Princesses and political ambition. Space operas and royal families. Cosmoknights is a story about a rebellion and the upending of the patriarchal status quo. When a tale of a group of women, princesses, and rebels, tired of the system of being sold for wealth, decides to break free. A popular webcomic turned into a graphic novel by Top Shelf Productions.
The Workprint was lucky enough to speak with Cosmoknights’ creator Hannah Templer via e-mail, who shared with us where the series is about to go. She also shares what fans should expect from the upcoming series and reveals what inspired this colorful story, as Templer imparts some wisdom about the important themes of ‘Found Family’ in the queer community.
First, what is Cosmoknights for anyone who’s unfamiliar?
Cosmoknights is my sci-fi graphic novel series about lesbian gladiators fighting the patriarchy… in space! It follows the story of Pandora Leverett, a young woman from a small planet at the edge of the galaxy who gets swept up in an epic adventure. After helping her best friend Tara (a space princess) run away from home to escape an arranged marriage, Pan finds herself an outcast, blamed for her home-planet’s economic downturn. But when a pair of charismatic Cosmoknights show up on her doorstep years later, Pan is intrigued—these women compete in jousting matches not for the hands of princesses, but for their freedom. On an impulse, Pan sneaks onto their spaceship to join their cause.
Can you hint at what returning readers can expect out of Book 2?
While Book One focused on introducing the characters and setting up the universe, Book Two really dives into our main characters’ relationships, strengths, and flaws. The book has plenty of new (and old!) faces, picking up right where Book One left off—we return to find our heroes reckoning with a princess who seems less-than-happy to be “rescued”, as well as a mysterious new threat in pursuit of their ship! The second book really explores what it means to have autonomy while still being part of a family.
There’s a very distinct look to your art that’s nothing shy of amazing. Can I ask, what sources helped shape your style over the years?
Thank you! I draw a lot of inspiration from 80’s-00’s cartoons and anime—I grew up on Jem and the Holograms, Barbie and the Rockstars, Gall Force, Cowboy Bebop, etc. and absolutely love a stylized, campy, colorful aesthetic. I also love the Disney films Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet, both of which inspired me to learn to draw when I was a teenager, and still inform my sense of color and tone. And then of course, I draw a lot of inspiration from a whole host of other fantastic comic artists: Sam Bosma, Yuko Ota, Giannis Milonogiannis, Annie Wu, Freddy Carrasco, Ryoko Kui, Jen Wang, Nina Vakueva… I could go on forever!
Cosmoknights deals a lot with the concept of ‘found family”, any plans on playing with that theme in Book 3?
Yes! The whole series is dedicated to found family, so it’s certainly a central element of each book. Book Two introduces a lot of conflict for our heroes to work through, both external and internal, so it’s likely that in Book Three we will find them stronger and closer than ever, ready for new challenges. Which is good, because there is some wild stuff on the way.
Honestly, writing found family dynamics is my favorite part of working on this series—I love exploring individual character arcs as well as the arcs of their friendships, following these women as they learn about living with each other and resolving their differences. Maintenance and growth is such a huge part of being a member of a community, and I love to write from my own experiences finding and growing queer family.
In Book 1, I strongly suspected Kate was a villain. While she does get some redemption in Book 2, should fans accept her as a chaotic force for good? Or is she just a clever villain?
I don’t want to give anything away, especially because Book Three really is Kate’s book—we get into her backstory and where she came from, so all will be revealed. That being said, I think it’s clear the things she wants are all good things… it’s just that her path to get there tends to be an unbending straight line that plows through everything and everyone else. But you’re right—she does get some redemption in Book Two, and undergoes changes that might make her less reticent in the future… time will tell.
Should we be worried that Pan is named after the mythological Pandora?
I would be more worried that Pan isn’t familiar with that myth 🙂
Percy is easily one of my favorite characters in Cosmoknights. Might we get introduced to other space pets in the upcoming volumes?
Certainly! Most royal families have some sort of animal associated with their heraldry, so many of them do keep pets, although Caslon’s Palace Cats are probably the most well-known. While the third book will complete the trilogy, we still have a few new characters to meet…
Finally, if there was one theme or takeaway you’d like readers to bring home with them after reading volumes one and two. What would that be?
Well, returning to the idea of found family, Bee has a line in Book Two that really sums it up for me: “The family we choose molds who we are”.
For me, a huge part of becoming an adult (and specifically, a queer adult) was making intentional decisions for the first time in my life about the people I wanted to surround myself with—finding a balance between forming your own identity as well as learning and growing alongside others is such a challenging and beautiful process. Often choosing family means making hard decisions, but those decisions impact the course of the rest of our lives… choosing the people we let in means being brave and standing up for what’s right, even when it’s lonely.
That was it. Thanks again to Hannah Templer for allowing us to share the story of this epic new comic, and thanks again with the teams at Top Shelf, and Laura too!
CosmoKnights Book 2 hits shelves on June 13th.