AHOY Comics recently announced their upcoming slate of titles for later this year, and at this weekend’s SDCC, aka [email protected], the publisher brought their creative talent together to talk about the forthcoming series. Moderator, writer, and AHOY director of publishing operations Stuart Moore was joined by editor-in-chief Tom Peyer, artist Steve Pugh, and writers Mariah McCourt and Mark Russell for the discussion.
The AHOY SDCC panel kicked off with introductions from all the panelists, and Moore providing a brief overview of AHOY Comics. Moore mentioned the publishing delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but said that AHOY never issued a ‘pencils down’ order, and said they’re releasing titles on an accelerated schedule now to get back on track.
Regarding Billionaire Island, Russell described the series as “a story whose time has come,” and noted the irony of a series about the end of the world being interrupted by the literal end of the world. The series follows a vigilante whose family was killed by a corporation, who is now going after the billionaires responsible. He and Pugh both said how glad they were to be working together again after their work on The Flintstones, and Pugh said the series has been challenging because of all the different tones at work in the story, from very serious moments to slapstick humor. Russell said Billionaire Island ‘book-ends’ The Flintstones in that it’s a story about the end of civilization.
Russell next spoke about Second Coming, which Moore noted was AHOY’s highest-profile series yet. The second series, Second Coming: Only Begotten Son is due out later this year. Russell said it finds Jesus picking up followers for his new church, “Jesus Christ: Latchkey Kid,” which puts him in opposition to more profitable corners of Christianity. The series will also continue to see Sunstar determine the best way to use his powers in preparation for bringing a child into it.
The panel segued into talking about Ash & Thorn, the first issue of which Moore said was “stuck in a Diamond warehouse for three months.” McCourt said she was glad to have the book finally released, but said it also feels weird since she wrote it so long ago and it’s clearer to her now that the series is addressing anxieties that she has about the world. She said the series explores aging and what is expected of people at certain ages, through the lens of a Buffy-esque character who happens to be an octogenarian. McCourt said Lottie, the lead character, approaches things differently than she would if she were younger, and described the villain of the series as uncomplicated and “a monster who eats worlds.” She praised Soo Lee and Pippa Bowland’s art on the series and its ability to shift tones quickly. Each issue also includes recipes that readers can actually make.
Moore next plugged the second season of Captain Ginger, which has gone digital-only following the Diamond shutdown. He praised artist June Brigman for her help with the dogs of the series, saying he’s much more familiar with cats than he is with dogs, and that Brigman has been invaluable in coming up with dog breeds to use in the series.
Peyer took the screen next to discuss The Wrong Earth and ragonfly & Dragonflyman, the latter of which was recently released in a collected edition. He described The Wrong Earth as “a double Howard the Duck situation” in which Dragonfly and Dragonflyman switch worlds. The Wrong Earth is returning for a second season this fall. Peyer said he’d had the idea for the series for a while, but that originally the character was a dog-based hero, which he said “distracted from the joke” of the series. Igle suggested the dragonfly for the hero’s motif, having studied them in Japan. Peyer praised the amount of thought Igle put into designing the two different worlds for the series.
Peyer next spoke about Penultiman, describing the character as a resident of the future who was considered primitive and exiled to the past (our present), where he’s considered the great hero. Peyer teased the introduction of a robot called Antepenultiman who will try to help Penultiman get his life together. The first story featuring Penultiman, which was originally published as part of the Steel Cage one-shot, is available for free on Comixology now.
At this point, with no ability to take questions from the audience, Moore opened the AHOY SDCC panel up to talk about whatever came to panelist’s minds. Russell said that one thing he’s excited about for the new season of Second Coming is a series of backup stories called My Bad, written by Bryce Ingman and illustrated by Peter Krause. “What I’ve seen from it so far looks great,” he said, and Moore praised Ingman as an up-and-coming talent.
McCourt said she’s excited that Ash & Thorn is “a little unusual” in comics in terms of who the protagonists are and the type of horror they’re using. She said she likes that AHOY doesn’t worry about being subtle about playing with tropes, whereas other publishers would try to hide that. Russell chimed in that “subtlety is highly overrated” when it comes to trying to say things about the world. He said he wants people to walk away from his books feeling the same way they would if they saw a naked person run by on fire, with no question about what they just read was about.
The panelists then talked about the length requirements that come with comics, and how it helps them get to the point of what they’re trying to say and the story they’re trying to tell. Pugh said he prefers to spend time with characters on a series, regardless of the length of the book, and that he was sad to finish work on Billionaire Island because he just felt like he’d gotten the characters right. But he also said that he enjoys knowing the ending of a miniseries, and that it allows him to put more time and effort into the pages, whereas with a regular monthly series it’s more about meeting deadlines. Moore praised publisher Hart Seely for the flexibility he’s given them to not worry about specific timetables.
Moore asked Peyer about the importance of first issues in establishing what the series is about right away. Peyer talked about a years-old team-up series where the first issue ended and the characters hadn’t even met yet, and how disappointing that was. Returning to the point about AHOY’s lack of subtlety, Peyer said he loves that. “I think we get so precious sometimes with our ideas that we forget to be entertaining.”
Moore said he was pleased with how the AHOY line is evolving, between bringing back existing properties and adding new projects. Having changed his Zoom background to the AHOY logo, Peyer joked that Moore was haloed by the logo, and that they should use that for Jesus’s halo in the new season of Second Coming, which Russell said could be a cover idea.
After Moore turned the background off, McCourt commented on his backpack, saying it reminded her of actually being at Comic-Con, and the panelists talked about missing the experience. Russell lamented the amount of stuff in his garage that he hasn’t been able to sell at cons this year, joking that he’s a Bible salesman now between God is Disappointed in You and Second Coming. “Not how I saw my life turning out, but here we are,” he said.
There was discussion of how cons will look once they start up again, with Moore saying he expected smaller cons would be easier than larger ones, and the group talking about a convention in Florida that’s taking place next month. “Casual hazmat wear” was suggested by Peyer, and Russell said everyone will cosplay as members of AIM going forward. McCourt said she’s seen some impressive masks, and could see those incorporated into cosplay. Discussion moved into the mechanics of Darth Vader’s costume and whether he can make things smell differently when it comes in through his mask.
The AHOY SDCC panel closed with plugs from the creators for what they’re working on and excited about. Russell plugged Billionaire Island and the digital-first stories he’s been writing for DC, and Peyer plugged his AHOY books (naturally). McCourt plugged, among other things, Insider Art, the 250+page anthology she worked on to benefit female and non-binary comics retailers. Pugh said he’s not at liberty to talk about what he’s working on, though did say it’s for DC Comics. Moore plugged a story he and Cully Hamner have in DC’s Cybernetic Summer one-shot, in which they make fun of 35 years of comics crossovers.
With that, Moore and the panelists thanked each other and the viewers, and the discussion wrapped.
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