John Odum writes for Bleeding Cool…
AfterShock would like you to know that they have a range of stories to tell.
The same company that garnered media attention for last month's launch of Alters (from creative team Paul Jenkins and Leila Leiz), and it's breakthrough transgendered heroine Chalice, is also preparing to roll out a ongoing period series that reimagines the Black Plague as a zombie apocalypse covered up by the medieval church.
This is a company that, at barely one year old (and not encumbered by the restrictions of a shared universe) is just getting going.
Which should come as no surprise. Mike Marts, Joe Pruett and Lee Kramer have not created your typical comic publishing house launched by a few established professionals going indy, or by talented fans with an entrepreneurial vision and an angel investor. AfterShock is downright top heavy with high-end marketing and media talent, and has wasted no time matching that with the top creative talent necessary to develop its product.
Clearly, AfterShock is front-loaded to be a long haul player in the growing comics arena – and likely beyond, into other media. Given its built-in Hollywood connections, it seems virtually certain that AfterShock, despite the legal complexities of its creator-owned business model, has Hollywood R&D built into its vision. Based on early sales and press over the last year, the plan is off to a good start.
Of course, you wouldn't necessarily have been able to tell from not-quite-two-dozen folks that turned out for the panel, which was more about the unfortunate time slot (Friday evening at 8PM) than a dearth of interest.
EIC Marts, along with Pruett, Brian Azzarello, Frank Tieri, Mike Zagari, and artist Juan Doe were eventually joined by Rough Riders writer Adam Glass, who arrived late (as he was stuck in traffic, which only underscored just how rough the timeslot for the panel was).
The panel discussion stood out from other NYCC panels, not simply for being all-male, but for being uniquely, overwhelmingly creator-centric. Aside from Glass's waxing enthusiastic about American history and the Rough Riders characters pulled from that past (Teddy Roosevelt and Annie Oakley in particular), the panel presentations – even the promotional slideshow – focused on the creative teams, sometimes to the near exclusion of the characters in the books themselves.
Glass's enthusiasm for his book filled the room, however. While the whole panel was tight-lipped regarding potential spoilers, he indicated that coming months would introduce new figures from history onto the team, joining the likes of Houdini and Edison. He also teased the upcoming one-shot "Rough Riders Nation" for Local Comic Shop Day, which would lay out (in the style of leaked files and dossiers) the history of subsequent "Rough Riders" teams that follow the original, spanning every decade into the present.
Glass also indicated that Rough Riders in 2017 would leap forward a year in the story, and introduce the assassination of President William McKinley as part of a greater anarchist plot to destabilize the nation.
The panel also teased an upcoming death in Black Eyed Kids, an Animosity spin off, drawn by Doe and written by regular scribe Marguerite Bennett, which will expand the story into the rest of the world to look at the greater impact of events the main title (peculiar alliances of intelligent animals – "dolphins and bears together" was teased – would feature), and the upcoming "intense horror" series Blood Blister, launching in January (written by Phil Hester).
And then there is Pestilence, currently under development for 2017, but without a release date as yet. The black plague as zombie apocalypse is written by Frank Tieri with interior art by Oleg Okunev, which promises (per Tieri) "a lot of blood in Vatican city," including a dramatic papal rescue arc.