In the all-ages book Spera, the idea of "epic fairy tale" inspired the book's creator to incorporate the illustrations of artists from around the world.
Spera Volume 1 is the first in a new series of fantasy graphic novels from Archaia that comes out later this month. The concept for the books evolved from a series of webcomics and self-published books by Josh Tierney, but they're being completely redone for the new 176-page hardcover and future releases.
"It's a narrative anthology, with different artists, because it's an epic fairy tale," Tierney told Newsarama. "I think an epic fairy tale is different from a fantasy, because the focus isn't on world-building. It's more on just telling the story. With fairy tales, they're told so many times by so many different people that there are all these different viewpoints and ways of telling these stories. And with Spera, I wanted the reader to visualize that, to see it in a tangible fashion, by having different artists doing the same story through different eyes."
The book is the first volume of what is expected to be a series of graphic novels from Tierney, all featuring work by artists from around the globe. Every 20 pages of Spera Volume 1 has a new artist drawing the story. "The artist on the first 20 pages is Kyla Vanderklugt, the second artist is Emily Carroll, and then the third artist is Hwei, who's a Malaysian artist," Tierney said. "Then there's Olivier Pichard, who's a French artist.
"So if people are reading this book, they're seeing the same story, but through the eyes of many different people. And I feel that carries on the oral tradition of epic poems and fairy tales, where different people tell the same story differently," Tierney said.
The original graphic novel also features the artwork of Afu Chan, a Chinese artist who designed all the characters for Spera and is doing the covers for all the books.
Spera tells the story of two princesses from warring kingdoms who end up uniting. "Princess Pira's mother is attacking Princess Lono's father. But both of them are against the war, so they decide to flee together to a land called Spera," Tierney explained.
Traveling with the two princesses is a Fire Spirit named Yonder, who can turn into a human. "He's Pira's life-long companion," the writer said. "Their relationship is fairly mysterious."
The two princesses not only come from different kingdoms, but have very different personalities. "Princess Pira is a bit of a tomboy," Tierney said. "She loves seeking out adventure. She loves attacking strange creatures. So for her, rescuing Lono is just another big adventure that she wants to go on, but she's still really good friends with Lono.
"Princess Lono is more of a shy, bookish type," the writer said. "But she's very intelligent because she reads so many books. And she's also a big fan of poetry. So when she's feeling down, she tries to find the poetry in a situation.
"Their personality types go well together because Lono's there to support Pira emotionally, and Pira's there to support Lono physically by fending off monsters and so-on," he added.
For Tierney, who is also editing the anthology, the hope is that future volumes of Spera can showcase the work of more artists, while also attracting not only fans of fantasy, but teenagers too.
"It ended up being an all-ages book, and I think it makes a great book for anyone, really," he said. "I originally wrote it for adults, but I guess my style just kind of skews young. I think Archaia is marketing it toward teens, so that would be the middle ground. But it's really for anybody."
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