J. Michael Straczynski finds humor at world’s end with ‘Apocalypse Al’

Jan. 28, 2014 | 7:00 a.m.
apocalypseal cover J. Michael Straczynski finds humor at worlds end with Apocalypse Al

The cover "The Adventures of Apocalypse Al" No. 1 (Bill Farmer and Ryan Sook / Image Comics)

pages 13 19 from jcaa001 ltrd 1 J. Michael Straczynski finds humor at worlds end with Apocalypse Al

Page 1 from "The Adventures of Apocalypse Al" No. 1, by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Sid Kotian. (Image Comics)

pages 13 19 from jcaa001 ltrd 2 J. Michael Straczynski finds humor at worlds end with Apocalypse Al

Page 2 from "The Adventures of Apocalypse Al" No. 1, by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Sid Kotian. (Image Comics)

pages 13 19 from jcaa001 ltrd 3 J. Michael Straczynski finds humor at worlds end with Apocalypse Al

Page 3 from "The Adventures of Apocalypse Al" No. 1, by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Sid Kotian. (Image Comics)

pages 13 19 from jcaa001 ltrd 4 J. Michael Straczynski finds humor at worlds end with Apocalypse Al

Page 4 from "The Adventures of Apocalypse Al" No. 1, by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Sid Kotian. (Image Comics)

pages 13 19 from jcaa001 ltrd 5 J. Michael Straczynski finds humor at worlds end with Apocalypse Al

Page 5 from "The Adventures of Apocalypse Al" No. 1, by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Sid Kotian. (Image Comics)

pages 13 19 from jcaa001 ltrd 6 J. Michael Straczynski finds humor at worlds end with Apocalypse Al

Page 6 from "The Adventures of Apocalypse Al" No. 1, by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Sid Kotian. (Image Comics)

pages 13 19 from jcaa001 ltrd 7 J. Michael Straczynski finds humor at worlds end with Apocalypse Al

Page 7 from "The Adventures of Apocalypse Al" No. 1, by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Sid Kotian. (Image Comics)

On Feb. 5, writer J. Michael Straczynski debuts his new Joe’s Comics title, “The Adventures of Apocalypse Al,” a series centered on Allison Carter, a resourceful private investigator tasked with saving the world from all manner of supernatural threats — zombies, imps, wizards, closet trolls, undead ex-boyfriends, etc. She’s also tracking down the Book of Keys, a powerful tome that’s fallen into mysterious hands.

But the plucky redhead, who sometimes pops over to other dimensions in the course of her day, seems effortlessly able to handle whatever comes her way, dispensing wisecracks with deadpan aplomb.

Hero Complex readers can get an exclusive first look at lettered pages from the book, with art from Sid Kotian, in the gallery above and by clicking on the links below for larger versions of the pages.

Cover | Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6 | Page 7

Additionally, Hero Complex recently caught up with Straczynski to chat about his inspiration for the story, his penchant for writing feisty characters and why his Joe’s Comics Image imprint was the right home for this inventive tale.

Hero Complex: The apocalypse is certainly in the zeitgeist right now…. Did this project originate as a response to that in any way? What was the beginning of “Apocalypse Al,” from a creative standpoint?

J. Michael Straczynski: There’s been so much dark, depressing, post-apocalyptic TV, movies and fiction in the last 10 years or so that it felt like the right time to start having a little lighthearted fun with it…a good-natured poke in the nose, if you will. If the world’s going to end, then by golly somebody ought to have some fun with it.  It’s been a while since anyone’s done anything in this arena along the lines of “Ghostbusters” or “Men in Black,” a sharp, fun, action-adventure romp, so I figured I’d take a shot at it.
HC: Al is smart, resourceful, wisecracking — immensely likable. How did she take shape in your mind and how did she evolve once you embarked on telling her story? Do you see in her some links to other female characters you’ve created?
JMS: Apocalyptic fiction seems to be a guy’s venue, so being the natural contrarian that I am, I went for a female protagonist. More than that, I just really like writing strong, sarcastic, independent women. You can see that through most of my other work, particularly with Ivanova and Delenn in “Babylon 5.” I wanted her to be sexy but not objectified or exploited, sharp as a whip and deeply sarcastic but without losing her charm. She’s someone who can fight her way out of a problem, but she can also talk or think her way out, which is harder to do but eminently more satisfying.
HC: Why did you spark to Sid Kotian as the artist for “Apocalypse Al?” Why was he the right person for this project?
JMS: I was searching the Web and art samples for the right guy for the book, stumbled upon Sid’s work online, and was just thunderstruck by the quality of it.  His line work is so tight, but also warm and welcoming and accessible and just flat-out charming in an eccentric sort of way. For humor and action to work, it needs a light hand but a very detailed hand, and Sid had all those qualities. We think this is going to be a real breakout book for him.
HC: You’ve talked about reviving the Joe’s Comics imprint as a place where you could tell more personal stories. In what ways is this project personal for you?
JMS: There are all kinds of ways to apply that term.  For me, ultimately, the Joe’s Comics imprint is there to let me tell stories that I likely couldn’t tell for a major publisher. Some of those, like “Ten Grand,” dig deep into my feelings about love, death, and the afterlife, and others, like “Al,” are books that I consider fun and adventurous and which would never come out through a corporate publisher. It’s a story that’s personal in that it’s a story I wanted to tell, that I could only tell here.

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