Wednesday, 15 May 2013

thinks Afterlife Inc. is a comic book you can believe in

So, like I said previously (In my post about Bristol Comic Expo), while at the Bristol Expo I came across many books that were being promoted by their creators but, sadly, very few of them were concepts which took my fancy. However, for two of them that was not the case. Two of these books were incredibly imaginative and engrossing and really appealed to me and what it is I like about comics, but they were almost at different ends of that spectrum. One was the morbid anthology Twisted Dark (See my review here) but the other was a completely different creature, a book that while focusing on death, did so with a lot of life in a fantastical, hilarious and, most importantly, fun fashion. What is the name of this book? Well its name is Afterlife Inc.

Afterlife Inc. Vol. 1
The premise behind Afterlife Inc. is a simple one. A catastrophe has occurred in heaven, causing the angels in charge to vanish and chaos to erupt. But out of the ashes has come Jack Fortune; a recently dead con-man (though how he died is a bit of a mystery) who, along with a group of other human souls and some angelic beings (though what exactly they are I didn't catch) has turned turned the afterlife into "Afterlife Inc.- The company you can believe in", turning everyone's favorite after-death destination spot into a business owned by the people with one goal - to give everyone the dreams in death that they really wanted in life.

Now, I have to admit the concept is a bit out there, but only because with this kind of idea there are no limits and that is part of its appeal. Creator Jon Lock(, who I talked to at length over the course of the Bristol Expo, possibly bugging him immensely, seems to have gone completely wild and lets his imagination off the chain with this incredibly over the top world that makes me think of Fantastic Four back when Mark Waid was writing it (and that was a good series). This fantastical feeling doesn't just start and stop with the stories as the art work provided by a group of various skilled artists, chief among whom is Ash Jackson ( ) (who I think displays a style very similar to Ben Templesmith, which is a style I'm absolutely loving at the moment) enhances these stories to be incredibly easy on the eye, while bringing the extraordinary vision from Lock's idea to life perfectly.
Writer Jon Lock signing my copy of Afterlife Inc.
Of course, this series is by no means perfect, as I did struggle with some of the concepts within the stories and even, for one whole arc felt as if I'd missed something. I guess what you have to realize early on with this series is that this is not a linear story, but an anthology depicting the tales of this world, each separate from the others. This could have been the reason I suffered at the beginning (though reading volume two first probably didn't help). But yes, information is missing and yes it's all info that you want to know (like an origin), but once I got that the series isn't meant to be linear, I realized that it's not the origin that's important but it's the stories themselves and how enjoyable they are when you read them.

Afterlife Inc. interiors by Ash Jackson
In my opinion though, what makes this book so great isn't the stories themselves (though they are really great), it's the characters that make up this series and their pitch perfect depictions. From the Over-confident Jack Fortune to the over-worrying Mr Ochroid, the ultra-serious Lux to the gentle (well I though so anyway) Nuriel, these characters are all so charming that I can't help but want to read more about them. It's not just the main cast who are so well written, with small characters and even cameos (Sherlock Holmes is here and he's hilariously fantastic) coming off the page in a top-notch fashion.

When I pick up small press/indie books at conventions, I expect them to interesting premises but not to beat hands down the bigger, more established books. Afterlife Inc., for me, has totally changed my perception of that as well as defied any idea that dark and brooding is what makes a good story. Volumes one and two (both of which you can also get at Comixology. You go ahead, I'll wait) came across to me as exactly what any entertainment medium should come across as; pure, lighthearted fun! I enjoyed this book immensely and I not only look forward to the 3rd volume the creators are putting together, but hope said creators plans of getting this book published by the mainstays of comics come to pass. Afterlife Inc isn't just a company, but a comic book you can believe in.

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