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SYFY WIRE Skybound Entertainment

Exclusive: Khary Randolph conjures a cabal of black sorcerers in Skybound's Excellence #2

By Jeff Spry
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Skybound Entertainment and Image Comics are all aglow in last week's scintillating debut of Brandon Thomas and Khary Randolph's new black magicians series, Excellence, and the future of this ambitious title looks brilliant.

Excellence follows the wild wizardry of Spencer Dales, whose stern father belongs to a secret society of black magicians called The Aegis who protect the planet with invisible hands. When Spencer earns the right to join The Aegis, he’s given the chance to fight for a better future as an elite mage. But who will stand beside him and defy the archaic generational system?

Ecellence 2 Main Cover

Written by Brandon Thomas (Horizon, The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury) and matched with striking artwork by fan fave Khary Randolph (Tech Jacket, Mosaic), colors via Emilio Lopez, and letters by Deron Bennett, this title also features a special line of variant covers, Visions of Excellence,” which will spotlight and recognize the work of talented creators of color like Randolph, Sanford Greene, and Juni Ba.

Excellence #2 hits the stands on June 19 and revolves around The Aegis' dedication to safeguarding the planet and a valuable lesson their newest recruit, Spencer Dales, must learn when he clashes with The Aegis’ unseen master: the Overseer!

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SYFY WIRE spoke with artist Khary Randolph on his artistic process and inspirations for Excellence. He also explains why this sorcery-centered book is pushing him as an illustrator into uncomfortable creative corners.

"Whenever I start a new project I'm first always looking at what can I bring to it to make it feel different than anything else on the market," Randolph tells SYFY WIRE. "So I brought in my love of ninjas and assassins. Since it's a secret order, the first thing I thought of was Assassin's Creed. I also love hip hop, so I threw a dash of that in there.  While I was reading the scripts I was really on an Alfred Hitchcock kick. The thing I liked was the design, the film posters, and some of the intro sequences. All of that kinda merged, and I wanted to do something with a heavy design aesthetic to the world. I'd always wanted to do a Steranko-type theme too, and since Excellence involved magic, I thought of Dr. Strange and thought, 'Let me throw all that in and see what happens.'

"I remember the first conversation we had with Emilio where we talked about color," he explains. "When we're in the regular world I'd like the color to feel neutral and subdued, so when the magic does happen it feels otherworldly and surreal. So we've been kicking up the color to where this is by far the most colorful book I've ever worked on.  We pushed outside what we were comfortable doing. I'm trying things on this book that I've never done before. Skybound is very cool about letting us explore the art."

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Now manifest your mind into our exclusive five-page look at Skybound Entertainment and Image Comics' Excellence #2 in the gallery below, then let us know if Thomas and Randolph's fantasy adventure ignites your interest.