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Indie Comics Spotlight: Seven Secrets looks like an amazing shonen manga — and that's on purpose
Seven Secrets (Boom!) feels like one of those fantastic shonen novels that you find hidden away on the top shelf of the manga section at the back of a comic book shop. Award-winning writer Tom Taylor (The Deep, DCeased), artist Daniele Di Nicuolo (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers), along with colorist team Walter Baiamonte and Katia Ranalli created an amazing comic that already feels like a thrilling, blockbuster action movie.
In Seven Secrets’ universe, magic and mayhem exist. There are seven words that are so powerful they can create absolute chaos. An ancient order is tasked with their protection and complete secrecy and each secret is kept in one of seven briefcases, each of which is are under constant guard by a Keeper and a Holder, a pair of highly trained security operatives. Every Keeper and Holder has their own specialty, and they devote their lives to the concealment of their assigned secret. But, tragedy strikes when the order itself is attacked. And, when one of the cases is stolen, it’s clear that another order has made their move — and that they had help from the inside.
The first issue follows Eva and Sigurd, a Keeper and Holder, respectively, who are at the center of the attack and must separate to protect their case. We also meet Caspar, their son who narrates the story. In the upcoming issues we will learn more about Caspar’s training by the order, his mysterious teacher Canto and how his destiny and the future of the Order are entwined.
Di Nicuolo commands light and movement like an award-winning cinematographer, aided by, Baiamonte and Ranalli‘s bright, bold colors and saturated palette. The art, which has clear manga influences, is so powerful that, even unlettered, you can tell it’s one hell of a story.
SYFY WIRE spoke with Di Nicuolo, who lives in his hometown of Milan in Italy to discuss his influences, his favorite anime character, comic book action, and the secrets of creating a secret order.
Your artwork is stunning, the action and emotion that you manage to push through the page is incredible. Who or what were your influences?
I grew up reading tons of manga and watching a lot of anime, and they've always been the foundation of my style and the way to illustrate comics, and trying to merge that influence with European and American storytelling is a great challenge.
One Piece and Cowboy Bebop had a heavy influence on my approach to my work. I know that may sound really peculiar and strange as references, but let me explain: Eichiro Oda is a genius when it comes to creating crazy characters with incredible unique shapes, designs, and silhouettes, and he's a master at conveying emotions and great action. Cowboy Bebop has an intense, moody, and more serious vibe, with those scenes so powerful yet so calm and sad. There's no surprise then in understanding how I finally merged those two styles in this book, 'cause Tom gave me the perfect recipe where I could use my favorite ingredients.
You’re a true fan! Who is your favorite Cowboy Bebop character?
Spike Spiegel always amazed me as a character, 'cause I truly love sarcastic, smug, and lazy looking protagonists who have a hard past but hide their emotion behind a wall of humor and indolence, acting like they don't care but with the heart in the right place.
Which do you prefer? Cross-panel action or full-page action?
I LOVE action panels 'cause it's where we can speed up the action like hell, bouncing from panel to panel with the characters and their crazy moves!
Canto has a fabulous design. Is that the harlequin image a mask or makeup?
Ah! I love how simple yet effective their design is. That's definitely a Venetian mask, and what I like about that is that their expression never changes, and it's pretty creepy sometimes. The challenge here is making them act just with their body, and that's when what I learned [from working on] Power Rangers came into play.
The order feels very diverse and inclusive, but not forced. A feat that other writers and artists seem to struggle with, what’s your secret?
You know what? I have no idea. I mean, Tom gave me the nationality of Keepers and Holders, but in the second issue (where we see all the students of the Order) I just went for a natural "school" where you can see people coming from all over the world, doing their own stuff: I think that, when it comes to inclusiveness and diversity, you just have to treat it like a normal thing, 'cause It's a normal thing, right? Also, Tom is very sensitive to this theme (his work with a multicultural family on The Deep is a clear example) so it's been just a common and natural way to see and treat this theme for both of us.
What are you most excited about with this project?
I'm in love with all the cast created by Tom and I'm super excited to see where the adventure will lead them, even if I already know all their secrets. Or at least I think so, considering that Tom often pops out with some new surprises that I didn't even know!
If Seven Secrets gets adapted to live-action, who would you want to play Caspar?
Well, that's a very hard question... I still have to think about it, honestly. But I do know that Halle Berry would be a perfect Eva.