27 Jul

AfterShock launching bi-weekly live streaming series ‘The AfterShock Happy Hour’

The first guest includes Rainbow Bridge creators Steve Orlando and Steve Foxe, and 10 Years to Death writer Aaron Douglas.

AfterShock announced today they’re kicking off a new streaming series that’ll stream live on AfterShock’s FacebookYouTube and Twitch pages  every Thursday at 5:00 pm EST. The hour long show will feature host RuthAnn Thompson, AfterShock’s Senior Retail Relations Manager and the creator of the Happy Hour livestreams, interviewing top creators and industry notables about current and future AfterShock projects, the overall independent comics scene and much more.

The live stream will also feature a live sale of AfterShock exclusives, merch, and graded comics.

The first guest includes Rainbow Bridge creators Steve Orlando and Steve Foxe, and 10 Years to Death writer Aaron Douglas.

“Since day one, AfterShock has been a comic content company on a mission to partner with top creators to tell the most groundbreaking, ‘dangerous’ stories,” said Joe Pruett, AfterShock’s CCO and Publisher. “The Happy Hour will allow us to take our fans behind the scenes and communicate directly with our creator partners and other noteworthy personalities to talk all things AfterShock. We’re excited to provide yet another avenue for enthusiasts to engage with our content and enjoy exclusive pricing on some of our most sought after ‘gems.’”

For more on this news, read the official press release below.

Los Angeles, CA (July 27, 2021)—AfterShock Comics, the independent publishing company that’s made headline after headline since its debut in 2015, announces a new bi-weekly streaming series for fans of the brand, its titles and heavyweight creators, as well as two new additions to its all-star team of industry leaders.

The AfterShock Happy Hour will stream live on AfterShock’s FacebookYouTube and Twitch pages every other Thursday at 5:00 pm EST/2:00 pm PST. Each hour-long episode will feature host RuthAnn Thompson, AfterShock’s Senior Retail Relations Manager and the creator of the Happy Hour livestreams, interviewing top creators and industry notables about current and future AfterShock projects, the overall independent comics scene and much more. Each episode will also feature a live sale of AfterShock rarities, exclusives, and graded comics unavailable anywhere else. Upcoming guests include RAINBOW BRIDGE creators Steve Orlando and Steve Foxe, and 10 YEARS TO DEATH writer and Battlestar Galactica alumnus Aaron Douglas.

“Since day one, AfterShock has been a comic content company on a mission to partner with top creators to tell the most groundbreaking, ‘dangerous’ stories,” said Joe Pruett, AfterShock’s CCO and Publisher. “The Happy Hour will allow us to take our fans behind the scenes and communicate directly with our creator partners and other noteworthy personalities to talk all things AfterShock. We’re excited to provide yet another avenue for enthusiasts to engage with our content and enjoy exclusive pricing on some of our most sought after ‘gems.’”

As the AfterShock ecosystem continues to grow, two new team members have joined the publisher in the areas of community relations and editorial. Kelly Diodati, an accomplished project management and marketing specialist, serves as Ambassador Outreach Program Manager, responsible for the day-to-day operation, workflow and management of AfterShock’s Ambassador Program. Teddy Leo, formerly editorial assistant with the company, will now serve as Associate Editor, directly supporting Editor-in-Chief Mike Marts on all aspects of the editorial process.

“Kelly is a passionate communicator who will help develop and grow our Ambassador Program for years to come,” added Pruett. “In just a short time, she’s already made major strides in connecting with and growing our Ambassador network. We’re thrilled she’s with us and look forward to continued success in this crucial area of our business.”

“Teddy’s enthusiasm for the comics business and commitment to his own growth has been apparent in his journey here at AfterShock,” added Mike Marts, AfterShock’s Editor-in-Chief. “We look forward to more great things from him in his expanded editorial role while we continue to break new ground in the industry. He has a bright future ahead.”

22 Jul

AfterDark: AfterShock Comics Announces New One-Shot Horror Anthology

AfterShock Comics announces AfterDark, a new one-shot horror anthology slated for release this October — just in time for Halloween.

AfterShock Comics has announced AfterDark, a 48-page prestige format one-shot horror anthology slated to hit comic shops this October.

Described as “Tales from the Crypt meets The Twilight Zone,” AfterDark features “four tales of horror, lost souls and things that go bump in the night” from four different creative duos. Writers Cullen Bunn, Jim Starlin, Joe Pruett and Frank Tieri are joined by artists Cliff Richards, Nikkol Jelenic, Szymon Kudranski and Joe Eisma.

“A prestige format ‘One-Shock’ featuring top creative talent just in time for the most horrific month of the calendar year, AfterDark is a collection of tales you’ll want to read with the lights on!” AfterShock’s official press release reads. “A disparate tale from a possible future; a chance encounter with a mythical Black-Eyed Kid, a children’s fable gone awry; and a gut-wrenching last meal at the local diner.”

Dust to Dust is a bittersweet sort of horror tale, a story of love and loss and undying commitment, both to the fleeting time we have left on this earth, and the time we’ll have in whatever’s next,” Bunn said of his story.

Meanwhile, Tieri had this to say about his own horror tale: “We did a story for the Shockanthology called Little Red Riding Hood, which was essentially the little red riding hood story as if it was told by Quentin Tarantino or Martin Scorsese. In that story, Red was a drug courier, Grandma was a drug dealer, the Wolf was a rival drug lord, ‘Mother Goose’ was a mob boss called Don Orca… anyway, you get the idea. As it turned out, it was one of the more popular stories in that book so we thought hey, what the hell, why not do more? Why not play in that whacked out universe again? And so, we got the LRRH band of Joe Eisma and Matt Herms back together for more tales that will ruin your childhood.”

