Julie Maroh on Bringing Aqualad's Coming Out Story to Life in You Brought Me the Ocean
DC's latest graphic novel for young adults, You Brought Me the Ocean, lands in comic book stores [...]
DC's latest graphic novel for young adults, You Brought Me the Ocean, lands in comic book stores this week and brings with it a fresh story of Aqualad, Jackson "Jake" Hyde. But while Jake, the latest young hero to take on the Aqualad mantle, is a familiar face for fans of DC's animated offerings as well as comics in recent years, You Brought Me the Ocean isn't your standard heroic "capes and tights" tale. Instead, You Brought Me the Ocean explores the more human side of Jake's experiences by taking a deeper look at the character's origin with not just coming-of-age and coming into his powers story, but one in which he also accepts himself in a beautiful and relatable coming out story.
While author Alex Sanchez's story itself is engrossing and relatable, artist Julie Maroh's art delivers Aqualad's journey to life visually with all of its struggle and beauty through page after page of art that explores not only Jake's exploration of self, but his place in the world. Jake's longing for the ocean is juxtaposed against the desert backdrop of his home in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico and, thanks to Maroh's use of line and color, the world comes alive in a way that is both extraordinary and rooted in humanity. ComicBook.com had the opportunity to chat with Maroh about their approach to You Brought Me the Ocean, their inspiration and creative process for bringing Jake's world to life, as well as some of their favorite images from the book.
Read on for our chat with Maroh below.
Always Check Your Spam Folder
ComicBook.com: How did you come to be involved with You Brought Me the Ocean?
Julie Maroh: Actually, it's a funny story because when my editor, Sara Miller, reached out to me, her email ended up straight in the spam box! Fortunately, I'm the kind of person who checks it almost every day. It would have been awful to miss this chance. DC was looking for an artist for the project, and given my previous work with queer narratives, she thought I would be a good fit. So now I say to everyone, "Check your spam box!"prevnext
Were you a fan of DC Comics before working on this project?
I must confess I wasn't familiar with American comics in the least. But thinking back on the project, I feel it was better not having much knowledge of the Aqualad character in that I wasn't pressured by my own expectations or by other people's expectations. However, our editor was always present to ensure our story remained true to the core of the character. The three of us were a great team.prevnext
What was your creative process like for creating the art for this book? How did you collaborate with Alex Sanchez to bring things to life?
DC wanted Alex and me to put a fresh spin on Jake's character, so with that in mind, I was able to explore many creative ideas through the artwork. When I came on to the project, Alex had already shaped Jake's teen-aged personality. I did my best to emphasize his vision of the story and characters through my designs. Alex and I share similar storytelling styles, which reinforced our partnership. For example, his script was very detailed in describing facial expressions and gestures, which is how I approach my own stories.prevnext
What was your inspiration for creating the visual world of You Brought Me the Ocean?
For Jake's character, I loved creating the design for his superhero marks, which are based on aquatic creatures. I also enjoyed designing how his power activates. For the visual world in itself, I didn't really look for inspirations, except for references of New Mexico and landscapes.prevnext
"No Man's Land"
How does this project differ from your previous work? How is it the same?
I would say the story remains similar to themes I usually explore in my own personal work. Most of my books question what I like to call the "no man's land" between intimate life and social expectations, so I felt [I was in familiar] territory with this new project. The main difference with You Brought Me the Ocean was sharing the work with a writer, which was a first for me. But if I had any concerns in the beginning they were soon set aside, as Alex and I got along very well.prevnext
The Use of Color
One of the things that just comes right off of the page is the color. You do such a beautiful job of making Jake's powers, as well as the water in his world, just look so magical. How did you approach that aspect of the book?
Thank you! In the colorwork, I wanted to play with the different atmospheres of the story. The environment where Jake grew up is arid and dry, represented with warm colors. But suddenly water and love come in and shake up his life, bringing all the blue and turquoise tones. So the story flows between these two atmospheres. The use of colors was my way to express the changes occurring in Jake's life.
Also, given the dimensions of the book and the schedule we worked with, I tried to keep the colored atmospheres breathing, synthesized.prevnext
Most Proud Of
What is the thing that you're most proud of with You Brought Me the Ocean?
I am honored to have worked on this beautiful and inspiring queer and intersectional coming-of-age story. I mean, Jake is a Black gay teenager, he's about to discover his special powers and to fall in love for the first time, all at once. Imagine how it would feel. Imagine the sense of empowerment it gives to a teenager to read about his experience. At least that is my hope.prevnext
Do you have a favorite page or piece of art in the book?
Personally, I'm very fond of drawing nature, so I really enjoyed drawing the scene of Jake taking Kenny on a hike, and the curves of the canyons. The light in that moment is changing, darkening, because a storm is coming (which is my favorite weather). The two boys are alone together for the first time. They open to each other, as the canyon opens itself to let them enter a new landscape of their life. I tried to put all my heart in this scene and in the curved lines of the rocks.
You Brought Me the Ocean is on sale now.prev