Shadowman is back in his own solo series at Valiant and Andy Diggle is in charge writing! The series is a perfect jumping on point for new readers but also has a lot for long time fans of the character as Diggle explores past lives.
We chat with Diggle about the series and have an exclusive look at Shadowman #5 out July 18th!
Graphic Policy: How did you come on board to write Shadowman and who is the character to you? How familiar with the character were you before?
Andy Diggle: The short answer is, they asked! I’d actually been invited to write something else for Valiant previously, but in the end I decided I wasn’t the right guy for that particular job. But when Shadowman came up, I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t read the original ‘90s run, but I could see what it could be – which elements were core to the character, which elements to jettison, and which new elements to bring in. It just seemed so rich with potential. Shadowman had taken a pretty crooked path by the time I got my hands on him, and I wanted to dust him off and put him back on his feet. Make him a hero again. And I knew I wanted to put voodoo lore back at the centre of the book. Voodoo makes him unique, but somehow it had been lost or diluted along the way.
GP: Do you approach writing Shadowman differently than any of the other characters you’ve handled over the years? Has the voodoo element been an interesting aspect to research?
AD: It’s been fascinating. Voodoo is a rich and complex folk religion and oral tradition, with a great deal of regional variation. So I’ve tried to be respectful of that, while embracing the fact that this is a supernatural action comic, not a history textbook. For me, research is a source of inspiration; a springboard for ideas rather than something to be constrained by.
GP: The fourth issue takes us back to explore the loa’s history, and that of the Shadowman mantle. You’re essentially creating a new mythology here – do you feel any pressure? How do you even start something like that?
GP: We’re really just showing brief snippets of past Shadowmen’s lives – each of them could easily sustain an ongoing series of their own. It’s an education for Jack Boniface, finding out that his predecessors found different ways of dealing with the burden of the shadow loa. Jack’s always been struggling against that burden, and I’d like to see him embrace it as a force for good in the world.
GP: The third issue saw Jack Boniface ending up dead at the hands of (presumably) Baron Samedi, but this being Shadowman and the Deadside, I’m sure there’s more to the death than initially meets the eye. How do you go about avoiding the “Comic Book Death” trope that so many fans claim to be fatigued with?
AD: Travelling to and from the realm of the dead is literally part of Shadowman’s core concept. He guards us from the Deadside, and the ghosts and spirits of the dead have been a part of his world since the very first issue. So it’s not like we’re coming out of nowhere with this. Jack’s voyage through the astral realm to the past lives of his predecessors isn’t accidental. He was sent there, for reasons he will only later come to understand.
GP: When exploring the past incarnations of Shadowman, which was the one you wanted to spend more time with? Any plans for a spin off featuring on or more of those characters?
AD: Marius Boniface – the “first” Shadowman – was the one I couldn’t wait to get ahold of. We learned that Sandria Darque first bound the shadow loa to him in 1865, but what happened next? I was curious about what that would do to their relationship moving forward. How did Marius feel about becoming Shadowman? Did he stay with Sandria? How did he die? It raises all sorts of questions, and we can’t answer all of them in one issue.
GP: You’re working with a lot of great artists on this series; does that impact the way you write your scripts if you want to play to one artist’s strength over another?
AD: I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with such great artists. It always helps to know who’ll be drawing which story, so I can play to their strengths. Fortunately they each have multiple strengths! Stephen Segovia is a master of dynamic action, Shawn Martinbrough literally wrote the book on noir comics, Doug Braithwaite brings a wonderfully soulful, emotional depth to the characters, and Renato Guedes is bringing a beautifully lush, painterly style to the ancient origins of the loa.
GP: The series as a whole has been quite easy for new fans to pick up whilst still building on his previous appearances. How difficult was, or is, that to achieve?
AD: It was planned as a fresh start, but I didn’t want to just throw away the past continuity and start afresh. Ultimately it’s about redeeming Jack and giving him some hope for a better future. All you really need to know is that this guy has a powerful voodoo spirit bound inside him, and he was lost in the land of the dead for a while. Now he’s back!
GP: Dead And Gone has been billed as a new jumping on point for fans. What, if anything, do new readers need to know when they pick up Shadowman #4?
AD: Jack Boniface’s soul has been cast adrift in time. As he falls, he’ll grab onto the past lives of his predecessors and get a glimpse of how they handled being Shadowman.
GP: One of the strengths of the Valiant Universe is that each series can work on their own and are new reader friendly and also come together to build a richer experience. Has it differed for you working in this comic universe than others?
AD: It’s certainly more narratively coherent that some universes I’ve worked in in the past. Valiant editorial have a great sense of story, and they communicate well, so everyone’s on the same page. I can ask specific continuity questions and get specific answers. That gives me a good, solid foundation to build a story on. And ultimately that’s all I really care about. Is it good?
GP: Thanks so much for chatting!
SHADOWMAN (2018) #5
Written by ANDY DIGGLE
Art by DOUG BRAITHWAITE
Cover A by TONCI ZONJIC
Cover B by DAVID MACK
Interlocking Variant by DAVID LAFUENTE
Shadowman Icon Variant by DOUG BRAITHWAITE
“DEAD AND GONE” – PART 2! At last – the untold tale of Marius Boniface…the first Shadowman!
As roving gangs ravage the landscape of post-Civil War America, there’s little hope and even fewer chances of escape for those caught in their clutches…except in the shadows! Enter: Marius Boniface – first bearer of the Shadowman loa and Jack Boniface’s own great-great-great grandfather! But as the sun sets, the Shadowman’s coming will lead to more than just a rebellion… Unstuck in time, Jack is about to come face-to-face with the first to bear his curse, and will finally learn the truth about the Shadowman legacy’s connection to his family’s doomed bloodline!
Superstar artist Doug Braithwaite (X-O MANOWAR, Justice) joins writer extraordinaire Andy Diggle (Green Arrow: Year One) for a must-read moment in the history of Valiant’s supernatural icon!
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale JULY 18th (FOC – 6/25/18)