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First look: Scott Snyder, Tony Daniel embrace darkness in new indie sci-fi series Nocternal

By Jeff Spry
Noc Hero

In a stellar union of two of the comic book industry's top talents, renowned creators Scott Snyder (Wytches, Dark Nights: Metal) and Tony S. Daniel (Batman R.I.P., Deathstroke) are teaming up for Nocternal, the kickoff release under Snyder's new Best Jackett Press label which will be published by Image Comics as a monthly title early 2021 — and SYFY WIRE has a special look at the stimulating artwork.

Snyder and Daniel will be joined by colorist Tomeu Morey, letterer Deron Bennett, and editor Will Dennis for this sci-fi horror project where Earth is plunged into perpetual darkness and humanity struggles to survive in an environment where night rules amid terrifying transforming creatures. 

Paired with Nocternal's exciting announcement this week comes news that the team will also be launching a Kickstarter campaign for a deluxe 72-page Nocternal Collector's Edition.

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Nocternal Collector's Edition is presented as a one-of-a-kind reading experience, fortified with Snyder’s script displayed beside Daniel’s signature linework to deliver a rare peek at the involving process of creating comics.

If funded via Kickstarter, the book will be received by backers this winter before Image's first issue Nocternal release. With conventions and fan events shut down for the immediate future, Snyder and his creative crew wanted to find a direct way to build meaningful relationships with their fans.

This special premium volume offers an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the making of the premiere issue, in which Mankind can still feel the sun's warmth but for some strange reason, no light reaches the planet. 

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Here amid this realm devoid of light, ferryman Valentina “Val” Riggs shuttles people and goods along perilous unlit roads with her custom illuminated eighteen-wheeler. When an old man promising sanctuary offers Val a job to transport him and his granddaughter over the Rocky Mountains, she jumps on it, hoping there might be some shred of truth to his claim. But what she discovers in the end is something far more horrifying than any shade.

"I was pretty terrified of the dark as a kid, and when my own son started having the same fears, the idea just occurred to me," Snyder tells SYFY WIRE. "What if tomorrow, night just never ended, and this new darkness, what if any living thing that stayed in it too long was transformed into something monstrous, a 'shade.'" It's one of those ideas you have and you just know it's got everything you love to do. It marries the character driven, horror storytelling of WYTCHES with the widescreen action of my recent DC writing, and Tony, his art has that same energy. It's big and bombastic, but his character work is masterful.

"We've been friends for a while and we've been looking for something to do together, something big and high-octane with a lot of heart. This felt perfect from go. I mentioned it to Tony over a year ago and we started working on designs, on a big outline... We've got a ton of story to tell."

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To illuminate Daniel’s detailed line art, the creators are printing this edition in black and white and will be available in two formats: an unsigned softcover and a hardcover signed by Snyder and Daniel available only to Kickstarter backers.

A funding goal of $37K (which has already been surpassed) covers book printing, rewards production, and fees from Kickstarter, Stripe, and BackerKit. Monies raised beyond that goal helps cover production costs for the first story arc up until issue #6. Additional pledge tiers include a limited edition lithograph, a sketch by Daniel, a master class with Snyder, and more.

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In this sweeping two-page spread above, Daniel wanted to show Val entering the town from her vantage point, as if we’re following just behind her, so we can take in her safe space after being chased down by a flock of shades.

"I envisioned the town in the background, which as luck would have it, would include a lightbulb factory, and a few factory type buildings, surrounded by some cramped residential spaces," Daniel tells SYFY WIRE. "The town is lit up in various ways. Spotlights, which just went on to protect Val and her recent transport of survivors, a few overhead blimps, as well as a couple dozen Chinese floating lanterns. Out in front we have what looks like a temporary residence for newcomers, for health processing before being let through the gates to the city. 

"Upon arrival, Val’s gums and mouth are checked by a security guard. This is one way the shade infection is detected, by the blackening of the gums and mouth. There’s a truck depot here, belonging to other ferrymen like Val. Not all are good, in fact most probably aren’t. In this cramped space we’ll see all walks of life, and society as it coped with the blacking out of the sun over the last decade."

For more details on Nocternal's Kickstarter campaign, visit their site HERE.