Are the Crystal Gems
We’ll always save the day
And if you think we can’t, we’ll
Always find a way
That’s why the people
Of this world
Cartoon Network’s hit charmer Steven Universe, which was recently renewed for a second season, joins Adventure Time, Regular Show and the other KaBOOM! Cartoon Network comics in a new series whose first issue comes out Aug.6. We talked with writer Jeremy Sorsese and artist Coleman Engle about bringing Steven and the Crystal Gems to comics, along with an exclusive look at the first issue!
Newsarama: Jeremy, Coleman – tell us how you came on board this book.
Coleman Engle: BOOM! Studios and I have been working together for a couple years, be it covers or short back-ups in other comics. When I heard they had the Steven Universe rights, I submitted a few test pages, and heard back within a few months.
Jeremy Sorese: I have nearly the same story, our editor Whitney Leopard was an old classmate of ours, and when she started working at BOOM, she started to hire us for work, and that was two years ago. When the Steven comic was first pitched, Coleman and I were approached, and that was that.
Nrama: Give us the hard sell!
Engle: Steven Universe is about a young, gregarious, and energetic magical boy in the care of three powerful warriors, all sworn to protect a sleepy beach town!
Nrama: Jeremy, what do Steven and the Gems get up to in your first storyline?
Sorese: Steven and the Gems find themselves in a tropical temple fighting an amorphous rainbow-colored smoke monster that Pearl gets accidentally stuck to.
Nrama: And what does Coleman bring to the book?
Sorese: Coleman brings a level of energy that is really exciting to both read (and) also write for. There's a pressure to write something as good as the Steven Universe show, and Coleman's drawings take my measly words and do an amazing job matching the excitement I feel over the show.
Our comic is its own entity in terms of style and charm, which is largely Coleman's doing.
Nrama: And Coleman, what’s great about working from Jeremy's scripts?
Engle: Jeremy and I have known each other for a while now, it's easy to hear his voice in the scripts. We draw inspiration from similar sources, and he gives me just enough information per page to really have fun with the acting and pacing.
His ideas are exciting and inspired, I'm very excited about where the comic is going!
Nrama: So guys – what, to you, is the fundamental appeal of Steven Universe the show?
Engle: The show is completely earnest and honest, and that totally oozes out of every aspect. From the writing to the designs, it's full of charm and nostalgia.
Sorese: And the show is really coming from an intense emotional place, a place that is unmatched in most television shows, cartoon or not. The arc of Steven and his non-traditional family unit working through the loss of Rose Quartz/ Steven's mother feels so brave for a show to tackle as its story and because of it, you can't help but fall in love with the world.
Getting a chance to work on it, on even a small scale, you just feel so connected to the show, but also the team. The show's tagline is “Believe in Steven,” and after a few episodes, you really, really do.
Nrama: Have you gotten to work with Rebecca Sugar or other people from the show on this?
Engle: This is the first time! I met her and Ian Jones-Quartey at San Diego this year, and they're both as nice as can be. I was starstruck meeting them.
Lamar Abrams, a writer and storyboarder for the show, and I used to post on the same drawing forums in high school, and I've been a fan for a while. It's amazingly fun to see his work in the show. When he writes and boards an episode, it's super energetic and cute!
Sorese: Really, the whole crew is nothing but sweethearts. It feels almost impossible to get that many cuties working on the same project.
Nrama: You have a favorite Crystal Gem, admit it. Name names!
Engle: I love drawing Garnet, her shapes and poses are fun. Pearl is the hardest Crystal Gem for me to draw because of her face. She has a lot of big features and I kinda get lost sometimes on where to place things, but I'm trying to get better!
Sorese: It’s all about Pearl for me. I relate to her the most emotionally and her motivations, compared to the other Gems, (are) the most “human.” No one wants to be the know-it-all who is just looking out for the best in people, even if that makes them a total drag, which is a lot of fun to write.
Nrama: And do you have any favorite residents of Beach City to write/draw?
Engle: Sour Cream is really fun to draw! Each time I get to draw him, I feel like he is just one step closer into transforming into Cloud Strife. Love the Pizza family, Sadie, and Greg as well.
Sorese: Greg, for sure. When I sit down to write, there's a fair amount of time spent on wiggling my brain into the proper position, trying to find the emotional comparison in my own life to help me write the Steven Universe characters. I found that emotional root with Greg more often than I do with the other Beach City residents.
Not saying that the other characters don't have that, but it's easy to see Greg in both of my parents, that strange divide as you get older and your parents are so proud of who and what you are, but also unable to grasp the fact that you are growing up.
Nrama:What are some other creators/books you're currently enjoying?
Engle: Eleanor Davis' new book How to Be Happy was incredible, as well as Bryan Lee O'Malley's Seconds. Anything Yves Chaland, Patrick Kyle, and Masakazu Katsura. I really liked Paul Pope's Battling Boy and can't wait for The Creepy Casefiles of Margo Maloo by Drew Weing to start updating again.
Sorese: (laughs) That’s essentially my list is well. Someone recommended the series A, A Prime by Moto Hagio to me, which I'm excited to read. I'm finishing up To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf and have nothing but the highest praise.
Nrama: What's next for you?
Engle: Just Steven Universe for now!
Sorese: I'm finishing up my first graphic novel, this 400-page sci-fi love story set to debut next fall. So if you need me this winter, I'll be in my bunker inking up a storm.
Nrama: Anything else you want to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Engle: If you're not readingLumberjanes...you should!
Steven Universeand the Crystal Gems hit comic shops from KaBOOM! on Aug. 6.