This June, writer John Allison and artist Christine Larsen will take readers through a mysterious portal and into the world of By Night, a 12-issue series from BOOM! Studios' BOOM! Box imprint. CBR has the first details.
Since By Night is from the creator of Giant Days, the journey promises to have a certain witty charm. Allison describes it as "combin[ing] my love of Fringe, The X-Files, Jon Ronson documentaries and long reads about the collapse of post-industrial Western society. It's about going home after college and seeing your home town, and your old friends, through opened eyes." Larsen adds that By Night features "interesting female protagonists, strange creatures, urban decay and sharp humor."
Said protagonists are Jane, a chemistry major and aspiring documentarian; and Heather, an amateur urban explorer and Jane's former best friend. They realize that a documentary about the world they encounter would, as stated in BOOM!'s press release, make them "filthy, filthy rich," because "[t]he other side of the portal is filled with monsters, magic and a chance for a whole new life."
In 2015, when Allison and artist Lissa Tremain brought Giant Days to BOOM! Box, the series was already part of Allison's larger Scary Go Round world of webcomics. CBR asked Allison if By Night was also set in that universe. "Of course it is," he responded. "But in the sense that we exist in the Charlize Theron universe. We breathe the same air, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever go on a Jeep ride together."
While that sounds like Jane and Heather won't be meeting a lot of familiar faces, By Night doesn't seem too far from Allison's signature style. Allison and Larsen then filled in a few more details.
CBR: Since Giant Days started its BOOM! Box run as a 6-issue series, what should we read into By Night starting off as a 12-issue series?
John Allison: I’m not thinking beyond that initial 12 issues yet. Giant Days' run was not something I ever thought about; if someone had told me late in 2014 that I'd write 36 issues of it and have more to come, I'd have fainted dead away.
The various Scary Go Round features have had different levels of paranormal activity, and that's built into By Night's premise. How does the new series compare?
Allison: It’s at the sharp end of my supernaturality. By Night operates to the same rules that all my other comics do: if something supernatural manifests, it has to be justified to my own satisfaction by a rigorous internal logic. A scary clown can’t just come out of a sewer. There have to be sewer rules, and an accommodation made between the clown and the funk down there. Perhaps he has built a filter system into his big red plastic nose. I should add that there are no scary clowns in By Night.
Christine, fans know you most for illustrating licensed properties like Adventure Time. What's it been like crafting the visuals and cast of By Night?
Christine Larsen: I've done a few original comics alongside the licensed work over the years -- both for myself and for other publishers. There really isn't a huge disparity between working on an established property and working on something original. After a research stage, a lot of exploratory drawing happens until something feels right.
John had a good idea regarding what he wanted for the main characters -- so that process wasn't so different than the reinterpretation I do for a licensed property -- but I pulled a lot of reference for the environments, creatures and support cast before I started sketching them.
Both visually and plot-wise, how do you describe the overall tone and feel of By Night?
Allison: Christine can draw the workaday and the fantastic with equal skill, she can draw all the things I can’t, and all the things I can, but better. We take advantage of that. Story-wise, I want to address some themes, but there are always going to be jokes. I am never going to write a visual tone poem about pain or 10-page soliloquies. A single issue of a comic has to feel satisfying to me. You can get a lot done in 22 pages if you work at it.
By Night #1 is scheduled for release on June 13 from BOOM! Studios. Keep reading for a preview of issue #1, and a look at John Allison's variant cover!