23 Jun

AfterShock to Release ‘Support Our Shops’ Comic Book

The 48-page special will be shipped at no cost to stores.

Seeking to help comic book retailers struggling to deal with the effects of COVID-19, AfterShock Comics has announced the release of Support Our Shops, a special one-off anthology featuring seven all-new stories.

The 48-page issue, which will be shipped at no cost to retailers, features work by Cullen Bunn, Stephanie Phillips, Zac Thompson, Steve Orlando, Jamie McKelvie, Jerry Ordway, Aaron Douglas, Leila Leiz, Don Kramer, Szymon Kudranski, Ro Stein & Ted Brandt, Gordon Purcell, and Cliff Richards, behind a cover by David Mack. Each story in the issue centers around the importance of comic book stores in their lives, or the lives of fans.

“This benefit book celebrates the central and critical role that comic shops have always played in fostering a love of the medium among fans – many of whom have gone on to become creators in their own right,” AfterShock publisher Joe Pruett said in a statement. “It might be a drop in the bucket, but it’s a hell of a drop in the bucket. These are heartfelt stories, crafted by creators with deep, lasting connections to the comic shops of yesterday, today and, we have no doubt, tomorrow.”

“Speaking and connecting with hundreds of comic shops regarding the challenges they face – as an overall retail channel and as individual and independent business owners – we felt an obligation to give something back, something that was uniquely AfterShock,” added SVP of sales and marketing, Steve Rotterdam. “We’ve always been about creators and their visions, so this was an easy decision.”

Twenty copies per storefront will be delivered free of charge to Diamond Comic Distributors’ 200 top-ranked AfterShock accounts, with the next 300 ranked accounts receiving 10 free copies. Any store not included in these 500 places that is looking for copies is invited to contact AfterShock. Copies will arrive with shipments of product with a June 24 on-sale date.

AfterShock is leaving it up to retailers to decide what to do with the anthology once received, with the company suggesting that copies could be given away free to customers, sold as a way to recoup COVID-related losses, or used as an add-on to particular purchase levels.

S.O.S. is our small way of saying ’thank you’ to all of the wonderful stores that have supported AfterShock since the beginning,” editor-in-chief Mike Marts said about the project in his own statement. “Now it’s our turn to give back.”

12 May

How a Former ‘Daily Show’ Writer Crafted a Slasher Comic

Elliott Kalan’s ‘Maniac of New York’ debuts in early 2021.

New York can be dangerous at the best of times, but in AfterShock Comics’ latest title, Maniac of New York, that reaches a new height — not that the New Yorkers in question seem that bothered, all things considered.

The series, for which The Hollywood Reporter has the exclusive first look, is “a horror story about how crisis situations become our new normal,” according to writer Elliott Kalan. (Hellblazer veteran Andrea Mutti provides art.) “A slasher movie-style unstoppable killer is marauding through New York City, and since nobody knows how to solve the problem, everyone in power has given up and decides to just live with New Yorkers occasionally being hacked to death by an ax-wielding maniac. The series will look at how life changes, and doesn’t change, in the city from different angles — starting in our first arc with a story about an idealistic mayoral aide, a jaded police detective, and a very bad day for commuters on the subway.”

As timely as the idea of settling into a new routine during trying times may be, Kalan said the roots of the series come from a far less likely source.

“The original inspiration for the series was my extreme adolescent disappointment with Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, which promised a citywide metropolitan bloodbath and delivered a couple shots of Jason walking through Times Square in a bad mood,” he admitted. “But beyond that, the New York movies of the ’70s and ’80s, when the city was gross and ugly and exciting and felt like it was full of real people and not just wealthy hedge fund managers. The first storyline is heavily indebted to my favorite movie of all time, the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three.”

Maniac of New York is a far cry from Kalan’s Emmy award-winning work on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and Mystery Science Theater 3000 — there’s a lot more death, for one thing — but the comparison comes to life in an unexpected way for the writer.

