The Life After Volume 1 from Oni Press collection by writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Gabo will be available on January 28th!
Retailers – Final Order Cutoff for the TPB is today, January 5th. It is a full-sized TPB for $9.99 and the Diamond Code for the collection is SEP141510.
The Life After introduces readers to its hero, Jude and the hauntingly strange world in which he lives—or, more correctly, doesn’t live.
Download a copy of The Life After #1 free here!
Comics Bulletin’s Michael Bettendorf discusses The Life After with its writer, Joshua Hale Fialkov.
Michael Bettendorf for Comics Bulletin: Suicide is usually a topic that’s shied away from in conversation or uncomfortable to talk about, yet you do it with lightness and some humor. Why do you take this sort of approach?
Joshua Hale Fialkov: Y’know, the truth is that it shouldn’t be a taboo subject. Part of the reason there’s so much suicide among teens is that those feelings are pushed down and made to be shameful. When someone is already in a spiral of depression, that just makes it worse. I think that’s of most every taboo subject. Everybody has suicidal thoughts, sometimes just for a second, sometimes chronically. Everybody hates themselves or their lives at one point or another. Being able to express that gives you a chance to get help. If that’s the only thing people get out of the book, frankly, I’d be happy.
CB: There’s a polarity between good and evil in The Life After, yet it takes place in a gray area – purgatory. It seems that Jude represents more than a gray area. He’s bigger than that. Could you say more about that thought?
Fialkov: I tend towards stories about gray, because, well, life is constantly gray. I think religion in general tends towards polarity, sinner or saint, when that’s just not how it is. People who do great things can also do horrible things, and, generally, have. To set a character in a black and white world who himself sees the gray, the details of the black AND the white, I think that’s a compelling place to be.
CB: You probably get asked, “Why Hemingway?” quite a bit, but I mean, it’s Hemingway. He was a notorious badass. Who were some of your other considerations as a purgatory companion for Jude? Will we be seeing any other cameos of famous people?
Fialkov: I’m wrapping up the second arc right now, and thus far we haven’t, but I can’t swear that’s going to remain the case. There’s kind of a lot of dead people out there, so, y’know, anything is possible.
CB: Up to this point we’ve seen yours and Gabo’s representation of God. He’s not a white-washed man with a beard and far from any representation I’ve seen or read about. We haven’t seen Satan up to this point though; anything you’d care to share about his character? Can we expect an equally as wild representation?
Fialkov: Satan himself is certainly on our radar in the near future. In fact, what happened to every one of the old religions and their gods is coming up fast, furious, and maybe a bit funny. At its core, the book is about this idea that before there was Jesus and Christianity, or Allah and Islam, there was Adonai and Judaism, and before that there was Buddha, Brahma, Ra, Zeus, Shango, Huitzilopochtli, Ometochtli, and on and on… But, as each religion hits critical mass, the religion before gets subjugated to some degree. So, what does that mean for everyone already in their religion’s afterlife? Do they get a chance to convert to the new boss?
CB: Jude is an interesting character. He’s a son of God, but doesn’t know it. He’s nowhere near perfect, like his brother Jesus. They’d technically be brothers, right? Anyway, he’s not really a perfect savior figure, but he still has good qualities which were shown toward the end of the fifth issue. What do you want to say about Jude as a son of God?
Fialkov: All that messiah stuff was a lot of what we were playing with, because, I’d argue that even Jesus wasn’t the perfect messiah, either. Remember that whole missing period in his life, and the whole Mary Magdalene thing…. Not to mention his overt socialist propaganda, right? . I think the religions that dominate and the belief structures that dominate are the ones that are needed at the time. They adapt, and pieces drop out and reappear as society needs them. That comes, to some degree, from my own upbringing as a Jew. Most of the so called sacred texts for the Jews have a true fable-esque bent to them, especially a book like the Talmud. But to play those stories against their practical implications gets you something pretty neat.
CB: Also, is there any chance we’ll be seeing Jesus?
Fialkov: Let’s just say there’s more than two sons of God out there.
CB: The three technicians that watch over purgatory sort of remind me of the jesters or clowns in Shakespeare plays. They’re playful and seem oblivious, but really they know what’s going on. They fix everything, they see everything. What was your inspiration for these guys?
Fialkov: The core of The Life After was two things, for me. First, the gray area that we all skip over in our morality. Secondly, was how you manage your expectations. How, practically speaking, you manage an infinite problem, how you face the ultimate problems of existence itself, and I suspect you’d answer them the same way we face everything. With the mundane stoicism of life.
CB: Issue #5 ends with a doozy that reminds me of a supernatural version of Peter Pan and his lost boys and I think it’s safe to say that shit is about to hit the fan. How will this change the direction of the book? Will it start to follow multiple character perspectives, including Esmerelda?
Fialkov: I have to give credit to our editor Ari Yarwood for that. Y’know, one of her first real pieces of input on the book was to look at the core cast in Jude and Ernest, and see their sheer dudeness. This book is about pain and loss, and the one character whose loss we really appreciate, and hit so hard, was Nettie in that first issue. We know what she’s suffering from, and to not capitalize on that, to not let her come to fruition as a well rounded leg of the tripod would be a crime. Once we decided in her role, well, I like doing horrible things to characters. There’s nothing as cruel as giving someone exactly what they want and having it be their worst nightmare. Esmerelda will turn out to be exactly that. And wait’ll you meet the giant bunny.
CB: What other projects are you working on for 2015?
Fialkov: Well, I’m pretty slammed with The Life After and The Bunker at Oni and Punks at Image, but I’ve got at least one more series at Oni, and another unannounced creator-owned book that’s been brewing for a while and is about ready to be poured. Oh, and, an absolute dream work-for-hire project that’s all written, but, y’know, not yet announced. 2015 is going to be AMAZING.