Tieri, Eisma and Herms’ AfterDark story is titled Along Came A Spider, with Tieri describing it as “yet another f#%&ed up twist on a classic fairy tale. In this one, we pick up with a certain Detective Muffet who’s on the trail of an elusive and deadly serial killer called The Spider. Needless to say, it’s very dark. It’s very creepy. It’s going to lead to some nightmares. And it might lead to even more than that, so stay tuned.”

Meanwhile, Thanos co-creator Starlin simply calls his horror story “a tale of catastrophic generational dissatisfaction set in a dystopian future. Lots of laughs.”

Finally, Pruett and Kudranski’s story is actually a standalone tale set in the world of their AfterShock title Black-Eyed Kids. “We will see some familiar faces in the new story, but you do not have to have been a reader of the series to enjoy it,” said Pruett. “It’s new reader friendly.”

AfterDark / $6.99 / 48 pages / Color / 10.13.2021

Writer: Cullen Bunn, Jim Starlin, Joe Pruett, Frank Tieri

Artist: Cliff Richards, Nikkol Jelenic, Szymon Kudranski, Joe Eisma

Colorist: Guy Major

Letterer: Various

Cover: Tony Harris

Incentive Cover: Szymon Kudranski

Written by Cullen Bunn, Jim Starlin, Joe Pruett and Frank Tieri and illustrated by Cliff Richards, Nikkol Jelenic, Szymon Kudranski and Joe Eisma with colors by Guy Major, AfterDark goes on sale Oct. 13 from AfterShock Comics.

Source: AfterShock Comics

20 Jul

AfterShock First Look: Cross to Bear #1

Jack the Ripper was never caught because no one was looking for him in the Wild West…

Jack the Ripper was never caught because no one was looking for him in the Wild West…No one accept The Order. An organization made up of the descendants of Crusaders sworn to eradicate the unnatural, The Order will stop at nothing to fulfill the pledge their forefathers made, even if it means crossing the ocean or a line or two…

Cross to Bear #1

Writer: Marko Stojanović
Artist: Siniša Banović
Colorist: Dorde Krajinović w/ Aljoša Tomić
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Cover: Sinisa Banović
Incentive Cover: Tim Bradstreet
$4.99 / 32 pages / Color
Release Date: 10.13.2021

Read more on the series from Stojanović below.

MARKO STOJANOVIĆ ON WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT AND WHY HE’S EXCITED FOR IT TO COME OUT:

“The book is about Jack the Ripper fleeing to America in 1889 and heading straight to the Wild West – because his own savagery can avoid detection at the still savage frontier. He is, however, pursued by the Order made up from the descendants of Crusaders knights set on eradicating the unnatural – and what could be more unnatural than the first documented serial killer grabbing all the headlines and causing mass hysteria? Only thing is, these crusaders are far from their usual haunts and they`ll need help from a man who severed his ties with the other at the price of abandoning his own family…

The book deals with many themes – old world meeting the new one, family ties versus all the other ones, nature of power and fear, examination of extremism no matter how just the cause and of course, the danger of becoming a monster yourself as you do battle with monsters.

I am excited about it coming out because when I was a kid during the 80s in Yugoslavia, there was a special cult of the Westerns, which our dads and grandads used to call cowboy movies. True, we were not behind the iron curtain, unlike the neighboring countries, but from the movies that were shown on national TV, westerns came closest to what we call the action movie. And so when there was a Western on, it was a must. There was a whole ritual about watching it – all the male family members would gather around the still black and white box and share in the semi-mystical experience. Also, about 60 percent of all comics that came out in Yugoslavia at that time were westerns – regardless of whether they were American, Latin American or European, as we got an influx of comics from all sides of the world. Westerns were a big thing back then out here – the public couldn’t get enough! Seeing how I fell in love with the Western from an early age, is it really surprising that I am more than excited for the chance to bring my own take on that mythic genre – to the very country that gave birth to it? Part of the excitement also lies in the fact I got the chance to bring in my own creative team on this book, with my longtime collaborators Sinisa Banovic and Aljosa Tomic, which is not something that happens very often – so you certainly need to celebrate it when it does.”

MARKO STOJANOVIĆ ON SOME OF HIS INSPIRATIONS BEHIND CREATING THE BOOK:

“There are far too many to number here – but what`s more important, I think, is that they are all here, in this book. I approach writing every one of my scripts, be they for European, Asian or US audiences the same – I give it all I have. While I have an utmost respect for certain well know prose writers, I catch them saving ideas, plots and twists for the next contracted piece while writing the current one. It is easily discernible if you compare their late work with their early one, when they were trying to establish themselves and did not hold back. I treat every book like it`s my first, and all the inspiration, all the ideas come into the pot. Also, I wanted to avoid predictability – which is one of the hardest things nowadays, since we`ve all seen it all, read it all and therefore know where things are going all the time. Hopefully, I managed to do just that with Cross to Bear, at least to a certain extent… Readers can judge for themselves – and I hope they do, since that would mean they picked up the book to do so.”

