Writer Marguerite Bennett talks about the origins of her upcoming AfterShock Comics project.
When her father dies unexpectedly, a young woman attempts to rebuild her relationship with her mother, but there’s something in the way: all the possessions and belongings her hoarder mother has accumulated over the years. In AfterShock Comics’ upcoming graphic novel Horde, that isn’t intended as a metaphor: Something doesn’t want Ruby to help her mother, and it’s reaching out through the objects that surround them both.
Initially announced last October, Horde — written by DC Bombshells and Animosity writer Marguerite Bennett, with art by Leila Leiz, colors by Guy Major and letters from Marshall Dillon — has now been given a release date, and will be available in October. To mark the occasion, Heat Vision talked to writer Bennett about the project.
Horde is clearly a horror story rooted deep within character, and the subject matter might hit close to home for a number of readers. Is there a personal closeness to this particular story for you as a writer?
There always is.
I think the great evils of the world have always begun with the treatment of people as things. Even in this raw nerve of a familial melodrama, this is the crux — all the suffering, all the frenzy and madness and emotional climax all stem from this. Separate from the tragedy of mental illness is the deliberate dehumanization of human beings.
Where does Rudy, the main character of the story, come from?
Ruby fears that her mother, Mia, values possessions over everything, including her own child. She feels like an object, a souvenir of her mother’s great love affair with Ruby’s father. She feels like a trinket, exoticized and objectified by a woman who used possessions to feel powerful, special, superior and important — uses objects as armor, as proof of her success and lifelines to memory.
Anyone who has felt “collected,” dehumanized, disposable, tokenized may relate. The struggle to define and then seize your own self-worth, to prove yourself to others but especially to the ones who ought to love you above all things is a vicious battle. Ruby is the fear of every overachieving child desperate for love and recognition, filled with anger and grief and still that longing for one last chance.
Horde brings you together with artist Leila Leiz; what is she like as a collaborator, especially on a project like this one?
Leila is brilliant. The script was so monstrously demanding in its density and emotion and madness, and she absolutely killed it. All the detail, all the loveliness with which she renders even the most grotesque things is what makes the book something special, without question. I crammed in so many reference photos, everything from how fashion informed character to the obscene taxidermies scuttling around Mia’s basement, and Leila made them more elegant and terrifying than I could have ever imagined. She is the reason this book exists.
This isn’t your first AfterShock Comics project; you’ve been working with the publisher for years with the series Animosity, and a number of spinoffs that it’s produced. What has the success of that project meant to you?
Animosity is my big baby, where one day, all the animals come online, starting thinking, start talking, start taking revenge, and a dog and his human daughter embark on a cross-country road trip amid black comedy talking animal apocalypse. I never imagined we’d come so far, and I am grateful beyond grateful, beyond the confines and definition of the word, to the readers and fans and wonderful people who have made Sandor and Jesse’s journey possible.
Animosity is a series in which the long game is important; Horde is a one-off graphic novel. What is it like working shortform, versus longform, on projects like this?
I love them both for their different powers — love the tight, complete one-shots that strike like lightning, love the long, elegant twists and turns in the emotional build-up and payoff of a saga. I love the escalating tension of serialized storytelling, and love the closure and completion and bone-deep satisfaction of a book that begins and ends on its own terms. I hope this new format — my first foray into the graphic novel medium — leaves you feeling much the same, though with a bit more horror in your heart and adrenaline in your veins.
Horde will be released October 16. Below, check out interior and cover artwork by Leiz.