Writer John Lees (And Then Emily Was Gone, Oxymoron: The Loveliest Nightmare, The Standard) and artist Joe Mulvey (Scam, Happy Hill, Wailing Blade) are bringing you a new series from AfterShock Comics, The Last Ride Of Pillar & Pride. A story of “lifelong friends embark on a road trip back to Tarragon Falls where evil has set up camp.”
“When Ben Pillar and Eli Pryde were kids, they did something incredible. They saved a young girl’s life and stopped a madman. They were heroes. But that was a long time ago. Now, with their career as young adult adventure novelists in decline, and their friendship in similar dire straits, the pair embark on a road trip back to their old hometown in hopes of mending their relationship. But a new evil has emerged in the town of Tarragon Falls. Can Pillar and Pryde be heroes again?”
And, as it’s an AfterShock Comics announcement, we also get a good in depth discussion of some of the series’ influences and more from its creators. Here’s Lees now discussing more of what the books about:
“THE LAST RIDE OF PILLAR & PRYDE is about two friends – Ben Pillar and Eli Pryde – who formed this intense bond as kids, when together they became unlikely heroes in their hometown of Tarragon Falls, New Jersey. As they got older, they commuted that into mild fame as young adult novelists, writing books starring fictionalized versions of their child selves as kid detective adventurers. But in recent years, their writing success has declined, and they’ve found themselves drawn on separate life paths: Ben wanting to move on with his life with a new job and a fiancé, while Eli wants to keep plugging away at the dream. So, they go off on a road trip back to Tarragon Falls, in Eli’s mind to draw fresh inspiration and rekindle the spark in their friendship, but in Ben’s mind as a farewell. But unbeknownst to them, there are fresh sinister goings on in their old home, which may have connections to the formative days of their past.
I’m excited for this book to come out for a number of reasons. One, because I think it’s a really fun story, one I had a blast writing, up there with some of the best work I’ve done. I’m so pumped to be working with AfterShock, something which I’ve wanted to do for years. I’ve got to pair up with colorist Doug Garbark and letterer Shawn Lee again; I always love working with those guys. And I get to team up for the first time with Joe Mulvey, one of my favorite people in comics, after spending so long thinking that getting to make a comic with him was on my comics bucket list.”
Plus, the influences behind this new series:
“Back in the height of the pandemic in 2020, I got heavily into reading Naoki Urasawa manga, and 20th Century Boys became perhaps my all-time favorite comic. And while this is ultimately a very different story, I can see a lot of thematic resonance, in terms of juxtaposing adult protagonists with their young selves and jumping back and forth between them to examine what has been lost with time and what has stayed constant. There are some Stephen King influences in there, for sure, though saying what specific stories might give too much away! In developing the pitch, I was drawing from two divergent sources: old-school, doom-laden ‘70s horror like Messiah of Evil, but then also friendship-themed comedy stuff like Hot Fuzz, Paddleton or Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. And in the process of making the comic, I can definitely see that it’s adopted much of the “cozy murder” aesthetic seen in recent stuff like Knives Out, The Kid Detective and Only Murders in the Building.”
He even gives us three reasons to support the book:
“1. This book is going to surprise you. You’ll go through an emotional rollercoaster following this journey, and I believe I can confidently say you’ll never guess what you’ll be feeling by issue #3 when you’re reading issue #1, or what you’ll be feeling by issue #5 when reading issue #3.
2. The comic looks amazing. Joe Mulvey is an incredible artist who I can’t wait for more readers to discover and fall in love with. And seeing his line-work paired with Doug Garbark’s colors has resulted in some of his finest art yet. It’s just a gorgeous looking book that’s going to be one of the most visually appealing items in your weekly pull.
3. Ben Pillar and Eli Pryde are two of my favorite characters I’ve ever created. I fell in love with them a little while writing them, and I hope you’ll fall in love with them too while reading.”
Furthermore, Lees comments on the biggest challenges in writing this comic book:
“When I’m writing a series I’m familiar with, like Sink or Hotell, that feels a little like slipping back into a pair of comfy slippers. I know those worlds inside out, I already have the tone and vibe clear in my head. But when I’m sitting down to write something new, I have no template, no grounding to build from. I have to start over. And that can be exhilarating and liberating, but it’s also daunting. There are a whole lot of things you need to work out, and perhaps the most challenging for me is trying to nail character voices. When you’re writing that first draft of the first issue, often at first everyone is talking just like me, plot delivery machine saying what the reader needs to know about what’s happening. It’s a process to dig into them, and think about who they are, and how that informs how they speak. But in doing that, that’s when the character comes alive, and once I know how a character talks, they start to write themselves a little bit and writing them gets easier.
As far as the biggest reward in writing, it’s something of a bittersweet one, but I love writing the end of a story. I love getting to pay off the various things I’ve set up, or getting to do big callbacks to things from earlier issues, create that sense of coming full circle, of the reader having been on a journey. And there’s something of a sadness to writing a last issue, where it’s like, “This is the last time I’ll write this character, this is the last time I’ll write that character.” But there’s a real satisfaction in that, too, it’s like you’ve brought them to the destination where they needed to go, and your work is done.”
Joe Mulvey also gets a look in, discussing his art style and what he likes most about creating art:
“My approach to the artwork is to *hopefully* make the story and characters as fun and engaging as I possibly can. My style is very cartoony and expressive so I want to make sure I hit all the character beats so the story really lands with readers. The old saying is every comic is somebody’s first. At the end of the day, I want someone to put down THE LAST RIDE OF PILLAR & PRYDE #1 and say that was one of the best comics they’ve read so that they can’t wait to read more.”
“What I like most about creating art is dynamic storytelling. Trying to make each panel and page have the most impact it can so it can really connect with the reader and suck them into the world of this story. This all happens in the layouts. If I get those just right, I’m super excited to then draw the page and hopefully that excitement is passed on to the readers. For me, I think the hardest part of creating art is more about getting people to give the work you’ve created the chance to entertain them. At the end of the day, that’s all I want to do. I want my art and the books I work on to be a thrill ride that people walk away from smiling, screaming or cheering. As long as they feel something, I’ve done my job.”
The Last Ride Of Pillar & Pride #1 debuts on Wednesday 9th November from AfterShock Comics