by Jarrod Jones. It was hard to miss the kerfuffle surrounding Second Coming when it shifted from DC Vertigo to AHOY Comics earlier this year. The book—which features Jesus Christ returning to Earth and discovering a world that has forsaken His teachings for the planet’s resident superhero, Sunstar—ruffled more than a few feathers with its central premise. So, reading the writing on the wall, co-creators Mark Russell and Richard Pace decided to pack up their story and set sail for other shores.
It’s ridiculous how well the irreverent and whip-smart Second Coming fits with the ethos of AHOY Comics. Editor-in-Chief Tom Peyer agrees. “I think [Mark] and Richard thought—as we do—that Second Coming fits right in with AHOY’s sensibility, and vice-versa,” he tells me. So… what are the chances of a “High Heaven/Second Coming” crossover? “Be careful what you suggest to me,” Tom says. “I do like a drink, and my judgment is not always sound.”
Tom Peyer likes his comics “larger-than-life, challenging, and really well-written and drawn.” But above all else, he likes his comics to be funny. Abundance, Humor, Originality and Yes, that’s what AHOY Comics stands for (figuratively and literally), and Russell & Pace’s Second Coming certainly checks all those boxes. “We’d have wanted to publish this under any circumstances.”
With AHOY’s Second Coming looming ahead (it drops July 10), DoomRocket spoke with Tom Peyer about the latest series from AHOY Comics, his work with Jamal Igle on The Wrong Earth, and how he functions as an editor these days (apparently, there’s far less schmoozing).
1. Let’s start with ‘Second Coming’. Why did AHOY snap it up once DC Vertigo dropped it? Did your history with DC and Vertigo factor into why Mark Russell and Richard Pace ended up at the doorstep of AHOY?
Tom Peyer: Not that I know of. Mark had worked with us before, and I think he and Richard thought—as we do—that Second Coming fits right in with AHOY’s sensibility, and vice-versa. It’s funny, larger-than-life, challenging, and really well-written and drawn. We’d have wanted to publish this under any circumstances.
I see ‘Second Coming’ as the spiritual cousin to ‘High Heaven’. Do you think there’s a chance for these two books to tap into that lucrative, shared-universe cheddar?
Crisis on Infinite Afterlives? Be careful what you suggest to me. I do like a drink, and my judgment is not always sound.
Religious satire is one helluva lightning rod for controversy, as DC Vertigo can no doubt attest. Why do you think that ‘Second Coming’ got the boot there when one of the most successful books in their catalog is and will always be ‘Preacher’?
I wouldn’t want to put words into DC’s mouth. I think you’ll have to ask them. From what I gather, Mark and Richard respect where DC is coming from on this. I hope it’s turned out well for everyone.
2. You’ve said that you want AHOY to “publish story and art, not events.” Yet publishing ‘Second Coming’ could be considered an event simply because you helped pull a book out from under a thick fog of controversy and potential censorship. Some people might say AHOY publishing ‘Second Coming’ is daring, but at the end of the day it’s just publishing comics, isn’t it? As an editor, isn’t this just another Wednesday for you?
TP: Absolutely. It’s just a good comic. I guess you could call it an event because there’s been some press attached to the situation. But that’s not the kind of event I was talking about. I was talking about things like Crisis on Infinite Afterlives, where you have to stop your High Heaven story in the middle so you can cross over with Second Coming.
3. Let’s hop over to ‘The Wrong Earth’. Silver Age superhero smashes into the world of the 80s Modern Age and vice versa. You’ve written credible voices for two seemingly disparate character types, given their respective eras the same level of authenticity. And look at them: one character is tamped down by the Comics Code but the other rips offenders to shreds with impunity. But is there really such a wide gulf between these two kinds of superheroes? I mean, you have to be a special kind of nut to even consider doing what they do, right?
TP: In his introduction to the Wrong Earth trade paperback, Tom Scocca writes that, once he’s trapped on gritty Earth-Omega, the campy, Silver Age Dragonflyman’s “moralistic do-gooder spirit takes on its own edge of ruthless fanaticism.” Which is right, but I didn’t really see it that way until Tom pointed it out. Yes, both heroes are nuts in their own way.
