Sarah Vaughn and Leila del Duca Bring Renaissance Romance To Comics With ‘Sleepless’ [Exclusive]
This weekend at Emerald City Comicon, Image is unveiling its upcoming romance comic Sleepless, the story of an enchanted knight who falls in love with the woman he's protecting. We had a quick chat with writer Sarah Vaughn, artist Leila del Duca, and editor Alissa Sallah about the influences that went into the comic's unique setting, and what you can expect from the book.
ComicsAlliance: What can you tell us about this story? Is there insomnia involved, or is that "sleepless" in more of a romantic sense?
Sarah Vaughn: Sleepless is a historical fantasy about Poppy, a dead king’s illegitimate daughter, who is protected by Cyrenic, an enchanted knight who never sleeps, and their struggles as they both try to navigate life at court under a new king’s rule.
The Sleepless spell and this world of magic is an integral part of the kingdom’s culture. We’ll be diving into sleeplessness in its many forms. We need sleep to survive, and there are consequences to our bodies and minds if we don’t get it.
CA: Tell us about the setting. How rooted is it in real world history?
SV: There are definitely aspects of Sleepless that are taken from history. Visually, for sure, it has a Renaissance feel to it. And there are threads of historical fact in the family dynamics that we’ll be showing. But all of this is loosely inspired. It’s a very separate world, rather than an alternate timeline.
Alissa Sallah: It’s particularly fun to see how Sarah mixes the romantic elements with the political. This world has it’s own set of rules and dynamics, so it’ll be exciting to explore this new culture while you follow the drama.
CA: What was the design process like for the characters and their environment? Did you do a lot of historical research, and if so how closely did you stick to it?
Leila del Duca: The design process started with 1500's Italy and Morocco. Adding Moroccan imagery was Alissa’s idea early on when we first started brainstorming additional influences, which was an easy yes! I began by studying a lot of the dresses and clothing from Italy by watching a bit of The Borgias and looking at pictures from Romeo and Juliet, Ever After, and a few other European movies about that time and place. After getting a general sense of how the style in Italy was back then, I studied traditional Moroccan clothing and designs and started incorporating more patterns from that area. It's been really interesting studying the similarities and differences, and I've fallen in love with the designs we've created for this world.
SV: When we look at inspiration, I’m not getting worked up on accuracy, so I get to watch movies and just say, “Oooooh pretty. YES.” I don’t have to throw popcorn at the screen because someone’s not wearing a shift under their stays, or the actor should be thirty years older or that character over there should be dead already. It’s a delight.
LdD: That’s the best thing about drawing fantasy! Things don’t have to be super accurate so that both writer and artist have a bit more room to breath when creating the world.
CA: I know Sarah likes stories with endings, so how long is this series planned to run, and how big is this story going to get?
LdD: I also like stories with endings! I'm glad Sarah and I have that in common!
AS: Sarah’s had a thorough understanding of where she wants to take Poppy and Cyrenic’s relationship from the get-go. That way the plot can be expansive but never loses sight of it's direction or intent.
SV: We’re planning for the story to be 12 issues, in two arcs. But I also hope that it feels very big within the framework we’ve given it.
Look for more details on Sleepless to be announced this weekend at ECCC.
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