AHOY Comics has made a big splash since its launch last year. The publisher has released two waves of critically acclaimed series ranging from loving superhero tributes to existential comedies about the nature of the afterlife to time-travel comedies about jocks in a world run by nerds, all accompanied by back-up stories and bonus text pieces and illustrations. AHOY also made headlines when they picked up Mark Russell and Richard Pace’s Second Coming, a comedy about Jesus returning to Earth at the behest of his father to learn from a superhero how to be a better savior, after the series was dropped by original publisher Vertigo.
Last week AHOY announced their third wave of titles. The lineup of October and November-launching series includes continuations or spin-offs from last year’s first wave of AHOY books. The feline space opera Captain Ginger returns for a second season, and the horror-comedy anthology series Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror also makes a comeback to terrify and tickle readers. Wave one title The Wrong Earth gets a prequel spin-off in the form of Dragonfly & Dragonflyman, featuring parallel tales of the titular heroes and their sidekicks, Stinger, on their respective Earths.
The Beat caught up with AHOY’s editor-in-chief and writer of The Wrong Earth, High Heaven, and Dragonfly & Dragonflyman, Tom Peyer, as well as AHOY’s head of operations and Captain Ginger writer Stuart Moore to talk about what readers can expect from the new wave of books, how the publisher’s signature backmatter material is evolving, and why they can’t stop telling stories about a drunken Edgar Allan Poe.
Joe Grunenwald: This third wave of AHOY books continues or spins off from titles that were part of the first wave. Was that always the plan, or did that evolve based on the success of the initial wave of books?
Tom Peyer: Whether they’d return was always a given; there’s more story to tell–or in the case of Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror, more booze to be drunk. When they return is dependent entirely on scheduling. We don’t want to rush the creators, and the “seasons” structure gives us time wait while they do their best jobs.
Grunenwald: How many issues will each of the titles in the third wave run?
Stuart Moore: Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror runs another six issues. Captain Ginger has also been bumped up to six this time. Dragonfly & Dragonflyman runs five issues. We aim for 5-6 in general, but there’s no hard and fast rule. It depends on the needs of the story.
Grunenwald: Stuart, Captain Ginger Season Two is the only returning title that’s a direct continuation of the previous volume. What can you tell us about where the new season finds the Indomitable and its crew of cats?
Moore: I can tell you that things start off pretty bad for our feline crew, and turn VERY bad quite fast.
Grunenwald: How soon after the end of the first season does the new season pick up?
Moore: A few weeks. Basically the cats have been following the signal they decoded at the end of Season One, which leads them to the new story.
Grunenwald: That signal led to a final-page tease of another group of refugees from Earth, this time of the canine variety. One can expect that there’ll be some tension between Ginger and his crew and this new pack of survivors. What’s been your favorite thing about the addition of space-faring dogs to the mix?
Moore: It adds a whole different set of behaviors to the mix—and a lot of new characters, too! The growing cast is a challenge for me, but we’re building it up gradually. Our focus is still on the cats, especially in the first two issues of the new series.
The regular cast will be tested—there’s going to be some real threats to their survival. You’ll see new friendships, deepening relationships, tragedy, and at least one surprise character return. And if I do my job right, the end of Season Two should be a bit of a shock.
Grunenwald: Presumably Captain Ginger won’t be featuring “Hashtag: Danger” backup stories anymore, since that’s graduated to its own series now. What kind of backups can we look forward to when Captain Ginger returns?
Moore: I’m going to be uncomfortably honest and say we’re still figuring that out. There will definitely be the usual AHOY mix of text stories, cartoons, and instructions on how to field-strip your jeep. (No, wait, that was Will Eisner.)
Grunenwald: On to Dragonfly & Dragonflyman, Tom, readers have already gotten a free sample of this series as it was the lead feature of AHOY’s Free Comic Book Day offering. At the time I know at least I assumed that would be a standalone thing to add flavor to the backstory of The Wrong Earth. Did you know when that FCBD issue came out that a full D&D series was coming?
Peyer: We did. We knew Jamal Igle would be spending about a year on his series White, and I wanted to keep playing with these characters in his absence. Not that Jamal is entirely absent; he’ll be doing covers.
Grunenwald: We know the series is a prequel to The Wrong Earth, but can you share any info about where these stories fall in the timelines of Earths Alpha and Omega? How concerned are you with the continuity in this series as it relates to The Wrong Earth?
Peyer: There’s a gap between the end of Dragonfly & Dragonflyman and the beginning of The Wrong Earth in case we want to keep playing. But certain aspects of D&D will resonate with people who read TWE.
Grunenwald: Will each issue of Dragonfly & Dragonflyman be a standalone story, or is the series one long tale the way The Wrong Earth was?
Peyer: In each issue we’ll follow two separate, continued stories that reflect each other through the prism of the campy and gritty parallel worlds.
