Ho Che Anderson‘s illustrated novella Stone, out today, September 15th, from the digital publisher NeoText, is a deep dive into the concept of revenge and how it plays out in human relationships. Anderson, best known for his graphic biography King and the horror graphic novel Scream Queens, has turned to prose for his latest tale, a neo-noir fantasy about a young basketball player taking on The Establishment in a dystopian near-future, one in which life has been transformed by the ominous-sounding Cancelled Election:
Set in a near-future world, STONE tells the story of Graciella “Stone” O’Leary, a young woman who wants a chance to use both her basketball skills and her intelligence to build a better life for herself and her father. But after a night as a prisoner in the mansion of the richest and most powerful family in town, Stone realizes that in the world she lives in—the world that exists after the Cancelled Election—her future is not hers to decide.
Stone is a descendent of Boudica, the rebel queen who took on the entire Roman Empire. And just like her ancestor, Stone is willing to risk everything, even her own life, to bring death and destruction on the Elites who control her world and repress everyone not born to privilege. Stone, her friend the Riz and their allies will fight, not just for the impossible dream of overthrowing the system, but to inflict on the Elites a righteous nightmare of blood, fire, and revenge.
The title page of Stone says it’s “based on characters created by Otis Whitaker.” Since I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Whitaker’s oeuvre, I tossed it into the Google and came up with the news that he’s the co-author (along with Maurice Broaddus and Jim Mahfood) of Sorcerers, another novella that has recently been optioned by AMC. After that, the trail grew cold until I looked on the NeoText website, where I saw these words:
Otis Whitaker is the pseudonym for the NeoText writers room.
Interesting! Anderson has already written another novella set in the Stone universe (the Stoniverse?), which will be published in a few months, this one featuring spot illustrations by Benjamin Marra, creator of Terror Assaulter O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror), Night Business, and American Blood, all published by Fantagraphics. It looks like Anderson has found fertile ground here:
“In the summer of 2020 we’re living in a time where the mainstream’s eyes are opening to the brutalities of the state,” added Anderson. “But the human temptation toward complacency is strong. If I have my way and we’re given the chance to tell further stories in the Stone universe, both in print and on the screen, we’ll have the opportunity to keep these realities alive in the discussion.”
Here’s some of Anderson’s art from Stone.