2018 is shaping up to be a phenomenal year for Boom! Studios' dark fantasy comics, first with Si Spurrier and Matias Bergara's Coda, and now with an upcoming series spotlighting an unexpected 19th-century heroine named Artemisia earning her fairy wings in the strange and savage territory of Victorian-era England.
In advance of its expanded reveal at this month's San Diego Comic-Con, Boom! has pulled back the curtain on one of its most anticipated titles of the fall, Sparrowhawk — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive look at the dark, intriguing series.
Sharply written by Star Wars: Phasma's Delilah S. Dawson (Ladycastle, Star Wars: Forces of Destiny) and paired with breathtaking art by Matias Basla (The Claw and Fang), Sparrowhawk is a bold, five-issue take on a familiar genre, with some truly startling illustrations to match its epic fantasy saga.
Set in London circa 1851, Sparrowhawk introduces the captivating character of Artemisia, the daughter of a proud naval captain. As a restless child of different worlds, she's never been comfortable in the posh lifestyle afforded her family's upper-crust position in society or mingling amid the British ultra-rich. After she's targeted by the mysterious Faerie Queen and yanked into another realm existing beside her normal reality, "Art" faces a series of deadly threats and must transform into a reluctant savior to try and save the world that has always alienated her.
Check out our exclusive sneak peek at the Sparrowhawk #1 covers, character designs, and unlettered interior art in the full gallery below as Dawson opens up to SYFY WIRE about on her involvement with this fantastic Victorian series, how her love of Alice in Wonderland and London's Crystal Palace helped form the narrative, and where readers can expect to roam when Sparrowhawk flies in October.
Can you tell us a bit about what inspired Sparrowhawk?
Back in 2011, I fell in love with Savage Beauty, which tells the story of Alexander McQueen's life and work, replete with gorgeous photos of his otherworldly designs. Since then, I'd wanted to write something inspired by those visuals, but the idea didn't come together until I read an article on Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed-race daughter of a Victorian British naval officer and an enslaved African woman named Maria Belle in the British West Indies. Which made me think about Alice in Wonderland, a childhood favorite: What if Wonderland was violent, twisted and dark, and what if the heroine wasn't the poster child for English correctness? Combine the two, and you get Sparrowhawk. Instead of dances and tea, Artemisia must fight her way back home —where she's never really fit in anyway.
Why did you choose the Victorian era for this particular story?
Along with my love of Alice in Wonderland, I've always been fascinated with the Crystal Palace, which was built in London to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. I love the idea of a beautiful, massive creation that was always meant to be ephemeral — and enjoyed by all echelons of society when the rich generally distanced themselves from the poor. The story goes that the Crystal Palace, which housed full-sized elm trees, was infested with sparrows, and when the queen asked the Duke of Wellington how to get rid of them without shooting out the glass walls, he suggested she import sparrowhawks — cunning raptors that would kill the sparrows. All this dovetails perfectly with the idea of a human girl dragged unwillingly into fairy who learns to kill to gain power she could never possess back home. It's a joy to create a character who would've been robbed of agency in a certain historical period and watch her rule.
What can readers expect in Sparrowhawk? Do you see potential of more stories in this world after this limited series?
Sparrowhawk is for anyone who loves Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Alice in Wonderland, or, yes, Fight Club — for anyone who's always wanted to find that portal to another, darker world where the rules allow new freedom. Artemisia's story delves into what it's like to be rejected for who you are and then use that pain to forge yourself into a being of your own creation. And I really love the supporting characters, including Crispin the Wolpertinger, the untrustworthy Giles to her Buffy, and the Beast of Dean, who's pretty much a giant, murderous version of Pumbaa from The Lion King. I would love to see this story go beyond this series — and since I'm the god of this world, I could totally make that happen.