ComicBuzz Chats With Derek Charm

With the release of Toxic Summer #1 from Oni Press tomorrow, we are delighted to be joined by the artist/writer Derek Charm. Derek is an Eisner Award-winning cartoonist; his work can be seen in such comics as Jughead and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.


Hi, Derek; it’s so great to have you here with us.

Thanks for having me!


Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Derek Charm, I’m an Eisner-winning comics artist and also work in animation. I’ve worked on Jughead and Jughead’s Time Police for Archie Comics, the last 20 issues of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl for Marvel, a big chunk of Star Wars Adventures for IDW Publishing, and a bunch of other stuff.


Can you tell us about the origins of Toxic Summer?

It really came out of wanting to do something light and silly with a spooky edge. I wanted to focus on two friends coming to a new place with this creeping horror/sci-fi element that starts out in the background and then pushes its way into their lives.


How would you describe Toxic Summer?

I keep saying it’s a Sci-Fi-Beach-Horror-Comedy, although my editor described it as Call Me By Your Name meets Scooby Doo, which I also liked. It’s about two idiot best friends who get dragged into ever-escalating spookiness while desperately trying to have their dream summer.


Who are Ben and Leo?

Ben and Leo are two best friends who have an intricate plan to have the best summer of their lives by being lifeguards at a beach party town called Port Dorian. When they arrive, they find the beach is closed due to a toxic spill and things get worse from there. Leo is the abrasive loudmouth leader-type and Ben is the chill go-with-the-flow loyal friend.


What has it been like working with Oni Press?

Oni has been amazing every step of the way. It was their idea to present the book in this format of a double-sized first issue followed by regular-sized issues for the rest of the series. Having that extra room in the first issue to develop the characters and the setting made such a huge difference in being able to build this world and set up the rest of the story.


How did Oni Press get involved with Toxic Summer?

I was working on this pitch on my own back in 2021 and out of the blue Alex Segura, who I used to work with at Archie and was at that time with Oni, messaged asking if I had anything to pitch and coincidentally I did! It all came together quickly but took a few years to really get cooking due to various obligations.


What can you tell us about Port Dorian?

It’s a sleepy beach town, sort of based on a combination of various places I’ve been both upstate New York and in California. I wanted to get across the idea that it’s super small in the off-season months, and since this takes place pre-cellphones, they’re more cut off from the rest of the world.


You created all of the art for the Toxic Summer. What part of that process did you enjoy the most?

I really enjoyed coloring this one! I tried using a lot of atmospheric colors so when we’re out in the toxic haze everything is tinted green, and when inside everything has a warmer vibe. It’s something we do a lot in animation that I was excited to try out here.


How did you pick the artists for the alternative covers?

My editor Bess Pallares and I both made huge lists of artists we either knew personally or were big fans of and started reaching out to see who was available. I’m super happy with all of the cover artists we got for this series, and was so excited to see their interpretations of these characters and this world.


Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?

I hope everyone checks out the book when it’s released on May 1!

We would like to say thank you to Derek for chatting with us and wish him the best of luck for the release of Toxic Summer.

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