Cavan Scott has a Writer's Commentary on Shadow Service #2, published by Vault Comics. Have you got your copy to hand? Then we are away.
And we're back for another issue of black magic and black ops. When we last saw Gina, she was trapped in a witch bottle, the prisoner of a mysterious organization. In this issue, we find out who they are.
Before we continue, beware…there will be spoilers!
Pages 1-2: Welcome back to Gina Meyer's traumatic childhood. The demon in the walls was my first indication of just how much Corin would enjoy drawing malevolent tentacled monsters. The answer is a lot. From this point on, malevolent tentacled monsters become more of a thing!
Page 3: And we have the first magical word of the issue, Gina's teleportation cantrip. In Old English, befleon means to flee or escape. Although there's no escaping the detail Corin puts into Piccadilly Circus there. Look at all that brickwork!
Pages 4-5: Love the greenwash that Tree gives the inside of Gina's witch bottle. And check out the horseshoes arranged in a circle to reflect Gina's magic back at her on page five. Iron was traditionally be used to ward off malevolent magic (and goblins for that matter), a classic defense against the evil eye. In German folklore, a horseshoe found beside the road and nailed to your front door offers protection as long as its arch points outwards. Point it the other way, and you're in trouble!
Page 6: Another spell for you, this time the levitation cantrip we saw Gina cast on Coyle last issue.
Page 7: The first proper mention of MI666 and also our introduction to Hex. I've been writing stories about MI666 for a while now, although both he and they have changed over time. An early version of Hex first appeared in the August 2013 edition of the British Fantasy Society Journal, in a story entitled 'Glory Bound,' although at this point Hex wasn't the young boy we see here, but a full-grown man.
Pages 8: My original character notes for this version of Hex included the words 'sinister freckles', which is now regularly 'shouted' in the Shadow Service Slack Channel whenever Hex is mentioned. The words 'little shit' are often used too.
Page 9: Hex is using the Elder Sign from the Lovecraftian mythos to stop the bottle in mid-air.
Page 10: Want to know how Gideon Quill got his scar? That comes in issue 5.
Pages 11: MI666 really likes using that hexfoil in their architecture and equipment. Oh, and Hex mentioned their Quartermaster a couple of pages back. You'll catch a glimpse of him next issue.
Page 12: Slappy, as any Goosebumps fan worth their salt knows, is a demonic ventriloquist dummy who, by the looks of things, shares Hex's tailor!
Page 13: Temptation Antiques is a little nod to Temptations Ltd from one of my favorite Amicus horror movies, From Beyond the Grave. In the movie, the store's creepy proprietor was played by the great Peter Cushing. It was the only shop name indicated in the script. The rest are all Corin's work. I particularly like 'Toss-A-Coin Pawn.' We had both been watching The Witcher at the time.
Page 14: An earlier version of the script explains that Gina is drinking a home-made potion of her own concoction that is supposed to help combat the exhaustion caused by her sleep deprivation. The particular one is made from nettles and rosemary.
Page 15: I was scratching my head, trying to work out an official name for MI666. Then the evening before I was due to submit issue two's script, I re-watched one of my favorite Bond movies, The Living Daylights, which includes the line: "Sorry old man. Section 26, paragraph 5. Need to know. Sure, you understand." Section 26 was born.
Page 16: Gina's summoning of spiders came in a late draft. The spell she uses to call her eight-legged associates literally means 'to weave.'
Page 17: This arcane statue wasn't in the script but was added by Corin at the penciling stage. We loved it so much that statues of similar designs appear in future issues too. But what do they actually portray? All will be revealed later in the run.
Page 18: The Acorn computer gag was slipped in by Corin. Of course, there did use to be an Acorn computers, established in Cambridge in the late seventies, an organization I wrote about as a computer journalist, dubbing them the British equivalent of the Apple Macintosh. Perhaps in this timeline, Acorn flourished while Apple went down the toilet.
Page 19: Back at university, I had a mate from Manchester who used to call the police 'the dibs' after Officer Dibble from Top Cat. I finally found a way to immortalize it in print.
Page 21: Those aren't any ordinary handcuffs, as we'll find out next issue.
Page 22: What did I tell you about Corin? She really loves drawing this stuff!
I hope you enjoyed our second read-a-long, and you'll be back for issue 3 on 21st October, which sees time running out for Gina as she is faced with a terrible decision.