Joshua Hale Fialkov knows how to tell an intriguing story. His stories often take different twists and turns and sometimes have a tendency to punch you in the gut. Oni Press is currently releasing Fialkov's THE BUNKER but come July, they'll be releasing a second title from Josh with art by Gabo, THE LIFE AFTER.
What is THE LIFE AFTER about? We talked to Josh to find out.
COMIC VINE: What’s the origin of THE LIFE AFTER? Where did this idea/premise come from?
JOSHUA HALE FIALKOV: I'd never really done a big epic adventure story. Something that was a real coming of age adventure for a character in a world completely unlike her own. I wanted to do something that touched into the world of fantasy and dreams, but, with my own spin. I needed a place that was small and binding for our hero, and i realized that there was a place in our culture already that was an unescapable prison for the downtrodden. Purgatory. Once I got there, the ideas all started to mesh together. A lot of the genesis was from the ideas behind how people wind up in purgatory, the systems in place to put them there... How does it all work? And is it fair and just? And, the place that seemed to be the least fair, the least just, was the afterlife specifically for suicides. So, to follow a character who has to come to terms with not just where he is but WHY he is there, that seemed like something I could spend a long, long time playing with it.
CV: What will the tone of the series be? Will there be a mix?
JHF: I think that it's got the tone that I've been working towards in a lot of my work. It's dark and a bit bleak, but, wrapped in a taste of sarcasm and humor. A lot of that comes from the spectacular work that Gabo is doing, as well as our cover artist Nick Pitarra. Both of those guys specialize in work that borders between tragedy and comedy.
CV: Will the series focus on one main character or will there be an ensemble cast like in THE BUNKER?
JHF: It's much more of a classic hero's journey than THE BUNKER. By the end of the first arc, our cast will be a bit bigger than just Jude and Ernest, but, not by much. I really want to focus on our main characters first, and then, spiral madly out of control.
CV: Gabo has a pretty distinct art style. How much of the story did you have mapped out before joining forces with him? Has the tone or direction changed at all with him on board?
JHF: The core idea was there, but, he brought so much to the visual style that really helped to define the rules of how the world worked, and certainly, to get that balance between drama and comedy that I hope we can continue to walk. Gabo is a huge talent that's floated on the outskirts of the medium for a long time, and I'm thrilled to be one of the guys exposing him to the whole world.
CV: You often write ‘big ideas’ with long forming plots. Are you looking at the big picture in THE LIFE AFTER or focusing on smaller story arcs for now?
JHF: This one's a strange one for me. It's much more, well, literary, for lack of a better phrase. It's a big sweeping journey, and I have a good sense of what the broadstrokes are, but, as Gabo and I talk along with Ari and James, our editors, and Nick and Megan (on covers) the story and characters just keep evolving, so, it's a bit of an adventure for me as well. With something like BUNKER, for example, Joe and I will have long talks about story and character, but it's all very much working towards a distinct and established goal. LIFE AFTER is as much of a journey for the team as it is for the reader and the characters.
CV: In the first issue, we see there’s a little more going on than there appears, behind the scenes. Is this a mystery that will be slowly unraveled over the coarse of the story?
JHF: Oh yes. The workers controlling the whole thing are a big part of the story. We'll get to see how the whole thing works, AND how it worked BEFORE they showed up. The after life is a very progressive place, constantly adapting to new technology on the planets below, as well as the management's whims. And the management has some totally screwed up whims.
CV: With the hereafter and heaven and hell, how deep into religious themes are you planning on diving into?
JHF: The hope is to stay away from religion and aim more towards morality. Those are two very different things. I'm much less interested in the specific dogma of any religion, and more interested in how our culture decides somethings are okay and something aren't. For example, while suicide is one of our societies great wrongs, in feudal Japan it was nearly a showing of honor at the end of a bigger dishonor (shaming oneself), a means of redemption. So, suddenly, all those people who've been put in category A are now judged as 'wrong' and sent to category B. What does that to do to them?
CV: What makes this book different from the other titles on sale? Why should people run out right now and demand their local comic shops order lots of copies?
JHF: I think the idea of the afterlife and our world's shifting morality is on a lot of people's minds right now, but, Life After deals with it in a wholly unique way, and the sense of humor mixed with a genuine heart is something really special. I love every book I'm working on, but Life After has a different place in my heart. Gabo and I have been pushing this boulder up a hill for a few years now, as something we both love and care about completely. I can't wait for everybody to see where that boulder is rolling.
You can pick up THE LIFE AFTER #1 on July 9. Make sure you let your comic show know ASAP that you want a copy. Don't delay, let them know today.