Aftershock Comics Encourages You To Read Dangerously With Its Strongest Slate Since Launch

by Noah Sharma

VP of sales and marketing Steve Rotterdam introduced Aftershock’s C2E2 2019 panel, including Joe Pruett (Publisher and writer of Black Eyed Kids), Christina Harrington (Aftershock managing editor), Ted Anderson (writer of Moth and Whisper and Orphan Age), and Stephanie Phillips (writer of Devil Within and Descendant). Cullen Bunn was also supposed to be on the panel but, regrettably, he was striken with food poisoning. Rotterdam said that Bunn does have a new project on the way that they can’t announce yet, however he did say that it’s in the vein of Dark Ark and The Brothers Dracul.

Aftershock’s slogan has become “Read Dangerously”. The books aren’t easy to describe and focus on bringing creator visions to life in any genre. Aftershock’s books seek to push readers out of their comfort zone in the best way. Rotterdam spoke about the line, specifically praising Moth and Whisper and Dark Ark and calling A Walk Through Hell the scariest story he’s ever read.

Anderson’s newest project is Orphan Age but the idea came to him in college, a post apocalyptic western with a smart twist (“I hope” – Anderson). Twenty years ago every adult in the world died and, ever since, the children of this world have tried to rebuild. The story is a road trip that will lead readers through various communities and how they have rebuilt.

“There’s gunfights, there’s sword fights, there’s fevers in the winter and sunburn in the summer.” Anderson says that he really enjoys thinking about the material concerns of this world and what has kept or been repurposed and what has spoiled or been discarded. Anderson and Harrington praised the art team, Nino Plati on lines and João Lemos on colors. Plati has really run with the backgrounds and items, imbuing them with intention and meaning. The book has simple colors with subtle but powerful texture to it.

The series primarily follows three characters: Princess – a young girl from Dallastown who’s smarter than she looks, Daniel – a gunslinger with his head on straight but some ghost rattling around inside it, and Willa, “who says nothing and has a whole lotta knives.”

Anderson says that Orphan Age is slightly different as a post-apocalyptic tale. Anderson says that the change is not to the world itself but humanity’s perception of it. Referring to the original greek ἀποκάλυψις, meaning revelation, Anderson called it an apocalypse in the old sense.

Adam Glass returns to alternate history for Mary Shelley Monster Hunter, co writing with television writer Olivia Cuartero-Briggs. Harrington sung the praises of Mary Shelley and her life of independence and creativity. She promises that the series will pull back the curtain of her life and showing the ‘true story’ of Frankenstein. Hayden Sherman is the series artist and Harrington said that “each page drips with gothic horror.” The colors also sound like a real draw, with bright pops of color and fuschia used as a repeated motif, despite the bleak genre. Mary Shelley Monster Hunter lands one week after Orphan Age on April 17.

On April 24 Aftershock will release its first graphic novella, The Replacer. The format is roughly equivalent to three single issues at a $7.99 price point. The story is very personal to writer Zac Thompson (Age of X-Man, Come Into Me), dealing with his experience of living with a disabled parent. After the protagonist’s father suffers a stroke, be determines that he’s actually under attack by a demon only he can see called the Replacer. It’s not clear what the true nature of the Replacer is but the series will explore how the family adapts and how the relationship between a father and son changes when regret, disability, and (possibly) possession are introduced. The book will be drawn by Arjuna Susini and colored by Dee Kunniffe.

At the beginning of May Aftershock launches Descendant. Phillips started based on the Lindbergh kidnapping. All correspondence with the kidnapper featured a unique symbol that has never been explained and Phillips used it as a jumping off point to explore some mysterious events from American history. She calls it “a little bit like National Treasure meets X-Files”. The series has been fun but difficult to write as Phillips promises that everything means something, even people’s names, “puzzles within puzzles.” Thankfully, she feels that everyone around her has been working even harder, including artist Evgeny Bornyakov.