MARKO STOJANOVIĆ HIS FAVORITE WESTERN AND WHY:

“Uh, that`s a tough question – but the readers of Cross to Bear may figure out at least a part of the answer when they read the book, as there is a pretty big homage to one of the Westerns I`m going to name later on. As someone who was reared on the steady diet of Westerns, I naturally have quite a few favorite ones. With all due respect to the classic era of the Westerns, all the Ford`s, Hawks` and Wayne`s works, what formed me were revisionist westerns that had their day in the 60s and 70s. I love Peckinpah – Pat Garet and Billy the Kid is one of my favorites as well as The Wild Bunch. Outlaw Josey Wales is a gem of a movie. Butch Cassiday and the Sundance Kid is masterfully done on more levels than one and Willian Goldman is a personal hero, but, at the risk of alienating true purists, my all-time favorite must be Sergio Leone`s Once Upon a time in the West – though I`m quite partial to a Fistful of Dynamite too. It would be unfair not to mention Unforgiven and Tombstone, but also one of my guilty pleasures – The Young Guns 2. Why I love these Westerns – I guess most of them are just told really, really well. Being a writer, I like a good script, and most of these movies have great dialogues – but it`s the whole package that does it for me. These movies pack a punch!”

SINIŠA BANOVIĆ ON HIS APPROACH TO THE ARTWORK:

“The Cross to Bear series is the first western comic book I worked on, so I had fun studying characters and get used to drawing cowboy hats and other type of stuff we tend to see often. After the character design I’d turn the Marko’s script into thumbnail pages in order to set the basic shapes, and then I would work on interiors and exteriors. Sketching a plan for background ambients may not be a necessity, but I find it much easier to position the characters and viewpoint if I have the broader picture of where the protagonists are. After that I’m working on more detailed layout pages digitally, and then trace these drawings by pencil on paper using light pad. The process ends with inking, so I guess I’m a one third digital artist. It seems that layouts and initial sketches always possess more spontaneity than the final artwork, so I’m going for that kind of aesthetic in inking part.”

SINIŠA BANOVIĆ ON IF THERE IS A STYLE OF ART HE ENJOYS DESIGNING:

“I find the chiaroscuro technique most helpful and effective in establishing composition on a page and making the characters gain a three dimensional appearance. So, submerging the scene in dark areas also helps improving the atmosphere if it is a mystery or a horror genre. I also enjoy different stuff, such as drawing animals and cartoon-ish characters. It is a kind of relaxing from the more serious stuff, since I grew up on Franco Belgian comic books.”

SINIŠA BANOVIĆ ON IF HE HAS A FAVORITE PIECE OF ART WITHIN THE FIRST ISSUE, AND WHY:

“Sometimes in the script you can find a part where you can improvise, so you get a slightly different thing, but serves better for the storytelling. If I’d pick that moment, it would be on page 22, where 3 pictures in a row shows a character in 3 different actions, and at the same time we get to see the second character in front of him, using symmetry. It’s no big deal, but I love it when it happens spontaneously. And I’m pretty happy with how the main character’s library came out, it kind of stands out from the wild west setting in the episode.”

13 Jul

AfterShock Comics Announces 100th Title With the August Debut of ‘Campisi: The Dragon Incident’

Top Independent Comic Publisher Celebrates Six Years of Groundbreaking, Critically Acclaimed Content from Top Creators

Los Angeles, CA (July 13, 2021)—AfterShock Comics, the independent publishing company that’s taken the industry by storm since its 2015 debut, announces its 100th title, CAMPISI: THE DRAGON INCIDENT, from James Patrick and Marco Locati. Patrick’s last book with AfterShock, THE KAIJU SCORE, was picked up by Sony Pictures. Slated for an August release, CAMPISI: THE DRAGON INCIDENT marks a major milestone for AfterShock, which is best known for acclaimed series such as ANIMOSITY, DARK RED, A WALK THROUGH HELL, BABYTEETH, WE LIVE and many others.

With early hits from the likes of Paul Jenkins, Donny Cates, Marguerite Bennett, Stephanie Phillips, Eliot Rahal, The Miranda Brothers, Patrick Kindlon, Olivia Cuartero-Briggs and Leila Leiz to critically-acclaimed titles from established creators Garth Ennis, Cullen Bunn, Steve Orlando, Frank Tieri, John Layman, Adam Glass, Tim Seeley, Brandon Thomas, Amanda Connor and many others, AfterShock is responsible for some of the industry’s most memorable comics of the past six years.

“As we near the debut of our 100th title, we’ve exceeded even our own expectations,” said Editor-in-Chief Mike Marts. “From collaborations with the industry’s most sought-after creatives to our boundary-breaking titles that have positioned AfterShock as a publishing company unafraid to take risks, we’ve accomplished an incredible amount in a very short time. With much more on the horizon, the best is yet to come as we continue to bring the most ‘dangerous’ stories to life.”

“Unlike comics featuring characters that have had decades to build multigenerational fanbases, AfterShock comics don’t sell themselves,” said SVP of Sales and Marketing Steve Rotterdam.  “Aside from continuing to release cutting-edge content that comic book fans love, our growth and success is directly linked to our grass roots efforts, shop-by-shop investment, ambassador program, and ancillary projects such as our Save Our Shops (S.O.S.) Pandemic Benefit Book.” AfterShock Publisher Joe Pruett added, “Our first 100 titles would not be possible without these efforts and our invaluable retail shop partners across the country, who have supported us since day one.”

