TAKE 10! Sirens of the City

TAKE 10! Sirens of the City

BOOM! Studios: TAKE 10! is a brand new interview series asking writers and artists about their new series or graphic novels.

New York City. 1980s.

Runaway teen Layla struggles to survive the mean streets, far from home. Meanwhile, every supernatural creature–from sirens to incubi–descend upon the city…all in vying for control of Layla and the pregnancy she never wanted.

In SIRENS OF THE CITY, Joanne Starer (Painkiller Jane) and Khary Randolph (Excellence) shine a light on body autonomy and consent in their gritty urban fantasy. SIRENS OF THE CITY #1 will be available in comic shops on July 12, 2023. It is available for pre-order at your local comic shop. Digital copies can be purchased from content providers, including comiXology, iBooks, Google Play, and Kindle. 

1. What was the most challenging aspect of working on this series?

Joanne Starer: Sirens balances some heavy topics, like women’s bodily autonomy, with lighter adventure and romance. Finding ways to keep the book funny and not preachy was always a struggle for me. I never want people to feel lectured. This is entertainment. But maybe it’s entertainment with a conscience. 

Khary Randolph: For me, the most challenging (but also most rewarding) part of working on Sirens is all the reference work that goes into it. I’ve lived in New York, and I lived through the 80s, but unlike Joanne I didn’t live in New York in the 80s. NYC is as big a character as any other in the book, so I try my very hardest to make sure that everything is accurate and believable as far as setting, clothes, music etc. I’ve spent way too many hours making sure that that bottle of Yoo-hoo is as accurate as it can be.

2. Could you explain the title?

J: Oh, so you see, the main character is a siren, like the kind that sings to control men. And she’s in New York City. But also there are a lot of other types of sirens in New York, like police and ambulance sirens. We thought we were being clever, but it’s not. At all. 

K: We’re SO clever.

3. What is the elevator pitch for the series?

J: Layla is a teenage runaway pregnant with a supernatural baby. She’s desperate to end the pregnancy, but all the creatures of the city want to get their hands on it…and her.  

K: Imagine The Warriors meets The Vampire Diaries.

4. What does your writing and drawing space look like?

J: I’d love to tell you that I have some beautiful studio filled with books and old typewriters. But I work on the couch, in my pajamas. I am always in pajamas. 

K: Yeah, there is no “drawing space.” Sometimes I’m in Manhattan, sometimes I’m in Brooklyn, sometimes I’m in Austria or a random hotel room. As long as I have a seat, me and my Surface Pro tablet are just fine. 

5. What was your biggest inspiration for Sirens of the City?

J: The terrifying news cycle, probably. You live through the overruling of Roe v. Wade, not to mention everything else that has been going on in America the last few years, and it has a profound effect on you. So I sort of took that and placed it into this context of a young girl who has to fight literal monsters to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy. 

K: The setting and mood came first. I think visually, and a black and white comic book that had a darker feel than my usual work was very appealing to me. I wanted to draw the world and then Joanne came in and brought in actual pathos and meaning to it. 

6. What are you reading now and what’s on your pull list?

J: Well, I recently moved to Vienna, Austria, so I don’t have a pull list set up here. I have a pile of stuff that needs to be read once I’m more settled, but I think the last thing I really sat down and spent proper time with was Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber’s Jimmy Olsen series. I love a comedy book.

K: I don’t read a ton of comics when I’m in the middle of creating because I don’t want to be overly influenced. But the last things I read and really enjoyed were Human Target by Tom King and Greg Smallwood and Catwoman: Lonely City by Cliff Chiang. Oh, and I recently reread a bunch of Hellboy stuff to get into the darker, spooky art vibe of this book. 

7. Describe your ideal way to sit down and read a comic or graphic novel.

J: In bed. In my PAJAMAS.

K: On my porcelain throne. Aka toilet.

8. What is your favorite writing/drawing snack or drink?

J: I don’t know if I really eat WHILE I’m writing? I do this thing where I force myself to finish a certain amount of work, and THEN I reward myself. “Write two pages, and then you can have a cookie.” This was a long way of saying cookie. Cookies are my favorite snack.

K: Coffee and Bischoff cookies. Man those things are addictive. 

9. Who would you cast in your dream movie or TV adaptation of the series?

J: This is actually the hardest question because the book is about teenagers, and teen actors are always growing up and aging out of parts. So even the people who inspired some of the characters when we were starting the series, they’d be too old to play them now! But I do really like Tati Gabrielle—before You, when she was on The 100, you could really see the Layla in her. She has that great combination of vulnerability and fierceness. If Mason Gooding was just a little younger and a little less jacked, he’d be my perfect Davi. And in a dream world, if I could have a teenage Tyler James Williams as Rome—I think he’s got kid brothers, right? Let’s get one of them!

K: Chloe Bailey was initially my dream choice for Layla. But then I found out she was gonna be The Little Mermaid and that subject matter was maybe a wee bit too close to home. Selena Gomez was one of my initial inspirations for Marisol, but now I kinda feel like Jenna Ortega has taken that role over in my mind. The boys are so much tougher though, I still need to work on figuring that out. 

10. What piece of advice would you give to the main character? What about the villains?

J: Oh I’d for sure tell Layla, “Get out of New York!” But I’m not giving the villains any advice! Who do you think I am??

K: Dear Layla: use protection. Dear villains: fall back. Y’all don’t want this smoke. 

SIRENS OF THE CITY #1 will be available in comic shops on July 12, 2023!