Interview: Megan Levens on Oni’s Angel City and Dark Horse’s Spell on Wheels

Spell on Wheels #1 (Ming Doyle cover) & Angel City

Spell on Wheels #1 (Ming Doyle cover) & Angel City


Megan Levens’ art has been seen in Madame Frankenstein, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10, and Ares & Aphrodite: Love Wars. You can see much more of her work this October with the debuts of Oni’s Angel City and Dark Horse’s Spell on Wheels. Westfield’s Roger Ash spoke with Levens about these new projects.

Westfield: You have two new series debuting in October; Angel City from Oni and Spell on Wheels for Dark Horse. Given the different subject matter of the books, did you approach the art on them differently?

Megan Levens: For Angel City, it definitely had to have the look of a noir film, so I was very conscious of using heavy spot blacks, shadows as design elements, Dutch angles, all the classic noir cinematography tropes. As I did with Madame Frankenstein, I want the art to look like the period and the film style the comic is based on. Spell On Wheels is much more light-hearted, and a bit brighter, so I handle the inks a bit less intensely, and the characters are a little softer. The supernatural elements gave me a chance to play with some fun panel layouts and magical designs!

Angel City #1

Angel City #1


Westfield: Since these are both new series, how much time did you put into designing characters and settings?

Levens: Spell On Wheels came to me with the three lead characters already pretty much designed by Kate Leth and Kendra Wells, so I had a lot of direction on what they would look like…I just put some polishing touches on those concepts and made them my own. It’s also set in modern day, so a lot of the stories take place in settings that are familiar or grounded in reality, but just happen to have these supernatural events taking place in them. I got to go back to my roots in advertising illustration to draw a suburban neighborhood and an upscale house in one issue!

For Angel City, I started from the ground up with the characters, working off of great descriptions of their personalities from writer Janet Harvey. She also collected a fantastic library of photo reference for all the environments, costumes, and the period in general so that was a great help. We also agreed early on with our editor Ari Yarwood that Dolores, being a stunt woman and mob muscle, should have a more athletic build, which I’m thrilled to get to draw.

Angel City #1 Michael Avon Oeming cover

Angel City #1 Michael Avon Oeming cover


Westfield: How did you come to work with Janet Harvey on Angel City and what can you say about your collaboration?

Levens: Our editor, Ari, approached me with Janet’s story outline and the basic pitch, asking if I would be interested. I’m always looking for new and different types of stories to tell, and I was really excited to be offered a crime noir book, to stretch and build some artistic muscles in a different type of story. Janet has been awesome and so supportive. By the time we got to the third script, she was definitely writing with my artwork in mind, and we’ve got a fantastic open dialogue going about every stage of the writing and artwork. I’m really grateful she’s given me such a fantastic character to get to draw!

Angel City #1 preview page 1

Angel City #1 preview page 1


Westfield: Since this is set in the 1930s, how much research did you do for the look of the book?

Levens: Tons! I always have my iPad at hand with several Google search windows up, for everything from cars to cufflinks to champagne glasses. And as I mentioned earlier, Janet did a lot of the heavy lifting with photo research, and every script came with a library of amazing reference to work from.

Angel City #1 preview page 2

Angel City #1 preview page 2


Westfield: What can readers look forward to in the series and who are some of the characters they’ll meet?

Levens: Lots of classic noir suspense, action, mystery, but all with a strong female lead, Dolores Dare! In the first issue we get to meet Dolores and learn about her history with her best friend, Frances Faye, whose murder drives Dolores to investigate the “April Fool’s Killer”. Along the way she reunites with an old friend, tabloid photographer Joe Yoshimoto, and as they dig into the case we meet all kinds of historical figures from 1939 Los Angeles, from the studio fixers to famous gangsters to journalists!

Spell on Wheels #1

Spell on Wheels #1


Westfield: Switching to Spell on Wheels, how did this series come about?

Levens: As I was wrapping up my work on Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 10, I was approached by my then-editor on Buffy, Jim Gibbons, with the story pitch from Kate Leth. It was almost exactly the same time as I had been offered Angel City, and go figure, both books got greenlit at the same time as well! Jim has since left Dark Horse but he passed Spell On Wheels over to Shantel LaRocque, who edits Lady Killer as well, so we’ve been in good hands with her ever since.

Westfield: Are you enjoying your collaboration with writer Kate Leth?

Levens: Kate is awesome! She writes such a great range of emotion which is always my focus in drawing my characters, so there’s so much to work with. She, colorist Marissa Louise and I have a great line of communication open, and you can often see us three conversing on Twitter…even before the book was announced we’d tweet at each other about “that thing we’re working on”.

Spell on Wheels #1 preview page

Spell on Wheels #1 preview page


Westfield: What can you tell us about the three witches in Spell on Wheels?

Levens: These three are the last “purebred” witches, and they’ve been tasked with finding others who have the potential for magic. Claire has psychic visions and is skilled at reading tarot; Jolene is a technopath and a tattoo artist who can infuse her tattoos with charms (or curses, depending on the client); and Andy, the youngest, is gifted in potions and spells. The three have a really close sister-like bond, and as such, they might argue or bicker but they always come together to support each other.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Levens: Both of these series will be released in October—Angel City on October 5th, Spell On Wheels on the 26th—so I hope you’re all placing your preorders now! I’m immensely proud and excited for both, and grateful to have the opportunity to tell these kinds of comics stories.

Purchase

Angel City #1

Spell on Wheels #1

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  1. Angel City a Thrilling Retro Adventure – With Preview Pages – Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Dolores Dare and Frances Faye both wanted to become stars in Hollywood. Frances winds up dead, but Dolores, now a tough, hard-bitten dame, became an enforcer, as shown in the preview pages below. The dialogue is flavorful without resorting to cliché, while Levens’ art is solidly structured and full of attitude. You can find out more about her approach and influences in this interview with Levens. […]

  2. Gotham Newsstand Says:

    […] Here’s the artist talking about her style on this book, and the upcoming Oni Press Angel City … […]