Andrea Sorrentino Uncovers the Horror of the Bone Orchard Myth

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In June, the prolific creative team behind fan-favorite series like Gideon Falls and Primordial introduced fans to their interconnected horror comic book universe for the first time in The passage, a disturbing story of geology, obsession and regret. Today, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino continue to expand the Bone Orchard Myth in their new Image Comics series, Ten thousand black feathers. The first issue follows a young writer named Trish, haunted by painful childhood memories and a mysterious, antagonistic voice.


CBR spoke with artist Andrea Sorrentino, who recently drew Batman: The Imposter, of its long-standing collaboration with Lemire and their work in developing the Myth of the Bone Orchard. He also shared insight into planning his intricate page designs, working with colorist Dave Stewart, and his hopes for the new series.

Related: REVIEW: Ten Thousand Black Feathers from Image Comics #1

How has your collaboration process with Jeff Lemire developed over the years?

I think it started out as a usual job [relationship] between a writer and an artist and then soon, if only with our first work together on green arrow, developed in a more collaborative process that pushes me to give my own vision of things. He takes elements of what I put into the art and uses them to take the story in new directions. We’ve really pushed ourselves to new heights, and it’s so good when you have that kind of relationship with a co-creator. At this point, we are definitely developing the Bone Orchard Myth the general tradition together while Jeff writes the individual stories, and I draw them.

How did you work together to build the world of Bone Orchard Myth?

We had a lot of back and forth in the development of the Mythos. It was exciting building it all together. We’re at a point where we’ve written a “Bible” to use as a basis for Jeff to develop the stories. I think that in a few months we have built such a rich tradition with its own myths and its own chronology that [it] could be used for tons of stories. I can’t wait to see all of this unveiled in front of readers, book after book.

Related: Sweet Tooth Creator Jeff Lemire Makes Exclusive Deal With Image Comics

What can you tell fans about how the different stories of the Bone Orchard Myth relate to each other?

I have always been a fan of strange tales kind of stories. Those collections of short stories like HP Lovecraft or Howard’s Conan where you could read the story as a completely standalone experience, but if you keep reading and start putting the pieces together, you’ll start to get a sense of the whole world. This is the idea behind the Bone Orchard Myth books.

You’ll be able to read each story as a completely standalone book, in no specific order, with its own cast of characters, and with a beginning and an end. But over time, you’ll also be able to piece together some of the grand lore and world-building elements behind them, and you’ll see some elements of some stories appear in others. I hope this will be exciting for readers, seriously. It’s a huge project [that] Jeff and I want to grow for years to come.

How does building this expansive universe compare to the world building you’ve done for other series?

It’s quite different in the usual way, as it happened with Gideon Falls, Jeff has an idea in mind – a story that begins and ends, and all of the elements of that story ultimately tie into the characters that we have in that specific book. Building a lore for what is going to be a shared universe is a bit different in that you’ll need to build a common base that you know will influence every story you tell from that universe. There will be traditions that you know you have to stick to, and you’ll have to make sure every piece is in its place and stick to the canon you’ve written before. We have a “Bible” that we have written, where we have all the tradition planned so far, what we have shown (and it’s official), and what is still secret for readers. We obviously left the doors open for more exploration in the future.

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How does your approach change when working on a graphic novel versus a series? What did The passage right for a graphic novel and ten thousand black feathers right for a limited series?

It’s mostly about the story itself. It’s the genre, the rhythm or the themes. We felt like The passage was really a slow-paced story that had to be experienced in one sitting. It builds on the atmosphere and feelings we built from the first act to the conclusion, and we felt breaking it into pieces would have done the reader a disservice. ten thousand black featherson another side, [is] more like a mystery, with clues and pieces to put together issue after issue and with appropriate cliffhangers at certain specific points. We definitely thought this was a kind of story that would benefit from monthly reading, keeping readers guessing. [about] following for a few weeks before giving answers.

What other artists or stories did you research to inspire you when working on the Bone Orchard Myth?

I think I’m at a point where I don’t really look to other artists for inspiration, honestly. I mean, I’ve had a lot of great artist influences at this point, and I think every reader will be able to see some here and there in my work. But at this point, for the bone orchard books, I just adopt my own way of telling stories. It’s such a gratifying feeling. As I said before, the format of the books digs into the strange tales story of the [early] 1900s and tries to catch that feeling.

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You have an incredible talent for designing pages. Some of your design choices in Gideon Falls and The passage become part of the story. How do you go about laying out a page?

I spend a lot of time away from the drawing board thinking about what things I’m supposed to draw next and how best to put them on pages. Usually I read the script a few pages in advance (at least a full scene) and try to visualize it in my head as if it were a movie, with its own rhythm, angles and rhythms. Then I try to recreate those elements on the page. My main goal is to try to create an immersive experience for the reader. The best is to imagine the reader completely lost in the pages and forgetting that he is on the sofa in his living room reading. Playing around with page designs can really help give you the right feeling.

You can express confusion from your characters’ expressions, but it’s much more immersive if the reader sees the panels twirling around their face. At the same time, using storytelling from a point of view helps readers feel [like they’re in] middle of the experience. I remember a conversation I had with Jeff regarding flashbacks in The passage and the way I showed them with heavy black shadows eliminating almost all detail. What I meant was that a lot of my childhood memories, if I think about it now, are like that in my head – made up of shapes and feelings more than clear numbers. Perhaps the silhouettes of birds in the sky, the confused silhouette of my mother lending me her hand. Not much more. These are the kinds of things I look for when deciding how to design a page or an entire sequence.

Dave Stewart returns to color ten thousand black feathers. You have worked together many times in the past. How is your collaboration going? Do his color choices sometimes surprise you?

I’m generally for the “Pick the best in the business and let them work their magic on their own” [approach]. It has always worked with Dave or my other color collaborators. There will be times when I explain the kind of vibe I’m looking for in certain scenes before he starts coloring them in, or times when I ask “More red!” It becomes kind of a joke. But other than that, all the magic comes from his incredible talent. My pages wouldn’t be half as powerful without its colors.

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What can you tell fans about the protagonists of ten thousand black feathers?

Trish is the main protagonist of the story. We often see her childhood friend, Jackie, in the book, but she remains at the center of events. all i can [say] is that it is exactly what one expects from a character emerging from the pen of Jeff Lemire. She’s real, emotional, and broken, and you’ll empathize with her from the first moment.

What are you most looking forward to for fans to discover in the new series?

ten thousand black feathers represents a stand-alone story that will likely leave you holding your breath on more than one occasion. At a time, [it’s] a very important story for the great purpose of the Bone Orchard Myth. There will be a lot to dig inside the Mythos for those who care to read all the little (and not even too hidden) details shown throughout the story. I finished drawing the ending a few weeks ago, and it might be one of my favorite extended sequences I’ve ever drawn. You are not ready for what is to come.

Ten Thousand Black Feathers #1 is available now from Image Comics.

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