Olly MacNamee: Tom, congratulations on your first year of AHOY Comics. Looking back at your Freshman year, what have been some of the highlights of this first year, for you personally?
Tom Peyer: Personally, it’s always the people I get to work with, those inside the company and all the freelancers. In comics, people who are good at it tend to be fun to know. Professionally, we put some books out that I’m really proud of, and people liked them. I’d have to say that lucking into Second Coming was a real highlight. It’s a great comic by great creators, and it’s doing really well for us.
OM: It’s also been a year that’s seen both Vertigo and Black Crown’s lamentable demise as well as MAD magazine going the way of the dodo. Seems AHOY Comics are one of the few publishers out there, still taking chances and offering up genuine satire, what with you supporting Second Coming, as an obvious example. From the get go, you always had a different take on comic book content, haven’t you? Always to ‘expect more’.
TP: We just want comics to be entertaining, first and foremost. Nothing should get in the way of that. Humor is a big part of that for us. Another important part is, tell your own story, don’t worry about what’s happening in the other titles. If Vermont secedes from the US in Dragonfly & Dragonflyman–which it has not, but you never know–that doesn’t mean it should happen in Bronze Age Boogie. Don’t worry about Vermont, I would say to BAB writer Stuart Moore. It will just mess up your plans. The Big Two publishers do a wonderful job with their shared universes, and I don’t want to compete in a game they already won 50 years ago. And people really don’t respond that well to imitations, nor should they.
As to your ‘expect more’ content reference, I’m a big believer in all of the back-matter we’ve been offering: short fiction, humor, poetry. It’s down to our relationship with the reader. You know when a publisher is being generous, and when they’re being stingy. Growing up, I always felt a kinship–almost a friendship–with publishers who gave a little more than they had to.
And speaking of friendship, we’ll all miss Vertigo, Black Crown, and MAD. If we can carry those torches on any level, we’ll be happy.
OM: You’ve been in the industry a good while. With all those creators you’ve met along the way, how do you keep a good balance of talent; both the experienced and those newer voices you’ve championed, such as first-time comic book writer Paul Constant on Planet of the Nerds?
TP: I’ve been a fan of Paul’s for well over a decade, since he was a journalist and critic for The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative paper. He reviewed comics intelligently and respectfully; it was clear that he really understood them. And all of his work was well-written and empathetic. That he was able to translate those qualities to comics turned out to be a delight, but not a complete surprise to me. I’m really pleased that he got so good so quickly.
OM: Now, turning to a book out this week. What can we expect from the second season of Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror Vol.2? A book described as Drunk History meets Tales from the Crypt? I see you’ve got Hunt Emerson’s ‘Poe and the Black Cat’ in issue #1 and one of my personal favourites, Mark Russell and Peter Snejbjerg’s ‘Cereal Monsters’ returning in issue #2 too.
TP: Those cereal stories are so good. I thought they read like perfect little Hammer films, and I said that to Mark. I don’t think he’ll mind if rat him out here: he said he’d never seen a Hammer film. Which amazed me. It’s like he invented the wheel on his own, without ever having heard of wheels. Anyway, time for a plug: you can read the first two cereal shockers in the Edgar Allen Poe’s Snifter of Terror, Vol. 1 collected edition, now on sale wherever minds are twisted!
As in the first Poe series, we’ve managed to snare a lot of creators I’m wild about. Dean Motter, Paul Cornell, Linda Medley, Rick Geary, Alisa Kwitney, Steve Yeowell, and more. I can’t tell you the whole list because it’s long and your eyes will glaze over. But I’m a fan of all of them. And this run’s covers by Richard Williams will be cherished until the end of time; most of them are comic book parodies. You’ve seen the first one, right? Poe punching Hitler. Now, I say most are comics parodies because the last one won’t be. It’s a big secret for now. Highly classified.
OM: It’s a fun comic, and one of your darker titles too. Was it important to you to have a horror comic amongst your early offerings, albeit one dripping in satire?
TP: It was important to have a comic fronted by a celebrity who’d been dead long enough that we didn’t have to pay them anything, or listen to their complaints. And it turns out Poe is the perfect horror host. He’s drunk, funny, and maybe a little pompous. Good writer, though!
OM: Moving onto another great AHOY title. It’s not often you find a book actually gains readers as it goes along, like The Wrong Earth did. That must have been a pleasant surprise? What do you think the growing success of this book was partly down too?
TP: A tremendous amount of the credit has to go to Jamal Igle, my co-creator, who lived and breathed the book so completely, who put so much heart and soul into it. I was always reminded of the George Perez run on The New Teen Titans, how completely immersed George was, how the reader could tell. And Juan Castro’s inks and Andy Troy’s colors served Jamal’s vision perfectly. It was one of those books where all of the creative people were always rowing in the same direction. The best kind to work on and, I think, to read.
It was a fun idea, too, and I was damn lucky no one else had thought of it. Anyone could have. It was lying there for 30 years, completely obvious in retrospect.
OM: Speaking of The Wrong Earth, You also have the return of Dragonfly & Dragonflyman coming up too, following up on this year’s Free Comic Book Day offering. A 5 issue prequel series that you’ll be writing. right? What can you tell us about this book, if anything?
TP: Well, Olly, as you know, The Wrong Earth tells the story of Dragonflyman, a campy, hokey, pre-80s masked vigilante; and his parallel earth version, Dragonfly, who’s post-80s, ultraviolent, and grim. They get stuck on each other’s parallel worlds, thus the title. While we’re gearing up for another volume of TWE, we’re publishing this series about what their lives were like before the planet-swap. So half of the book is a flag-saluting, Silver Age-inflected romp on a particular theme, and the other half explores the same theme through painfully clenched teeth while sticking it to the man. Peter Krause is drawing, and it looks great, of course. Andy Troy is back on colors, and Jamal is doing covers.
OM: Finally, then, looking forward to this second, Sophomore year as a publisher, what can readers expect from AHOY Comics? I mean, there are those winning stories from this past summer’s Steel Cage one-shot, with some pretty impressive creators attached. What’s happening with these titles and when can we expect to see any of these books coming out?
TP: For those who might not have heard, Steel Cage was a one shot we did where three potential series competed for readers’ votes. The first one you’ll be seeing is True Identity, with art by Planet of the Nerds’ Alan Robinson and typing by me. The other two–Bright Boy by Stuart Moore and Peter Gross, and Noah Zark by Mark Waid and Lanna Souvanny–are in earlier stages of development at the moment. Which is fitting because mine was obviously the best and would have won the competition hands down, if not for all the voter fraud.
As for some other titles we’ll be publishing in the 2020, watch for an announcement soon! I’d tell you now, but this is a kangaroo court; you’ll have to subpoena me so I can ignore it!
OM: Tom, always a pleasure, and best of luck with all of the new titles coming down the pipeline.
TP: Thanks, Olly. I enjoyed it.