Image Comics’ Island was an astonishing showcase of talent, and even though the anthology ended last year, it continues to provide new gifts. Johnnie Christmas’ Firebug with colorist Tamra Bonvillain and letterer Ariana Maher debuted its first chapter in 2016’s Island #7, introducing a rich fantasy world and engaging cast of characters begging for more attention. That attention finally arrives in March with the Firebug graphic novel, telling the complete story of Keegan, the daughter of a goddess who leads her people in a war against forest monsters and an evil cult.
As writer and artist, Christmas challenges himself with a concept requiring a lot of imagination and labor to create its mythology, cast, and comprehensive design elements. He navigates a tightly-packed plot with swiftness and a palpable sense of excitement, and his passion for the world of Firebug shines through on the page. This exclusive preview is from the middle section of the story, when Keegan has come to terms with her mystical power and her role as a champion for the frightened and downtrodden. The excerpt opens with two pages that show the current status of Keegan’s growing tribe, and they feature dramatic compositions and high-contrast coloring that reinforce the heightened circumstances these characters are in.
What follows is a scene of warmth and serenity as Keegan undergoes her ritual initiation as the new war goddess, and everything becomes softer in these pages. Bonvillain’s coloring settles into a warm palette, and Christmas’ panels gain looser borders that make them look like they’ve been gently laid on top of the page rather than put on a rigid grid. Bonvillain has a sharp eye for detail, and she’s one of the few colorists who colors the palms and feet of black characters with lighter shades because it’s a specific quality of dark skin that shouldn’t be ignored in artwork. Readers can venture deeper into the world of Firebug when it hits stands on March 7, and in the meanwhile, here’s a sample of the creative heat radiated by this team.