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Surpassing expectations: David M. Booher and Drew Zucker on 'Canto III: Lionhearted'

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Surpassing expectations: David M. Booher and Drew Zucker on ‘Canto III: Lionhearted’

The latest chapter lands on July 14.

Canto is a series that AIPT has had its collective eye on since its first issue way back in 2019. Over the last few years, a sequel series has emerged, an animated movie was announced, and now a third chapter in the trilogy is set to release next month. Titled Canto III: Lionhearted, the new series launches July 14 from creators David M. Booher and Drew Zucker.

For a deep dive into this next exciting new phase of the story, we sat down with Booher and Zucker to discuss Canto’s success up until this point, what we have to look forward to with chapter three, and details on the animated feature, among many other tidbits.

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Plus, check out an exclusive SDCC 2021 variant cover reveal for Canto III: Lionhearted #1.

AIPT: When you started this journey of Canto, in your wildest dreams did you have a trilogy set up in your mind, or did you have this plotted out for this upcoming third series?

David M. Booher: It has been a wild journey, for sure. When we started, we had three story arcs in mind with a clear idea of where Canto’s story would end. We were able to break it into four story arcs, but it still follows the outline we’ve had planned since we first put pen to paper.

Drew Zucker:  It’s hard to believe how far Canto has come.  When I look back at all the work we’ve done in the last few years it’s a bit surreal. Like David said we always had three arcs laid out, but even with that planning it’s never guaranteed you’ll get to tell those stories.

David M. Booher & Drew Zucker CANTO III: Lionhearted

Exclusive SDCC 2021 variant cover art. Courtesy of IDW.

AIPT: I find it almost brave to not feel like you need captions or dialogue on every page. In the first issue of Canto: Lionhearted III, there’s an action scene early on without any. How do you know when to pull back and let the art speak for itself?

DB: With Drew’s amazing art, it’s easy to find the places to give him space to flex his creative muscles. Good comics mix words and art to tell a holistic story. The key is to understand when to pull back on one to let the other carry the narrative forward. The opening sequence to Canto III: Lionhearted #1 was a perfect place to let Drew do his thing.

AIPT: When diving back into a story like this, how do you manage expectations for a bigger, grander, or different kind of story but still maintaining the original identity of the series?

DB: That’s always the challenge with sequels, isn’t it? We’ve set expectations, and now we need to surpass them. At the end of the day, we’re telling the story we would love to read ourselves. We think readers will come along for that ride, no matter how big or small Canto’s adventure becomes.

DZ: For me, I try to find a visual theme I want to play within each volume.  In Vol1 it was about seeing a new world through Canto’s eyes, volume two was about using a lot of large-scale environment shots where Canto is tiny in the frame, but the world feels large.  Setting a theme for myself helps with maintaining the identity of the book because I’m still using the same visual elements, but presenting it in a new way.

AIPT: If you had to pick a favorite moment in this new story arc, which issue would it be in (totally setting you up to hype the book here haha)?

DB: Without revealing too many spoilers, we’ve always treated every character — whether friend or foe — as complex. In this arc, we see Canto help the Fury understand what the Shrouded Man has done to her. They both begin to understand how deep the Shrouded Man’s corruption goes in the Unnamed World.

DZ: There is a scene that comes late in this story that I haven’t drawn yet, but I’m so excited to get to.  It relates a bit to what has David excited, but this one particular shot is what I’m driving towards.  David actually included it in the initial outline for Lionhearted that he sent me, and when I read it, I knew it was going to be the one page I was driving towards in this arc.

David M. Booher & Drew Zucker CANTO III: Lionhearted

Canto III: Lionhearted #1 main cover. Courtesy IDW.

AIPT: Can you give any updates on the upcoming animated feature?

DB: We’re hard at work putting all the pieces together to make the best movie possible. Beyond that, it’s a little early in the process. Stay tuned to the socials for updates on our progress.

DZ: It’s all really exciting.  There isn’t much to report just yet, but fans can rest assured it has become a pretty constant part of our lives these days.

AIPT: What comics are you reading right now?

DB: Locke & Key/Sandman; TMNT: The Last Ronin; a wonderful graphic novel by Zoe Thorogood called The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott, and tons of indie comics in my massive to-read pile!

DZ: I’m still working my way through Akira, and have actually gotten sidetracked back into Y: The Last Man.  I also just picked up The Fall by Jared Muralt, which I’m really excited to finally dig into.

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