born and raised on an uncharted island full of prehistoric dangers, Kevin Sauvage has a taste of home when a mutant dino threat invades England!

What’s that about mutant dinos!? To celebrate the carnage, Valiant is releasing “Creature Feature” variants.

  • Savage #1: Giuseppe Camuncoli
  • Savage #2: David Lopez
  • Savage #3: Paco Diaz
  • Savage #4: Peach Momoko

Series Editor Heather Antos had this to say:

“Man vs. Beast” is a tale as old as humanity itself – and it’s time to celebrate the beasts of the Faraway in the “Creature Feature” pre-order variant bundle for SAVAGE. Debuting four exclusive and brand-new creature designs by series artist Nate Stockman, artists Giuseppe Camuncoli, Paco Diaz, Peach Momoko, and David Lopez each face-off their skills to tackle these ferocious beasts. As for an added bonus: each of these covers will feature bonus insert bestiary guides that will only be available here!

You can see all for “Creature Feature” variants below with the exclusive debut of issues #3 and #4 by Paco Diaz and Peach Momoko!

Valiant Virtual Portfolio Review Program Returns for Artists

Valiant Virtual Portfolio Reviews

Round Three of the Virtual Portfolio Review program is on the way from Valiant Entertainment!

The publisher will host another edition of the program to assist aspiring comic book artists and find new creators for future projects. For the upcoming round of the program, the award-winning publisher’s Senior Editors (Lysa Hawkins, Heather Antos, David Wohl) will be offering virtual one-on-one portfolio reviews for aspiring interior artistscover artistscolorists, and letterers. 30 people in total will be selected to have their work reviewed.

Please read the below information very carefully for submission details and deadlines.

Dates of Digital Portfolio Reviews
  • Tuesday, November 10th from 12pm-2pm EST
  • Wednesday, November 11th from 12pm-2pm EST
  • Thursday, November 12th from 12pm-2pm EST
How to Submit
  • Email your submission to PortfolioReview@valiantentertainment.com
  • Subject line: Name, Discipline, Available Date
  • Subject line example: Ray Garrison, Cover Artist, November 10th, 11th, & 12th
  • Please note: Submissions should be a digital PDF attachment, a single document with an information page in the back with your name, a link to your online portfolio, and contact info. The document should be no more than 20 pages.
Submission Deadline
  • Submissions open October 28th and are due by November 4th at 5pm EST
  • Those selected for the first day of sessions will be notified by Monday, November 9th no later than 10pm EST
  • Those selected for the second day of sessions will be notified by Tuesday, November 10th no later than 10pm EST
  • Those selected for the third day of sessions will be notified by Wednesday, November 11th no later than 10pm EST

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I don’t have a prepared portfolio. Can I share a link to my Website/Twitter/Instagram instead?

No, we are only accepting PDF attachments (max 25mb). PDF2GO is a free service if you donʼt own Acrobat.

2. I have more than 20 pages I want to share. Can I sneak in an extra couple?
No, this will disqualify your portfolio.

3. Can I just embed/attach single images instead of making a PDF?
No, we are only accepting PDF attachments (max 25mb, 20 pages of art). Again, you can use PDF2GO if you don’t own Acrobat. 

4. My PDF is too large to send as an attachment. Can I just send a link to my PDF portfolio?
No, we are only accepting PDF attachments (max 25mb). PDF2GO can shrink your PDF if you do not have Acrobat.

5. I’ve never been hired for professional work before, can I still submit my work?
Of course! If you’re an artist, submit any interior, cover, colors, lettering samples you’ve done on your own or for self-published books. If you’re a writer, submit any completed self-published comic you’ve worked on (no scripts will be accepted, period).

6. I missed the deadline to submit my work. Is it okay to still send it in if it’s before the selections have been made?
No, late submissions will not qualify due to the large number of submissions that need to be reviewed. Please meet the deadline, and if you cannot, keep an eye out for a future edition of the program.

7. I don’t think my work is good enough. What’s the point?

Portfolio Reviews arenʼt a competition to see whoʼs the best, but rather an opportunity to learn how to improve. Weʼre actively looking for creators who we think could benefit from one-on-one time with an Editor to take their work to the next level.

Please remember to review all of the guidelines carefully before sending your submission.Good luck and Valiant’s Senior Editors look forward to checking out your portfolios!

