AHOY Comics is looking to shake up the publishing industry with a bold new format: comic book magazines. The startup company is the brainchild of Publisher Hart Seely, an award-winning reporter whose humor and satire has appeared in The New York Times and on National Public Radio; two founding editors of DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint, Tom Peyer and Stuart Moore; and Chief Creative Officer Frank Cammuso. The comic book magazines will feature traditional, full length comic book stories―by Peyer (Hourman) and Moore (Deadpool the Duck) and top talents including Jamal Igle (Black), Mark Russell (Flintstones), Ann Nocenti (The Seeds) ―accompanied by extra material, including prose fiction by writer Grant Morrison (Happy!), cartoons by Shannon Wheeler (God is Disappointed In You), poems by Hart Seely (Bard of the Deal: The Poetry of Donald Trump), and traditional comic book back up stories. AHOY Comics will debut in comic book stores across the country in September of 2018.
“It’s time to expect more from comics,” said AHOY Comics Editor-in-Chief Tom Peyer. “AHOY Comics offers a wide breadth of contributors from the worlds of mainstream and indie comics and humor magazines. We’re publishing comic book magazines with full length stories, backup stories, one-off gags by a bestselling New Yorker cartoonist, political poetry by a regular Poltico contributor, and prose stories by Grant Morrison, Cienna Madrid and a sundry of talent. And I don’t want it to sound too serious, because these comic book magazines are both fun and funny. It really is a unique reading experience.”
Tom Peyer graciously took some time to discuss how he became involved with AHOY, his collaborators and what’s to come.
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FOG!: Congratulations, Tom! What was the genesis of AHOY Comics and how did you get involved?
Tom Peyer: Journalist Hart Seely, cartoonist Frank Cammuso and I have been good friends and collaborators for a long time. In late 2016, Hart came up with the idea of launching a comics publishing company and working with us, and we’ve been busy ever since.
As Editor-in-Chief of the company, as well as one of the primary writers, the first two titles included both company properties as well as creator owned material. Is there an overall vision for the line and are there plans to publish actual creator owned titles or just keep that to supplemental material within the books?
We’re all for creator-owned titles. Captain Ginger, out next month, is owned by creators Stuart Moore and June Brigman.
So far, titles I create are owned by AHOY; that was my idea. It’s my way of investing in the company.
The Wrong Earth was fantastic; definitely embracing some very familiar comic book tropes. How would you pitch the title to new readers?
Thanks! First I’d pitch it to new readers by getting them to look at Jamal Igle’s beautiful cover.
Next I’d tell them that it’s a funny, entertaining, self-contained story of super-heroics, with concepts plucked from every era of the genre. But it probably wouldn’t come to that, because I think the cover hooked them.
Jamal Igle, who just keeps getting better and better, is the artist on The Wrong Earth. He’s been focusing on his Molly Danger series. How did you get him aboard this project?
Jamal responded to the idea right away and started pitching idea after idea, all of which were great. He came on so valiantly, he became the series’ true co-creator.
One of comics’ most overused catch phrases is “fun”, but The Wrong Earth is just that. What goes into making a book that’s not only fun, but also accessible?
When I started writing comics, I worked with writer Roger Stern and editor Mike Carlin, who drummed it into me that comics need to be accessible. That might not be true of every single possible comic, but it’s a great lesson that’s stayed with me and I use it nearly always.
Both The Wrong Earth and High Heaven feature back-ups by Shannon Wheeler, as well as Grant Morrison. How did you convince them to contribute and who else do you have planned for backup stories?
We asked and they accepted. I’m as baffled as you are. We’ve been lucky enough to acquire some major writing and illustration from Carol Lay, Mark Russell, Matt Brady, Matthew Sharpe, Cienna Madrid, David Schmader, Bethany Jean Clement, Paul Constant, Phil Hester, Rick Geary, Danny Schwartz… if some of those names are strange to you, Google them and prepare to be amazed.
High Heaven is also a pretty interesting title. How would you describe it?
It’s a potty-mouthed book about a young-ish guy who dies and goes to heaven, where everything is dull and disappointing and everybody hates him. It’s wonderfully drawn by Greg Scott.
Backup series: Hashtag: Danger, about a trio of adventurers who chase science-fiction menaces and make each other miserable. It’s hilariously drawn by Chris Giarrusso.
You and Greg Scott put together a fantastic first issue. It’s interesting that you’re dealing with the subject matter, but successfully omitting any religious reference. Has that been a challenge?
I have to give publisher Hart Seely credit for that. The early drafts had some specific religious references, and he convinced me that it would be stronger to concentrate on the cultural idea of heaven we’re all familiar with. He was absolutely right. It made High Heaven much stronger.
Can you tease any other creators who will have work in upcoming AHOY Titles?
We have an anthology series, the irreverent Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror, that is giving us an opportunity to work with a lot of great people. Among them: Mark Russell, Dean Motter, Peter Milligan, Ann Nocenti, Fred Harper, Peter Snejbjerg, Rick Geary, Rachel Pollack, Devin Grayson, Alisa Kwitney, Linda Medley… and many others, if you can believe it!
Who or what have been your biggest influences in comics?
Oh, gosh. So much. Silver Age super-hero comics, definitely, and everyone connected with them. The British Invasion writers at DC in the late 80s. So many newspaper cartoonists from the 30s through the 60s.
What are you currently geeking out over?
I’ve been reading a lot of Ditko since he died. The great cartoonist Roger Langridge did this amazing PG Wodehouse adaptation and posted it to his blog, Hotel Fred. I loved Stewart Lee’s new standup show, Content Provider, I’m counting the minutes until the Thirteenth Doctor shows up and I’m perpetually geeking over Miles Davis.
The Wrong Earth #1 arrives in stores on September 12th
High Heaven #1 arrives in stores on September 26th
For more details, visit ComicsAhoy.com