Artist Jeremy Dale may be best known for his work on Hasbro’s G.I. Joe series and the Harvey Award-winning Popgun. But his new series, Skyward will be turning heads soon. We recently talked with Dale about his creator-owned series, his influences and why the end of the world isn’t really the end of the world.
Nerdy With Children: Hi Jeremy Dale, creator of Skyward.
Jeremy Dale: Hi, Internet and the world out there that doesn’t know me yet. I brought cookies.
NWC: Delicious! So let’s get right to it. Skyward is about a boy named Quinn and the world of adventure he is thrust into, right?
Dale: That’s all there is to it, yeah. [Laughs.] Skyward is my new creator-owned series, published by Action Lab starting in July. It’s an action-adventure about a young boy and his dog, orphaned by events out of his control. He meets with a group of other lost people to face off against the impending invasion of the Brother Kings.
NWC: What do you hope to achieve with this series?
Dale: To tell great stories. Of course I should say that first. Two, I want Skyward to be one I work on for a while. I’m finishing pages from issue six now, and the plot runs much further from here. I’m completely entranced by where these characters are taking me. We hear a lot of complaints about how things are done in this industry, to the point where it’s just noise now. Someone wrote somewhere, I don’t remember where, “Stop complaining and start creating the comics you want to read.” They’re totally right. Skyward is me telling the types of stories I want to read.
NWC: What inspires the series?
Dale: A few years back, I was growing weary of working on a lot of the licensed comics I’d been doing for some time, as well as getting pitches for new projects that all ended up as zombie apocalypse this-or-that, or “After the nuclear holocaust had swept humanity to the edges of extinction” and so on.
I wanted to do my own story again, and focus in on the type of comics I love. Being a huge fan of Bone, Tellos and many of the Crossgen books — Fantasy was the obvious choice. Add in the films of Studio Ghibli, video games like Legend of Zelda and Secret of Mana. I knew that’s the kind of book I was dying to do, an approachable, light, action-fantasy. Boom, Skyward was born.
NWC: It does have a sort of classic fantasy feel similar to a lot of those games and comics. Why do you think there are so many apocalyptic series these days?
Dale: Some of it seems to be the lingering remains of a cultural shame that we fans have, — I think — that comics aren’t taken seriously, and to do anything other than “mature readers” material just pushes us back. I disagree there. I think some of the finest moments comics have given us involved exciting, action-oriented entertainment. We often forget comics are not only a storytelling medium or an art form, [they’re] also entertainment. Entertain me!
Sometimes I want high drama, but sometimes? Sometimes just keeping it fun will put a smile on our faces. Gee, I wonder why the highest-grossing films are action movies. They’re not always the best of the best, but they kept us in our seats. Same is true in comics, too.
NWC: Do you think that there are any good all-ages mainstream comics out right now, though not necessarily ones made specifically for younger readers?
Dale: Oh, absolutely. In my mind there’s probably never been a better time to be reading comics. The diversity alone in content is thrilling. Then take into account that not only do we have this great plethora of material to choose from, a ton of it is being done extremely well! If you can’t find something that interests you — that you love — in comics? Maybe you’re not looking with your eyes open. This is an exciting time for comics. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
NWC: What are some specific titles that come to mind?
Dale: This could turn into quite the list. Herobear and the Kid is back, which is great news for anyone. Just about everything that Image is bringing out right now is top-notch, from Kirkman’s Invincible and Walking Dead to Skull Kickers to Saga and the Extreme reboots.
Marvel’s new line of Marvel NOW! books are great reads, from Nova, which I adore, to Hickman’s Avengers, Bendis’ All-New X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man.
DC? I’m really digging Snyder and Capullo’s Batman, Manapul’s Flash, and anything Gene Ha touches, really. Dark Horse Presents is stellar, as is much of the new Valiant stuff I’ve seen. Molly Danger from Jamal Igle, Princeless, and, as a guy, this is hard to admit, but every single My Little Pony series is great. Yeah, I said it.
NWC: What would you say to a parent to get them to check out Skyward if they haven’t bought comics for their children before?
Dale: First off, it’s not just for kids. Skyward is a book that you’ll get as much from as they do. It’s is a reminder of the wonder and adventure that childhood promised us, and only as adults we’ve lost touch with. This isn’t a book for kids. It’s a book that kids can read.
NWC: So it covers everyone …
Dale: Absolutely. Otherwise I’d have labeled it “a kids’ book.” I’ve had fan letters and emails from anywhere from the ages of 5 to 85 so far, and that’s exactly what I’m going for. The same way an adult can watch Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro and take away so much more than a child might. It awakens the imagination, and we could use more of that across the board, I think.
NWC: Wonderful! The book comes out in July. Right?
Dale: Yes, and I hope everyone will at least check it out, flip through the pages, see if it interests you. Oh, and the Free Comic Book Day issue is available to read for free online at CBR and also on COMIXOLOGY.