This week marks the release of the new series from AfterShock Comics, Silver City, and today we have a great chat with the book’s writer, Olivia Cuartero-Briggs.
This marks Cuartero-Brigg’s second outing with AfterShock, having previously teamed with Adam Glass to pen Mary Shelley Monster Hunter. In this new series, Cuartero-Briggs takes on solo writing duties for the first time, teaming with artist Luca Merli and letterer Dave Sharpe. What results is an intriguing book about the ‘purgatorial metropolis of the afterlife.’
Check out my conversation with Cuartero-Briggs about the book below!
Olivia Cuartero-Briggs talks SILVER CITY
OLIVIA CUARTERO-BRIGGS: Thank you so much! I love hearing that.
Silver City is very much inspired by a dream I had nearly fifteen years ago now. In it, I landed in this strange, grey city I had never seen before, and was told I had “passed on”. I’m used to having vivid dreams, but this one was extreme. A whole world unfolded for me that I was mesmerized by, and when I woke up, I could not stop thinking about it. I am also – like most, I would assume – curious about what happens after this life. My mother was always an avid believer in reincarnation, and the idea that certain souls travel together, and that always made sense to me somehow. When you’re a storyteller, you get pretty good at knowing when you’re on to something. I knew when I woke up, there was a story there. But it took me YEARS of thinking about the dream, merging it with the beliefs I had grown up with, and developing an entire universe, history, theology, etc., for it to evolve into what it has become.
ZACK: One of the most striking qualities of the book’s first act is the design work, especially the architecture. How did you and Luca Merli work together on the aesthetic, and were there any styles of architecture you specifically cited in describing your vision for the city?
OLIVIA CUARTERO-BRIGGS: Well, first off, Luca is a genius. Full stop. I always knew I wanted the Silver City to be a strange, crowded, overwhelming mashup of various architectural styles. As if a city, thousands of years old, never tore down a single structure. Just reinforced them and continued building on top and around in whatever the latest architectural fad was in the living world. That was the basic idea, along with a little inspiration from Hong Kong. My mother lived there for almost a decade when I was in my teens/20s, and I just LOVED the place. That is more or less what I armed Luca with, and he imagined the rest. Yes, it’s a slum, but, because of Luca, it’s an eerily seductive, completely imagined city I would love to hang out in. And not just for the awesome concerts. ;)
ZACK: I thought the book did a great job of orienting the reader within the world-building without sacrificing too much focus on the drama of its main character. How aware of striking that balance were you in scripting this book?
OLIVIA CUARTERO-BRIGGS: We were all keenly aware of this. Myself and the incredible editors at Aftershock included. That’s always the hardest part with creating a new world: how to give the reader the information they need without getting bogged down in exposition. In this case, it helped that Ru was new to the world. She’s learning about where she is, and taking the reader on that journey with her. I also made the choice to spool out the information naturally, and over time. There is much more to discover about Silver City and the afterlife in general, and you find out more as the books go on, and hopefully, as the series continues long after book five.
ZACK: Your previous book with AfterShock Comics, Mary Shelley Monster Hunter, drew a bit from the lives and work of real people, whereas this book feels more inspired by a mosaic of theories about what comes after death. How was writing for this series different than writing for your previous book?
OLIVIA: Mary Shelley Monster Hunter was the first comic I ever wrote, and I had an incredible mentor and writing partner in that endeavor, Mr. Adam Glass. So, not only was I doing a lot of research into Mary Shelley’s life, and those of her friends and lovers, I was diving head first into a completely new medium. By the time I started writing Silver City, I had cut my teeth a bit, as it were. Additionally, there was less research necessary for Silver City, but a heck of a lot more brainstorming. The story breaking process was also much more time consuming. With Mary Shelley, even though Adam and I came up with a lot of new content, we had a road map. Two, in fact. Mary Shelley’s life, as well as her novel, Frankenstein. With Silver City, I had an idea – a very big and complicated idea – but I had to make the road map for myself. Lucky for me, I suppose, that’s often my favorite part of the process.
ZACK: Finally, I’m curious about the title…I know silver is mentioned a couple times in the first issue — silver lining, the silver knight — but why silver?
OLIVIA: Honestly, that’s what the city was called in my dream. I remember them saying, “You’re in Silver City”. I didn’t know what it meant then, but now, what I’ve created anyway, is that it’s derived from the type of raw materials available in this level of the afterlife. Silver City doesn’t have any natural beauty, so to speak. There’s no plant life, no trees from which to get wood. So, all of the shelters are made from the various metal-like substances this land provided. It’s probably not actual “silver”, but that’s how it appeared. And the mythology surrounding the Silver Knight originated here, so that’s how he got his name as well.
Lastly, and perhaps most fun, the most common alloy for Silver is 925. That’s sterling silver. 92.5% silver. The entire quest of the Silver Knight is to liberate humanity from the confines of death, and, if you’ve ever heard of angel numbers, 925 means freedom. I try and do this with every number that appears in the book. Everything has a meaning, because, in Silver City, and perhaps this universe as well, the signs are everywhere. You just have to keep your eyes and your heart open, and know that nothing happens by accident.