“The biggest difference is I never have to worry about the budget. Times Square on New Year’s Eve? Not a problem, we can shoot there. Get a whole subway train? Done, no permits necessary. And casting is a snap, because we can just invent whoever we need.”

Kalan said the series is a labor of love. “I’ve been wanting to tell these stories for a very long time. I love New York in the way only a true New Yorker can — with a burning desire to see it fictionally destroyed,” he said. “I’ve never felt previous horror stories really took advantage of the nightmare opportunities the city has to offer, so it’s been exciting to play with all that. And I’ve loved watching Andrea bring it to life with his art after years of the idea living in my head.”

Maniac of New York is scheduled to launch in February 2021.

05 May

‘We Live’ Imagines Final Days of Humanity

The new AfterShock Comics series shows how two siblings negotiate the near-end of the human race.

AfterShock Comics’ latest series begins at the lowest point of humanity, but as its creators explain, the family drama We Live is anything but apocalyptic hand-wringing.

Set in a near future where a number of different events — including climate collapse and a world war to claim dominance over the few remaining resources — have left only a third of humanity alive, the unthinkable happens: a message arrives from space, announcing the upcoming, unavoidable extinction of the human race.

There’s a small sliver of hope, however. Those responsible for the forthcoming genocide promise that 5,000 children will be spared, providing rescue bracelets and placing nine “Extraction Beacons” around the world that will provide safe passage to those present and wearing the bracelets when the end comes.

“We are five days away from Extraction Day when we start the story,” co-writer and artist Inaki Miranda told The Hollywood Reporter. “We follow the journey of two siblings, Hotoro and his older sister, Tala, from their home to a distant Extraction Beacon. What Hotoro doesn’t know is what his salvation implies — if they survive and succeed in reaching the Extraction Beacon in time, that will also mean that he will lose his sister Tala forever, since she doesn’t wear a bracelet and must stay on Earth. The weight of the journey falls upon Tala. She will risk everything to save her little brother, keeping him unaware of the real tragedy that’s unfolding.”

The series, added Miranda’s brother and co-writer, Roy, “is a story about defeat. It talks about a human race that has accepted its own extinction. Imagine what it‘s like to begin an adventure in that emotional state. We have combined two great human conflicts, desperate migration and the consequences of climate change, and we have placed them on the shoulders of two innocent kids. That right there is a fabulous blend of fairy dust and powder in the pockets of imagination.”

Inaki added that this book is one for the current struggles we face.

“We are living a moment where we can’t think in future mode; there are too many variables in the game. Our present feels a lot like walking through fog. And in the middle of all this, we also harbor a powerful human emotion and the sentiment of fighting the adversities: keep walking, surviving, thriving,” he said. “I’d love this book to be experienced as a parallel read, in some magical way,  to all the adversities that we are going through right now. I’d love for Tala and Hotoro’s journey to turn into a part of  the readers’ own journey as well. That’s the magic of storytelling, it’s all about the metaphors that we can re-create and the emotions that we can extrapolate into our own lives.”

We Live, which is from colorist Eva de la Cruz, will launch Oct. 14. Look below for preview pages from the first issue.

28 Apr

‘The Kaiju Score’ Is a Crime Drama With a Monster Twist

What if Quentin Tarantino directed ‘Oceans 11’ with Godzilla in the background?

It’s tough to plan the perfect heist in the best of conditions — and, as it turns out, carrying out the crime of the century in the middle of a giant monster attack is far from the best of conditions. Welcome to the genre mash-up to end all genre mash-ups in AfterShock Comics’ upcoming new series, The Kaiju Score.

The Kaiju Score is a Quentin Tarantino film taking place in some corner of a Godzilla movie,” writer James Patrick said in a statement about the fall title. “You have this giant canvas of a kaiju attack occurring, and as it happens there’s this more personal story going on. And after that setup, it explores how these four characters, who are in just the worst situation in their lives, believe the only way out is to do this impossible thing. This crazy crime. It’s about that desperation.”

