Today I’m bringing you a post I was teasing in my June wrap-up that I am so very excited about!! As part of the blog tour celebrating the release of THE REBEL ARMY, the third and final comic in The Steel Prince trilogy, I was able to interview V.E. Schwab about this last installment specifically as well as the series as a whole and it was so much fun.
I don’t know about you but when I was reading The Shade of Magic trilogy, I always wondered about the back story of king Maxim. He always had this mythical aura to him and somewhat of a legendary reputation wherever he goes and whenever he’s brought up. So I’ve always been curious as to how he was shaped into the king we meet in the trilogy. Now that I’ve read The Steel Prince trilogy comics, I have gained a lot more insight into his story, and I really enjoyed every single issue for its own reasons, and loved the themes each of them explores. So I’m excited to share this interview with you so you can gain some insight on it, as I have!
But before we get started, here are some panels from THE REBEL ARMY!
Hello Victoria, thank you for joining me for this interview! To kick things off, why did you choose to go the comic route with Maxim’s story as opposed to the classic novel structure like the original Shades of Magic trilogy?
I’d always wanted to explore the Shades world in a visual medium, and when Titan invited me to do so, it became a matter of choosing which story to tell. The first trilogy of books had just concluded, and I’d just sold the next arc, Threads of Power, which moves forward in time, so the comics felt like an opportunity to go back. Maxim is a character who’s fairly set in his ways in the books, and I relished the chance to explore who he was before he became king, specifically when he was Prince Rhy’s age.
Were there any challenges that you found specific to writing in this format?
Definitely length. In a novel, a scene/chapter/part can be as long as it needs to be for the story. In comics, you’re bound to a specific format, with really a maximum number of panels per page, and a need to structure the arc so it fits a specific number of issues. Add to that the inability to have multiple actions happening simultaneously, and it was a major learning curve.
Was Prince Maxim’s story already well formed or did it gradually come to be as you worked on the comics?
I had the barest outline of Maxim’s story in my head. I’d hinted at it in Conjuring of Light, when we learn of the three feats that forged Maxim’s reputation as the Steel Prince, but that was it. It was a process of discovery, as I outlined the comics.
There’s continuity between the different volumes of the series, but each one has it’s own complete storyline, what should readers come to expect from THE REBEL ARMY?
Yeah, each comic arc focuses on one of the feats that formed Maxim’s reputation/myth, but like all sequential stories about a person’s life, they build on each other. The actions in the first arc inform the plot of the second, which provides the consequences and motives for the third. THE REBEL ARMY is the culmination of every decision, mistake, and victory Maxim’s made. It’s a reckoning.
This series explores the fine line we walk between truth and legend, THE REBEL ARMY specifically dives even deeper into it, why was that an important theme for you to explore?
Well, my entire job is creating narratives, and while I focus on fictional ones, they follow the same rules as reality. Who we are is a product of what we’ve done, and how we’re perceived for it. There’s no such thing as objective truth. And as royalty, Maxim (in the comics) and his son Rhy (in the books) are both discovering that myths have a mind of their own.
Furthermore, in THE REBEL ARMY, we also see Prince Maxim being pulled in different directions. One of which being his loyalty to the royal family and the other his love for his new found family, who are the soldiers in Verose. How did you navigate that, sometimes muddy, situation?
I just try to stay authentic. Family dynamics are complicated, even without the added burden of royalty and platform. None of us live in a void. We each sit at the intersection of our personal and public worlds, the aspects of our identity we can control, and the ones we can’t. To some degree, we all have to navigate that.
I was really curious as to what the origin of the rebel army was, will we ever have a backstory about it, and if not can you tell us how it came to exist?
Oh man, I hope to put them in the next book. They were created specifically for this comic, but I feel like I’ve only skimmed the surface of that particular group, and I do love tracing storylines backward and forward to find out how they started and, if some version exists 30+ years later, at the time of the books, what they look like.
THE REBEL ARMY is the last in the trilogy but can we expect to revisit Prince Maxim again in the future?
Perhaps! I hope so? I try not to make promises based solely on desire, but I have loved working on these comics. I hope I get to come back to Red London. In the meantime, I have a brand new one, hitting shelves next year, called EXTRAORDINARY, set in the world of my Villains books.
BUY THE COMIC
Main edition – Forbidden Planet special edition – Barnes & Noble edition – Amazon US – Amazon UK
About the author
Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the #1 NYT, USA, and Indie bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and This Savage Song. Her work has received critical acclaim, been featured by EW and The New York Times, been translated into more than a dozen languages, and been optioned for TV and Film. The Independent calls her the “natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and touts her “enviable, almost Gaimanesque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”
She is represented by Holly Root at Root Literary and Jon Cassir at CAA.
That’s it until next time.
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.