In This Exclusive Look at Image's Shadecraft, the Dark Is Something to Be Afraid Of

Zadie Lu’s shadow trying to save her life.
Zadie Lu’s shadow trying to save her life.
Image: Joe Henderson/Image Comics

In Image’s new comic Shadecraft—from Lucifer’s Joe Henderson and artist Lee Garbett—Zadie Lu’s already in the thick of an existential darkness following a family tragedy that would make any teenager’s life difficult to get through. Her grief and anxiety take on an entirely different energy, though, when she realizes that the darkness and shadows she’s felt pressing in around her are, in fact, quite alive and coming for her, and she’s thrust into a desperate fight for her life that takes a supernatural turn.

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Though the shadows hunting Zadie are the source of her fear, she soon learns they may also be the key to her salvation. That dichotomy’s something that factored into how Garbett and Henderson went about crafting Shadecraft’s story. Speaking with io9 about the series, Henderson explained how establishing a visual language with Garbett that conveyed how Shadecraft’s shadows—which are at times both intangible and three-dimensional constructs taking up space—was one of their first challenges.

“A big appeal of every book I do with Lee is throwing him impossible challenges and seeing him rise to the occasion,” Henderson said. “In Shadecraft, he’s not just playing with two-dimensional shadows, he also has to portray them stepping into three dimensions without losing the sense of grounded reality.”

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The cover of Shadecraft #1, and Zadie witnessing a shadow.
Image: Joe Henderson/Image Comics

Garbett described how the process of developing different kinds of states for the book’s shadows to appear in was also a challenge fitting of Shadecraft’s concepts.

“With the shadow-caster scene I wanted to keep the shadows clean and translucent so we get a sense of Zadie and the beauty and wonder of images thrown against the walls and objects,” Garbett detailed. “For those moments I laid down ink on wet areas of the board and let them bleed and grow as they pleased. This gave them a much more organic feel that I could then push into mysterious shapes and faces.”

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Zadie surrounded by shadows as she watches over her brother.
Image: Joe Henderson/Image Comics
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Zadie being attacked by shadows, and warned by her own.
Image: Joe Henderson/Image Comics
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All comics are deeply collaborative efforts that are opportunities for all of the creatives involved to flex what talents they bring to the project, but Shadecraft’s the sort of book where both the writing and the illustrations are more than the sum of their complementary elements. Though the story’s mysteries are only teased out just a bit in the first issue, the visuals alone are reason enough to stick with the book and see what becomes of Zadie as she learns more about the things that go bump, and not just in the night.

Shadecraft #1 hits stores March 31.

Update 3/4/2021, 1:40 p.m. ET: An earlier version of this post stated that Shadecraft was available in stores this week, but the book does not release until March 31. The post has been updated, and we regret the error.

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Charles Pulliam-Moore is an NYC-based culture critic whose work centers on fandom, pop culture, politics, race, and sexuality. He still thinks Cyclops made a few valid points.

DISCUSSION

wellgruntled
wellgruntled

This one wasn’t on my radar until it was highlighted in my weekly Image email earlier this week - very keen to check it out!