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'Crema' Interview: Coffee and the Supernatural Make the Perfect Blend

Interview by Troy-Jeffrey Allen

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Thus far, our Black History Month coverage has consisted of a lot of superheroics and action-adventure. So let's close it out with something off-the-beaten-path.

Published by Dark Horse Comics, Crema (SEP210277) arrives courtesy of New York Times best-selling cartoonist Johnnie Christmas and Prism Award-nominee Dante Luiz.

In the following interview, writer Johnnie Christmas tells us more about Crema's barista who sees ghosts, the haunted coffee farm at the center of this drama, and just how it all presses and grinds together into one supernatural love story.

 

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Thanks for taking this interview, Johnnie.

Thank you, Troy.

Crema is a very unique concept. For the people unfamiliar, can you give us an idea of what the story entails?

Crema is about Esme and Yara. Esme, a barista who sees ghosts when she drinks too much coffee, and Yara, an heir to a coffee farm in Brazil. When the lovers decide to leave NYC for Brazil, a strange and ominous ghost tags along and things get very perilous for our young lovers.

Tell us about Esme and Yara. Why do we follow them through this story?

Their love and insecurities power the entire tale. Esme never feels seen, she’s as much a ghost in her own life as the ghosts she sees when she has coffee. Yara, beautiful and confident is always seen. Yet Yara sees Esme, but that doesn’t allay Esme’s insecurities. These feelings haunt our characters, which then literally haunts their world at large. And as their romance comes undone, the space between them is wide enough for something truly terrifying and horrific to enter.

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Is this as much a supernatural tale as it is a love story?

I would say so. The context for their romance and frankly for everything that happens in the story is because of the supernatural. Esme sees ghosts ever since she was a kid. In fact, her best friend and closest confidant is the very first ghost she meets, Gerry. Yara’s reason to return to Brazil is as a result of the ghost that has a murky connection to her family’s past. As their love story progresses, the fallout of their ups and downs ripple out to the entire surrounding world. And let’s just say after that, Esme isn’t the only one effected by ghosts.

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Now, of course, you’re an artist yourself, but you’re working with Dante Luiz on this project. What made Dante the right collaborator for this particular title?

Dante has command of this wonderful dreamlike quality in his art. He can dial up the gorgeous or the grotesque, seemingly at will. He turns the dial one way and he creates a beautiful, romantic world. He turns it the other way and he can envelop you in a nightmare. It was great watching him work on this.

This story was originally released on Comixology. What made Dark Horse the right home for the print version?

I’ve worked with Dark Horse for many years now and it’s been a wonderful relationship. Dark Horse knows horror and stories built around strong characters. I’m very glad they and Comixology (our original home for Crema. Who I can’t thank enough for publishing us) are working together on this venture. I think it will bring some really fantastic books to print.

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Looking forward, what can readers expect from Crema?

We have no plans to serialize it, but if demand for more Crema is strong, I’m open to it. Dante and I once joked about extending it like a Telenovela.

In terms of audience, who is CREMA for?

Crema is for lovers, lovers of the dark, and lovers of a dark roast.

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Crema is available now at comic shops. Reserve your copy today using PREVIEWSworld Pullbox!

Keep an eye on PREVIEWSworld.com's TwitterFacebookYouTube, or Instagram for more from BOOM! Studios. 

DARK HORSE COMICS
COMPLETE ANGEL CATBIRD TP (JUN180344)
(W) Margaret Atwood (A/CA) Johnnie Christmas
From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Handmaid's Tale, comes the complete collection of the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel.

A genetic engineer caught in the middle of a chemical accident all of a sudden finds himself with superhuman abilities. With these new powers he takes on the identity of Angel Catbird and gets caught in the middle of a war between animal/human hybrids. What follows is a humorous, action-driven, educational, and pulp- inspired superhero adventure-with a lot of cat puns. Collects Angel Catbird volumes 1-3.

"An eccentric and entertaining combination of a superhero comic . . . and an appeal to consider the impact of cats on the environment."-Publishers Weekly
In Shops: Apr 20, 2022
SRP: $24.99
PREVIEWS Page #128

IMAGE COMICS
FIREBUG TP
(W) Johnnie Christmas (A/CA) Johnnie Christmas
A volcano goddess named Keegan is loose in the world, and the prophecies are unclear whether her coming will bring humanity's destruction or salvation. In the shadow of a sacred volcano, from which Keegan derives her powers, lies the ancient city of Azar. Holding the key to the mysteries of her past, Keegan and her friends must get to Azar before it is overrun by a horde of forest monsters. Meanwhile, The nefarious Cult of the Goddess has plans to summon forces as old as time to extinguish Keegan's flame permanently. From the number-one New York Times bestselling cartoonist JOHNNIE CHRISTMAS (Angel Catbird, SHELTERED) and superstar colorist TAMRA BONVILLAIN (Doom Patrol, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur) comes a fiery tale you're not soon to forget! Collecting the full saga that began in ISLAND magazine, with all-new material!
In Shops: Mar 07, 2018
SRP: $16.99
PREVIEWS Page #199

IMAGE COMICS
TARTARUS TP VOL 01
(W) Johnnie Christmas (A/CA) Jack Cole
When Surka, a ruthless criminal warlord, escapes her prison pit, she unleashes a wave of destruction that ripples across Tartarus, a vital colony in an everlasting galactic war.
Years later when Tilde, a young cadet, learns that she's Surka's daughter, will she continue to fight on the side of galactic order or reclaim her mother's dark crown?
From #1 NYT Bestseller JOHNNIE CHRISTMAS (FIREBUG, William Gibson's Alien 3) and visionary artist JACK T. COLE (The Unsound) comes a sci-fi adventure for the ages.
Collects TARTARUS #1-5
In Shops: Sep 30, 2020
SRP: $16.99
PREVIEWS Page #54

DARK HORSE COMICS
CREMA TP
(W) Johnnie Christmas (CA) Johnnie Christmas (A/CA) Dante Luiz
#1 New York Times bestselling cartoonist Johnnie Christmas and Prism Award-nominee Dante Luiz bring you a haunted tale of love, ghosts, and coffee beans.

Esme, a barista, feels invisible, like a ghost . . . also, when Esme drinks too much coffee she actually sees ghosts. Yara, the elegant heir to a coffee plantation, is always seen, but only has eyes for Esme. Their world is turned upside down when the strange ghost of an old-world nobleman begs Esme to take his letter from New York City to a haunted coffee farm in Brazil, to reunite him with his lost love of a century ago. Bringing sinister tidings of unrequited love.

Collects the ComiXology original digital graohic novel Crema in print for the first time.

"This book is a love letter to love swathed in the richest flavor imaginable. And one that enchants and haunts you with the taste of coffee all around it." -Comic Watch
In Shops: Feb 09, 2022
SRP: $19.99
PREVIEWS Page #97

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Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes MF DOOM: All Caps, Public Enemy's Apocalpyse '91, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Awards-nominated Magic Bullet.

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