AfterShock’s 100th title will coincide with the debut of Seismic Press, a new Young Adult imprint from AfterShock aimed at furthering the brand’s mission to create content for all audiences while bringing the same caliber of creative talent to tell stories for a younger demographic.

ABOUT AFTERSHOCK COMICS

AfterShock Comics is a creatively driven comic book publisher led by a team of highly accomplished, life-long comics professionals and entertainment specialists. AfterShock is dedicated to working with the brightest stars in the creative community to reach out to new and established audiences and tell original, uniquely compelling stories – through comics, graphic novels and beyond.

AfterShock’s executive team includes Editor-in-Chief Mike Marts; CCO/Publisher Joe Pruett; President Lee Kramer, a film/TV production and development executive; SVP, Sales and Marketing Steve Rotterdam; and CEO Jon Kramer, an entertainment entrepreneur with extensive worldwide production and distribution experience.

29 Jun

AfterShock Announces Fast Food Thriller “Chicken Devil”

 

AfterShock Comics have announced “Chicken Devil,” a comedy thriller set in the world of fast food, by writer Brian Buccellato (“Detective Comics,” “The Flash”), artist Hayden Sherman (“Cold War,” “Wasted Space”), and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. The book revolves around Mitchell Moss, a happily married father-of-two, and co-owner of the Memphis chain of Hot Chicken restaurants, who discovers his business partner owes the Russian mob $2 million. After his family are attacked, Mitch dons the mantle of the Chicken Devil to fight back.

Buccellato described the book as a “dark tragicomedy that puts an edgy spin on the revenge/vigilante genre,” tonally similar to a Quentin Tarantino film, AMC’s Fargo, HBO’s Barry, or Netflix/Channel 4’s The End of the F***ing World (itself based on the comic book by Charles Forsman). He said he loves “stories that mix the super violent and the funny,” and that “the humor in my story attempts to do the same thing by taking graphic violence and the revenge movie tropes and putting [them] through a darkly comedic lenses that is 100% my sense of humor.”

He also said he was excited by the “opportunity to showcase a different creative side” to readers than his superhero work, quipping that there are “grounded story reasons why he dons the suit. Reasons that aren’t a bunch of bats inexplicably breaking through his window.” He noted “there are serious relationships and consequences at play… but the experience is intended to be breezy and fun as it plays off well-known crime and revenge genre tropes.”

Issue #1 of “Chicken Devil” will be released online and in comic book shops on October 6, and retail for $4.99. It will be available with an incentive cover by David Lopez, which you can check out with a preview of the art, and the full interview with Buccellato, below:

 

BRIAN BUCCELLATO ON WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT AND WHY HE IS EXCITED FOR IT TO COME OUT:

“Chicken Devil is a dark tragicomedy that puts an edgy spin on the revenge/vigilante genre. Our hero, Mitchell Moss is passive, super-responsible and is about as regular as it comes. He’s married, with two children and co-owns a chain of Memphis Hot Chicken restaurants. It’s not the life that screams John Wick or The Punisher… until his world gets turned upside down when the Russian mob hurts his family. So, Mitch sets out on a path of bloody revenge…

But there’s one BIG problem. He’s he is ILL-EQUIPPED to be a badass vigilante. He’s not ex-military or a former assassin… he’s just a regular guy who makes really good chicken. Nevertheless, Mitch dons the chicken-devil suit and give it his best (but probably not good enough) shot.

What excites me most about this book is the that it’s an opportunity to showcase a different creative side (that people will hopefully like). Even though there are literal life-or-death situations, it’s done in a light, more irreverent way. Don’t get me wrong, there are serious relationships and consequences at play… but the experience is intended to be breezy and fun as it plays off well-known crime and revenge genre tropes.”

BRIAN BUCCELLATO ON SOME OF HIS INSPIRATIONS BEHIND CREATING THE BOOK:

“I think I was watching a lot of Netflix’s BARRY and THE END OF THE F***KING WORLD at the time. And AMC’s FARGO. There’s something about a darkly comedic world with ‘normal’ people and heightened violence that really plays into my sensibilities. I’ve been known for doing down the middle superhero stuff and horror books… but haven’t really leaned into this weirder side of my tastes. Chicken Devil is a major move in that direction.”

BRIAN BUCCELLATO ON THE BOOK’S DARK HUMOR – WHERE IT CAME FROM AND HOW IT INFORMS THE STORY:

“Like I mentioned earlier, I LOVE stories that mix the super violent and the funny. This probably goes back to the first time I saw RESERVOIR DOGS, TRUE ROMANCE and every Tarantino movie that followed. I’m such a big fan of his work and marvel at his ability to mash up wildly different elements into cohesive narratives that are undeniably his. The juxtaposition of his clever banter and wonderfully dark humor allows us to accept heroin needles, ears getting cut off, or people graphically lit up by flame throwers.

I’m not comparing myself to Quentin— he’s truly a master of what he does… but I think the humor in my story attempts to do the same thing by taking graphic violence and the revenge movie tropes and putting through a darkly comedic lenses that is 100% my sense of humor.”

BRIAN BUCCELLATO ON WHY A CHICKEN MASCOT COSTUME:

“Because ruthless mobsters getting whacked by a clueless dude in a burnt-up chicken costume is hilarious to me. There are also grounded story reasons why he dons the suit. Reasons that aren’t a bunch of bats inexplicably breaking through his window…”

BRIAN BUCCELLATO ON 3 REASONS WHY COMIC FANS SHOULD PICK THIS BOOK UP:

“1. It’s fun and funny and weird in the best possible way. I mean. Haven’t you always wondered what a revenge story would look like if the hero wasn’t John Wick— he was just a motivated regular guy who makes really good chicken?