Beyond the obvious inspiration of old kaiju movies, the roots of this book lie in an unexpected source.

“It started with Donald Westlake books like the Parker series. I wanted to do something contemporary like those,” Patrick explained. “But when Rem [Broo, co-creator and artist] came aboard, I knew it felt more Oceans 11 and I adjusted. And Elmore Leonard stories when it came to the characters, and Tarantino when it came to the dialogue. I didn’t say ‘I’m going to write this dialogue like Tarantino and ape him’ — I just mean that in a more organic sense [of] I love all of those people and their work, and my own work probably echoes them.”

Visually, the series also draws from crime fiction — and some of Broo’s own earlier work.

“James told me from the beginning that what made him take me into consideration as the artist for this project was a specific splash page from a former comic of mine, Terminal Protocol,” the artist said. “The image was of a character with a cool attitude drawn with extreme perspective angles. Connecting that image with the heist theme, I knew exactly in what direction I should go with the art style. But I wanted to highlight the heist theme in the story, so I decided to go with a clean, limited color palette, and a vintage illustrated poster-like style for the retrospective or descriptive pages of the comic, a style that can be seen in the cover art as well.”

The Kaiju Score will debut Nov. 25. Look below for an exclusive preview of Broo’s artwork for the first issue.

21 Apr

How ‘Miles to Go’ Puts Family Drama Into an Assassin Crime Story

Get a first look at the AfterShock Comics title, which launches in September.

Family can be complicated, especially for someone whose father figure was an assassin who trained her to follow in their blood-stained footsteps. But years after her last kill, Amara Bishop has to remember everything her mentor taught her in order to stay alive — and keep her daughter safe, as well. Welcome to the complicated, deadly world of AfterShock Comics’ new series, Miles to Go.Launching this fall, the fast-paced series is co-created by B. Clay Moore (Hawaiian Dick, Valiant Entertainment’s Savage) and artist Stephen Molnar.“The story follows Amara Bishop, who spent her formative years as the apprentice to a government-sponsored assassin and is now a single mother struggling to figure out why she’s never succeeded at anything in life the way she did at, you know — killing people,” explained Moore. “When she and her daughter, Alea, find themselves attacked in their home, she joins an aging colleague of her former mentor’s and begins to unravel her past as she fights to secure her daughter’s future.”

“What attracted me to Clay’s concept for the series was the normal problems that the characters are dealing with,” Molnar said. “The book may have a larger-than-life plot device pushing it forward, but it’s the personal details of the main characters’ relationships that I think a lot of people will be able to relate to.”

Molnar is known for artwork on such titles as DC’s Imaginary Friends and IDW’s Star Trek, but this series offers him a chance to switch things up a little. His style on Miles to Go, he said, is “quite different than what people have come to expect from me. While my style of storytelling and panel design hasn’t changed much from what I’ve done in the past, my line art will be more loose and sketchy. It will also be the first project that I’ve done the color art on. As we get further along in the series, I plan to rely on color more often and plan out each book’s color scheme at the layout stage.”

“The project came together after Stephen asked if I wanted to create something new with him, and it’s been a true collaboration every step of the way,” Moore said. “We’ve known each other for years and are glad to have finally found the right project to work together on.”

Summing up the appeal of the series, Moore said, “I think we’ve created a unique protagonist with a backstory and a ‘hook’ that will deepen as the story moves forward. One of the underlying themes examines the ways we relate to our loved ones in the wake of difficult decision-making, which hopefully adds some depth to what is, on the surface, an action-oriented genre tale.” He added, “The goal is to create a genre story that’s not only heavy on the action, but also brings flesh and blood characters to life while exploring some deeper themes just below the surface.”

Miles to Go will launch Sept. 9. Look below for unlettered artwork from the first issue, as well as Molnar’s first cover for the series.

