Injection: An Interview With Declan Shalvey


I have been looking forward to INJECTION since it was first announced. I wanted to wait to read a few issues before asking Declan Shalvey to do interview so I could ask some informed questions. So after four issues (the fifth out today!), and brief informative chat at Dublin Comic Con, here’s my attempt.

How would you describe the book to someone who hasn’t picked it up yet?

INJECTION is a genre-bending story of five geniuses who are trying to prevent an Apocalypse they have already set in motion.

When Warren Ellis first brought the idea for the book to you, what was it about it that appealed to you?

Well that’s not what happened. In most cases, a writer will approach an artist with a pitch, but not in this case. With Injection, Warren asked me if I’d like to collaborate on a creator owned project at Image. To follow MOON KNIGHT, a project that was very creatively rewarding, with a project with total control over… was an offer I couldn’t possibly turn down. The project was born out of conversations about mutual interests and tastes, so the project developed in a very organic way, designed to suit me.

Are there any creative influences for this book in particular? The science fiction aspects. Stuff like that.

Well, I was watching a lot of Fringe when we were developing the series, and I think that’s really bled into the work. Mainly though, we were following the aesthetics and approach we had developed together on Moon Knight. INJECTION is a further development of that.

I was talking to you before about the Irish elements in the book and you were saying you just asked Warren Ellis for one Irish character. He has gone a bit further than that. I really liked his creative choices for the Irish character and all the other Irish elements. I feel it somehow highlights yours (and Jordie’s) contribution to the book more if you know what I mean. How have you been enjoying that aspect of the book?

Ah I’ve been loving the Irish elements. As an Irish creator who has had some great, high profile books, I’m aware of how visible my work is while not really being of any cultural relevance to my native culture. Having the opportunity to do a series I actually own, it was important to me personally to have some kind of connection to Ireland. When I was a kid reading Preacher, it really meant to lot to see some of Irish culture depicted in comics. I felt a personal connection to it, so I really wanted to pay that forward in a small way. What’s been great is getting to actually depict Dublin, and some of the countryside in the book, and I’ve gotten some feedback saying they appreciate seeing Ireland in a comic without it having to be all ‘tree’ and I’m really proud of that. it’s a tiny element of the actual story, but an important one to me. I’m sure the story will develop away from Ireland, but to have so much of in in Vol 1 has been brilliant.

Of course I have to talk about Jordie’s contribution. My favourite thing that she did was the cover to issue one. She just added a bit more of the supernatural feel to it. What do you think she brings to the book?

What DOESN’T she bring to the book!?! I wish I could just accept all praise for the art, but Jordie is the first and main sounding board for every page I do. As happy as I am with the work I’ve done, and the amount of time and energy I’ve spent on every page to make them my best, she just elevates them with her colour work. So many moments are all the more spectacular because of the work she’s done. Not only the spooky.

Do you have a favourite character yet or maybe a favourite thing you’ve gotten to draw?

Ah there’s been so many various locations that have been great to draw. I think the lichen-environments were great to draw, but a lot of painstaking detail… I really like the spooky woods in #3 too. Brigid has probably been my favourite character to draw as she’s the most visually striking one, but there’s something I like about drawing each one. I loved The Green Man in #3 too… I hope he makes another appearance.
There has been some criticism that book is difficult to understand or perhaps we don’t have enough information. I can see the slow burn aspect and I think by issue 5 we are getting at good idea about what INJECTION is about. What do you think about these criticisms?

I fail to see what’s difficult to understand about the book to be honest. It’s a mystery, with the pieces slowly forming together. Just because we haven’t revealed mysteries doesn’t mean it’s confusing. I mean, it’s a Warren Ellis story, I think he’s earned enough credit to trust that he knows where they story is going. Bear with us… we’re trying to tell an interesting story. I think it might be tough for those who read our MOON KNIGHT run to follow with this series, which I can understand as it is pretty different. Warren and I could have just done a MOON KNIGHT knock-off and cashed in on the success of that book, but I was very passionate about telling a more complex and satisfying story. MOON KNIGHT was great at being short and sweet; and excellent run of 6 issues, but there’s no interesting characters or relationships to become invested in. I wanted to do something more ambitious than that and I’m very thankful that Warren was on the same page as me. Once reader pick up #5, I think things will be clearer for them, and all the more satisfying as they get to see the pieces fit together.

We’re getting near the time for the collection. What can readers expect from the first volume?

A really nice collected volume! I played with the idea of having lots of extras but to be honest, the collection will be €10, so it wouldn’t be cost-effective to fill it with extras. If the book sells well, we’ll be able to have some good extras in the next volume. Been working with Fonografiks on the collection design though, I know it’s gonna look gorgeous.

You were recently added to the world of Judge Dredd in the Michael Carroll story Blood of Emeralds. For those that missed it, artist Colin MacNeil added a Shalvey’s bar. That kind of thing must make you geek out a bit.

Ha, yeah, that was great. I was told it was originally supposed to be ‘Dillons’ pub, but Colin MacNeil changed it to Shalvey, which was nice of him. That’s TWO pubs that’ve been named after me now… Chris Samnee drew a Superman short story where he was smashed into a ‘Shalvey’s’ pub. As far as comics cameos go, I’ll take ’em 🙂

Declan Shalvey will be a guest at ComicCity Fest this weekend in Derry.