Tradd Moore Unveils the Mystery and Magic Behind Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise

In 1963’s Strange Tales #110, writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko introduced the world to Ditko’s creation, Doctor Stephen Strange, a surgeon turned Master of the Mystic Arts, who later became the Marvel Universe’s chief mystical defender, the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. Strange is known for defeating his foes with magic, but the true testament to the character’s greatness is the spell he’s cast on fans and creators. The phantasmagorical nature of Strange’s magical abilities and the realm he inhabits means writers and artists can let their imaginations run wild when they spin their Strange tales.

Writer/Artist Tradd Moore is doing just that with Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise, a new mini-series that kicks off in November. The four-issue tale finds the titular doctor stranded in a bizarre, mystical world. CBR spoke with Moore about that world, his story, collaborating with colorist Heather Moore, and Stephen Strange’s potent effect on a storyteller’s imagination. Marvel also shared a look at some unlettered pages from the first issue.

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CBR: The Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise promotional art I’ve seen suggests that you had a blast just being wildly creative and leaning into the adjective that is the titular character’s surname. Why do you think that is? What made you want to write and draw a Doctor Strange story?

Tradd Moore: Oh, absolutely! There’s no place for timidity in a Doctor Strange book — I simply won’t stand for it! With this series, I want every page to be something unique, personal, and expressive that challenges and expands my capabilities. Off the deep end is where Strange and I thrive!

At this point in my life and career, I have to lose my mind on every page or I’ll lose my mind for real — I often lose it both places.

The creative process is weird. You’ll have 100 ideas bouncing around in your imagination seemingly independent of one another, then BOOM. A Eureka moment strikes, and you realize 50 of the pieces fit together.

With Fall Sunrise, Doctor Strange himself was the connecting “Eureka!” piece. The project was in my head for a while as something else. I was jigsawing together long-gestating ideas to develop an independent series — then, as I was wrapping up Silver Surfer: Black, Marvel asked if I had anything I’d like to pitch to them. Everything snapped into place at once, and like thunder, I clapped, “DOCTOR STRANGE!” The room exploded, and I’ve been burning ever since.

With Strange at the center, the surrounding elements all fit snugly in place.

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At what point in Stephen Strange’s mystical career does Fall Sunrise take place? Is he just starting? Or is he already a veteran Sorcerer Supreme?

Strange is a veteran Sorcerer Supreme here, but I’m not explicit on when in his career it takes place. I want Fall Sunrise to be self-contained and “timeless,” insofar as that’s possible. It’s a comic anyone can pick up — you need no previous information.

It takes place after Ditko and Lee’s Strange Tales. That much is made evident early on, but that’s the only direct line made to any other Doctor Strange comics.

I love a good self-contained Marvel comic; those are the ones I return to most often. I’m drawn to the stories that stand on their own and define the spirit of a character: Miller and Claremont’s Wolverine, Barry Windsor-Smith’s Weapon X, Moebius and Lee’s Silver Surfer: Parable, that kind of thing. That’s what I’m aiming for here.

P. Craig Russell’s What is it that Disturbs you, Stephen? works in that way for Strange — I love that comic.

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What made you want to tell this story at this particular point in Stephen’s life? Which aspects of his character are you most interested in exploring?

There’s trauma we experience in life that we think we’re over, but we’re not. We won’t be; some traumas will never be over.

That’s the universal human element I’d like to struggle with in Fall Sunrise, as expressed through Doctor Strange and the rest of the characters: the losses we can’t let go of.

The cycles we can’t escape, the traumas we can’t overcome — how do we deal with these things? How do we accept the pain that will be with us always and move forward?

What I’ve read about Fall Sunrise suggests that the story begins with Doctor Strange waking up in a world that’s not his own. What can you tell us about this world? What inspired your designs for it?

It’s true! Fall Sunrise takes place in a medieval fantasy world called Pleoma. It’s mysterious and…

… Well, it can’t be mysterious if I tell you much, right? So I ain’t telling you much!

There are castles and trees; I’ll tell you that. And rocks!

Here’s a broken list of visual inspirations; I’ll scatter them on the floor. Gorge! Watch them coalesce: Caspar David Friedrich, Max Ernst, Ayami Kojima, Gianni De Luca, Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, John Boorman’s Excalibur, Hubert and Kerascoët’s Beauty, Scotland, Italy, and Final Fantasy X.

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The promotional art I’ve seen so far has some incredibly vibrant colors. What kind of role do Heather Moore’s colors play in the story you’re telling?

Heather’s colors are an integral part of this series — her name ain’t on the cover for nothin’!

Heather is an artist through and through. She approaches coloring with a level of intention, interest, dignity, and care that’s rare and laudable. Fierce! Passionate! Expressive! I love a collaborator whose efforts surprise, challenge, impress, and move me. Heather’s work does all and more!

Heather makes so many odd, feral, and personal creative decisions — I love it. Her work on Fall Sunrise is really a sight to behold.

I’ve poured a lot of energy and attention into Fall Sunrise, and I wanted a colorist who would do the same. I knew Heather would match my compulsive art intensity eye-to-eye! We spent a lot of time developing the look of this comic: I wrote out color bibles, she made extensive mood boards, we never stop sharing thoughts and inspiration material, etc.

It’s been such an enriching creative experience! We’re both better at what we do, thanks to our collaborations.

What can you tell us about some of the characters Strange runs afoul of early on in Fall Sunrise?

“On this Day, the walls grow thin, and Thin Things take to prowling,

Devils slink forth from fissures, and specters haunt the waking!”

Ghosts, beasts, and violent devils!

Dark Magic!


Knights without faces!

Knights without names!

Knights without hearts,

or scruples, or shame!

And somewhere… In some vile city… Some colossal machine… Churns our BLOOD!!!

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Is this a tale with mostly new supporting characters? Or will we see some familiar faces as well?

This tale will feature an entirely new world with entirely new supporting characters! There shall be no familiar faces lest you read near a mirror!

Two new characters you can look forward to are Yalda — a mysterious healer with secrets — and Still Mona — an expatriate Knight with secrets. Everyone has secrets; DIE WITH THEM.

In terms of plot and tone, the feel I’m getting from the promotional art and text released for Fall Sunrise suggests this is a psychedelic, fantasy, mystery tale. Is that an apt description of what you’re aiming for?

That is indeed! Good job; I’m taking that one for myself 😉

Psychedelic-Dark-Mystery-ExCatholic-Horror-Fantasy is the only genre for me, really.

Any final thoughts you’d like to share about Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise? Any points I may have missed that you’d like to address?

We live impossible lives, and I don’t know anything! Come wander the deadly wilderness with Doctor Strange and gain NOTHING from it!


Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise #1 is due out on Nov. 23.

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