2. Hayden’s art is masterful and hits the tone perfectly. And his vibrant colors make for a beautiful rendition of Los Angeles that really makes the world of chicken devil its own thing.

3. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering is a thing of beauty. I’m honestly in awe of how inventive his letters are. The playful caption design and his ability to manage the flow and mood of the reading experience is some of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s such added value! Truly the top of the lettering game!”

 

22 Jun

Party & Prey, a new queer thriller coming from Orlando, Foxe and Sanchez

 

A night at the club goes wrong

Steve Orlando and Steve Foxe are at it again at Aftershock, with Party & Prey, a new OGN coming this fall with art by Alex Sanchez, colors by Jauncho! and lettering by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. It goes on sale this October.

The story is described as a taboo-breaking queer thriller, with many twists and turns

Alan is used to being ignored by younger guys, so he hardly believes his luck when lithe, handsome Scott makes a move on him in the crowded gay club. But there’s a wolf on the dance floor tonight, and he’s hungry for fresh prey… 

Although there are an increasing number of queer comics out there, Party & Prey sounds a lot darker than most of them, something Orlando and Foxe acknowledge. “There is a very valid, important time and place for affirming, uplifting queer stories, and both of us Steves thankfully get to work on a lot of those, too,” they said in a statement. “But there’s also a need for queer creators to be able to tell other kinds of stories, even those with difficult content or challenging going things to say about the community itself. That’s not to say the book is about gay misery or suffering—far from it, by the time you reach the last pages—but readers who pick up PARTY & PREY are going to find a thrill ride that isn’t afraid to ask some difficult questions.”

Aftershock sent along more quotes from the Steves on what the book is about:

“It’s tough to talk about PARTY & PREY without giving away some key plot details you really shouldn’t know until you’re about 30 pages in, but we’ll do our best: this thriller is about an older gay man named Alan who meets a younger man named Scott at a nightclub and takes him home. The book wouldn’t be a horror-thriller if that summed it all up, though, and there’s much more to this hookup in the making than is immediately obvious…

On a broader level, PARTY & PREY was a chance for the two of us as queer men to tell a grimy, taboo-testing horror story that centers LGBTQ+ men while also addressing the wolves in sheep’s clothing that exist within the community, as well as the way indifference and hate outside of the community can enable those wolves to run wild for far too long. We want to intrigue, we want to offer a wealth of representation, and also admit that we’ve got work to do within the community. When you’ve got a story full of queer folks of all kinds, no character has to be perfect, and that’s when we can get into the provocative storytelling that makes horror so great.”

Foxe and Orlando also wrote the YA graphic novel  Rainbow Bridge for Aftershock’s new YA line, a very different project:

“It’s really a fun fluke of timing that PARTY & PREY comes out just a few months after RAINBOW BRIDGE, because it’d be difficult to find two more different books. While RAINBOW BRIDGE found us Steves channeling an emotionally honest fantasy/adventure story about a boy and his dog, everything stays firmly in the PG range. PARTY & PREY, on the other hand, is a hard R or maybe NC-17, and was a chance for us to explore the darker underbelly of a community we’re both very proud and grateful to be a part of, using some of our favorite horror/thriller storytelling tools. Loving something doesn’t mean ignoring when it’s got some issues to work on, and we’re playing that out in PARTY & PREY as a horror-thriller.”

And here is a preview:

Party & Prey OGN / $17.99 / 112 Pages / Color / 10.06.2021
Writers: Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando
Artist: Alex Sanchez
Colorist: Juancho!
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover: Alex Sanchez w/ Jose Villarrubia

 

15 Jun

Almost American: AfterShock Announces Spy Comic From Neumann, Marz & Castiello

AfterShock Comics announces Almost American, a new spy title written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Marco Castiello from a story by Jan Neumann.

Noah Dominguez, CBR

AfterShock Comics has announced Almost American, a new spy comic created by Janosh “Jan” Neumann. The comic is based on the true story of Neumann and his wife, Victorya, two former Russian spies who defected to the United States in 2008 and provided a significant amount of information to the FBI and CIA, only to be kicked off government payroll and left broke and jobless in Oregon.

Set to launch in September, Almost American is written by Ron Marz (Green Lantern, Silver Surfer) and illustrated by Marco Castiello (Giant-Man, Doom 2099), who are joined on the title by colorist Flavio Dispenza and letterer Rus Wooton. Almost American #1 features a main cover by Wooton, as well as an incentive variant cover by Juan Doe.

Almost American is the real-life story of husband and wife Jan and Victorya Neumann, Russian intelligence operatives who had to flee Russia for their lives, and wound up in America, caught up in the bureaucracy and red tape of the U.S. government,” said Marz. “The story is that much more fascinating because it’s all true. These are real events that happened to real people, and it gives some pretty fascinating insight into the intelligence world works… and doesn’t work. My first professional writing work was as a journalist at a daily newspaper, so in some ways this project was a combination of what I learned as a journalist and what I’ve learned writing comics. It’s filled with details and stories I learned from talking to Jan extensively, the kind of stuff you almost literally could not make up.”

