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By Andy Mueller

If you are familiar with 1001 Arabian Nights then you know that Shahrazad was an amazing storyteller. But what about her life? Her story? Big Dog Ink is now putting her at the center of the tale this November with Shahrazad (SEP130975).

PREVIEWSworld talked with writers Kim Hutchinson and Kari Castor about their new ongoing series.

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PREVIEWSworld:
In 1001 Arabian Nights, Shahrazad told stories to her Sultan husband each night to keep him entertained and to spare her life. But now you are telling her story?

Kari Castor: Yes, that's the idea.  We're creating a new mythos around Shahrazad herself, and we'll be getting to see the story of her own life.  She was always an interesting character, but in the original 1001 Nights, she tends to take a backseat to the stories that she's telling.  We really want to give Shahrazad herself a time to shine!  You're going to see that there's a lot more to her than has been told 'til now, and we're really excited to start telling these stories.

Kim Hutchison: One of the things I always wondered is: where did these stories come from.  I mean, did this woman just have 1001 different tales sitting around waiting to be told?  Once you ask that question you open up so many possibilities.  We took that concept and ran with it.  Shahrazad has become so much more than just another storyteller, she's now actively engaging in the adventure herself.

PREVIEWSworld: Will some of the tales Shahrazad told in 1001 Arabian Nights turn out to be true?

Kari Castor: Well, the stories that we're telling about Shahrazad take place after she's told the 1001 Tales (or do they?), so you're not really going to see those stories play out -- they've already been told, after all.  However, we are taking elements and themes and motifs from those stories and tossing them into the narrative mixing bowl.  That means that you shouldn't expect to see any of those original stories being retold, per se, but you can definitely expect to see similarities and common threads being pulled from them.  As for the truth of any of the stories we tell...  Well, let's just say that's going to be a matter for some debate.  ;-)

Kim Hutchison: Let's just say that Shahrazad has experienced MANY tales.  She's had her own adventures in life, and has obviously experienced a huge number in her story teller days.  We say that the human mind was never meant to hold that much, to experience so many different things.  Because of this, things tend to get a little...warped.  What's "true" is going to be very subjective, and we're going to leave the reader, and maybe even Shahrazad herself, questioning what is reality and what is simply a figment of an overworked imagination.

PREVIEWSworld: If someone is not familiar with 1001 Arabian Nights will they still be able to enjoy Shahrazad?

Kari Castor: Yes, absolutely!  I'm a lit geek, so I'm really excited about the intertextual references that we get to embed in this book, but even if all that stuff rides completely under your radar, you're still going to have compelling characters, gorgeous visuals, and a really great adventure story to enjoy here.  We've really tried to take a multi-layered approach with this, so that no matter what level you're coming to this story at, you're still going to find things to love about it.

Kim Hutchison: What Kari said!  The 1001 Arabian nights is merely the tip of the iceberg.  This entire comic is an exercise in creativity which not only makes for a super entertaining read, it's also incredibly original.  Shahrazad's history is only the frame for her new and unique adventures that readers will now get to experience for the first time.

PREVIEWSworld: You have assembled quite a team of artists for this series. Talk about who you’ll be working with to tell the story?

Kari Castor:  Mike Krome, our illustrator, has been consistently knocking it out of the park on this.  I'm so excited every time the Facebook message goes off, because it means Mike has sent another incredible page for us to look at.  And Nei Ruffino's colors are so lush and gorgeous...  Between the two of them, I can confidently say this is going to be one of the best looking books on the market, and I'm really honored to have an opportunity to write for such amazing artists!
And then there's my co-writer, Kim Hutchison, without whom this would be a very different book.  My writing background is primarily in prose, and comics are a very different genre from that.  I tend to think very much in terms of words, and Kim has a really good eye for places where we can put in an interesting visual detail.  It's been a really incredible challenge, and I think we've both grown as writers as we work off of each other.

Kim Hutchison: Every aspect of this comic, from the art, to the colors, to the story and heck, even the design details, has all been crafted to play together and complement each other.  For a story as rich and dynamic as we're building we had to bring on the very best.  Mike Krome for example was previously known as a fantastic cover artist, but his background as a cartoonist means that he can portray so much story in the small space of a single panel.  And we can't forget J. Scott Campbell on the "B" covers!  Whatever aspect of comics you enjoy, we've got you covered with this comic.  We wanted to show fans that you could have your cake and eat it too and that no aspect has to be sacrificed.  You can indeed bring an ultra-beautiful, ultra-creative comic to the market and fans have been super appreciative of what they've seen so far.

PREVIEWSworld: Finally, Big Dog Ink has really taken off as a publisher. Give us an overview of your other titles we should check out?

Kari Castor: We have a little something for everyone.  One of my personal BDI favorites is The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West, which puts an old west spin on The Wizard of Oz.  Dorothy as a badass cowgirl is pretty fantastic.  I'm also really excited about Serusis, which is another newer series -- it's an 80's-inspired all-ages sci-fi adventure, and it's so much fun!  It looks, in the best possible way, like it jumped straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon from my childhood.  We also have lots of fun, mostly light-hearted superhero action in Critter, old-school horror in Ursa Minor, and family-friendly fantasy adventure in Knightingail.

Kim Hutchison: I think one of the reasons for our success so far has been the way we're committed to really rounding out our offerings. The ultimate goal for us as a company is to build that trust with our fans by consistently putting out fun, entertaining and high quality comic books.  We want fans to be able to pick up a Diamond Previews and see our offerings and say, oh, I like that genre of comic, I know I'll like this new one from Big Dog Ink because I know they'll always deliver the best.  Ursa Minor is pure unadulterated horror.  Legend of Oz: The Wicked West is super true to the Western Adventure theme and Critter is the epitome of what makes classic Super Hero stories awesome.  

We also listen to fans' feedback, because ultimately fans are #1. We wouldn't be where we are today without the support of our amazing fans and their willingness to talk comics and tell us what they love and what they hate about the titles on store shelves today.  Shahrazad is the culmination of the last three years of feedback from fans, and we're hoping you enjoy the comic as much as we do creating it.


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