Grunenwald: Peter Krause and Andy Troy are providing the art for Dragonfly & Dragonflyman. Tell us a little about what they bring to the table visually, particularly in regards to the parallel stories in the series.
Peyer: Peter and Andy are doing excellent work; I can’t wait until you see it. Each world has its own flavor of realism; if you know Peter’s work, you know every character he draws is fully human, every setting fully convincing. There’s a confidence and beauty to his work that I just love. And Andy brings the approach he displayed in TWE, where the two Earths had distinct, unmistakeable atmospheres.
Grunenwald: Do readers need to have read either The Wrong Earth or the FCBD issue before they pick up Dragonfly & Dragonflyman?
Peyer: Well, they have to read those comics for their own good, but not to follow D&D. It’s a pretty simple premise, and we worked to clearly outline it.
Grunenwald: The Wrong Earth featured some great backup stories that were also set prior to the events of that series. Can we expect more solo Stinger stories or other shorter adventures set on Earths Alpha and Omega in D&D?
Peyer: I don’t think you’ve seen the last of the Stinger solo stories, but they won’t be appearing here. We’re going to go a bit harder on the other backmatter in Wave Three, with more room for prose fiction, poems, humor, and other forms of writing you don’t usually see in comic books.
Grunenwald: Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror…why?
Peyer: He’s dead and in the public domain! He has fans, but we don’t have to pay him, and we don’t need his approval.
Grunenwald: Snifter of Terror has walked the line between over-the-top parody and legitimate scares perfectly, with a helping of existential dread added occasionally for good measure. How have you managed to maintain that balance?
Peyer: We’ve been lucky to work with a variety of excellent writers and artists, and that continues in Season Two. We’ll be leaning a little more heavily on stories written by the artist: Dean Motter, Carol Lay, Linda Medley, and Rick Geary have contributed wonderful stories they drew themselves. And we have more cereal monster tales by Mark Russell and Peter Snejbjerg. And a terrifically gross piece by Alisa Kwitney and Mauricet. Among others.
Grunenwald: I know most of the stories in Snifter of Terror are standalone tales, but would you ever consider spinning any of them off into their own one-shots or series? There must be dozens of cereal mascots left for Mark Russell to play with, and surely they could support their own miniseries.
Peyer: We’ve been talking about spinning something off; something you haven’t seen yet. I’m under the impression that Mark’s cereal epic is finite, but I imagine that could change.
Grunenwald: What was your personal favorite story from the first run of Snifter of Terror? And are there any that you’re particularly excited for people to read from the new run?
Peyer: I can’t name favorites; they’re all important to me. But I’m really looking forward to running those artist-written stories I mentioned.
Grunenwald: Whither David Weathers? When is High Heaven coming back? It’s the only first wave series not returning in some form in the third wave.
Peyer: We’ll schedule it when it’s ready. While it’s in progress, I’ve been guilty of distracting Greg Scott with Poe stories. If you loved Some Words With a Mummy, which he drew from Bryce Ingman’s script in the first series, there are a couple of similarly mind-blowing treats in store this time. There’s a story Greg just turned in that he feels is the best job he ever did, and I agree.
Grunenwald: Any final teases for what we should expect in AHOY’s third wave of books?
Peyer: As I said earlier, we’re expanding the back section. I’m proud of the prose stories and text features we present, and as long as we’re the only ones doing it, it feels like it makes sense to do more.
The third wave of AHOY Comics books begins this October with both Captain Ginger Season Two and the second volume of Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror, while Dragonfly & Dragonflyman launches in November. Attendees of this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con can also check out two panels hosted by AHOY for more information. Info on the panels is below.
6:00p.m. – 7:00p.m., AHOY COMICS Conversation with Mark Russell, From his radical revamp of The Flintstones to the acclaimed Snagglepuss to his own controversial SECOND COMING, Mark Russell brings a unique blend of wit and intelligence to every project he tackles. AHOY Comics’ Stuart Moore hosts a one-on-one conversation about this important voice in the comics field and SECOND COMING. Room: 32AB
5:30p.m. – 6:30p.m., AHOY Comics: Expect More, AHOY Comics has burst on the scene with acclaimed creators, smart satires, and a commitment to publishing fun and eclectic storytelling. Join writers Mark Russell, Mark Waid, Tyrone Finch, Mariah McCourt, and Stuart Moore for this can’t-miss panel discussion. Why did AHOY Comics decided to publish SECOND COMING, the controversial comic in which Jesus Christ resumes His Holy Mission? Which comic will emerge victorious from the STEEL CAGE competition? Will AHOY publish more time travel comics like BRONZE AGE BOOGIE and PLANET OF THE NERDS in the future? Do you have to be 21 years or older to read EDGAR ALLAN POE’S SNIFTER OF TERROR? The answers will astound you! Room: 24ABC