Hi, my name is Jorge Corona, writer and artist for Archaia/BOOM!’s new book Feathers. Most of my work has been as an illustrator for books like Justice League Beyond and Teen Titans GO! for DC Comics as well as co-creator/illustrator for Image’s series Goners. Feathers is the first time I take the role of writer for a project this big and it has definitely been a fun ride with its moments of minor panic attacks, but this was a story and a world I wanted to explore. Hopefully, people will fall in love with it as much as I have creating it.
The book is a dark fantasy fairy tale about a boy covered in black feathers named Poe, and how his adventure with the first friend he has ever made brings him out of his shell, as well as shine some light on his mysterious origin. The world of Poe is one divided, both physically and socially. Bianca, a girl from the upper class that lives within the walls of the City, escapes to the Maze, the endless slums that surround it. There she meets Poe and together they set off on a journey to explore a world beyond their own, discovering that there was more out there than they could even imagine, and that dangers are closer than they thought.
The big thing to start this story was to introduce the reader into the world of Feathers, so I thought it would be good to take a look at the first six pages that, even though they serve as a prologue and our main characters barely make an appearance, set the whole story in motion as well as give an idea of the inner works of the Maze. So let’s begin!
For this sequence, Gabriel was going to be our main focus. He is the man that finds Poe as a baby, becoming his adoptive father for the rest of our story. He lives out on the streets and alleys of the Maze. In spite of this harsh surrounding, Gabriel has managed to survive and retain a bit of compassion that is rare to find in a place like this.
It was important here to show how the buildings and architecture of the Maze created a claustrophobic environment that almost swallowed its denizens. It is in a dark corner of these streets that Gabriel finds Poe abandoned. Without time to think, Gabriel is surprised by the sudden appearance of the Mice, another group of characters that will play a big role later in Poe’s adventures.
Gabriel’s first reaction to Poe’s appearance is fear, not only because of the way the boy looks but also because Gabriel knows how terrible the future can be for someone in the Maze who’s different. There’s a past life hinted here for Gabriel, but it may take a while before it’s fully revealed.
While the first half of the prologue worked toward showing Poe and the elements that will closely shape his life, this second part started with those who dwell in the shadows of the Maze and whose stories will run side by side with our main characters, ultimately coming together later on.
When the story later moves into the City, I wanted to make sure that differences were made between the two places, and one of the main points I wanted to hit was that life was always changing in the Maze while the City remained still, never growing. The Mice are a group of street kids that band together to survive the Maze—a sort of Lost Boys for this world—and they represent exactly that renewal of life in the Maze.
The other big figure here is the Scarlet Scarf, a man with no name. His role is much darker in the story and his connection with Poe will remain a mystery, but the seed of his interest in the feathered boy is planted here as he discovers the feathers in the Mice’s hands
For closure we go back to Gabriel and Poe. This is the moment where the old man makes the decision that will change his life. It was a moment to show that even the kindest person here would still hesitate; Life is hard in the Maze and surviving takes a toll on everyone’s soul. It is Gabriel’s compassion that ultimately leads him to protect and raise the boy. He knows it won’t be easy but he has made up his mind. Regardless of anything that his fears and past make him do, this is Gabriel’s true heart and soul, something that will grow also into Poe’s character.
That last panel was a fun one to do. I really wanted to capture that sensation of the characters—and the reader—embarking into a new life and a new world. The Maze is a place of secrets and Gabriel just found one that, for now, was his alone to keep and protect.
After these first pages the plot fast forwards 11 years to where the rest of the story takes place.
For Feathers I wanted to keep a feel of classic fairy tale structure and introduce the world with a narrative overlook, and this was actually one of the beats that took the most rewriting. Originally, the whole book was going to have a narrator’s voice carrying the story, but after the first couple of drafts, that idea was quickly tossed away. However, that left the prologue a bit dry. It wasn’t until one of the last drafts that we used the idea of the dialogue between the two mysterious characters, but once we did, we knew we found our missing voice. There is a mythos behind the Maze and the City, something that tracks back to its origin and these two unseen figures play major parts in it; it felt right for the story to start with them.
There is a lot of teasing and hinting in this first issue of Feathers but there is hopefully enough world-building for the reader to believe this universe. I also want to take a chance and give credit to Jen Hickman, who did the colors for the book. Not only did she make it look a million times better, she also brought a cohesiveness to the settings and characters that helped set the mood perfectly for the story. Deron Bennett also did fantastic work giving personality to the dialogue and the lettering of the book. And none of it would have been possible without Rebecca Taylor and Mary Gumport, who have been wonderful editors to work with.
From here on, the adventure is just starting and, with issue two we really see the friendship between Poe and Bianca taking shape as the two kids begin learning about each other while exploring the streets of the Maze, realizing that in spite of coming from different worlds, they have more in common than they thought.