Spera: Making of a Comic Page - Atelier Sento

Hello again. The second announcement is that I’ll be working on an issue of Archaia’s Spera: Ascension of the Starless volume 2. This is a reference/model sheet I made of the main characters that I’ll be drawing, designed by other members of the Spera crew (Richie Pope for the building-head-angel in the lower-right, and Afu Chan for the rest). I’ll probably be posting various w.i.p. updates as I move along for the next several months.


“The best way for me to deal with anything is to try to divide it into nine frames and find some sort of narrative logic. Once it’s on the page, the monster, which was hiding in the shadows, is smaller because now it’s in the light. It helps me get perspective and to understand what’s actually happening. Sometimes I finish a page and I’m not even sure what it’s about exactly, but I feel relieved. That’s how I know it works.”



Siegfried - North American Debut Trailer

Despite the release date being pushed back several times, it looks like the English translation of Alex Alice’s Siegfried will for sure be released this June by Archaia.

We also finally have confirmation that the animated film is back in production:


Feature-Quality Animation Heralds Release of Alex Alice’s Epic Graphic Novel ‘Siegfried’

LOS ANGELES, CA (May 4th, 2012) – Eisner Award-winning publisher Archaia Entertainment is proud to announce the online premiere of the English-language trailer for their upcoming release of Alex Alice’s SIEGFRIED, the first volume in an epic trilogy of graphic novels inspired by the Richard Wagner operatic cycle, “The Ring of the Nibelung.”

Based on the medieval Germanic mythology of the Nibelungenlied, SIEGFRIED tells the story of a child discovered in the woods by a dwarf-goblin who raises the boy in protective secrecy.  As he grows older, however, the boy discovers that he is more than just a lost orphan—he has a destiny planned by Odin, the father of the Norse gods, to fight the dragon Fafnir, guardian of the forbidden Rheingold. This beloved tale of high fantasy and epic heroic discovery is known to have inspired countless well-known classics, including J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

To introduce the series to a North American audience, Archaia has released a feature-quality animated trailer created by Pendragon Imageforge and directed by series author and artist Alex Alice. Originally created as a stylistic proof-of-concept for an animated feature film, plans for the full production are set to resume now that Alice has completed the trilogy of graphic novels.

Volume 1 of the SIEGFRIED graphic novel will release in June, with the second and third volumes to follow in 2013.

For more information, visit

Archaia and BOOM! have announced an October release for Spera: Ascension of the Starless! Read the full press release here.

That’s Afu Chan’s awesome cover art above. The book features a main story illustrated by Giannis Milonogiannis, Atelier Sentô, Mindy Lee, Sourya Sihachakr and Valentin Seiche, as well as short comics by Victoria Grace Elliott, saicoink and Shelly Chen, and chapter covers by Loïc Locatelli Kournwsky, Mathilde Kitteh, Thomas Rouzière, Guillaume Singelin and Guy Pascal Vallez.

The Starless Queen is plotting an invasion of Spera, and has sent the merciless General Zeal to secure its capital. Unfortunately for her, the Queen’s obsession with killing Princesses Pira and Lono – her only daughter, and the last link to a conquered kingdom – has resulted in the pair learning of her plans through captured scouts.

What began for the Princesses as a hunt for treasure is now a perilous journey to warn the Speran King, leading Pira and Lono up a monster-infested mountain, through a village populated by crazed warriors, and down dark tunnels walled with madness itself.

Sarah - a slighted heroine?

This post is intended to initiate discussion, so after reading please do respond/re-blog with your thoughts.

The main thing I would like to discuss here is how Sarah has been sidelined and otherwise mistreated since Labyrinth first came out. I don’t know about you, but I have always found Sarah to be far more likable and admirable than she is generally given credit for. Sure she whines and complains at the start of the film, but she’s also clever and damn good at solving riddles. Her admirable qualities come through more and more strongly as the film progresses. She wishes her brother away, but has enough of a heart to know that was wrong and fight to get him back. She was offered her dreams, but rejected them for the sake of her family.

Overall, I feel Sarah’s a great role model and a fully-realized character in her own right. She’s deeply flawed yet deeply admirable, and she ultimately makes the right choices.

My point off the back of this is a question - why is Sarah treated so badly outside the film? There are three key elements to this, which I will outline below.