4. People certainly seem to have preferences as to how they like their superheroes depicted. But what about you? What kind of superhero stories have you always liked to read? I know you hold your time with Grant Morrison and ‘Doom Patrol’ close to your heart.
TP: Yes, I absolutely love what Grant did on Doom Patrol (and it’s really fun to see it translated to TV). His approach managed to be adult without losing sight of the madness and wonderment I love about super-hero comics. I think the most realistic super-hero comic I ever read was Daniel Clowes’ Death Ray, which I love. But I don’t usually go to super-hero comics for my realism.
5. In the supplemental material for ‘The Wrong Earth’ TPB (out now!), you include the original pitch for the project. It reveals that Dragonfly and Dragonflyman were once called “Watchdog”. One was a bachelor. One was a widower. One had a sidekick. One had a dead sidekick. At what stage did you and Jamal Igle change “Watchdog” into Dragonfly? Was the character ultimately meant to become more of a Batman analogue?
TP: No, he wasn’t, although I’d be lying very unconvincingly if I said we never thought about satirizing Batman. But to me it’s about all of the pre- and post-Wolverine heroes in comics.
Obviously, when Jamal came on board the thing changed and got better and better. He really upped the game with some great ideas and his flawless execution.
6. There’s this bit in the first issue of ‘The Wrong Earth’ where Number One-Omega, or Omega-One, stabs the sidekick character, Stinger. Just… walks up and stabs him in the gut. Sidekicks always seem to get it the worst in these kinda stories, don’t they? Was this sequence a commentary on the peculiar legacy of superhero comics where children are decked out in tights and thrown into these absolutely ludicrous, completely illegal, utterly dangerous situations?
TP: I just had Number One stab Stinger because I thought that’s what he would do. To me, the fact that this is a very dangerous line of work for children is something that hadn’t really occurred to Dragonflyman. Of course, Dragonfly knows all too well.
7. Mark Waid is about to join the AHOY ranks for the one-shot ‘Steel Cage’, which carries one downright novel premise: A one-shot special with three singular “pilot” stories, all primed for a series of their very own, but readers get to vote on which story goes to series. Can you tell us about this project, where it came from?
TP: It was all Stuart Moore’s idea. That guy gets great ideas. Unfortunately, he’ll live to regret it, because my story is going to beat his and Mark’s.
What happens to the two stories that don’t get voted on to series? Do they stick around for the next one-shot, or what?
We plan to repossess everyone’s copy, rip out the pages with the loser stories, and return them to their owners in a state of perfection.
Does your ‘True Identity’ stand a chance between Waid’s ‘Noah Zark’ or Stuart Moore’s ‘Bright Boy’?
I don’t mind answering this again. I will destroy them.
8. As an editor, which creators do you have your eye on? What is it about their work that excites you?
TP: Well, I have my eye on every creator who works for us, and they all bring something special, which is why they’re here. It might be an individual approach that no one else could duplicate, or a breathtaking amount of sheer labor that goes into what they produce, or it might just be that they’re funny.
9. Walk me through a typical day for Tom Peyer, Editor-in-2019. How does that day contrast with a typical day for, say, Tom Peyer, Editor-in-1991?
TP: When I was 1991-me, I had a typewriter and an ashtray on my desk. So that’s different. I also worked in an office with a lot of people, and I liked to shmooze all morning and then make up for it by staying late. But now everyone is in their own homes or offices, and I’m here alone. It’s weird. I’m used to writing in a room by myself, but I really had to get used to editing in a room by myself.
If ‘91 Tom switched timelines with ‘19 Tom, how would it affect the books they edited?
The ’91 books would be better if this version of me were doing them. More editing, less shmoozing.
‘The Wrong Earth’ TPB is available now. ‘Second Coming’ #1 hits stores July 10. You can pre-order it now! (Diamond Code: MAY191323)
Enjoy this AHOY Comics sampler preview, including: a 10-page preview of ‘The Wrong Earth Volume One’ TPB, a sneak peek at ‘Second Coming’ #1, and covers for ‘High Heaven Volume One’ TPB and ‘Hashtag: Danger’ #1!
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