Ted Naifeh has explored many different genres in his comics work, from gothic horror in Courtney Crumrin to swashbuckling pirate adventure in Polly And The Pirates and swords & sorcery fantasy in Princess Ugg. For his new Oni Press series, Night’s Dominion, he tackles the most ubiquitous genre in American comics. But the cartoonist is putting his own spin on superheroes, telling the story of costumed crusaders in a medieval world.
“There’s this theory that superheroes are modern myths, so I was interested in seeing what I got if I took the modern out,” says Naifeh. “I wanted to tell a modern action adventure story in a mythic setting, to see how mythic it would become. And I wanted to explore the experience of the token female hero among a bunch of guys.” The Night is that token woman, a wanted thief who breaks her personal rule of working alone to join a crew planning a big heist.
Night’s Dominion is more mature than Naifeh’s aforementioned works, and his art is changing to adjust to the tonal shift. “I am trying to (temporarily) discard my typical cartoony approach, and see if I can get by without it,” says Naifeh. “It’s been nice to not worry about whether my main character looks cute. I want her harsh and formidable, like her world.”
This series also sees Naifeh taking on extra responsibility as colorist, and while it’s more work for him, having complete control over the visuals is ultimately liberating. “I’m not the greatest writer, or the greatest artist, or colorist, but I find something magical happens when I’m doing it all myself,” says Naifeh. “I can give myself permission to experiment wildly and make a mess. Comics can be a wonderful collaborative medium, but it is also perfect for a single, uncompromised voice, so long as I check in with other humans once in a while to get fresh eyes on it. In case I’ve gone off the deep end.”
Readers can learn more about the new superhero world when Night’s Dominion #1 hits stands on September 7, but in the meantime, they can feast on these preview pages from the first issue.