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‘Spera Volume 2′ Interview with Josh Tierney

With Spera Volume 2 going on sale in several weeks in comic book shops (Feb. 27) and in bookstores (March 12), we wanted to give you some insight into the mind of the creator of the series, Josh Tierney. Learn all about the collaborative process that goes into Spera‘s creation, and who are some of the new characters to appear in this new volume!

As the writer and architect of Spera, what has been the best part about transitioning these adventures from the web to print? Were there any challenges?

JOSH TIERNEY: The best part about bringing Spera to print is being able to produce the longer main stories. I’m able to collaborate with artists for issue-length chapters, creating a more cohesive vision of the world. The online comics tend to be much shorter, a product of working with a vast assortment of artists, each with a different schedule.

The main technical challenge at the time of Vol. 2 was transitioning from a prose style to a more traditional scripting style with my writing. The original online collaboration, which became Vol. 1, was adapted from a novella I wrote, while with Vol. 2—knowing it would be a graphic novel from the beginning—I desired to work out panel breakdowns and character blocking myself.

The other challenge is deciding which of the online shorts to include in the second half of the book. I have to think in terms of necessary background information and flow, and this sometimes results in leaving out comics that are simply too long for the book, or don’t fit the overall tone.

In Spera, you work with multiple artists, each with a different style. Does your writing process change to match artist and story? In other words, do you come up with adventures for Lono and Pira and then find the artist best fit for that tale, or write a story with a certain artist in mind?

JT: This changes depending on the book, chapter, and short. With Vol. 1, I wrote everything in advance, before deciding to collaborate with artists for it, while with Vol. 2 I decided on the artists before writing any of the chapters. Each of the chapters in Vol. 2 was written with the respective artist in mind: Giannis Milonogiannis tends to work on plot-heavy works, so I deliberately wrote the first chapter to feel more loose and focus more on character interaction. Kyla Vanderklugt, who worked on Vol. 1, wanted to illustrate a chapter where Pira always has her sword at the ready and is often using it. With Afu Chan’s chapter I wanted to bring out some of the explosive action and intensity his personal work is known for, while adding moments of sweetness and tenderness. And with Timothy Weaver’s chapter I wanted to come up with moments of humor that only his expressive style can bring to life.

How do you feel the multiple artistic interpretations affect storytelling and continuity for readers?

JT: As a young child I wasn’t able to afford many comics, so I was never able to follow a series issue-by-issue; I was only able to pick up what I could. With the long-running mainstream series, this meant creative teams were even less consistent for me than they might’ve been for other readers. But even though the art styles kept changing, I was still able to recognize the characters and stories due to how they were written, and because of the iconic designs. Going from artist to artist became one of the things that excited me about comics—sometimes I didn’t like an artist on an issue, but that didn’t keep me from being excited about who might be coming next.

“With Spera, I hope to turn this experience into part of the series’ style, so that others can feel the same excitement of discovering new artists while following a continuing story.

Are there any new characters in the second volume you’re particularly excited for fans to see?

JT: Rale, introduced in the main story, might be the most badass character in Spera—or at least second to Chobo. Adel, introduced in the shorts, is a voice of reason with his own set of quirks, and his interactions with Pira and Lono emphasize just how strange their lives have become.

What can you tell us about Kotequog, the city Lono and Pira travel to in volume two?

JT: Kotequog is a great, big, bustling city filled with danger, adventurers and dangerous adventurers. One of the inspirations for Spera is classic RPGs, and with Kotequog the theme is “random encounters,” with drunkards, monsters, ghosts, mercenaries and bandits lurking around every corner and hiding in every building. In short, it is the city Pira has always dreamed of.

What aspects of this world and these characters keeps you coming back?

JT: The sense of discovery. Pira, Lono, Yonder, and Chobo are always discovering something new, whether it’s something about the land of Spera or something about themselves. It’s a great feeling to share with these characters, and to share with all the artists. I hope that readers will feel the same way.

Follow Josh Tierney on his Tumblr here.