In just eight months, AHOY Comics has become a publisher to watch in an already crowded comic book marketplace. Editor-in-Chief Tom Peyer not only writes The Wrong Earth and High Heaven, but also oversees the line, attracting some of comics’ most impressive talent including Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Chris Giarrusso, Stuart Moore, Jamal Campbell, June Brigman, Richard Williams, Amanda Conner, Ann Nocenti, Mark Russell, Darick Robertson, Dean Motter, and Peter Milligan.
As the company’s second wave of titles are arriving in stores, Tom took some time to discuss the upcoming books, the trade paperback release of The Wrong Earth and what comics he would bring to a desert island.
* * * * *
FOG!: Hey Tom, we previously spoke as AHOY Comics was launching. In that time, the company has received both positive reviews and sales. Has it met your projected expectations?
Tom Peyer: It’s been so much better than I anticipated. Everyone’s been very kind on social media, which goes against the stereotype. Reviews have been almost uniformly positive; I think there was one disappointed review from one site of one of the 27 separate issues we’ve published. And we’ve had series where later issues actually outsold #1, which I’m told never happens.
One thing that sets the company apart is that all of the titles you’ve published have a sense of humor, something that rarely occurs in mainstream comics. Was this a conscious effort to set AHOY apart or did it evolve organically. Why do you think humor, which used to be a regular genre in the medium, is often a harder sell in comics today?
Maybe there’s a feeling that super-hero comics in particular need to be teeth-clenchingly serious in order to be respected–or, not aggressively disrespected. I think a lot of comics readers are too young to have known a world where adults would be mocked and shamed as idiots for reading comics, but there seems to be some genetic memory in play, where everyone’s still on the defensive about it. But there’s nothing to worry about anymore, really. We won.
And humor, to me, is the very summit of entertainment. You can’t do better than making someone laugh after a tough day in a rotten world. We want to be funny as often as we can, not for some marketing position, but because there’s never too much of it.
AHOY’s initial title, The Wrong Earth, just recently received it’s first trade paperback collection and FCBD release. For those unfamiliar with the title, what is it’s concept and why should people check it out?
It’s about two different versions of the same super-hero, who come from different earths. There’s Dragonflyman of Earth-Alpha, where everything is approved by the old Comics Code; nothing’s too violent or sexy, authorities are trustworthy, and the status quo is wonderful. Then there’s Dragonfly of Earth-Omega, where violence is over-the-top and the system is rotten and our hero knows it. In The Wrong Earth, they become trapped in each other’s worlds, and they have a lot of trouble fitting in.
Can you also tell us a bit about your other new titles, Hashtag Danger, Bronze Age Boogie and Planet of The Nerds?
Hashtag: Danger, written by me and drawn by Chris Giarrusso, is about a group of super-science adventurers like Fantastic Four, or Challengers of the Unknown, or the old Sea Devils. What sets them apart is, they’re rotten to each other and they don’t go on adventures very much.
Bronze Age Boogie, by Stuart Moore and Alberto Ponticelli, is this wonderful mash-up of all the genres that peaked in comics of the ’70s: martial arts, barbarians, tripod Martians, talking apes, streetwise detectives, etc. It is a weird and completely entertaining romp.
Planet of the Nerds is by Paul Constant and Alan Robinson. It tells the story of three nerd-hating high-school jocks who are accidentally frozen in the ’80s and thawed in 2019, a nerd paradise where everyone has a computer in their pocket and super-heroes rule the box-office. This is Paul’s first series as a comics writer, but you wouldn’t know it.
AHOY also made headlines when it picked up Second Coming by Mark Russell and Richard Pace after DC reverted the rights back to the creators. What is Second Coming about and why do you think AHOY is a better fit for the title than DC?
It’s the perfect fit for us. It’s smart and funny and it looks great. And it’s a story not found in any other comic. This is what we try to do every time.
Now as it’s first anniversary is approaching, what are the short and long term plans for AHOY and where would you like to see the company a year from now?
We have another project coming in June, a one-shot called Steel Cage, subtitled “3 comics enter… 1 comic leaves!”
It’s an anthology of three series pilots,and readers will vote on which becomes a series.
Mark Waid and Lanna Souvanny have one called “Noah Zark”, about a kid who frees every animal from an interplanetary zoo.
Stuart Moore and Peter Gross provide “Bright Boy,” about a genius who undergoes a terrible transformation when he thinks too hard.
Alan Robinson and I have “True Identity,” about the world’s most beloved super-hero and why he hates himself.
Who will win?
My money is on Alan and me.
Where would I like AHOY to be next year? I just want the opportunity to keep doing what we’re doing.
You’ve written and edited for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Oni, and Vertigo. Do you prefer one role over another and any chance we might see a (20th anniversary!) collection of your brilliant Hourman series from DC?
I don’t know. The first issue of Hourman just went up on Comixology, which is nice. To answer your other question, I really do like both roles. They’re very different. I hadn’t edited for a very long time, and until I started again, I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it. But I could never not write.
Finally, you’re stuck on a desert island, with five favorite comic book runs/storylines to keep you entertained. What are they, and in a sentence or so, why did they make the list?
- The Lee-Ditko Spider-Man run: action-packed and sad and funny and eccentric.
- All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. It’s like everything good about Superman, shrunk down and put into a bottle.
- Metamorpho by Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon, because of its sitcom-perfect cast.
- Any volume of IDW’s Library of American Comics Dick Tracy reprints from the ’50s or ’60s. Shoot, I’m stranded on an island, give me all of the ’50s and ’60s.
- The Robin series from Star Spangled Comics, 1947-50. The funnest of the dumb, the dumbest of the fun.
The Wrong Earth Vol. 1 is available now.