In 2016, Valiant Comics brought a faraway adventure to comic book shelves with the story-out-of-time Savage. Following the saga of Kevin Sauvage, a young boy trapped on an island ruled by prehistoric creatures, Savage packed harrowing survival thrillers and Jurassic monsters into just a limited four-issue series. Now, Valiant is returning to the story of Savage, and they've put artist Nathan Stockman in charge of drawing it.
Stockman is joined by writer Max Bemis, colorist Brian Reber, and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou in continuing Kevin’s story. Originally scheduled to come out this summer, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into Valiant's plans but has informed Newsarama it will be released - just with no firm date decided at this time.
Newsarama had the opportunity to speak with Stockman about his team, what’s happened between the end of the last series and the beginning this one, and how he designs the world of Savage and the monsters that inhabit it.
Newsarama: Where does the second story in the Savage saga start us? What has Kevin Sauvage been up to?
Nathan Stockman: The last series ended with Kevin in London and our series picks up a little later with Kevin established as a local celebrity, living the high life. Literally. He's been running up and down buildings (when he has any free time from the busy schedule his older brother Henry has lined up for him). We pick up with Kevin in an interesting place. He’s had the celebrity status thrust upon him and he has been enjoying the benefits in the short term, but we start to see that it’s not exactly the fulfilling life he desires.
Nrama: When did Valiant approach you about doing this, and how did they pitch it to you?
Stockman: Valiant approached me back in 2019. It was one of my former Marvel editors, Heather Antos, who reached out. She told me it was Savage vs a pile of dinosaurs in London. How could I say no to that?
Nrama: Why did you say yes? What attracted you to the story?
Stockman: The pitch sounded incredibly fun from the get-go. And the opportunity to design a slew of cool looking baddies and beasts and pit them against Kevin was right up my alley. Max's outline is really good! Full of big action and great character moments. The perfect mix of things I love to read and draw!
Nrama: There's a great fight scene in issue one between Savage and some giant monsters. Can you tell us about choreographing that fight? What's the key to giving it such a sense of movement?
Stockman: I really love drawing fight scenes! One of my favorite things in comics is working them out. Figuring out how the characters move and attack and defend. I studied animation in college so that definitely trained my brain to think these terms. I’ll often act out motions and take lots of reference shots to make sure key scenes flow naturally. Sadly, I don't have ripped physique of Kevin, so my reference photos leave a lot to be desired.
Nrama: Speaking of those monsters, can you go into how you designed those?
Stockman: My biggest inspiration for monsters comes from nature. The amount of terrifying looking bugs and insects out there is staggering. And going even smaller, there's so many microscopic organisms that if you saw them giant size, you'd need a change of pants!
Nrama: Part of what makes that fight scene (and the first issue) so fun is how you used London. How close did you stay to the real geography of that city?
Stockman: Just like when I draw NYC in Spider-Man stories, I'll use lots of reference to get the right feel of streets and buildings. And when we need to be at a certain location (like Westminster Abbey in the first issue), I'll try to be a little more specific in making sure it's accurate. But I try to think of these in terms of - it's an alternate reality London, not "our" London. So, if streets look a little off that’s my excuse!
Nrama: You're creating this book with writer Max Bemis. Can you describe your process for working together?
Stockman: Max is great! His scripts are chock-full of the best stuff to draw and he gives a lot of room for me to do my thing. I always try to adhere to the script as much as possible but if I need to add a panel here or there or change something around for the sake of storytelling, that's never a problem. We both understand each other's strengths and how to work together to hopefully create something that plays to both of ours' and tell the best stories we can!
We've been working closely with Heather and our other editor David Menchel to craft something that is hopefully greater than the sum of its parts. I've been having a blast working with the whole team and it seems like we all clicked early on and enjoy working with each other. I've been very fortunate in my career to be part of some great teams and collaborations, and this is no exception!
Nrama: What about colorist Brian Reber? What does Brian bring to the project that makes him a good fit for it?
Stockman: If you look at the pages before and after colors you'll see exactly why I'm so excited to be working with Brian. His work on the first Savage series was phenomenal and I can't think of anyone better suited for this project. Everything from color choices to texture to rendering to lighting is all top class. I can’t say enough about his work.
And Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou is bringing something really special to the lettering too. He has an Eisner. Granted it's not for lettering, but he’s still very good.
Nrama: I've read that some consider Savage a spiritual successor to Turok. Do you agree? If so, what are Turok's biggest influences on the series?
Stockman: I'm not super familiar with Turok. I had an issue of the old series that had a sweet chromium cover. I guess since he fights dinosaurs too there's a natural comparison to be made, but beyond that I can’t say there was any conscious influence on my part artistically.
Nrama: Alright, final question. Let's say you, Nathan Stockman, get transported to Faraway. How do you survive?
Stockman: I'm dead within an hour.