Writer Steven T. Seagle is no stranger to creating work that appeals to fans of all ages. As part of Man of Action, he co-created the hit cartoon series "Ben 10" and Marvel's "Big Hero 6", but his latest project from Image Comics is specifically designed for young adult readers. Recognizing that his body of comics work was missing a great YA title, Seagle and newcomer artist Jason Adam Katzenstein created "Camp Midnight", which originally debuted in mini-comic form last year at Comic-Con International.
A summer camp story with a twist, as announced last week at Image Expo, "Camp Midnight" will next see the light of day as an original graphic novel. When lead character Skye is sent to camp by her dad and stepmom, she is entirely unwilling to go. "Skye vows not to fit in or have fun, no matter what," Seagle explained at Image Expo. She accidentally gets on the wrong bus and finds herself at a camp for monsters. The only other human is her friend Mia, and together they vow not to let anyone find out their secret. While their fellow campers are finally able to reveal their true spooky selves, Skye and Mia must conceal their humanity. This plays on themes of alienation and a sense of not belonging that Seagle himself felt during his childhood summer camp experience.
Seagle generously passed out mini-comics of "Camp Midnight" showcasing the stunning art of Katzenstein to fans at Image Expo. The writer said he initially connected with Katzenstein at a weekly meet-up he attends where creative professionals co-work. Seagle was drawn in by the artist's expressive style and, after watching Katzenstein complete a comics project in just ten days, knew he wanted to work with him. "I'm big on working toward an artists' strength and then throwing them a curve ball," Seagle said. "And Jason is really great at exaggeration in middle of mundanity."
With "Camp Midnight" coming it at 250 pages, it's quite an ambitious premier project for the artist. Seagle explained that he and Katzenstein committed to seven pages a week, completing the graphic novel after a year and a half, which is relatively fast considering the richness of the aesthetic. Seagle added in fantasy elements to challenge Katzenstein, but gave him full creative freedom over designing the various creatures at camp. "I just told Jason to draw whatever he had fun drawing," Seagle said.
Asked if he had any reservations about being a male writer with two girls as the protagonists of "Camp Midnight," and whether he worried about being able to get their voices right, Seagle replied in the negative. "Not even 1%," he answered. "I'm not a murderer and I've written comics about murderers. This story to me was about two girls who meet at camp and that's who the characters are. I shouldn't be scared of who they are."â€¨â€¨He was reluctant to reveal the ages of Skye and Mia, but said it was safe to think they were around middle school age. While some campers are definitely younger than them, there are also some that could be teenagers. Seagle expressed that it was important for his readers to be able to see themselves in the comic and didn't want to lock them in to one particular age. "The younger the audience, the harder it is to write for them," he said. "I'm asking people to buy something, so my first question is, what do you get from this? What do you walk away with?"
If the preview is any indication, what readers will walk away with this October is a fun, fresh, absolutely delightful comic that takes familiar tropes and themes and gives them a fresh new twist.