The old saying is that if something’s not broken, don’t fix it. Creative team Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl would be first to step forward and attest to that bit of wisdom. The two creators have always known they clicked, and that chemistry has helped them create the fantasy adventure Isola Volume 1 for Image Comics. Check out our exclusive interview with this dynamic duo, and see what they have to say about their new project that should appeal to many fans of Studio Ghibli and the work of Hayao Miyazaki!
Isola Volume 1 will be available October 16, 2018.
Vince Brusio: A comic that's been two decades in the making? A twenty-year long project? Sounds like a documentary that aching to get on Netflix. How did you maintain the passion for such a project? What kept the torch lit?
Brenden Fletcher: Karl and I have known each other since we were 10 years old and have been making up stories together ever since. We started getting serious about it while in university and began to assemble the pieces of a project we’d come to work on for nearly a decade thereafter. Sadly, life got in the way and we had to set it aside. Over the years, aspects of that original story have managed to seep into our other projects but there’s always been a sense that we’d started something way back then that we should come back to. Isola isn’t exactly that old project, but it’s certainly the product of all the work that went into it.
Karl Kerschl: The giant pitch bible for that old project, as well as several unpublished pages and designs, are gathering dust in my parents’ house (and on old ZIP disks). I still like a lot of it!
Vince Brusio: What sort of world do we see in Isola? We're being told that this is a fantasy adventure, but what makes it so?
Karl Kerschl: Isola is set in a world that’s similar to, but not exactly, our own. It’s suffered its own sort of apocalypse, but not in the form of a devastating war; rather, the human inhabitants are dealing with the backlash of nature and are under constant threat of eradication by creatures beyond their comprehension. There’s also a strong element of magic that puts us solidly in the realm of fantasy.
Vince Brusio: If we were given the liberty of a "before" and "after" glimpse of this world, what would we see that would appeal to fans of Studio Ghibli and the work of Hayao Miyazaki?
Karl Kerschl: I think what makes this very Miyazaki-inspired, and something we love about his work, is that the environment, the natural world, is a constant presence, almost like an entity unto itself. There’s a feeling that the world is bigger and older and wiser than any of the characters who are passing through it. They disrespect it at their own peril.
Brenden Fletcher: Karl and our colorist, MSassyK’s lush environments and detailed visual worldbuilding are immediately reminiscent of the way Miyazaki crafts his own immersive realities. A few panels in and you feel like you’re there with our lead characters, Rook and Olwyn. The locations seem like places you could visit. Despite the world of Isola being one of fantastical creatures and magical spells, there’s a familiarity to the way it all feels.
Vince Brusio: So the guts of this story involves one of the book's main characters, a high-ranking military officer, leaving her city with her nation's queen because of an "evil spell." So this spell: is it green creeping death mist that slithers through the streets taking the lives of first born sons? What's the nature of this threat, and who wields it?
Brenden Fletcher: Well, we can’t give away all our secrets this soon, Vince! But what we can tell you is that the Queen of Maar is suffering under some kind of spell that’s turned her into a giant cat. The origins of the spell are hinted at in the Isola: Prologue short story that originally ran through Motor Crush issues 1-5 and can now be read in its entirety on www.isola.ca.
Vince Brusio: Salvation is said to lie in the land of the dead. That's kind of poetic. And depressing. Hope lies in death? Unless your characters are suffering from psychosis or have a premature death wish, why exactly are they heading headlong into oblivion which, to the layman, seems far from being constructive?
Brenden Fletcher: It all ties back to sins of the past, to Olwyn and Rook’s need to make things right within their world and between one another.
Karl Kerschl: Yeah, it’s hard to make peace with someone who’s dead…unless you know where to find them.
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.