1.) In official licensed spin-off media, Sarah has been consistently ignored and relegated to the sidelines. In Return to Labyrinth, she is mostly passive and exists to be pined after and desired by Jareth. Her presence feels like something of an after-thought, which I can’t help but believe it probably was. Instead of Sarah, our ‘hero’ in Return to Labyrinth is Toby - yes, in the manga we get the archetypal bland teen boy protagonist. Although now indefinitely postponed, the planned Archaia prequel graphic novel was going to ignore Sarah entirely and focus on a young Jareth instead,
2.) In official licensed merchandise, Sarah is hardly ever represented outside of narrative-based tie-ins. There is no Sarah figure, for example, while there have been several of Jareth.
3.) While not ignored in fanfiction (serving as the heroine of the majority of stories), Sarah is often treated abysmally. She is subject to cruelty, abuse and out-right rape. She is frequently rendered passive and utterly subservient to Jareth’s will. While there are numerous excellent stories (and webcomics) with great and nuanced characterisations of Sarah, stories which disempower her (normally to further Jareth’s interests) appear to predominate.

So, why is this? While there are a multitude of reasons, I would put a large share of the blame on the fact that Jareth has caught the fandom’s collective imagination. Instead of focusing on the hero of Labyrinth, everyone focuses on its villain. The reasons for this are clear - he’s attractive, he’s powerful and intriguing, and he’s played by David frickin’ Bowie. Jareth is the character that is explored and discussed endlessly, since he can be whatever you want him to be - a Fae prince, an entrapped human, a force of nature etc., etc.

By contrast, Sarah is just human. And worse - from the perspective of marketing executives - she’s a young female human. There could hardly be a character less marketable to the core money-making audience of teenage boys which, I can only presume, the Return to Labyrinth manga was intended to reach. Why focus on an ordinary teenage girl - albeit a teenage girl with some strong and admirable character traits - when you’ve got a Bowified, marketable Goblin King with ready-made appeal to lavish attention on instead?

I really admire Archaia as a publishing house (now, I believe, a subsidiary of Boom Studios), and would really like them to reconsider the direction they take with any future Labyrinth tie-in books they have planned. Labyrinth has a ready-made audience largely formed of young women. It is heartening for young women to have works of fiction that make young women heroes, not side characters or motivators for men. There are countless properties out there which feature male heroes, and we need more female heroes to redress the balance. Labyrinth was conceived as the story of a young woman, and I am disappointed that that initial focus has been consistently ignored by both official bodies and the film’s fans.

I’m not saying to ignore Jareth or make him weak and pliable. Jareth should still be a powerful and well-shaded figure, but there is no need to make Sarah a simpering and pathetic contrast to him. Make her brave and clever and determined. Make her strong-willed and adventurous. Make her the hero.


Cyborg 009 “Countdown”

Finished up the final 9 pages this week of Cyborg 009.  It’s been a great project and I had a little roll call as each page completed.  The entire 105 page graphic novel will be available in July from Archaia publishing.  Thank you everyone for the support these past months.

Written by F.J. DeSanto

Art by Marcus To

Colours by Ian Herring (me)

So Jeff Stokely asked me earlier in the year to contribute a pinup for his recently released book The Reason for Dragons (written by Chris Northrop),which of course I couldn’t say no to. Unfortunately a limited amount of space was available and my piece was unable to make it into final print. 

JUST remembered I hadn’t posted the piece, so I figured what better time than now, because the book was released last week!

By the way you should definitely pick up a copy for yourself, it’s an absolutely beautiful book all around!

You can go HERE to purchase a copy!! 

In their quest for adventure, Princesses Pira and Lono – along with their companions, the fire spirit Yonder and warrior cat Chobo – have made their way to the big city. There they must contend with strange laws, stranger men and the strangest monsters if they wish to join the city’s prestigious Adventurer’s Guild – and then, only if the enigmatic Rale will let them!

The second Spera book from Archaia will be out in autumn, and features main story art by Giannis Milonogiannis, Kyla Vanderklugt, Afu Chan and Timothy Weaver.

Shorts are by Michael Dialynas, Mikkel Sommer, Paul Maybury, Kris Mukai, Zac Gorman, Louis Roskosch, Rachel S. (Baru), Julia Scott, Anna Wieszczyk (lettered by Ed Brisson), Roman Muradov and Polly Guo.

Also included are pin-ups by Afu Chan, Roxie Vizcarra, Nick Edwards, Jake Wyatt and Joanna Krótka.

Above is the front of the Vol. II postcard, designed by Kyla and featuring snippets of art from Afu’s chapter.