16 Apr

AfterShock Comics Turns Five with “Business as Usual” Approach and Continued Focus on Print to Support Retailers During Coronavirus Crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

AfterShock Comics Turns Five with “Business as Usual” Approach and Continued Focus on Print to Support Retailers During Coronavirus Crisis 

Top Independent Publisher Recommits to Simultaneous Release of Print and Digital Editions of Upcoming Titles as Company Continues to Develop and Debut Content from Top Creators 

Los Angeles, CA (April 16, 2020) – As the comic industry’s fastest-growing independent publishing company celebrates five years in business, AfterShock Comics announces all projects and partnerships will continue full speed ahead as the company reaffirms its commitment to holding back digital editions of its soon-to-debut comics until they are released in print. 

With sights set on an eventual lift of the shipping embargo on new publications to comic shops, AfterShock continues to take pitches, hire creators and produce new titles, with specific project announcements coming over the following weeks. 

“While we understand the economic hardships that the coronavirus crisis has brought to all facets of the comics community – retailers, consumers, creators and distributors – we’re thankful that we’ve been able to remain ‘open for business’ on all fronts,” said EIC Mike Marts. “The award-winning creators that we work with are knee deep in the various stages of their current AfterShock projects, and we look forward to sharing their new creations with the world over the coming months.” 

“Since day one, comic retailers have been critical partners in the success of AfterShock,” said Steve Rotterdam, SVP Sales and Marketing. “During this window of uncertainty, we continue to support their efforts to meet customer needs for comics that may be new to them via mail order and other delivery approaches that remain possible in their communities.” 

In light of current circumstances, members of the AfterShock Army retail ambassador team are maintaining regular contact with comic shops, as are all members of AfterShock’s marketing and leadership teams. Ambassador recruitment efforts will also move forward to ensure expanded coverage throughout as much of the United States and Canada as possible when restrictions loosen. 

AfterShock has also ramped up digital features on its own website and social platforms, providing free access to the beginnings of some of AfterShock’s most popular series and undiscovered gems. The publisher’s Page-A-Day feature has been up and running since the beginning of April, providing daily content linked to first issues of popular AfterShock series including ROUGH RIDERS, ANIMOSITY, DARK ARK and THE LOST CITY EXPLORERS. 

AfterShock’s newly launched Free-for-All program also provides both long-standing and relatively new fans with full digital versions of significant first issues from the AfterShock archives, directing them to connect with local comic shops to get their hands on collected editions. Plus, sneak peeks at pages from upcoming, but delayed series debuts and follow-up issues are featured regularly on AfterShock’s Instagram, and work-in-progress creative can be viewed through Twitter and Facebook. 

To further support retailer partners in this time of need, AfterShock will donate a percentage of sales through its web store to support The Binc Foundation, which provides crucial assistance to comic retailers. 

ABOUT AFTERSHOCK 

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. 

# # # 

Please direct media inquiries to Aaron Marion at aaron@publichausagency.com. 

17 Mar

The Hollywood Reporter: How ‘Kill a Man’ Writers Crafted an LGBTQ+ MMA Story

Steve Orlando and Phillip Kennedy Johnson unveil the project centering on two gay fighters of different generations.

Announced last year, AfterShock Comics’ upcoming graphic novel Kill a Man is a sports story with a difference, following the complicated relationship between two MMA fighters of different generations with a shared history. Ahead of the book’s June release, The Hollywood Reporter has a first look, as well as some words about the project from its writers.

“Yes, we’ve seen combat sports narratives before. Yes, we’ve seen coming out and LGBTQ+ struggle narratives before. But a gay lead has never been allowed to be the star of this type of underdog combat sports narrative before,” writer Steve Orlando said in a statement about the series. “Every time [Phillip Kennedy Johnson] and I work on the book, I’m inevitably texting him about how this moment or that moment is something that’s never been put to page before…. We want to give the Rocky-type narrative to the LGBTQ+ community and say, loudly and unflinching, that we toodeserve a hero that overcomes, goes the distance, and finds victory on their own terms.”

