Shutter: A Fantastical Comic “Ultimately About Family”

urban fantasy, image comics, women in comics
Cover to Shutter #1 by Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca.

“An Indiana Jones for the 21st Century” is how Image Comics is unveiling Shutter, a wonderful urban fantasy comic from the writer/artist team of Joe Keatinge (also the creator) and Leila del Duca.

That’s not doing it enough justice. Shutter is a wonderful mix of the extraordinary in the everyday, a woman who sees things through a third lens, and a father/daughter relationship that isn’t finished, despite the presence of a grave.

The basic plot is that Kate Kristopher, once a famous explorer of this fantastic Earth, has retired to protect a family secret—until an attack pulls her right back into an adventure. That barely begins to tell of how immersive this world, created by Keatinge and drawn by del Duca, can be.

image comics, urban fantasy comics, women in comics
Artwork from Shutter #1, published by Image Comics.

Last week, I had the chance to interview del Duca about what she enjoys drawing the most, what’s next in the series, and who she’d love to work with in the far future, when Shutter is done. Because right now, she’s loving this story. (And it shows on the page.)

GeekMom: What’s Shutter about to you?

Leila del Duca: Shutter is about a world-renowned explorer, Kate Kristopher, who left the lifestyle 10 years ago and gets dragged back into the adventures she’s tried so hard to escape. When people ask for more details, I usually say it’s ultimately about family… how we adopt people into our lives and how we deal with blood relatives we don’t want.

GM: What was your favorite sequence to draw in the first issue?

LdD: The opening scene on the Moon! I love inking space and people floating around. I also like that there are no ups or downs in space, so doing the double-page spread with the Moon at the top of the frame and the Earth towards the bottom was a trip.

However, the quiet pages with Kate at her dad’s grave were also some of my favorites. But really, I was 100 percent psyched to draw every page.

GM: What’s your favorite upcoming sequence?

LdD: Like I can tell you! Wink, wink… Without spoiling everything, Issue #5 has a heart-wrenching, visually intriguing action sequence that I adored drawing. However, every issue has been so damn fun that it’s hard to settle on just one.

GM: What challenges you the most about this story?

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LdD: Drawing a lot of diverse imagery that I’ve never drawn before. I have to heavily reference a fair amount of things, and sometimes having to look at a lot of reference pictures is distracting and makes it hard to focus. Yet, as soon as I draw the new material for a couple of pages, I don’t have to rely on photos and it feels more natural and smooth.

GM: Any hints on where the story will go from here? Will we find out why Kate is so burned out at a young age or what happened to her father?

LdD: We definitely find out what happens to her dad and why she’s no longer an active explorer. We also learn more about the mysteries surrounding her family. There’s so much content that we want to address, and whenever there are questions answered, more questions arise for our characters.

GM: What’s the creative process between you and Joe Keatinge? How much input do you have on the overall look?

LdD: Joe often asks for creative input and validation, but mostly he sends me these fantastic scripts that make me giggle out loud with excitement. He includes the perfect amount of information in a script, so I know what is essential on any given page.

After that, he leaves every other design choice up to me and I end up having a lot of freedom to add whatever I want to the story and to use whatever page layout design I want to. There’s a fair amount of back and forth, but it’s usually like, “Holy f***ing crap, that’s amazing!” or “98fdaadjf8vnadh!!! SO COOL….I don’t even know what to say.”

So yeah, I have a perfect amount of input on the overall look.

GM: What’s next for you?

LdD: I hope Shutter takes up years of my life, because it’s so fulfilling and I can’t imagine wanting to do any other projects in the near future. Eventually, it will end, whether or not it’s the natural ending to the story—or if people stop reading it. Either way, I have no clue what’ll happen after that.

I do want to mention that I’m still in the middle of drawing a teenage superhero comic, with writer Erik Taylor, that’s been a fun ride all on it’s own. Keep an eye out later this year when it gets published by Action Lab.

GM: Any dream projects? Any dream creators to work with?

LdD: Dream projects would be working on creator-owned comics for a nice long time, but I wouldn’t want to pass up a chance to draw Hellboy or Star Wars. Dream creators include Sean Murphy, Mike Mignola, Mark Schultz, Brandon Graham, Brian K. Vaughan, and Grant Morrison.

Shutter is available for purchase at the Image website, Comixology, and your local comic shop.

Writer, Mom, Geek and Superhero. though usually not all four on the same day. Author of the award-winning Phoenix Institute Superhero series and the steampunk novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract.