Filed under: Interviews | Tags: Afterlife, Atomic Robo, Jon Lock, KAPOW!, Nearlife
Following our earlier review of Afterlife Inc. – we were able to catch-up with creator/writer Jon Lock and bombard him with more questions than you can shake a rolled-up comic book at……well….maybe wave a bagged/boarded one at at least.
How does it feel to see your work in print with the Afterlife Inc. TPB?
Phenomenal. As great as the response has been to releasing the stories via my website, I never intended for Afterlife Inc. to be a “webcomic” in the traditional sense. Publishing the stories online is a terrific way to raise awareness about the comic, but from day one the plan had always been for Afterlife Inc. to be a physical book. It’s been a long journey getting this far, but debuting the first collected edition of Afterlife Inc. stories, ‘Dying To Tell’, at the London Super Comic Con was an incredibly rewarding experience.
What was the main influence in writing Afterlife Inc.?
When I began work on Afterlife Inc. back in 2007, it was so different to anything I had attempted to write before, that I can only attribute some of its quirks to my odd lifestyle at the time. I was spending a year travelling across Canada, city to city, plying my trade as a coffee barista. Living out of a rucksack, and separated from my beloved comic collection by some 3000 miles of Atlantic Ocean, I relied upon loans from friends to feed my comic addiction, subsequently discovering titles I might never have picked up otherwise.
Alan Moore’s ‘Top Ten’ and Brian K. Vaughan’s ‘Ex Machina’ are just two examples. Both books shared the unique quality of blending the fantastic (superheroics) with the mundane (the inner office politics of a police department and mayoral office respectively). From this, it seemed a logical step to mix the Great Beyond with the boardroom. ‘Wildcats 3.0’ had proven that corporate intrigue and big business could be as thrilling a battlefield as any. Why not trade the spandex for a business suit and see what happens.
Being a massive Grant Morrison fan, I always try to channel some of his inventiveness when writing. In terms of style and delivery, however, when lost for words I always turn to Warren Ellis’ ‘Planetary’. To me, that remains the perfect blend of far-out concepts and accessibility to which I aspire.
Given the broad range of styles in the stories in Afterlife, do you have a personal favourite?
Ah ha, not a chance! With ‘Dying To Tell’ I experimented with a variety of different settings and genres, if only to demonstrate just what the world was capable of. The trick was pairing an artist with the story that best suited their style. With ‘Silver Screen’, our film noir tribute, no one but Roy Huteson Stewart could have provided such gloriously sinister yet vibrant colours. Jack Tempest, with his penchant for humane humour and mannerisms, was perfect for our barroom drama ‘Death of a Salesman’. I hope to work with everyone again when the right story comes around, but having helped define the look and feel of Afterlife Inc. Ash will carry on as the main artist on the series.
In terms of the story I enjoyed writing the most, I have a soft spot for ‘Origin of Species’. The script was certainly one of the easiest to produce, the story going through very few alterations between the first and final drafts. Plus, it introduced App to the world! Easily one of my favourite characters.
What are you working on just now?
With ‘Near Life’, the latest Afterlife Inc. miniseries, entering its final stages online, I’m currently producing the follow-up project: a series of short stories each focusing on a major character. The scripts are complete, so right now it’s a case of pairing each story with a suitable artist. This is a great opportunity to collaborate with some familiar faces, or finally bring in an artist I’ve been dying to work with for ages. The preliminary material we’ve produced looks amazing, and I can’t wait to unveil it.
Looking further to the future, I’m about to start writing the next, next Afterlife Inc. series, which should see publication towards the end of 2012. It’s a much more ambitious affair compared to our earlier series, and marks a step towards longer, more developed storylines for the comic. Unrelated to Afterlife Inc., I’m also working on two interconnected series called ‘The Six’ and ‘Blackjack’, which I’m very excited about, and an all-ages comic mixing monsters with the Scientific Method. More news on these at some point, I’m sure.
Are you keen to get more of your work in print or will you be looking at the digital format?
Print, definitely! Although I’m not turning my back on the digital side of things. The next two Afterlife Inc. trades are all planned out. The chapters will continue to debut on the site first, but the second collected edition, ‘Near Life And Other Stories’, is already in the pipeline. The current digital versions of the stories are designed to be read on a web browser, but I’m looking into converting them to a more tablet/Smartphone friendly format. Ash Jackson, one of the regular Afterlife Inc. artists, is also the mastermind behind Monster Robot Studios, an independent game developer. We’re currently bouncing ideas about for an Afterlife Inc. app, blending gameplay with an original storyline and more of Ash’s amazing artwork.
What titles do you follow just now?
‘Atomic Robo’ by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener is the only comic I’m following on a regular basis, gleefully fighting off crowds to secure my latest instalment. It’s smart, hilarious and bursting with heart. Hands down, an utter joy to read. Whenever I have to justify comics as an art form, I turn to ‘Atomic Robo’. I was lucky enough to meet the publishers, Red5 Comics, at the 2008 Calgary Comic Expo. It’s refreshing to see an independent publisher, a small fish in a very large pond, having success with a title that shines through on sheer quality and entertainment value alone.
Are there any artists you’d love to work with?
The beauty of the UK convention scene, and the openness of the creators you meet on the circuit, is that if you find someone whose artwork really blows you away, by simply chatting to them there’s every chance you might be able to work together on something. I’m lucky in that most of my collaborations on Afterlife Inc. came about through friendships and conversations struck up at conventions. Shooting for the moon, I would love to work with Olivier Coipel or Dustin Nguyen, two of my all-time favourite artists. A bit pie in the sky perhaps, but a man can dream.
We’ve seen a surge in the popularity of small press & self-published works in the UK in recent times. How does it feel being a part of that?
It’s surprising. I never set out to self-publish my work; it’s just something I seem to have stumbled into. I’ve still got a long way to go before I’ll consider Afterlife Inc. to be a real part of the scene, but the support and kindness I’ve received from fellow exhibitors has been overwhelming. This is a great time to be making comics, and the wealth of creativity and passion on display at the burgeoning number of shows throughout the year is just staggering.
Will you be touring the UK Cons with the title?
Certainly. The London Super Comic Con was a learning curve, but having (somehow) come through the other side alive I can’t wait to get back on the road with Afterlife Inc. May promises to be a busy month. Starting with the Bristol Comic Expo, I’m hitting Kapow and then the Melksham Convention over the space of two weeks. It’s going to be mad, and I’ll probably sleep for a month once it’s over, but being able to meet fans, and talk about the books in person, is the best feeling in the world.
Catch up with Afterlife Inc. on Jon Lock’s site:
and take a look at his latest project Nearlife below:
And next time you’re at a Con…track him down, chat with him, buy his latest TPB and have him sign it 😀
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