Kill a Man is definitely part of the Rocky/Creed tradition, but the dynamic between main characters James Bellyi and Xavier Mayne starts from a completely different place from anything we’ve seen in those other stories,” added co-writer Johnson. “Mayne represents the old guard of the MMA tradition, one of the original pioneers of the sport…a gay man whose career started to go wrong when he beat a bigot to death in the ring. Then, a generation later, the dead man’s son grows up to be James Bellyi, a legit MMA superstar who gets outed as gay leading up to his title shot. Bellyi begrudgingly turns to Xavier Mayne, the man he grew up hating, to train him, setting up one of the most complicated and fascinating relationships we’ve seen in a coming-of-age story, one I’m honored to have a part in telling.”

“There just aren’t many books about MMA on the comic shelves right now, which continues to mystify me. It’s the most dynamic and exciting sport on Earth, practiced by some of the most driven, dedicated, and gifted athletes in history, and Kill a Man reflects that,” Johnson continued. “Of course, it’s crucial that every LGBTQ+ reader who picks up the story recognizes that it comes from a true perspective, but it was also hugely important to me that every MMA fan recognizes the fights as being written and illustrated by creators who know the fight game.”

Orlando added, “It’s vital to us to not just present a gripping, groundbreaking story but also provide an unflinching and authentic look at the MMA world for all its ups and downs. This isn’t sugarcoated; it’s every bit as triumphant and toxic, petty and perilous, exciting and eccentric as the modern fight world is outside our window.”

The 128-page graphic novel, illustrated by Al Morgan with letters from Jim Campbell, will be released June 3. Some of Morgan’s artwork from the book is below.

03 Mar

The Hollywood Reporter: Modern Cold War Comic ‘Red Atlantis’ Launching in June

AfterShock unveils a look at the supernatural political espionage thriller.

In 2020, the state of politics is far more confusing — and far less obvious — than it may appear on first glance, and that’s even before anyone gets to the mind control. Welcome to the paranoid world of AfterShock Comics’ new espionage series Red Atlantis.

The series, by Stephanie Phillips (Artemis and the Assassin, Butcher of Paris) and Robert Carey (James Bond), couldn’t be more timely, focusing on what happens when a series of investigations into violent crimes during a U.S. election leads authorities to Russian terrorists and a U.S. journalism student who might have uncovered far more than she ever bargained for.

Red Atlantis was actually created by Jan Neumann, a former intelligence officer in Russia’s Federal Security Service,” Phillips tells The Hollywood Reporter about the new series. “After defecting to the U.S. with his wife in 2008, Jan worked with the FBI to find and apprehend European mobsters. Red Atlantis is Jan’s brainchild and born from a lot of his own experiences, as well as the history of the U.S. and Russia’s tense relationship.”

The series, she adds, is filled with “a lot of familiar themes — espionage, politics, Russia/US tension — but the story brings a supernatural element that is actually steeped in history. Add to that Jan Neumann bringing his life experiences and expertise to this story, and I think our creative team was able to accomplish something really unique.”

The first issue of Red Atlantis will debut June 10 in comic stores and digitally, with covers from Robert Hack (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) and Tim Bradstreet (The Punisher). Look below for both covers, as well as previews of Carey’s interior artwork from the issue.

 

18 Feb

The Hollywood Reporter: Horror Breakup Comic ‘Lonely Receiver’ to Launch in May

The near-future tale comes from writer Zac Thompson and artist Jen Hickman.

AfterShock Comics’ newest series combines two things that everyone will understand all too well: A bad breakup and spending too much time on your phone. Put them together, and what have you got? The answer, it seems, is near-future tech dystopia story Lonely Receiver.

According to writer Zac Thompson, the series is “a horrific breakup story. Except it’s a breakup story about a person and their phone.”

The breakup in question takes place between video producer Cairin Vander and Rhion, the AI that’s lived within Cairin’s phone for a decade — and suddenly disappears after disconnecting without warning after a particularly intense fight.

