Leila del Duca, the artist for Image Comics Shutter, was kind enough to allow us this interview. Shutter is a fantastical adventure book and, although it is just three issues in, has already grabbed readers’ attention. It’s the kind of story that comic books were made to be about. The creatures, the action sequences – it all boils down to being a fun and exciting story about even crazy characters and situations. Short of making you buy the book, I’ll just say that the books are just as interesting as Leila is, so we’ll hop right to it!
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Hush Comics: I keep telling my friends how awesome Shutter is, but it’s hard to explain the story to them. How would you pitch the book to somebody who has never seen anything like it before?
Leila del Duca: It’s a hard book to pitch because it’s so weird and out there and belongs in multiple genres. I usually say it’s about world-famous explorer Kate Kristopher who is thrown back into the adventuring life she tried so hard to leave behind. If I have more time, I stress that the book is about family, who you adopt into your life and how you deal with blood relations you don’t want. And if they still don’t look interested I’m like, “But sir, it’s set in this crazy version of Earth with mythological beings, talking animals, and spacemen!”
LD: It feels freaking phenomenal! I love having strangers come up to me and tell me they like my work, which never really happened before. It’s super validating to finally feel this way after working towards this my whole life. I truly hope I continue to “make it” in this industry, because I’m having the best time creating comics for you guys.
HC: You’ve worked with other publishers, but how is Image unique?
LD: Working with Image has been such an educational, uplifting experience thus far, standing by me every step of the way and teaching me how the industry does, and, in many cases, should be run. Their amazing team is professional, timely, encouraging, and excited about what they’re doing. I’ve felt like I’ve joined a sort of family that takes care and looks after each other, and this family produces some of the most unique and enjoyable stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading.
HC: Although the book is pretty new, it’s been a long time coming for you as an artist. What kinds of projects did you take on to stay afloat as an artist?
LD: I worked on various genres, but mainly sci-fi and fantasy comics. I’ve also done slice of life, superhero, and zombie western stories. As much as I rave about how brilliant and perfect it working on Shutter is, every past project has a warm place in my heart. Without these stepping stones, I never would have made it here and though working on these past projects hasn’t always been a dream, I appreciate the good and bad that came with all of them and the creators I’ve worked with.
HC: On a similar note, which books other than Shutter can we find your work on?
LD: A few years ago, where it kind of started, was ESCAPE FROM TERRA, a libertarians in space web comic. I claim pencil, ink, color, and writing credits depending on when you jump in the story. It’s still online at Big Head Press. Next, I self-published a book of short comics called THE FOX WITCH AND OTHER TALES. I also art directed two volumes of the Denver-based literary and arts series, CELLAR DOOR. More recently, I did a zombie western with Fried Comics, DEADSKINS, which is still slowly being released online on their website. Lastly, I’m still finishing up the fourth and last issue of THE PANTHEON PROJECT, written by Erik Taylor, soon to be printed with Action Lab at the end of this year.
HC: How do you get the most out of the comic book scene in Denver as a professional?
LD: By being social, showing up to events, making friends, connection with other professionals. So much of comics is just networking.
HC: Joe Keatinge is known for his crazy imagination. How does his creativity fuel yours?
LD: In probably every way… His unbelievable imagination and ideas inspire me to create the best, most imaginative images I can. We’ve said a couple times that our mutual desire to impress one another is in large part what drives this comic.
HC: For being a new artist, you get a ton of gorgeous, full-page spreads. Is that something Keatinge pushes for, or is that something you present to him?
LD: Joe definitely is the one with all the great double page spreads, and 16 and 9 panel grid page ideas. He leaves other page layout stuff to me, but he really knows what needs a full page, what sequence needs a different type of panel layout, etc. He knows how to pace a story and what’s important to emphasize on a page.
HC: The various animals in Shutter are a huge selling point for me: foxes riding triceratops, lions in mobster suits, you know – the usual. Is there something that draws you to anthropomorphic characters over humans?
LD: I wouldn’t say I prefer them to humans, but I equally enjoy them just as much. I love giving characters personalities and it’s a different kind of challenge when I have to do that with an anthro character. Also, for the record, I never told Joe that I wanted to draw anthropomorphic characters, I just said I wanted to draw anything and everything and that’s what he gave me, and I’m super happy he did because they’re all a blast!
HC: Which of these characters around Kate is your favorite and can you give us a hint at any more of the insanity coming up?
LD: Awe man, I’d have to say Ekland is my favorite. She’s so fun to draw and I love her personality, her pointy samurai gear, her mohawk–everything! As for the insanity coming up, no spoilers for you! I think I already leaked some crazy things that happen in issue 4 to the internet so I don’t want to give any more away. But rest assured…there is a lot more insanity. Shutter wouldn’t be Shutter without it.
HC: Where is the best place for fans to connect with you?
The artwork posted belongs to Leila del Duca and Image Comics.