Between the recent Steven Universe ongoing comic and new episodes of the show airing this month, it’s a great time to be a fan of the Cartoon Network series.Now, it’s about to get even better.
KaBOOM! — an imprint of BOOM! Studios — will be publishing an original graphic novel based on the show, EW has learned exclusively.
Titled Steven Universe: Anti-Gravity, the graphic novel will be written by Talya Perper with Queenie Chan doing the art. The story will see Steven and the Crystal Gems travel to the Moon Base in order to figure out who (or what) might be causing the electrical disturbances that are causing objects to mysteriously hover all over town.
EW spoke to Perper and Chan about what readers (and Steven Universe) fans can expect from the upcoming graphic novel, which will be released July 25 — plus, get an exclusive look at the cover by Sara Talmadge.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How familiar were you with Steven Universe before you started working on this graphic novel?
TALYA PERPER: Very familiar. I remember when Cartoon Network announced it as an idea they were considering for a series, and I thought to myself, “Oh! This looks like it’s going to be so good!” It’s amazing to see how the show has continued to outdo itself over time. It’s a huge inspiration, and easily one of my favorite shows.
QUEENIE CHAN: I started watching the show around the time the episode “Ocean Gem” aired, so I’d say I’ve followed it for a little over two years. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to work on a property I enjoy a lot.
When in the TV series’ timeline is this graphic novel set?
CHAN: Sometime after Peridot’s visit to the moon base. So the characters (particularly Steven) are just starting to realize the scale of everything that’s happening.
PERPER: Somewhere between Seasons 3 and 4. It’s meant to be a “filler episode,” so anyone could read it without having to watch the entire show for context. That said, it features certain magical abilities that aren’t introduced until Season 3 Episode 6, so if you’re hardcore anti-spoiler, keep that in mind. Personally, I like when stories throw new concepts at you without too much context—it’s like discovering a new world. I hope people who have never seen Steven Universe before will read this and think, “Whoa! This world is amazing! I have to know more.”
Talya, How did you approach coming up with this story set in the Steven Universe universe? What are some of the things you had to consider?
PERPER: Part of the reason I love the show so much is that every episode is informed by a much wider story arc that spans across seasons. I didn’t want to step on the show’s toes by introducing canon-shifting concepts or new characters or anything like that. One of my initial ideas ended up being covered in a Season 4 episode that hadn’t been released at the time [so] close call! The challenge was to keep the stakes high and interesting using concepts that are already established in the show. I’m a big fan of the Steven Universe comics by Jeremy Sorese and Coleman Engle, they did a great job of telling stories with new design elements that didn’t interfere with the canon, but enriched it. They were a big inspiration to me while writing this story.
Queenie, Steven Universe is known for having beautiful visuals. What were you most excited about in terms of getting to depict aspects of the show’s world?
CHAN: Getting to draw the characters. Looking back at the show’s pilot and comparing it to how the designs have evolved over time, I really get a sense of how strong the character designs are. They work well because they use visual language that really complement the characters’ personalities.
Did you talk to Rebecca Sugar or anyone who works on the TV series as part of your research?
PERPER: I was lucky enough to have met Ben Levin, one of the writers on the show, through a mutual friend, so I asked him for advice and we met a few times as I was writing the outline. He answered some questions I had about episode structure, how the characters would act in certain situations, and helped me steer clear of any canonical minefields.
Since you were fans of the show, what did working on a Steven Universe graphic novel teach you about the characters that you hadn’t realized before?
CHAN: With different people working on the same characters, it’s interesting because they might all interpret the characters a little differently. For example, I don’t really think of Pearl as uptight, but when I see how other people depict her, I realize that yeah, she can be pretty uptight and high strung, and that’s part of her charm.
PERPER: When fans talk about their favorite characters, it’s usually one of the Gems since they have these amazing powers. The more I investigated the human characters, or the citizens of Beach City, though, the more I realized that they all have equally thought-out backstories and desires. The world of Steven Universe revolves around this magical or sci-fi element, but it’s really interesting to see how all these humans interact with the magical stuff that happens in their town on a daily basis.
For example, Ronaldo, who is featured prominently in Anti-Gravity, is a paranormal enthusiast and widely considered a weirdo, but he’s also one of the few people in Beach City to question why the Gems are living there and why magical stuff is happening there constantly. With any magical story, there’s got to be a human element to connect to. Ronaldo’s struggle to understand the world around him is very relatable. I have a newfound love for him in particular, but also for the other human characters in Beach City who are all trying to peacefully live their own lives. It’s easy to see why Steven wants to protect them.
Steven Universe: Anti-Gravity will be available for purchase July 25.