AICN COMICS Q&@: Bug talks with Joshua Hale Fialkov about his new adventures in the afterlife for suicides comic THE LIFE AFTER!
@’s by THE LIFE AFTER writer
Joshua Hale Fialkov!!!
Hitting only the coolest of comic book shops today is Joshua Hale Fialkov’s THE LIFE AFTER #1, a new series that takes a look at life, death and what’s beyond all of that. I had a chance to check out the first issue and loved it as it is definitely a comic made for those who love to ponder life’s deeper meanings. But don’t worry; it’s got a lot of action and excitement as well along with all of that introspective, metaphysical stuff. All in all, it’s just an exciting and smart piece of comic booking.
Check out the exclusive cover to issue #4 of THE LIFE AFTER over there on the right!
I had a chance to catch up with Fialkov, a writer I’ve admired since I first read his series ELK’S RUN many moons ago, and followed through his ECHOES series from Top Cow, the super hero epic THE LAST OF THE GREATS, the noir awesomeness of TUMOR, on to the New 52’s I, VAMPIRE, and his other current hit at Oni Press THE BUNKER. Fialkov is a writer’s writer and I was stoked to see what he had to say about THE LIFE AFTER. Here’s what transpired…
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): For those unfamiliar with THE LIFE AFTER, can you explain the concept behind the comic?
JOSHUA HALE FIALKOV (JHF): THE LIFE AFTER is about an average guy named Jude who realizes that he's living in the afterlife for suicides and that he alone has the power to wake up the poor, unsuspecting souls around him. He very quickly realizes that that afterlife is NOT a good place to be, and wants to find a way out, and maybe solve the mystery of why he's there. And he does it all for true love... and Ernest Hemingway. It's a crazy book that gets to really dig into a lot of the themes and idaes I've played with throughout my career... from the twisting of scripture in I, VAMPIRE to the gray morality of books like ELK’S RUN, to the love story of TUMOR. It's really a chance for me to explore more of my interests than any book I've ever worked on.
BUG: This story feels very much like a "writer's story" as I noticed quite a bit of introspection going on. There's a lot of negative attitude and self loathing going on here as well, which is arguably a lot like a "writer's story" as well. Yet still, the main character is likable. How conscious of this were you in writing this main character and were you afraid the readers wouldn't like the main character because of the low self esteem he conveys?
JHF: Ha! To some degree it's a story about how none of us are as good and clean as we hope to be, and, despite that, the question of whether the supposed punishments actually fit our crimes. But, probably, more so, it's about everything we accept to be truth and how often we accept our fates rather than fighting for what we want and deserve. I think that's in all of us, and that's part of what I think people will respond to in Jude.
BUG: Suicide is often a controversial subject. How do you approach this in THE LIFE AFTER in hopes of not offending those sensitive to the subject? Do you care if your work offends people?
JHF: Part of the impetus for the book was the very simple idea that suicide is not something that deserves further punishment. The very idea of someone giving up their life is so tragic and sad that the idea of compounding that by putting them into some sort of infinite cosmic torture chamber breaks my heart. That's a place and an idea we spend some time exploring.
BUG: I don't want to spoil things too much, but a famous literary icon shows up towards the end of this issue. Why did you choose this character and what about this writer appeals to you?
JHF: Spoil away, my friend. Ernest Hemingway is Jude's sidekick throughout the series for a very specific reason. We needed someone who was so awesome and so incredible and filled with an indomitable spirit that would triumph over the controls of the afterlife, and, yet, would still have committed suicide. We created a bunch of fictional characters and kept finding ourselves leaning on Hemingway as a model, until we finally caved, realizing that we couldn't do better than Papa.
BUG: How did you find the artist for this project and what about his work appealed to you?
JHF: Gabo was introduced to me by Richard Starkings. Richard had spent years working with and grooming Gabo, and, frankly, I heartlessly stole him away. Gabo and I just clicked when we met, and more or less decided there and then to work together, at Richard's encouragement. It's been a wonderful collaboration so far, and I have a feeling you'll be reading Fialkov/Gabo comics for years to come.
BUG: Was there a particular point in the making of this book that was especially difficult in terms of the artist and writer seeing eye to eye?
JHF: Part of the joy was finding ways to push each other, actually. Gabo has such a vibrant imagination, I got to really thrive on the genius bubbling inside his head. That's the very best you can hope for in a collaboration.
BUG: What was it about ONI that made you want to take this project to them to publish?
JHF: I'm good friends with a bunch of the folk over there, and it's a book that was immediately close to their hearts. They've done so incredibly well by me on THE BUNKER, as well, that it was a no brainer to keep the good times going.
BUG: What other projects do you have in the works?
JHF: The very first TPB collection of THE BUNKER hits the first week of August, and that's one that I'm achingly proud of. Joe Infurnari and I have poured our hearts and souls into that book for almost a year, and it's really grown into something wholly unique and very special. Then I've also got the DEVILERS from Dynamite, which is in stores next week, and that's one that Matt Triano and I have brought the rock and roll too. Really fun book. And, finally, there's one more creator owned series on it's way that should get announced at SDCC in a couple weeks.
BUG: How long is THE LIFE AFTER running and if it's a miniseries, do you plan on having more stories set in this universe?
JHF: We're here for the long haul. As long as folks keep reading it, we'll keep making sacrilegious adventure stories.
BUG: Thanks, Josh! Be sure to check out THE LIFE AFTER #1, in stores today from Oni Press!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 13 years & AICN HORROR for 4. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
Be sure to tell your comic shop to order his new comic PIROUETTE from July’s Diamond Previews (item code JUL14 0937) today!
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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