When asked to give three reasons as to why readers should pick up Almost American, Marz stated, “First, it’s a compelling true story. You can tell any kind of story in comics, but we generally tell a lot more fictional stories than true stories. There’s more reportage here than in anything I’ve written. Second, the art by Marco Castiello is fabulous. This is not an easy assignment, drawing real people, real events and real locations, but he’s doing a wonderful job. And third, this is the beginning of… well, a beautiful friendship! You don’t expect to have a Russian former intelligence operative as a friend, but life is strange. We’ve started work on a few other projects together, so I think you’ll be hearing a lot more from us as a team.”

Neumann himself discussed the comic as well, including what inspired him to tell this story. “It’s hard to call it inspiration, I guess it was more of just a desire to share our personal experiences,” he explained. “And to remind readers that there is always hope even if you end up in some really terrible, complicated situations. All you can do is never give up and keep pushing forward.”

Neumann also explained how Almost American plays into today’s political climate. “It’s sad, but we’re heading full throttle to The Cold War 2.0,” he said. “I don’t see anything that can stop this clash between East and West. And that clash is playing out in the shadows, spy vs. spy. Almost American is about those shadow wars and how this game shows no mercy for its players. Once you started to play this game, you can’t quit, and it’s only matter of time before you become yet another casualty.”

Speaking on his time as a Russian spy, Neumann said, “It’s hard to evaluate moments by how scary they were. But the major turning point moment for us occurred when we made the decision to go to the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic. This moment split our life into two parts: before and after. It was the most psychologically and emotionally complicated, complex, and stressful day we’ve ever experienced. It’s impossible to describe how we felt, and we’ll be reckoning with our decision for the rest of our lives.”

ALMOST AMERICAN #1 / $4.99 / 32 pages / Color / 09.01.21

Writer: Ron Marz

Artist: Marco Castiello

Colorist: Flavio Dispenza

Letterer: Rus Wooton

Cover: Rus Wooton

Incentive Cover: Juan Doe

Spies…like us? In 2008, husband-and-wife Russian intelligence operatives walked into the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic in order to defect, making a deal to trade secrets for new lives. But instead of the American Dream, Janosh and Victorya Neumann found themselves caught up in red tape, bureaucracy and turf wars between the FBI and CIA — all while their past tries to kill them.

Based on the real-life story of real-life spies, ALMOST AMERICAN is written by comics master Ron Marz in close consultation with the Neumanns, with art by rising star Marco Castiello.

Written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Marco Castiello from a story by Jan Neumann, with colors by Flavio Dispenza and letters by Rus Wooton, Almost American #1 goes on sale Sept. 1 from AfterShock Comics.

08 Jun

Search for Hu: Orlando, Tsuei & Rubine Team for Cross-Cultural Action Thriller

Steve Orlando, Jon Tsuei and Rubine are collaborating on a new comic at AfterShock titled Search for Hu, mixing cultural history with a family feud.

Jon Tsuei (Sera and the Royal Stars, RunLoveKill), Steve Orlando (Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Kill a Man, Project Patron) and Rubine are teaming up for Search for Hu, a new action-packed, cross-cultural title at AfterShock Comics.

Search for Hu is a first of its kind cross-cultural action thriller, digging into a shared history of Jewish and Chinese lineage dating back to the Russian Revolution,” Orlando said while describing the series. “It’s about the cultural connections we never expect, something Jon and I discovered together. But that’s the tapestry, the story is about a man, Aaron Tse, who discovers this part of his family’s past in the most explosive way possible: when it comes back to haunt them.”

“After an attack in America, Aaron finds himself embroiled in a revenge tour of the homeland he never considered, and a family he never knew he had,” Orlando continued. “But it’s this very same family that Aaron’s mother left China to escape, and getting to the bottom of his family’s bloody internal feud might leave Aaron nothing but another dead-end on the family tree. SEARCH FOR HU is something I can’t wait to get into people’s hands. It’s the best type of action story, one that thrills you, takes you on a wild ride, and while you’re rooting through every explosive battle, shows you something new.”

“What really excites me about this book aside from the high-octane action and revenge plot is the exploration of my own heritage, something that I haven’t had the opportunity to do in my other comics work,” Tsuei added. “It turns out that the first Russian Jewish immigrants to settle in China ended up in the North-Eastern region of China, where my family was originally from before they ended up in Taiwan. The characters in this book are a reflection of Steve’s own Russian Jewish heritage and my North-Eastern Chinese background. This is a mashup I don’t think we’ve ever seen before in Western comics and I can’t wait for people to dive in.”

SEARCH FOR HU #1

  • $4.99 / 32 pages / Color / 09.08.21
  • Writers: Steve Orlando & Jon Tsuei
  • Artist: Rubine
  • Colorist: DC Alonso
  • Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
  • Cover: Rubine
  • Incentive Cover: Dave Johnson
  • Aaron Tse lives for his family, and if he’s not careful, he’ll die for its secrets.
  • When he left the military, Aaron Tse’s first thought was providing for his aging parents. His parents’ bar is experiencing hard times, and one night it’s shot to hell, with his parents critically injured in the attack.
  • But this was no ordinary robbery — Aaron’s mother reveals that she fled China to escape a blood feud between the Jewish and Chinese sides of her family…both of which are powerful organized crime families. Peace existed between these two families — the Hu and the Margolis — but now it’s been broken, and Aaron must protect his parents from further violence. Aaron hops a plane to the homeland he never intended to explore, on a path to revenge he never wanted to walk.
  • Written by Jon Tsuei (Sera and the Royal Stars, RunLoveKill) and Steve Orlando (Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, KILL A MAN, PROJECT PATRON) and drawn by artist sensation Rubine, SEARCH FOR HU is a fast-paced, action-packed exploration of complex cultural histories, powered by a bloody family feud.

