By Christine Caprilozzi
Aly Fell Previews Upcoming ‘The Shadow Glass’
The upcoming gothic tale of The Shadow Glass by Aly Fell is described as an Elizabethan occult miniseries. The story centers around a young student of England’s greatest occultist learning her real father is in league with the devil. We recently caught up with Aly to discuss the book which comes out on March 23rd.
Horror News Network: So Aly, I’ve been privileged enough to get a sneak peek at the first couple issues of Shadow Glass, your upcoming series from Dark Horse. What was the inspiration to create an Elizabethan witchcraft/demonology series?
Aly Fell: Hello Christine! I’d been reading a lot about John Dee, Elizabeth the First’s court astrologer and scientist. Bizarrely there isn’t a contradiction. The 16th century was a time when all possibilities were being explored and the lines between science and superstition were very blurred. Dee was at the forefront of ‘the new learning’. He coined the phrase ‘British Empire’, was a mathematician, astronomer had the largest collection of books in Britain, and yes, he also attempted to contact demons and angels.
One of the objects he used as a medium to do so was an Aztec obsidian mirror. I paid a visit to see it at the British Museum, where it’s exhibited. It’s fascinating and I learned of others, similar to Dee’s, one in New York. However, to be frank I’ve always loved the 16th century, from costume, to culture and its position as a turning point in history, so the story grew organically from there. The period also has the benefit of being far enough away in time to allow for things to fall between the cracks, (quite Lovecraftian that!) but recent enough to permit research in great detail.
But I didn’t want this to be a story about John Dee; it’s not a history lesson. Research is the background – the ‘stage’. It’s a fantasy first. The historical figures in the story are supporting roles to the central characters, and around their reality you can build a fiction.
Horror News Network: There seems to be a cautionary tale or sorts about being careful when dealing with and summoning spirits. Is that something that you were mindful of or think about?
Aly Fell: Perhaps there is a cautionary tale, but it’s not simply to do with summoning spirits. Shall we just say it concerns desire and how getting what you want isn’t necessarily what you need. However, I don’t want to preach. Cautionary tales can be quite pious, and suggest more about the attitudes of the author. I suppose any cautionary ideas that exist in The Shadow Glass are there because they’re integral to the story rather than shoehorned in.
Horror News Network: Rosalind is a very strong female character from the get go. Do you feel you almost had to make her strong considering the time period Shadow Glass takes place in?
Aly Fell: No. I tried not to contrive Rosalind’s character too much, or particularly constrain her because of the period she exists in. However, I did want her to be a ‘tomboy’ from the start. In reality, to dress and behave in the fashion she does in the story would have been difficult, due to some of the strange laws that existed at the time – sumptuary laws – that dictated types of clothes you were allowed to wear including quality of cloth and colour based on your societal position. If history dictates your story too much you might as well write a factual book. It’s already a fantasy, so it’s about knowing how far to go with the liberties you take.
I’m wary of creating strong characters for the sake of it. Rosalind at times is capable yet impetuous. She makes mistakes, like we all do, yet is both independent and vulnerable. Her ultimate objective makes her reckless in a very single minded way, as one obsession gets supplanted with another. But you’ll have to read it to find out how…
Horror News Network: Your artwork on your site is pretty versatile. Even in Shadow Glass #2 there is some very dark imagery and the tones that are used complement the story very well. How do you go about setting the scene in your mind before you start the artwork?
Aly Fell: Thank you. You’re right; there is often a slightly darker element to my pin-up artwork. I can’t help that, it’s me, so it will translate into The Shadow Glass. But I like my characters to exist in their own world; we’re a guest, even if they bother to notice us at all. Pin-up in general breaks the fourth wall, as invariably the subject is making eye contact with you. That’s the invitation. But if there’s an element of threat, or maybe ambiguity in that invitation then there’s also subversion. I just like it to be on the subject’s terms, not us, the viewer.
Horror News Network: For The Shadow Glass you are both writer and artist, you pretty much are able to control the entire process. Tell us what comes first for you, the idea or visual concept?
Aly Fell: Well in this case it was the idea, the story. Drawing came later, and although I had drawn a few early versions of Rosalind, she hadn’t yet found her role. I started a rough draft – just a couple of pages – of what the basic story was going to be. Then, without any real logical thought, because at the time I was doing this purely for myself, I started a loose digital page-by-page layout that I suddenly realized was over a hundred pages! In the end 168! It was a section of this, crudely drawn as it was, that interested Dark Horse, and my wonderful editor, Scott Allie. This is my first full length comic book, so it has been a fast learning curve, a curve Scott has helped me move along with complete understanding and great advice!
Horror News Network: In three words describe why comic fans should pick up Shadow Glass?
Aly Fell: Three words? Hmm… tricky… Buy it because it’s an “authentic occult adventure!” How’s that?
Horror News Network: Awesome! Thanks so much Aly. All the best with The Shadow Glass.
The Shadow Glass is available for preorder now until February 29th. You can check out more of Aly’s artwork here: http://www.darkrising.co.uk/