Canto, an epic fantasy adventure starring a tin knight on a quest to save a little girl has just begun from IDW Publishing. This all-ages title is inspired by The Wizard of Oz and Dante’s Inferno. It’s big, bold, and full of heart. I had a chance to speak with writer David M. Booher and artist Drew Zucker about the project.
James Ferguson: Arcana, the world of Canto, seems to have a very deep history. How did you go about establishing this mythos?
David M. Booher: We made a conscious effort not to focus on the worldbuilding as the primary goal for issue 1. It’s a trap so many fantasy series fall into. Our focus has always been Canto as a character and the adventure ahead of him. He doesn’t know much about his world, so as he makes discoveries, so will readers. That said, Drew and I developed the world and mythos we wanted to see in comics but felt like we hadn’t.
Drew Zucker: This approach has also helped me be able to experiment, I throw a lot of stuff in the backgrounds for flavor that we wont necessarily develop further than when you see it, but the stuff that does interest us we can come back to.
JF: Do you approach an all ages title like Canto differently than your average comic?
DMB: Not really, and that’s been the key to Canto’s success. All ages means just that—all ages. We made sure not to include graphic violence, sex, and swearing, but beyond that, we told the story we wanted to read. Kids know when you pander to them; they’re also much more mature than adults give them credit for.
DZ: I’ve seen a few reviews now talking about how we managed to do an all ages book well where a lot of others have failed and I think part of that is, like David said, just telling the story. We have conversations from time to time about whether something might be too much, but ultimately we’re trusting younger readers to be okay with what we’re putting forward. There is definitely a line we can’t cross, but the last thing we want is to talk down to anyone at any age that’s reading this.
JF: The tin knights have a very unique design that’s equal parts heroic and child-like. How did this come about?
DMB: I’ll let Drew answer this one. I’ll just say that the moment I saw Canto’s design, I knew instantly I wanted to tell his story.
DZ: Canto’s original design was definitely not as cutesy as he is now. Originally he was much more steam punk and a lot harder edged, but when David came on board we both agreed that he would need some help, especially to help him be more emotive since everything is conveyed with his eyes and body language. Ultimately even though Canto is more simplified from what he originally was, I think he is far stronger and more interesting for it.
JF: Canto is an epic fantasy adventure. What kind of soundtrack comes to mind when creating this book?
DMB: I lean toward atmospheric, soaring tracks to get me in the mindset of Canto. Lots of strings, a sense of wonder, and maybe some electric guitars to get the blood flowing.
DZ: David and I use a lot of the same music. I’m always making lists and sending him tracks to help us set the mood for things. When I’m thumb-nailing scripts it’s a lot of movie soundtracks and melodic stuff to help find the right tone for each scene. When it’s time to pencil though a lot of punk rock and ska, I think that kind of stuff helps actually give Canto some of his against odds attitude when I’m drawing him.
JF: What can fans expect from the rest of Canto?
DMB: Canto’s adventure has just begun! He’ll encounter beasts, enemies, some friends, and he’ll come face to face with the creature known only as the Shrouded Man. Then there will be an ending readers won’t necessarily see coming (we hope!). It’s a dangerous journey with moments of levity we hope will keep readers coming back for more.
DZ: The adventure and exciting stuff that people expect to be in the book are there going forward, but beyond that I think people should expect to see that hope that is present in the first issue carry through and expect to fall even more in love with Canto.