British Web comic publisher Broken Voice Comics has just released Chapter 12 of its flagship title, the online graphic novel Shades online, plus some of the first pages of Chapter 13 have just been launched at its website. For the first time, the new chapters allow readers a glimpse of the story's mysterious spirit world.
Written by David A J Berner (whose adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Oval Portrait” was included in the Self Made Hero anthology Nevermore in 2007) and illustrated in full colour by E.C. Nickel, Shades is both a timely examination of the characteristics and traits that have come to define the British national character and an appreciation of the super hero genre, from a particularly UK perspective.
Until now, most of the action in Shades has taken place in a very real-world version of the UK, but the spirit world has always been hugely important to the story.
"We learn very early on that the Shaman (a prehistoric mystic) relies on the spirits for his knowledge, and that the energies of that world are the source of many of the characters’ unique abilities," reveals Berner. "From this point in the story, however, events in the physical world and the spirit world start becoming increasingly intertwined."
In Chapter 12 a demon spirit known as Thrawn manifests itself in the physical world. Able to twist and manipulate a person’s self-doubts and insecurities, the demon finds plenty of material to prey upon in the troubled minds of the British heroes who people Shades.
In Chapter 13, readers are finally given their first glimpse of what the spirit world is actually like.
"Technically," Berner elaborates, "we only make it as far as the Fringes – a kind of buffer zone between the physical and spirit worlds. But then, it’s not the most inviting of places so perhaps that’s as close as we want to get!"
"The art team has done a fantastic job of rendering the nightmare landscape of the Fringes," David enthuses. "E.C. Nickel has really been able to demonstrate his love of surreal detail in these sequences, and the sombre, brooding colours by Muamal Khairi add a dimension that wouldn’t be out of place in an H.P. Lovecraft novel!”
Formerly the Senior Editor of webcomics studio Midnite Comics, David formed Broken Voice Comics in February 2006. Since its launch, Broken Voice Comics has been home to Berner’s own comic projects including Shades and his two four-part fantasy mini-series, The Spires and Hunted along with Guest Titles such as recent arrival G.A.A.K. by Darryl Hughes and Monique McNaughton.
Behind the scenes on the project, Berner informs us that work on this graphic novel is now nearing completion. "The script for Shades was written back in 2003,” he says, “so it’s been a long haul, but the end is finally in sight. The art team is already working on the last two full-length chapters (15 and 16) and then we just have a short epilogue to do, before we have to start looking at the options for putting together a collected print edition!”
• For more on Broken Voice Comics and its titles visit: www.brokenvoice.co.uk