Search for Hu #1 goes on sale Sept. 8 from AfterShock Comics.

01 Jun

AfterShock First Look: 10 Years to Death

The Shawshank Redemption meets The Sixth Sense, inspired by an eerily bone-chilling true story.

A newly-hired prison guard, a notorious mass murderer finally incarcerated for his crimes, and the death that binds them together. What happens when the murdered becomes the murderer?

A prestige format “One-Shock” featuring top creative talent, 10 YEARS TO DEATH is a horrific, unnerving tale conceived and written by Aaron Douglas (“Chief” from the iconic TV series Battlestar Galactica), and drawn by Cliff Richards (SHOCK, Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Also offered is a signed edition limited to 1000 copies at $19.99 per copy. Each copy will be signed by Battlestar Galactica’s “Chief,” Aaron Douglas.

10 YEARS TO DEATH

Writer: Aaron Douglas
Artist: Cliff Richards
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: TBD
Cover: Cliff Richards
Incentive Cover: Michael Gaydos
Signed Edition Cover: Michael Gaydos
/ $6.99 / 48 pages / Color
On sale 9.29.21

For more on this series, read below!

WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT AND WHY ARE YOU EXCITED FOR IT TO COME OUT?

“This is a story born out of an experience I had as a young boy with one of my uncles and my dad. I snuck to a spot in the house to listen to my uncle relate his tale to my dad. It confused and terrified me at the time and to this day I still have a very creepy feeling inside when I tell it to people. I think it is a fascinating story and whenever I tell it people are enthralled and I want to share it with a wider audience. I hope this can achieve that.”

AARON DOUGLAS ON SOME OF THE INSPIRATIONS BEHIND CREATING THE BOOK:

“As with all of my writing for AfterShock the inspirations come from CCO and Publisher Joe Pruett who demands more stories every time we are able to find each other for an evening out for dinner. I have a laundry list of stories and I piece meal them out to him hoping that he’ll fall in love with another one and want me to make it a book. He hasn’t failed me yet.”

AARON DOUGLAS ON HIS APPROACH TO WRITING COMICS AND HOW IT DIFFERS FROM/OR IS SIMILAR TO THAT OF HIS APPROACH TO ACTING:

“For me story telling is story telling, it just takes different shapes and has different forms. Whether I am writing for TV or a Film or for a comic book the story is king, or queen. Writing is different from acting in that when I am acting I am collaborating with the person, or persons, who wrote the piece and we are sharing the creation of the character. I feel more in control when I am writing but when you are writing by yourself you don’t get the other perspective from the writer. I often find that invaluable, to be able to speak to the writer and ask questions about their vision which helps inform my understanding of the character and influences performance.”

AARON DOUGLAS ON (3) REASONS WHY COMIC READERS SHOULD PCIKUP THIS BOOK?

“1. It’s a true story and it is creepy as hell.

2. Cliff Richards is an amazing artist and he draws what is in my mind and it freaks me out sometimes. HA

3. If you present the book to me at a con we’ll have a beer and we can talk more about the story. Free beer from Chief!”

AARON DOUGLAS ON THE FIRST COMIC HE EVER READ:

“I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home so comics were verboten for myself and my brother. I think the first comic I read would have been at my cousins house. His dad collected Archie comics so when I was about 12 years old I found the stash of comics with my cousin and I read them for hours. After Battlestar Galactica came about and I started going to conventions I would wander the Artist Alley and stop at the different comic companies and marvel at all the amazing work done by these incredibly creative people. Quite often the people would recognize me from the show and load me up with books. I would go home with dozens and dozens of books which I would read and then leave around set where they would be poured over by the cast and crew. We made a lot of fans over those years. It was a wonderful thing.”

18 May

Orlando, Foxe, and Brancati team for YA GN RAINBOW BRIDGE from AfterShock

The graphic novel is the first from AfterShock’s new Seismic Press imprint.

Joe Grunenwald, Comics Beat

Back in March AfterShock announced Seismic Press, their new imprint of young adult graphic novels, and revealed a slate of new and reissued titles coming from the imprint in late 2021 and 2022. Today the publisher has released a preview of Rainbow Bridge, the first title from Seismic Press, along with more info on the book from its writers, Steve Orlando and Steve Foxe.

Illustrated by Valentina Brancati and Manuel Poppo and lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, here’s how AfterShock describes Rainbow Bridge:

What if you got one last adventure with your best friend?

Andy and Rocket grew up together, with Rocket serving as Andy’s guardian through every one of childhood’s ups and downs. So, when Rocket passes away right before Andy’s 14th birthday, he’s rudderless. He can’t imagine making the transition to high school without Rocket at his side. The day before school starts, when Andy is at his lowest, he visits Rocket’s grave and unexpectedly summons the RAINBOW BRIDGE, a gateway to a fantasy world where pets discover their afterlife. But there’s a dark shadow to this paradise, and without Andy’s help, Rocket’s eternity may be grim…

The first graphic novel from AfterShock’s new YA imprint, Seismic Press, RAINBOW BRIDGE was conceived and written by Steve Orlando (PROJECT PATRON, KILL A MAN, Midnighter) and Steve Foxe (Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Grumpy Cat) with art byValentina Brancati (Les Ravencroft, Ghost Writer).  Published in the category standard size of 6.5” x 9.5”, this 120-page OGN will resonate with anyone who has ever had to say goodbye to a beloved pet – or who has greeted growing up with nervousness and anxiety.

