V.E. Schwab Talks Crossing Into Comics With Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince

V.E. Schwab Talks Crossing Into Comics With Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince
V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic series crosses into the realm of comics with a new prequel series that follows Maxim Maresh, The Steel Prince.

V.E. Schwab thought she’d left her Shades of Magic series behind with the conclusion of the trilogy in A Conjuring of Light. But she realized that there were still more stories to tell, even as she worked on the sequel to her first book Vicious. Her new trilogy, Threads of Power, will step into the future

V.E. Schwab thought she’d left her Shades of Magic series behind with the conclusion of the trilogy in A Conjuring of Light. But she realized that there were still more stories to tell, even as she worked on the sequel to her first book Vicious. Her new trilogy, Threads of Power, will step into the future of the inter-dimensional realms of Shades of Magic. Meanwhile, A Darker Shade of Magic movie is also in the works, but in the meantime, we can chew on a story from the past with a new comic series from Titan Comics as illustrator Andrea Olimpieri and colorist Enrica Angiolini bring Schwab’s writing to vivid life.

Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince takes place “in a gaslamp world where magicians navigate alternate Londons, the prince of Red London pursues a dark version of his beloved city – and faces worse than exile…”

Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince #1 (Titan Comics, October 2018)

Schwab spent a busy SDCC weekend debuting the comic to the world and signing copies of the ashcan that was made available following her panel. When the SDCC dust settled, Schwab took some time to chat with WWAC about the new series.

Your stories are very visually intense and, despite being in novel form, have always had a sense of artistic movement. In other words, the transition to sequential art storytelling seems like a fairly straightforward one. But writing for comics can be very different from writing a novel. Tell us a bit about your evolution as a writer shifting from books to comic books.

Why thank you! I’ve always had a pretty visual process. I envision my stories like movies, play them in my head until I know not only the staging, the dialogue, but also the palette, the score. I translate into written form and hope that a reader sees the same movie in their mind. But with comics, for the first time, I get to make sure they do. Of course, the craft is different, and it’s a continuous learning process, but I’ve really savored this new medium.

What was the collaborative process with your artist like? Were there moments where Olimpieri truly surprised you with images/panel layouts that went beyond what you had visualized from your scripts?

Honestly, it’s been amazing. Writing novels is a pretty solitary act in the drafting stage, but getting to work on Steel Prince meant having this incredible constant conversation with the editor and the artist, and being rewarded constantly by incredible visual interpretations of my work. Olimpieri is such a gifted artist, and while I loved seeing how he fulfilled my vision, I also adored the moments when I was able to hand him more creative control and savor his interpretation. His talent for perspective and dynamism blows my mind. I couldn’t be luckier to have him on Steel Prince.

What was it about Maxim Maresh that made you feel he should be your first Shades of Magic comic book protagonist? Are there other characters you’d like to explore in this format?

Maxim has a pretty bad rep for the majority of the Shades of Magic series. He’s fairly set in his ways, and he’s a solid antagonist for Kell, but in the third book, I got to hint at his life before becoming king, and I started to wonder, who was he when he was Rhy’s age, and Steel Prince was born. As for other stories, there are definitely other characters—and other Londons—I hope I get the chance to explore.

Vicious had very distinct comic connections. Do you have any plans to bring elements of the Villains series to this medium?

Ha! I wouldn’t rule it out 😉

What are the comic books that have shaped your love of the medium? What comics are you reading now?

While I grew up on classic Marvel and DC fare (Loki, X-Men, and Batman for me), and while my most influential works are probably Sandman, Eternals, and Watchmen, my more recent favorites are Monstress, Saga, Bitch Planet, and Wicked + the Divine.


Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince #1 will be available on October 10, 2018, featuring three sumptuous covers illustrated  by Claudia Ianniciello, Tomm Coker, and Andrea Olimpieri, as well as a novel-styled variant.

Wendy Browne
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