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Your Ride is Here - Chip Zdarsky & Jason Loo Talk Afterlift

Interview conducted by James Ferguson

Afterlift from writer Chip Zdarsky, artist Jason Loo, colorist Paris Alleyne, and letterer Aditya Bidikar, began as a digital series, published through ComiXology as part of its Originals line. The horror thriller comic makes the jump to print this week with a collection from Dark Horse Comics. I had a chance to speak with Chip and Jason about the book, ride-sharing, and more.

Ride-share driver Janice Chen has enough to deal with, from annoying passengers to overbearing parents. But when she picks up a pair of mysterious passengers who are pursued by otherworldly forces, Janice realizes that her already-terrible day might be headed straight to hell. This Eisner Award-winning series from Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals, Daredevil) and Jason Loo (The Pitiful Human-Lizard) features car chases, demon bounty hunters, and figuring out your place in this world and the next.

James Ferguson: After creating Afterlift, do you look at Uber or Lyft drivers any differently?

Chip Zdarsky: Ha! Not really. I mean, look, we ARE in a pandemic. I haven't thought about being in someone else's car in a looooong time.

Jason Loo: Same. I can’t remember my last Uber ride. I’ve actually been using bikeshares the January before the whole pandemic started. I guess you could say I’ve been avoiding rideshares since Afterlift.

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JF: Afterlift deals with demons, angels, Purgatory, and more. How did you decide on this particular mix of religious element? Were there any other elements of the afterlife you wanted to include in the story?

CZ: Sure! Part of the fun of the project was researching all the various interpretations of the afterlife, but we decided to keep the personal visions of the main characters as the focus. But I was especially interested in Zoroastrianism, especially the part where, when your soul travels the final bridge to paradise, if you're deemed unworthy, the bridge narrows to the width of a blade and a terrifying woman pulls you into hell. Now that's an image.

JL: I thought it was fun to include inspiration from Indonesian demons for our demon bounty hunters. I really wanted them to look colorful and really stand out in our story. All those years as a kid being surrounded by these looming faces through paintings and sculptures at my uncle’s house really paid off.

JF: Afterlift has a very unique look for Hell. Not necessarily the fire and brimstone we've seen in the past. How did this design come about?

JL: Chip gave me some brief descriptions of what he wanted to see in Hell and I just ran wild with it. Though I didn’t have the stomach to Google Image search a “mountain of skeletons”, so I ended up drawing skulls in all sorts of angles for the hills, and sprinkling some rib cages here and there. As a Star Wars fan, the fight scene looking like a landscape of Mustafar was totally not a coincidence.

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JF: Jason, do you ever want to draw a car again?

JL: I felt like I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in drawing cars from this book, so I might as well keep drawing them if I have to.

JF: How was your experience with ComiXology Originals? And how do you feel that Afterlift is coming to print now through Dark Horse Comics?

CZ: Everything has been great and seamless! Honestly, working with ComiXology has been a dream, and the Dark Horse side of things has been a really pleasant surprise. While I always envisioned this as a digital project, Dark Horse has really gone all out to make it a beautiful physical package.

JL: I think it’s awesome to see our book on the same shelves as Hellboy and Black Hammer. And if we’re going alphabetical order by title, our book will be shelved before them, so that’s cool too!

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JF: What do you hope readers get out of Afterlift?

CZ: For the people who need to forgive themselves the opportunity to do so. Also, a beautiful illustrated story.

JL: Chip said it best. But also, an emotional, beautifully written story. Have a box of tissues ready.

Horror DNA would like to thank Chip Zdarsky and Jason Loo for taking the time to speak with us. Afterlift is available now at your local comic shop, bookstore, and Amazon.

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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