Exclusive Interview: Artist Hayden Sherman Talks About ‘Dark Spaces: Wildfire’, Their New IDW Book With Scott Snyder

It’s hard not to get excited when a writer like Scott Snyder has a new book coming out, seeing as he’s one of the best to come along in the past 15 years or so. His latest endeavour is Dark Spaces: Wildfire, where he’s working alongside artist Hayden Sherman.

Here are the details:

Desperate people, desperate situations. In Dark Spaces, Snyder explores the decisions made—and irreversible actions taken—when the walls are closing in, when knuckles are white and teeth are bared. During their sentence at a women’s prison, four fearless inmates have taken up the intense job of firefighting under their captain, Ruby. When opportunity strikes during an intense forest fire, this crew of badass women make a decision to seize it, together. Will this crew of daring female firefighters walk away with ruby lined pockets or burn up in flames?

Dark Spaces: Wildfire will be published monthly from July through November, with the first issue available in multiple cover variants for retailers and fans to enjoy, featuring artwork by Hayden Sherman, Andrea Sorrentino, Liana Kangas, and Tula Lotay.

The first issue of Dark Spaces: Wildfire is due out July 20th. I was lucky to talk to Dark Spaces: Wildfire artist Hayden Sherman about their work on the new book, their inspirations, and more.

BBP: Hi Hayden – thanks for taking some time to talk to Biff Bam Pop! Congrats on a gorgeous first issue of Dark Spaces: Wildfire – the concept is completely unique from the get-go, and I’m thrilled that I don’t know where the story is going to take us. Can you tell me how you got involved with Scott Snyder on the book?

Hayden Sherman (HS): My pleasure! And sure thing, I got pretty happily blindsided by the offer to join up with Scott during a meeting I had with one of our editors, Mark Doyle. In the beginning, he’d reached out and asked if I’d want to talk about things I might like to do with IDW, so I had no idea what kind of meeting I was actually heading into. In fact, just minutes before our Zoom call I was thinking through all the writers I’d love to work with, just in case he asks. And I remember my last thought before going into the call being “there’s no way they’ll let me work with Scott Snyder.” And yet here we are! 

I’m so thankful to be working with this whole team, it seems I learn more and more from them each day.

BBP: One of the things that genuinely impressed me about your work is just how, I want to say vibrant, the fire feels throughout the story. Obviously, fire and its majesty and horror is a key component to the story, but here it truly feels larger than life and epic in scope. I’m wondering how you as an artist went about bringing fire to life on the page – was there research involved? Countless viewings of Backdraft? 

HS: Oh there was much research involved. And much reference collecting as well. My approach to fire largely comes from all of the beautiful (and terrifying) wildfire photography that exists already. The imagery that these photographers and journalists capture while documenting the firefighting going on is just thrilling. There’s a scope to it, a sort of unconquerable feeling, that I wanted our book to have. It’s a hell of a task trying to bring that to life.

BBP: I love the opening page of Dark Spaces: Wildfire, with that house hanging somewhat precariously on the rock, surrounded by flames. With the house itself, did you model it after any one place in particular, did Scott have something in mind that was in the script?

HS: Scott had in mind a sort of sleek, modern, desert house aesthetic. Which was perfect, it plays off the natural landscape really well. From there I did a few variations on how that could look, or where it could be. One of the first sketches had the house high up on a cliff’s ledge, with stairs leading up. A very very extreme version of some houses I see around here in Massachusetts. We all agreed that this cliff house was just begging to be robbed. So now that same sketch morphed into the book’s first panel!

BBP: Along with your depiction of fire, another aspect of your work that I loved was your faces, especially on the final two pages of this first issue, and the beads of sweat pouring down the various character’s faces. It reminded me of the best work of Frank Quitely, which I hope you take as a compliment. It left me curious as to who some of your artistic influences are, and how you might have felt their influence working on Dark Spaces: Wildfire. 

HS: Oh man, the biggest influence on me here is Sergio Toppi. He’s got a way of laying out pages that moves between organized and dreamlike effortlessly. And his inks always have this silvery feel to them, with the range of tone he’s achieving in black and white. Just beautiful art. And actually Frank Quietly was one of the inspirations on the faces, so I really appreciate that! I hope Frank doesn’t mind. But yeah, he and Moebius were the two that really drove me toward this new approach to characters. Their mark-making brings out a feeling of lived experience in their characters, which is something I felt the cast of Wildfire was in need of. I’ve never rendered out faces much before, but I’m finding it really enjoyable on this. Just feeling my way through it.

BBP: Finally, what can we look forward to in upcoming issues, and what other work do you have that fans can look forward to?

HS: Without spoiling anything: there’s drama, there are things to steal, and there’s plenty of fire to be afraid of! I hope everyone will enjoy it.

And sure, I actually have two other books that’ll be releasing their first issues in July as well! Above Snakes (a fantasy western with Image Comics), and Blink (a found-footage-inspired horror story with Oni). So if you like what you see in Wildfire I hope you’ll give the rest a peak!

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