Focus on Shadow Service - Part Two

In the first of a two-part series for paid subscribers, I share the inspiration for Shadow Service's main character, an exclusive glimpse of the original proposal and a free pdf of issue 1!

Focus on Shadow Service - Part Two

Warning: While I try to keep spoilers to a minimum, these articles do contain details that made their way into Shadow Service. But don’t worry, three volumes of the comic are currently available from Vault. See the bottom of the email for an exclusive offer, plus paid subscribers also get exclusive doodles in anything bought from the store!

In the first part of this exclusive article for my paid subscribers, I shared how I ground to a halt when I had to pull together a pitch for what would eventually become Shadow Service. I had lots of ideas, scenarios and characters but nothing to tie them together.

As I said last month: “I shut off my computer and went for a walk, hitting shuffle on my iPhone as I closed my front door behind me.”

Music would provide the inspiration…

I walked and I walked, and eventually my Apple Music threw up a cover of Santana’s Black Magic Woman by VCTRY from the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina soundtrack…

It literally stopped me in my tracks.

All of a sudden, I saw a young woman in my head, wearing a denim jacket and ripped jeans. I’d recently watched Jessica Jones on Netflix and Krysten Ritter’s iconic character was definitely making a play here, although unlike Jessica, this figure was rising into the air, magical power streaming from her hands and eyes as she glared down at me in my mind’s eye.

The character fell into place, exactly what I needed. I put the track on repeat and hurried home, rushing to my keyboard the moment I was through the door.

Gina Meyer tumbled onto the pitch document almost full-formed, a young witch who had been scratching out an existence using her powers to help people as a private detective on London’s back streets.

Here’s how she is described in the pitch document:

Gina became the lynchpin I needed, a new recruit for MI666 who would be our introduction to their world, her hopes and needs becoming the engine for the story herself.

As for the rest of the proposal, well, perhaps you’d like to read it for yourself. But be warned, here lies spoilers for the series if you haven’t dived in yet.

As there was no art to show — as no artist had been attached to the project just yet — I prepared a ‘look book’ that would give them an idea of the kind of feel I was thinking about.

Shall I share that too? Oh, go on then!

The answer came back almost immediately. Adrian, editor-in-chief of Vault said, yes. He was already sold, but this had sealed the deal, and he had two suggestions:

  1. Could we come up with a different name so we didn’t have 666 emblazoned over the cover which might put off some retailers? I came up with Shadow Service in response although MI666 remained the organisation’s nickname in the comic itself.
  2. Would I consider Corin Howell as the artist?

Consider Corin? I was kicking myself that I didn’t think about her myself! We’d worked together before on Tales from Vader’s Castle and I knew she loved horror as much as I did.

A page from Tales from Vader’s Castle issue 3, my first time working with Corin

She was perfect as our first team call on the project proved. She immediately got the concept and threw herself into designs, the following character sketches arriving in a few days.

First up was Gina…

… and next came our spymaster Hex, who I described as having ‘sinister freckles’…

And we were off!

Today, there are 15 issues of Shadow Service out there, collected into three editions, Dark Arts, Mission: Infernal and Death to Spies.

And, as Corin and I announced at the Vault SDCC 2023 panel, Shadow Service is returning to complete the story in the future.

However, I realise that not all of you would have dipped your toe into MI666’s murky waters, so as a little introduction, thanks to my friends at Vault I’m able to share with you the full first issue of the series, available to read as part of your paid sub to the Cavletter. (There’s even a 25% discount offer at the end if you want to keep reading!)

Obviously, it would be great if you didn’t share this about - or any of the material I’ve included in this article. Consider it a perk of being a Cav-Star! And there’s plenty more to come!

Don’t forget to let me know which of my projects you’d like me to delve into next!