AfterShock also unveiled a short Q&A with Steves Orlando and Foxe about the inspiration for the series, writing for a YA audience, and more:

STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXE ON WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT AND WHY THEY ARE EXCITED FOR IT TO COME OUT:

“Rainbow Bridge is about a 14-year-old boy, Andy, whose lifelong canine best friend passes away right before Andy is about to start high school. Andy has relied on Rocket for support ever since he was a toddler and Rocket was a pup, and now he’s not so sure about handling such big life events without Rocket in his life. 

When Andy gets overwhelmed and runs off to a spot that was important to the two of them, a dizzyingly colorful splash of light swoops down and carries Andy away to the Forever Fields, the afterlife paradise for animal companions. 

It turns out the Rainbow Bridge that pet lovers always talk about when an animal passes away is real, but humans are NOT supposed to cross it—especially humans who are still alive. If the Rainbow Bridge allowed Andy across, it must mean there is powerful unfinished business between him and Rocket. And as Andy soon discovers, animals who linger with unfinished business run the risk of turning into wraiths, vengeful, shadowy spirits that haunt the outskirts of the Forever Fields, driven by unresolved pain and trauma. 

Rocket has always been there for Andy. Now it’s Andy’s turn to find his best friend and make sure Rocket gets the afterlife he deserves.” 

STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXE ON SOME OF THE INSPIRATIONS BEHIND CREATING THE BOOK:

“Both of us Steves are dog people—Steve Orlando has a corgi, in fact. And being a dog person unfortunately means knowing your best friend is going to leave you before it feels fair. But having animals in your life, whether it’s for 14 years or 14 days, is a friendship and a bond like no other. We wanted to explore that bittersweet fact for sure, but also celebrate the friendship and wonder inherent in having a childhood pet.

Wouldn’t YOU do anything for one last adventure with your best friend?”

STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXE ON THEIR APPROACH TO WRITING COMICS WHEN IT COMES TO THE YOUNG ADULT (YA) AUDIENCE:

“Younger readers are looking for the same thing any reader wants to see: good stories done well. But writing for teens and preteens also means getting to be a little more emotionally forward—these are the years of our lives where everything can feel like the ONLY thing, whether that’s losing a friend or starting a new school or trying to figure out your feelings about another kid in your class. 

So we don’t write “down” to younger readers, but we do enjoy getting to go big and bold and hit the emotional beats hard, since our main audience is here for stories that make them think and make them feel something.” 

STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXE ON THE FIRST COMIC THEY EVER READ, AND IF THEY HAVE A MOST FAVORITE?”

“The Steve pod will have to split up for this one!

Steve Orlando: The first comic I ever read was West Coast Avengers #16, a Tale of Two Kitties! And perhaps that cat-themed issues ended up being prescient, since here we are launching a pet-themed fantasy epic. As far as my favorite, it was, and likely always will be, Flex Mentallo – an unruly ode to the wonder of imagination, and the deliverance comics can offer outsides hungry for acceptance and community.

Steve Foxe: As a kid of the very late eighties, I grew up with X-Men: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series, so you’d better believe I was grabbing every stray issue of the source material I could find. But I should also give a nod to Garfield, which I would read out loud with a friend on the bus in elementary school, taking turns over who got to be which character. There are so many avenues into comics, it really doesn’t matter where you START, as long as you keep going. 

As for a favorite comic for kids, it’s hard to choose—but also hard to beat the pure storytelling genius of classic Scrooge McDuck comics from Carl Barks, and later Don Rosa. Talk about timeless.” 

STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXE ON (3) REASONS WHY COMIC READERS SHOULD PICK THIS BOOK UP:

“Everything else aside, the team of Valentina Brancati on line art, Manual Puppo on colors, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou on lettering blows us away with every single page. The phrase, “an animated movie on the page” gets thrown around a lot…but sometimes it’s true! Anything us Steves thought up has been elevated by their hard work on RAINBOW BRIDGE, and readers are really going to flip for the fun and whimsy of the Forever Fields. 

We really poured our dog-loving hearts into the story of Rocket and Andy and the other pets they meet along the way, so we hope other animal lovers will get that same swell of emotion when they pick up RAINBOW BRIDGE. We both spent a lot of time hugging our dogs after writing each chapter. 

Finally, we’re just thrilled to be part of the launch of Seismic Press, and to see another publisher make a serious effort to reach younger readers. We love comics for every age range, but getting new readers into sequential storytelling is how we make sure the medium and the market are strong and supported for many years to come.

We hope readers will pick up RAINBOW BRIDGE and the other Seismic titles and share them with younger readers in their life, so that this corner of comics only gets bigger and more inclusive over time.” 

Rainbow Bridge is the first writing collaboration for Orlando and Foxe, though it appears it won’t be their last. Last year Orlando took to Twitter to announce a “Big, Raw, Queer Horror” project with Foxe that at the time was slated for release this year as well.

Check out the full preview for Rainbow Bridge below. The book goes on sale in comic shops on Wednesday, August 4th, and arrives in bookstores on Tuesday, August 17th.

 

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