In a world where humanity has vanished and eroded away, their legacy is the setting of Angelic, an all-ages series at Image Comics from the creative team of Simon Spurrier, Caspar Wijngaard, Jim Campbell and designer Emma Price. Whilst fog pervades around the abandoned and overgrown high-rises, the surviving animals have evolved and developed their own societies, with culture, language — but also with religous-based barriers and an enforced class system. This is an all-ages series, but one told with the distinctive creative voices of Spurrier and Wijngaard.
The series will focus on Qora, a teenage winged monkey whose place in her society has already been dictated by her elders. When she starts to question their faith, however, it leads her on a wonderful and — you’ll be expecting this part — weird adventure through their world. In the second of two interviews with the creative team (read one part with Si Spurrier), CBR spoke to artist Caspar Wijngaard and designer Emma Price about the design and concept work of the series.
CBR: When did the idea for Angelic first come together? Had you been looking to collaborate for a while?
Caspar Wijngaard: It was quite a swift decision, if I remember correctly. I was just finishing up my previous Image series Limbo and we just started discussing the possibility of doing a creator-owned together whilst out drinking after a con.
It was pitched and picked up way back in May of 2016, before the Limbo [collected edition] had even dropped, however I already had another ongoing work-for-hire series lined up so it almost took a year to finally get the ball rolling on development.
Emma, how do you get yourself into that mindset whenever you work on a new comic? How do you get into a world like Angelic, and bring its spirit to your design process?
Emma Price: There’s the cold side of research for every project and then there’s the heart and soul. The clinical side is basically market research; what’s out on the shelves doing something similar already? Why does it work, how can we make Angelic appeal to that audience?
But being aware of the wider context only gets you so far. We want to make something unique, something that sits on the shelf and sings out alongside everything else. For that, I have to understand the story so I grill the creators about the world they’re making. I read the pitch, look at the sketches and fall in love with the characters. I peel back the layers and start looking at things outside the comic world that might help me get the right vibe.
Sometimes listening to specific music helps to channel the story, but I felt that with Angelic there might not be anything remotely recognizable as music in that world, so I turned it around and brought my focus back to Caspar’s art. His colors are so vivid, and the way he draws Qora in this utterly tangible way was something I wanted to lean into. You can practically touch his worlds, and that is glorious.
What kind of ideas did you want to convey through the particular design of the title on the front cover?
Price: We went back and forward with a number of different styles for the logo. There was a question of whether we wanted to lean into the faded tech of past civilizations or go for something that reflected the organic side of the various animal species now inhabiting the world.
In the end we decided that the logo itself should represent the childlike innocence of the monks, in particular Qora. The letters had to feel like they could have been painted with the clumsy digits of a winged monkey. Symbols brushed with ritualistic simplicity and familiarity, but clean enough to remain legible when on the cover.
For the cover, I married that with Caspar’s art and the hexagonal devices around the edges. The combination of the organic brush marks and the unnatural, hard edges of the hexagons shows both aspects of the world and the symbiotic nature of the cyber-enhanced animals.
This is an all-ages comic series — but what does an all-ages comic from Si Spurrier and Caspar Wijngaard look and sound like? It’s hard to imagine you’re going to ignore more mature issues just because younger readers are picking the comic up.
Wijngaard: It definitely has adult themes built neatly into its foundation, and whilst it does look and sound like a child-friendly book we’re not shying away from the darker areas. For instance, later on in issue #1 our protagonist Qora encounters hermit crabs using human skulls as shells. She thinks they’re utterly adorable, innocently unaware or the horror that is presented before her.
Do you feel that an all-ages setting does change the way you picture the series? Does it play into your artistic approach when thinking about design and layout of the pages?
Wijngaard: Oh for sure. With Limbo I could really push the boat out creatively, give it my own voice: with Angelic, however, I have to take into consideration that there are going to be new, younger readers that could get lost if I start using funky panel layouts and such.
That’s not to say there aren’t any cool ideas in this book visually, Angelic‘s world has its own rules that have given me tools to do some truly “out there” things creatively. When Si sent me the script for issue #1 I knew this was the next project I wanted to work on, the concept is absolutely nuts.
Price: I have a background designing and illustrating for teen and pre-teen magazine titles, including the Doctor Who brand, as well as digital marketing for a number of Disney film titles so the all-ages audience is something I’m really comfortable with.
Si and Caspar have done all the heavy lifting in terms of setting the all-ages tone for the book, so really I’ve just done my best to tie it all together.
Disney films are actually a great point of reference (not that I claim to be as good as their talented design teams!). Their logos usually perfectly capture the worlds they represent without being tortuously overdone. Take Frozen or Moana for example, you know as soon as you look at them what the setting and tone for each will be, they’re compelling, legible and are clearly aimed at an all-ages audience.
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