One of the most wondrous and deliciously dreamy comics being published right now is Shade, the Changing Girl from DC Comics’ Young Animal imprint. It’s written by young adult novelist Cecil Castellucci and drawn by Marley Zarcone. The first story arc has recently been collected on trade paperback, with the second arc coming close to a close in the single issues.
Shade is about Loma, a centuries-old bird alien who lives in the world of Meta. Inspired by writings of Rac Shade, she steals the powerful Madness Vest from a museum and travels to Earth, where she inhabits a teenage girl in a coma. When she awakens, she must learn how to embrace being human, while also inheriting the drama of Megan Boyer, who, Loma quickly comes to learn, led a tumultuous life of bullying her high school friends and family. Loma couldn’t have picked a worse Earth girl to inhabit, but she still has a zest for life and discovery. Even though she’s galaxies away from home, the problems of Metan are not that far off of a Human.
Megan inflicted pain among many, but it’s Loma that’s the victim, though she doesn’t play the prisoner. She’s unpredictable and armed with the Madness Vest; Loma makes life strange for Megan’s circle of “friends,” but she doesn’t understand the dangers in using it. Meanwhile she’s left a trail of danger for the people she left behind in Meta.
Shade, the Changing Girl is a science fiction road fantasy full of wild and odd visuals and unexpected turns; it explores themes of a living, and not being limited by the barriers placed in front of you. Also, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. That goes for the narrative too, because what starts out as a coming-of-age story morphs into a road trip tale. Who knows what the future holds for future arcs, but I’m confident the inventive creative team of Castellucci, Zarcone, and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick will make it worth the trip.
I was lucky to have a fascinating conversation with Castellucci and Zarcone at Comic-Con about several things, including the physiology of humans and birds, physicists, dark matter, and how these things help influence and help build the foundation for Shade as a comic.
Zarcone's design and visual challenge of the madness vest from page to page is also something we touch on, along with comparing the evolution of the narrative, arc to arc like that of a rock band traversing album to album. And while she couldn’t divulge much about the upcoming Young Animal crossover and how Shade fits within the DCU, it’s clear Castellucci has got it all figured out.
Check out the interview below and let us know if you’re reading Shade, the Changing Girl or if you're open to trying it out.