DC Ink, the venerable DC Comics' blossoming YA division, is setting ambitious goals in 2019 by launching a series of five original graphic novels targeting a handful of their most appealing characters. The youth-aimed imprint is devoted to telling standalone, out-of-continuity stories showcasing DC's ample roster of superheroes and penned by some of the finest writers working in Young Adult fiction today.
The debut release arriving Tuesday, April 2, is Mera: Tidebreaker, a 192-page adventure written by New York Times bestselling author Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die), then accompanied by striking art from Stephen Byrne (Wonder Twins, Green Arrow). SYFY WIRE has an exclusive 14-page peek inside, alongside a chat with its dynamic artist. So let's dive in!
The storyline finds the precocious Princess Mera as teenage royalty and heir to the throne of Xebel, a ruthless penal colony ruled by that other legendary land under the ocean, Atlantis. Her noble father, his court, and the entire kingdom are anticipating a marriage and introduction of a new king. But Mera has other plans and is destined to wear a different crown.
After the Xebellian military attempts to overthrow Atlantis and break free of its restrictive government, Mera seizes the opportunity to finally take control of her own fate by assassinating a young Arthur Curry, the handsome, long-lost prince and heir to the entire kingdom of Atlantis. But her passionate mission unravels when Mera and Arthur suddenly fall deeply in love.
Will Arthur be the charismatic king sitting by Mera's side, or will he perish under her gleaming blade as she desperately tries to free her people from persecution?
This absorbing and beautifully rendered graphic novel explores the notions of identity, duty, love, heroism, and freedom, all viewed through the eyes of undersea royalty as Mera takes her first steps onto dry land and directly toward her destiny.
SYFY WIRE chatted with Stephen Byrne on his reimagining of the fantastic undersea world of Mera and her top-secret mission to protect her kingdom, the style and tone he wished to capture, and his close collaboration with Paige and the title's colorist, David Calderon.
How did you first get involved in this Aquaman odyssey?
Stephen Byrne: I had seen the announcement for the DC Ink and DC Zoom imprints online and thought they looked like a really exciting new venture in comics. I thought my art could be a good fit for this new line. Fortunately I got an email from DC relatively soon after asking me if I was interested in being involved in Mera. I sent them some early concepts of how I would approach the book. I think they really responded to the concept art, and the rest is history.
What part of this engaging origin story project were you most excited about?
SB: I was really excited to be working on a comic that is likely to reach a whole new audience that have not experienced comics before. The idea that Mera could be a gateway to the wide world of comic books for younger readers is super exciting. I was around 12 years old when I started getting into comics for the first time!
Can you describe your process for crafting the art and what vision you were going for?
SB: I think I wanted to make sure that the design and storytelling was simple and accessible for anyone who hadn’t picked up a comic or graphic novel before. I wanted to create a version of Mera that was less regal than the one we know, with more of a rebellious teenage spirit. The color work by David Calderon is the aspect of the art that has me the most excited. We worked together to define this look in the early stages, and then David made it even prettier than I could have imagined. It has a beautiful watercolor-esque quality to it that complements the themes and setting of the book, and it doesn’t look like any other comic I’ve ever seen.
What was the collaboration with writer Danielle Paige like?
SB: Danielle is a perfect collaborative partner. She created a beautiful story with so much characterization on the page. It was easy to bring the characters to life in the artwork. I think she has an intimate understanding of young adult audiences and has written a story that is powerfully entertaining and inspiring. She was also great at helping out with costumes and fashions throughout the book. I hope longtime fans get to see a fresh take on one of their favorite characters, and I hope new fans decide to try out more comics and graphic novels after finishing their journey with Mera.
Swim into our exclusive look into Mera: Tidebreaker in the full gallery below, fortified with 11 pages of interior artwork and three character sketches, then tell us if you'll help christen DC Ink's refreshing lineup of graphic novels hitting our shores this year.