Unexpected Layers – David M. Booher & Drew Zucker Talk Canto & The Clockwork Fairies

by James Ferguson

Canto, the all-ages fantasy adventure staring a noble clockwork knight was a favorite series of mine from last year so I was delighted to hear it was coming back. Not only are we getting Canto & The Clockwork Fairies, a one-shot story next month, but there’s an entire sequel series, Canto II: The Hollow Men, beginning in July. I caught up with writer David M. Booher and artist Drew Zucker to talk about the project and this fascinating world.

David M. Booher, Drew Zucker, Vittorio Astone, and Deron Bennett return to Canto’s world, following the brave clockwork hero as he leads his people out from their home in Arcana to find somewhere-and something-new! When Canto encounters a group of captured fairies, it’s up to him to liberate them, but can he do it without being captured himself? Find out in this one-shot bridging the hit mini-series and the second arc, coming in Summer 2020.

James Ferguson: What brings us back to the world of Arcana and the adventures of Canto?
David M. Booher: Honesty, it’s the readers. Canto’s world is huge, and we’ve always planned to tell stories beyond the first arc, but you never know if that’s possible until you actually let the story out in the world and see if it connects to readers. We’ve been so fortunate that readers seem to identify with Canto and his adventure. It’s because of them we get to revisit Canto’s world again (and again and again and again, hopefully!).

JF: What have Canto and the rest of his people been up to since we last saw them?
DB: Well, they’ve taken back their freedom and are traveling toward their new home. Canto & The Clockwork Fairies is a “side quest” for Canto as he leads his people to the lands that lie beyond Arcana. Then in the sequel Canto II: The Hollow Men, we see Canto and his friends face a brand new challenge that will once again test Canto’s courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

JF: There are some new characters in Canto and the Clockwork Fairies. How did the design for these come about?
DB: It’s all about making the characters distinctive yet consistent with Canto’s world. We wanted to create fairies, but we don’t love the cutesy fairies that so often pop up in fantasy stories. Luckily, Drew is so good at character design, everything he creates already feels like it has always existed, just waiting to be discovered.
Drew Zucker: Designing the new characters was a challenge. We wanted to make sure that we had distinctive characters and silhouettes for each of them, but also maintain that uniformity that comes with Canto’s people. Ultimately, it was a lot of back forth between David and I in figuring out what would and wouldn’t work based on the personality of each new character.

JF: Are there any creatures from the fantasy genre that you thought about including in Canto, but didn’t quite fit into Arcana? Or is the sky the limit?
DB: We haven’t come up with a character yet that hasn’t found a place in Canto’s world, but for us it’s more than just characters fitting in. If you stick with our little clockwork hero, you’ll see every single character has unexpected layers and a story waiting to be told.
DZ: I would say the sky’s the limit. One of the things that David and I really like to do is take existing lore from around the world and integrate it with our own twist. This is where the Baba Yaga came from (and not the John Wick version). It’s helped to give the world depth I think, by pulling from not just our imaginations, but from other cultures.

JF: Is this one-shot a taste of what we can expect in the next series, The Hollow Men? What else is in store for us?
DB: Absolutely! As I mentioned, Canto & The Clockwork Fairies is a side-quest, and Canto II: The Hollow Men is the main adventure. It continues Canto’s quest for a heart from the first arc and starts the machinery turning for…(spoiler alert!)…the big final confrontation that could see Canto free all the world from the shadow of the Shrouded Man. And we may see the fairies again!
DZ: The one shot is a more intimate story, David describes it as a side quest and I think that’s a great way to put it. Canto & The Clockwork Fairies is a great warm up for what is to come in The Hollow Men.
Comicon would like to thank David M. Booher and Drew Zucker for taking the time to speak with us. Canto & The Clockwork Fairies is currently set for release on July 8th, 2020. Canto II: The Hollow Men will debut in August 2020.

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