“I’m excited for this book to be released because it’s channeling my love for psychological thrillers and looking at horror with a neon soaked lens,” Thompson explained. “We’re asking tough questions about how we define ourselves in relationships and how we lose parts of ourselves to others. We’re also framing the horror around something incredibly relatable — a horrifying breakup. The type of super ugly breakup that makes you confront the disorienting disparity between the person you thought you were in the relationship and the person you are when you’re alone.”

The series is illustrated by Jen Hickman (Test), who hopes that readers are “disturbed, a little grossed out” by the series, adding, “There’s a lot to chew on, and a lot of moments where as much as the reader might loathe what Catrin is up to, they can’t deny that they’ve done or thought the exact same thing. I hope that complexity and vulnerable familiarity stays with readers just as much as all the weird, upsetting horror does. They’re really one and the same, anyway.”

Citing J.G. Ballard’s Crash, the little-known Sam Neill movie Possession and filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn’s work as inspirations, Thompson called the series “a book about losing yourself to heartbreak and descending into technological depravity. You’ll confront the fetishization of voyeurism, violence and manipulation. We’ll lay bare the psychology behind how far we’re willing to go to please ourselves in a space where nothing is off limits.”

Lonely Receiver debuts with a first issue released May 6, featuring a cover by Hickman and a variant cover from Elizabeth Torque. Both can be seen below, as well as previews of interior work by Hickman.

 

04 Feb

The Hollywood Reporter: How ‘Sympathy for No Devils’ Combines the Crime and Monster Genres

Comic book writer Brandon Thomas notes he was drawing from projects such as ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ and ‘Bad Boys.’

For most homicide detectives, mention of being surrounded by monsters is just a metaphor. When it comes to the protagonist of AfterShock Comics’ latest title, Sympathy for No Devils, things are meant just a little bit more literally, as it turns out.

The series, launching in May, centers around a cop named Winston Wallis — a cop who just so happens to be the last human alive in a world filled with supernatural monsters and threats. But this is far from a straightforward mashup between police procedural and horror, according to writer Brandon Thomas.

“This book is five different genres beautifully smashed together to create a world that never plays it safe, and always keeps the characters — and hopefully readers — off-guard, with no idea what’ll happen next, or which trope is next to be subverted,” Thomas explained in a statement. “The things on my mood board for this were Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Devil in a Blue Dress, Cool World and Bad Boys. I’m always interested in injecting new black and brown characters into genres where they typically haven’t appeared, and I’d never seen a book with this particular mix of characters, environments, and storytelling styles.”

He continued, “It’s an exciting world to tell stories in, and a big part of that is because of the people making it, with a mix of old friends (Lee Ferguson, Mike Marts, Simon Bowland) and new ones (José Villarrubia, Christina Harrington). When the first pages came back, it was like being hit with little bolts of lightning — everything just looked and felt right, and you always have that feeling, but until it transforms from words on a page into an actual, living thing, you never know. That first sequence felt welcoming and off-putting in the perfect way, and we’re having a blast building out and exploring this new world around a character like Winston.”

The book reteams Thomas with artist Lee Ferguson more than a decade after their last collaboration, the indie title The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury, and the writer is ready to revisit the pairing. “[That title] changed our lives and careers, so it was only a matter of time before we got back together to make some more cool comics, and Sympathy is definitely in the same vein,” he teased. “Impossible odds, amazing character and creature design, and a responsibility to push boundaries.”

In case Ferguson’s pages below — colored by series colorist Villarrubia — aren’t convincing enough, Thomas has one more tease for the series to win over potential readers…and it’s a big one. (Literally.)

“It’s a murder mystery where Godzilla is killed by a laser gun, and the only person that can solve it is the last man alive in a world of monsters, and the victim of a magical curse that guarantees impossible escapes.”

Sympathy for No Devils debuts May 20 in comic book stores and digitally.

 

 

 

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