Harrington excitedly declared one of the best parts of working with Phillips is her encyclopedic knowledge of history, which leads to strange and fascinating topics of conversation. Seemingly unable to disguise her enthusiasm, Harrington told the audience how Phillips had educated her on the origin of the middle finger over dinner the night before. As Phillips explained it, Welsh longbow archers would have their bow fingers cut off when captured by the French. As such it became a taunt to display their bow finger to their enemies. Phillips is reportedly a fount of this kind of esoteric knowledge and she’s greatly enjoyed putting it to use, spinning mysterious conspiracy theories through Descender.

The book follows conspiracy theorist David Corey but Phillips made no attempts to hide that she is just as interested in the women who surround him, if not more. The first is Joanna Hernendez, an action hero of an FBI agent on the same kidnapping case Corey is investigating. The other character who has Phillips’ eye is Amanda Mansfield, David’s sharp-witted ex wife whose name is based on one of the first female attorneys in the US, Arabella Mansfield. This reveal was answered with silent but overwhelmed gestures from Harrington who was unaware of this. The book arrives on May 1.

Phillips was also asked about the Lindbergh kidnapping and the mystery surrounding it, providing another opportunity to enjoy her knowledge of historical trivia. She, herself, is not much of a conspiracy theorist but she says that there are compelling theories about Charles Lindbergh Sr.’s involvement. Despite his status as something of an American hero, Phillips reminded, Lindbergh was a noted eugenicist who fathered a number of illegitimate children overseas, ostensibly in an attempt to “breed these perfect, very Aryan children”. Phillips referred to evidence that the Lindberghs had seen multiple doctors about some form of disability in their child, something that the perfectionist, attention-seeking Lindbergh fought to keep quiet. As such, she finds the implication that Lindbergh could have been involved in the murder and/or kidnapping of his son potentially credible and interesting, including references to the theory in the series.

Ollie Masters and Eoin Marron’s Killer Groove is a strange series that takes place against the 70s LA music scene. Moving to California while trying to make it as a musician, our lead Johnny takes some side gigs as a hitman, only to discover that not only is he very good at it, but it’s the muse he’s needed for his art. Harrington says that you strangely want Johnny to succeed. Jordie Bellaire is the series’ colorist, ensuring it will be an even more beautiful read. Every issue will include a playlist and Aftershock has looked into producing vinyl. There will also be promotional guitar picks distributed to retailers. “We’re having so much fun with this book,” said Harrington.

Christopher Sebela and Chris Visions will reteam on June 12 for Trust Fall. Ash Parsons has lived her life as a member of a crime family, deeply tied to her family not only by secrets but by a genetic ability to teleport things, that is anything but herself. As such every heist is a trust fall where she’s utterly dependent on her family to get her out before she gets caught. However, one night they leave her, leading Ash to notice and pick away at the lies that make up her life. Trust fall is about Ash getting away from the cops, getting away from her family, and beginning to define her own life for the first time. Ash’s look is very much based on the fashion of Janelle Monae and the book will have a distinctive, stylized aesthetic to match.

This week, Garth Ennis and Keith Burns’ Out of the Blue arrives in stores. The first Aftershock OGN, Out of the Blue is the first volume of two, following RAF pilots at the close of WWII, desperately fighting a war against the death throws of the nazi war machine. The second half will release in July.

Aftershock’s Shock anthology will become a regular publication late this June with the release of Shock volume 2. The anthology features work from huge talents like Marguerite Bennett, Phil Hester, Sam Keith, Jim Starlin, Cully Hamner, Garth Ennis, Jamal Igle, Jill Thompson, and many more. Pruett made his career doing anthologies at Caliber Comics so he’s thrilled to be working in that format again. It will release on June 26th, rounding out the next three months of Aftershock books.

Asked about the tone of the line, Pruett said that there really isn’t any particular flavor of Aftershock book, he looks for something interesting and new as well as something that will make a quality, salable comic. Rotterdam added that books where you can feel the excitement of the author have a tendency to get picked. If there is something close to a preferred Aftershock genre, it’s when genres crash up against eachother, with Harrington pointing out that most of the books discussed on the panel were genre-benders.

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