Inside The Cave with Olivia Stephens

Heed the Tiger’s Tongue and you will not be led astray.

Our upcoming series, The Tiger’s Tongue, follows twin princesses Kelindi and Aridani as they navigate trials for the throne, and ultimately, decide the future of their kingdom.
We were fortunate enough to chat with author Olivia Stephens about her creative process, her upcoming projects, The Tiger’s Tongue, and more! You can check out the full interview below!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions! First thing’s first, tell us a bit about yourself!

Olivia: My name is Olivia Stephens, author of The Tiger’s Tongue, and I am a graphic novelist, illustrator, and writer from the Pacific Northwest. My debut graphic novel Artie and the Wolf Moon came out from Lerner Books in 2021. I’ve also created work for a number of sites and publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction.

What was your first experience with comics?

Olivia: It was probably reading Captain Underpants books when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. I loved Dav Pilkey’s work so much as a child and tried to draw my own spin-off comic called “Captain Bikini”, or something like that.

Can you tell us a little bit about what your creative process looks like?

Olivia: The Tiger’s Tongue is my first project where I’m just writing and not also drawing the story, so it’s very different from my usual process. I spend most of my time listening to music and taking walks while I think. It’s a lot of thinking and talking to myself. The actual script writing only takes me a few days per issue because most of the time is dedicated to acting everything out in my head. And because someone else is drawing it, I need to pay more attention to fleshing out details in the script than I usually would. But I also wanted things to be loose enough for Diansakhu to use her own artistic license. It’s been a fun new challenge!

Who/what are your biggest influences as a creator?

Olivia: Most of my inspiration actually comes from music. So I’m always on the lookout for new songs that might inspire a project. I listen to everything, and the genre changes depending on the tone of the project I’m working on. As far as comics go, some of my formative influences were Tite Kubo, E.K. Weaver, and Hiromu Arakawa.

What do you hope for people to take away after reading The Tiger’s Tongue?

Olivia: Every monarchy is living on borrowed time.

What are some of your favorite stories/genres? Anything in particular that we should be reading?

Olivia: I’ll read just about anything if the creator has a strong voice and style. Lately I’ve been enjoying the Instagram comics of Dr. Derek M. Ballard . I’ve also been reading Linnea Sterte’s new comic “A Garden of Spheres”, which they’ve been serializing on Patreon. And everyone on earth should be reading SUPERPOSE by seosamh and anka.

Any upcoming projects we should know about?

Olivia: I’m currently at work on a new comic that I’ll be releasing on my own later this year. My debut book, Artie and the Wolf Moon, was an all-ages werewolf story in a contemporary setting. But this new comic is a werewolf story for adult audiences in a historical setting, and it takes quite a different approach to the concept. I’m excited for people to read it. You can view updates on the project via my Patreon.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Olivia: I hope y’all enjoy The Tiger’s Tongue! Thanks for your time.

Olivia Stephens is a graphic novelist, illustrator, and writer from the Pacific Northwest. She earned her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017. Olivia has created work for a number of sites and publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. Her debut graphic novel, ARTIE AND THE WOLF MOON, comes out from Lerner Books in Fall 2021.

The Tiger’s Tongue #1 is currently available for preorder on our website here, and will be available on Comixology, Drive-thru comics, and your favorite local comic book shop on July 6th, 2022!

Mad Cave Studios is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded by Mark London in 2014 driven by madness and committed to quality. For additional information, visit madcavestudios.com.

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