There is a new series on the horizon for indie publisher, Oni Press, in the form of the new series The Life After from Joshua Fialkov (I, VAMPIRE, The Bunker) and Gabo (Image’s Charlie Loves Robots). Starting July 9, 2014, readers will be exposed to another take on what happens in the afterlife. Yet, the writer promises to deliver an angle that, while familiar in some regards, will also provide plenty of surprise twists and turns.
Newsarama had the opportunity to talk with Josh for a few minutes to give readers not only a meaty sample from the series' first issue, but also a feel as to what they can expect to encounter in the greater span of the story itself.
Newsarama: Josh – you're no stranger to otherworldly story lines, but this one may be one of the most "off-the-beaten path" comics you've written to date. As I was reading through the first issue, it felt – in some ways – as though I was picking up a Truman Show / Matrix vibe with a metaphysical twist.
Where did The Life After originate from (inspiration / influences)?
Joshua Hale Fialkov: Those are all pretty close, actually. I like that pitch! The idea of paranoia and monitoring us is such a big hang-up in our society now, and yet, you have a good percentage of the population of the world believing that there’s a deity watching us and judging us 24/7. So that was definitely something that I wanted to touch on. What I love most about this book is that it’s very much a cornucopia for me. It’s got a ton of my interests jumbled together to give me a playground, and with Gabo as a collaborator, I get to explore it in ways I’d never imagined possible.
As far as inspiration, you know, I wanted to tell an epic story, but to do it in a landscape that just doesn’t have the unforgiving nature of a typical fantasy world. Y’know, Game of Thrones or Tolkein or Lovecraft, hell, even, Star Wars all have these very ornate rules. Their own religious aspect, essentially, right? So, what better milieu to tell a story than within the confines and rules of a religious world. But that being said, those rules are ever changing, always shifting, be it by moral majority or papal decree or, y’know, just by accident, the tenants keep moving, and that means we get to explore the consequences of an ever-shifting landscape.
Nrama: Now, there's a surprise appearance by one of the best-known twentieth century literary figures, Ernest Hemingway. How did he come into this narrative?
Fialkov: Y’know, as we’re starting out in the afterlife for suicides, it became clear that we needed a supporting character to play Jude against. So, the question becomes what kind of guy would both be in the afterlife for suicides, but, somehow… separate from it. Who could rise above those doldrums? There really was only one answer. Ernest Hemingway lived an incredible life, and when he realized he was going to be unable to live that same life, he ended it. And I don’t think you see his suicide talked about in the same sad ways that other famous suicides are seen. He’s seen as doing something heroic, by essentially telling his hemochromatosis to go #### itself, y’know? So, what would that guy be doing in the afterlife? And the only answer that seemed right was having one hell of an adventure.
Nrama: For this new series, you've teamed up with Gabo (Elephantmen, Allstar Western Comics, and Charlie <3'z Robots). How did you two meet and what can you tell us about what he brings to the storytelling process behind The Life After?
Fialkov: I owe it all to Richard Starkings. Gabo has been coloring and drawing for Richard for years, as Richard has been working with him and training him to be, well, as awesome as everyone Richard works with. Spending time with the two of them let me see just how amazing Gabo was, and what a huge future he had. And, Gabo’s imagination is just… limitless. The crazy things that come out of his mouth and pencil, well, shockingly great. He makes what I do 1000x better.
Nrama: Obviously, you're publishing The Bunker with Oni Press (with your first collected trade due out later this summer). Why did you feel Oni was the place to publish The Life After?
Fialkov: Oni is doing books with such an amazing attention to detail, and this book is all about detail. The way they approach everything from creative to printing to marketing is just delicate and precise in a way few can match. Plus, I’m great friends with just about everyone there these days, so, y’know, no brainer. They’re really publishing almost half of my favorite titles on the stands right now, from Letter 44 to Sixth Gun, to The Auteur, and Stumptown. I mean, what a lineup, right?
Nrama: It makes sense that fans of Gabo's and your work will be checking this new series out. However, what about The Life After makes it a "must read" for those who are either on the fence or unfamiliar with either of your respective comic publications?
Fialkov: It’s a journey, a big crazy exploration of what it means to be judged and to be cast out from your destiny. It’s got love and loss and giant evil insectoid angels that will eat your brain. Oh, and did I mention it’s AWESOME? :D
The Life After debuts from Oni Press on July 9, 2014 and will be available in both local comic book shops as well as Comixology.