CANCELED: Comic Creators Come Together to Raise Money for Biden for President on Thursday, October 22

Unfortunately, the event has been canceled. You can still donate to Biden for President and, with less than two weeks to go, there’s still time to volunteer and help get out the vote.

Avengers Assemble!!! Wait, that’s another fundraiser. This Thursday, October 22, comic creators are coming together for a “Virtual Comic Panel” to raise money to benefit Joe Biden for President’s Victory Fund.

The panel will be moderated by Bob Harrison and features Mark Waid, Ron Marz, Greg Pak, Peter Krause, Heather Antos, Chris Sotomayor, Jamal Igle, David Gallaher, Andrew Dalhouse, Bekah Caden, Rich Douek, Richard Clark, Pete Pantazis, Steve Orlando, Cullen Bunn, and Alex Sanchez.

It features panelists from across the comic creation process.

The event takes place October 22 at 6pm EDT/3pm PDT.

The event has five donation tiers ranging from $50 general admission tickets to a $5,600 VIP level that includes a one-on-one video chat with a panel guest, writing critique or portfolio review.

Video conferencing details will be sent to all confirmed participants 24-48 hours prior to the event. Reasonable accommodations, such as closed captioning, will be available at request after RSVP.

Valiant’s Senior Editor Heather Antos talks with us about X-O Manowar, Penguins and Covid Delays

X-O Manowar #2

We recently got a chance to chat with one of Valiant‘s Senior Editors Heather Antos about the upcoming X-O Manowar #2 and how COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in the publisher’s planned timeline.

Graphic Policy: To get the COVID shaped elephant out of the way, obviously, you were never planning on having months between the first and second issues of X-O Manowar. Did you need to adjust the second issue prior to its new release date, or had it already been printed?

Heather Antos: You know, it’s funny. We had just wrapped interiors for X-O #2 when the pandemic hit. So though the issue hadn’t gone to print at the time, it could have! Since we had the time, the creative team did have another pass at dialogue, etc, for any other tweaks, but mainly our focus has been on the rest of the story.

GP: Valiant has been on a relatively slower schedule since publishing has resumed; what kind of challenges and opportunities has that provided you from an editorial perspective with X-O?

 I think the biggest challenge has been not being able to release all of the amazing titles that we had originally planned for 2020. But that means that 2021 is going to be off to an A+ start, you know? If anything this has given us amazing lead time for development and creative on projects that just don’t normally get half a year in advance on normal comics schedules.

GP: I’ve really enjoyed the issue(s) I’ve read so far, especially the new dynamic between Aric and Shanhara; can you tell us more about how Shanhara’s acting as Aric’s guide to a modern world we haven’t seen him experience before?    

HA: What I think really sets X-O Manowar apart from his comic book hero comparison of Conan in Iron Man’s suit is the fact that X-O Manowar isn’t just Aric of Dacia — it’s Aric of Dacia partnered with Shanhara — an ancient sentient alien. So there’s been so much to explore there in terms of their relationship with one another and the world in which they now reside. One of the most fun things is exploring how Shanhara has taken to the modern world — in part because she can quite literally access the internet — and how Aric wants nothing to do with it. 

GP: Based entirely on the two issues I’ve read so far, Aric’s much more Earthbound with this volume. Was there a conscious decision to move Aric away from the more space-oriented stories we’ve seen him in previously and explore how his actions impact modern people?

HA: Absolutely — not there’s anything wrong with a spacebound Aric! We’ve yet to see a series, though, in modern Valiant with Aric’s ongoing Earthbound story — both revolving around how he and Shanhara are dealing with their present day situtation, but also how the present day is dealing with them! 

GP: With Aric being a “barbarian” he’s able to offer a unique perspective on our civilization, as we’ve seen with his attitude to food and his confrontation with the police; will that be a theme running in the series going forward? 

HA: Most definitely — Aric confronts a lot of the daily minutae by simply…barrelling right past it. He doesn’t have time for modern day “politics” when he sees someone in need…even when said bureaucratic entanglements might make things worse for him in the long run. 

GP: Your love of penguins isn’t a secret… have you ever tried to get one or two into the comics? Penguin variant covers, maybe?

HA: Penguins have waddled their way into comics on my behalf once or twice, this is known to be true. If one were to flip back to last year’s Livewire #12, they might even find the first penguin cameo an artist dedicated to yours truly, haha! Will there be more in Valiant’s future? Only one way for you readers to find out…

GP: I tend to always have music when reading comics, which got me thinking; if you had to recommend a soundtrack to the series, what would it be?

