Sera and the Royal Stars already has fans lining up for the first issue even though it doesn’t hit stores until July. Vault Comics’ new series written by Jon Tsuei (Bitch Planet: Triple Feature, RunLoveKill) combines fantasy and sci-fi to create a brand new world filled with magic, mythology, and adventure. Audrey Mok (Betty & Veronica) on art and Raúl Angulo (Angel) on colors masterfully illustrate the tale in some of the most beautiful pages premiering in a comic this summer. Rounding out the team is letterer Jim Campbell (Firefly) and designer Tim Daniel (Rat Queens).
The Beat talked with Tsuei and Mok about the upcoming book and what inspired the universe.
Deanna Destito: What sparked the creation of Sera’s universe?
Jon Tsuei: I’m of the belief that living worlds exist on their own somewhere in the idea-space. So, I don’t claim to have created Sera’s universe. It has always existed, we were just the ones to uncover it. What set me on the path to discover Sera’s universe began on a day I was alone in my old apartment and I heard the name “Antares.” I don’t know if I heard it in my heard or if it was a disembodied voice coming through the ether, but I know I heard it and it wasn’t a name I was familiar with. That experience started my research into the star of the same name, which took me through a maze of astronomy, astrology, and mythology. Ultimately, I came to find that stories told about the stars and constellations throughout history bore a lot of similarities from culture to culture. Even between cultures that didn’t have much contact with one another. The more I dug, the more I began to see the world of Sera and the Royal Stars.
Destito: Are you a big fan of myth and folklore?
Audrey Mok: Yes! Growing up, I enjoyed reading mythologies and folklore very much.
Tsuei: Yes, absolutely. I love stories of magic, fantastical creatures, and old gods. I think there’s something about the lasting stories found in mythology and folklore that we as humans gravitate towards because they speak to something within us. Be it a moral lesson or something more esoteric in nature, there’s a reason why these stories persist.
Destito: Why was Audrey so critical for this book?
Tsuei: I first came across Audrey’s work online before she started working on Josie and the Pussycats. I fell in love with her style right away, but it’s not simply style that makes Audrey’s work stand out. She’s incredibly skilled as a storyteller and designer. Readers are going to be blown away with how good this comic looks. The early stages of creating the comic was spent emailing back and forth about the characters, their backstories, and how they looked. Looking at a new piece of art by Audrey was like looking into a portal. Without her, I wouldn’t be able to understand this world and its characters as I do now.
Destito: Audrey, what drew you to working on this?
Mok: When Jon first approached me on Sera, I was immediately charmed by the magical world, and all the characters he introduced. As much as I enjoy the fantasy genre, I haven’t worked on any fantasy stories before, so I feel that this is the opportunity for me to try something new.
Destito: How did you research your character designs?
Mok: Sera and the Royal Stars takes place in a land hugely inspired by ancient Persia, and its mythologies. In the early stages on making this book, I spent a lot of time looking up the history of the region, clothing, and armors. Jon and I also emailed back and forth discussing the characters, their backgrounds, personalities, and costumes…etc. When working on the costumes, I also took inspirations from movies, game character designs, and runway shows.
Destito: How many issues do you have plotted out so far and what can readers look forward to?
Tsuei: We have ten issues planned right now. Readers can expect Sera to be put through the test as she juggles a civil war, family drama, and the responsibilities of a divine quest to restore the seasons. Readers will meet Sera’s family and ancient star beings. They will discover a world filled with magic, mythological creatures, and Underworld gods. All the pages are beautifully drawn by Audrey, with stunning colors by Raúl Angulo and industry great Jim Campbell joins us as letterer. I’m incredibly proud to be a part of this team of storytellers and I really hope readers give us a shot.
Destito: Which character or aspect of this world has been your favorite to bring to life?
Mok: Working on a fantasy comic is a whole new experience for me, including character designs and the world building. If I have to choose, I’d say Sera herself, and the Stars, are some of my favorites to draw. Overall, the world of Sera is magical, and it’s an absolute joy bringing it to life. I loved every part in creating this world with this amazing team.
Destito: Are there other areas of this world that you’d like to explore in the future (different characters, kingdoms, etc.)?
Tsuei: I see these first ten issues as a part of a greater narrative, but I think the ending to issue #10 will be quite satisfying to the reader. In other words, this story doesn’t conclude on a cliff hanger, you’re getting a complete story. There are definitely more characters and locations to explore if we get the opportunity. Two locations that we only mention by name are “The Land of the Great Builders” and “The End of the Road.” I would love for readers to learn more about those kingdoms and the characters that reside in them.
Destito: People have been going crazy for preview art that’s been released. How do you feel when you hear or read such positive reviews? Do you feel any pressure going forward or do you try not to read reviews?
Mok: We are very grateful and delighted to know that people are enjoying the preview and have been giving out positive reviews. We hope people will enjoy the book as much as we love working on it. As an artist, I focus on making art and telling stories. Whenever I come across reviews, I sometimes give them a read, but I don’t keep track of them. I think hearing and reading the readers’ perspective definitely helps me grow as an artist.
Sera and the Royal Stars #1 is set for release on July 17th. Visit Vault’s site for more.
Deanna Destito is a writer and editor based in New Jersey. When she is not writing about comics or scripting her own stories, she’s watching the lowest budget horror movies available.