Adler: Interview and competition

We speak to Adler artist Paul McCaffrey PLUS we’re giving away a copy of the genre-twisting comic book with our latest competition!


Set 1902, Adler follows Jane Eyre, who has been wounded in the Boer War, and has returned to a London transmogrified by emerging modernity. An old friend, the glamorous inventor Lady Havisham, introduces her to the American adventuress Irene Adler, and the two seek lodging together. But Adler is engaged in a brutal secret war against a mortal enemy of the British Empire: Ayesha, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, who seeks revenge against the colonisers who destroyed her country. And Jane, not unwilling, is swept up in the case…

Written by Lavie Tidhar and drawn by artist Paul McCaffrey, Adler is a genre-twisting, gender-flipping gorgeously-illustrated graphic novel adventure that is out now to buy! To celebrate we’re giving away a copy of Adler PLUS we spoke to artist Paul McCaffrey about drawing the comic…

How did you first get on board in creating the art for Adler?

Lavie and I had collaborated on a (sort-of) children’s book, Going To The Moon and, for some strange reason, he wasn’t totally averse to working with me again. Our first pitch to Titan didn’t go through – it became Lavie’s novel The Violent Century, so all was not lost – and Lavie then came back with Adler, a rollicking action romp.

The aesthetic of the world is intrinsic to the story in Adler. How did you go about developing this alt-history/steampunk London?

For me, the most important thing – and also the most difficult, too – was to make the London of Adler recognisable and real. These are actual locations, after all. If the period detail felt believable, I hoped it would ground the story and the reader would accept the more fantastical elements, too. I do like the steampunk aesthetic but I felt I shouldn’t overuse it for this story.

Did you look to any other iterations of the characters or the works from the time period for inspiration when creating the art work?

I’m afraid I was pretty lazy when it came to research into the characters – film and TV reference rather than the original texts! Unlike Sherlock Holmes, for example, I’m not sure Irene Adler has a strong visual identity in popular culture. That gave me a lot of latitude. Emma Peel from The Avengers TV series was an influence and there’s a bit of Wild-West-gunslinger in there, too. I chose to dress Estella Havisham in white throughout the story as a nod to Miss Havisham’s wedding dress in Great Expectations.

In contrast with the other main characters, Jane needed to look a little more conservative and of-the-period. Ayesha is probably a blend of the Hammer Films version and Xena: Warrior Princess – very high-brow! I wanted Carmilla to look severe and ruthless – hence the black bob – and her coat was inspired by Graf Orlok from Nosferatu.

How did the collaboration process work between you and Lavie in creating the book?

Lavie wrote the words and I drew the pictures! That pretty much sums up the process. All the character designs had to be approved by Lavie, of course, but we seem to think along complementary lines – I hope!

Is there any particular situation or character you’d like for the next book to include so you can create the visuals for them?

Lavie has already mentioned some ideas for another Adler series, which include some very cool – but challenging, for me – visuals! More scope for fantastical steampunk creations…

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Want to win a copy of Adler to take home? Simply answer the question below to be in with a chance (competition closes on 13 April)…

*** Competition Expired ***

Adler, written Lavie Tidhar and drawn by artist Paul McCaffrey is out now from Titan Comic. Read our review here.