HA: Fun fact! We actually have an OFFICIAL soundtrack to the series. You can find it here featuring tracks from Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, ZZ Top, and more!

GP: When you’re overseeing multiple titles, how tempted are you to have the characters featured in one series appear in another?

HA: I would say it’s not an outright temptation right from the get-go — and I certainly am not going to force any characters into another writer’s book unnecessarily. I love crossover issues and scenes and worldbuilding opportunities they provide — but it’s SUPER important that these things happen organically and feel necessary to the story.

GP: Are you able to give us any teasers around Shadowman…? 

HA: Teasers like how it’s one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on in my entire career? Like how Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles are a horror comic’s dream team? Or how about how I CANNOT wait to be able to talk more? I don’t mean to be too in the shadows and I wish I could say more, but maybe in few weeks I’ll be able to bring more information to light…

GP: So… I hear you maaaay be working on a project that may, or may not have something to do with Psiots… is there anything you can share about that?

HA: Not unless you have psionic abilities and can read my mind! A little blue harbinger bird told me that The Hollywood Reporter might have something to say about it next week though….

GP: Well that’s certainly something to look forward to! Thanks for your time!

X-O Manowar #2 will be released November 25th.

Watch the Valiant WonderCon Panel

Enjoy the Valiant WonderCon panel from the comfort of your home!

Valiant’s Craft of Comics panel features Bloodshot writer Tim Seeley, Shadowman writer Cullen Bunn, and artist Jon Davis-Hunt, senior editors Lysa Hawkins and Heather Antos, and digital marketing manager Emily Hecht!

The entertaining discussion covers what it’s like being a writer, artist, and editor in the industry. Plus, enjoy an in-depth look at how these creators put their own spin on iconic Valiant characters!

Valiant Promotes Heather Antos and Lysa Hawkins

Valiant Entertainment has announced that Heather Antos and Lysa Hawkins have been promoted to Senior Editors!

As Senior Editors, Heather and Lysa will play key roles in managing the Editorial Department, crafting the future of the Valiant Universe, overseeing relationships with comic book creators, and much more. Lysa and Heather both have extensive and acclaimed careers in the comic book industry and have been influential in the return of many fan-favorite Valiant characters while also establishing completely original properties that explore new areas of the Valiant Universe.

Lysa is currently editing the action-packed Bloodshot, the critically-acclaimed RAI, and working on multiple titles that have yet to be revealed. Heather is currently editing the hit comedy series Quantum & Woody, as well as the upcoming titles The Final Witness, X-O Manowar, Shadowman, and another fan-favorite franchise that will be announced later this year.

Lysa Hawkins (left) and Heather Antos (right)
Lysa Hawkins (left) and Heather Antos (right)

The Final Witness is a Crime-Noir Serial Killer Mystery from Valiant

Valiant is teasing something rather intriguing. “The Final Witness” is a “crime-noir serial killer mystery.” With the release of the image below the publisher asks “can you solve the case?”

Final Witness is the company’s first crime noir title. The series features four leads brought together to solve a murder. The series features a detective, an investigative journalist, an arsonist, and a superhero.

Headed up by Heather Antos, the writer and artist have yet to be announced.

Final Witness is planned as a five-issue mini-series with more to follow. Each issue will feature clues and characters to help solve the mystery but taking it a step further, special variants will also unlock clues.

2020 is off to an interesting start!

Final Witness

Declan Shalvey, Gavin Fullerton, Rebecca Nalty, Clayton Cowles, and Heather Antos Deliver Horror in Bog Bodies

Image Comics has announced an original graphic novel, Bog Bodies, by writer Declan Shalvey, artist Gavin Fullerton, colorist Rebecca Nalty, letterer Clayton Cowles, and editor Heather Antos coming to Image Comics in March 2020.

A cold, poignant story of crime, survival, and regret, Bog Bodies follows an Irish gangster on the run after a job gone wrong who encounters a young woman lost in the Dublin mountains. Injured and unarmed, the unlikely pair must try to evade their pursuers and survive the desolate bog that has served as burial grounds for unspeakable murder throughout history.

Bog Bodies original graphic novel (ISBN: 978-1-5343-1330-9) will hit comic book shops on Wednesday, March 4 and bookstores on Tuesday, March 10.

Bog Bodies
Almost American
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