Earlier this week, we gave you some insight into AHOY Comics’ forthcoming Ash & Thorn in the form of cool sketches and a Spotify playlist. But we’re done yet. Ahead of issue #1’s release this week, we sat down with writer Mariah McCourt to talk about the series, her inspirations, combining genres, her past comics experience, and much more.
Written by McCourt, and with art from Soo Lee, the series is described as the Golden Girls meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and follows a little old lady who is heir to a sacred mystical lineage — not to mention Earth’s only champion to save the world against a great evil. Pretty sure not even Blanche Devereaux herself got up to that kind of mischief.
(Editor’s Note: For even more from Ash & Thorn, check out our review of issue #1.)
AIPT: Where did the idea to merge the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Golden Girls?
Mariah McCourt: Well, I grew up watching Golden Girls and discovered Buffy in my 20s. I love horror and humor and the idea of older women battling cosmic monsters had been puttering around my head for a while. It was actually a scene in the 2nd issue with Peruvia that finally solidified the whole concept for me. I’d wanted to tell an epic tale about older women, truly older, and subvert a lot of tropes at the same time. And for whatever reason that’s the exact time Stuart Moore approached me about working with Ahoy!. So some kind of weird fate was involved there.
AIPT: You were an assistant at Vertigo, and now you’re writing a new series for semi-new publisher Ahoy. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey?
MM: It’s been a strange and wandering route, since I never actually saw myself writing comics. Initially I wanted to do covers! I interned at Vertigo, got hired after graduation, and focused on editing for a decade before writing them. A lot of credit for that goes to Chris Ryall at IDW who encouraged me to write up the pitch for the True Blood comics. Which ended up getting us the license and I co-wrote two series for it. After that, I was pretty much hooked on writing AND editing because I love the collaborative process for both. Being able to help creators tell their stories is just as rewarding as telling my own.
AIPT: I love blending genres and the recipes in the back of issue #1 are fabulous. Would you recommend readers bake while reading, or leave that till after they’ve completed the issue?
MM: Well, I wouldn’t recommend getting a paper comic near baking supplies but I think making the recipes after each issue is read is a great idea. I bake a lot with my daughter and we often try to replicate cakes she’s seen or just makes up on the spot. All of the recipes are real and delicious that are included in Ash & Thorn.
AIPT: When developing the early concept of the book was the characters being septuagenarian an inherent part or something you came to in development?
MM: Inherent, and Lottie is actually octogenarian! The concept wouldn’t exist without Lottie and Peruvia as truly older characters. That was really first element I thought of and then added in the horror and humor as genre’s I enjoy and tropes I wanted to fiddle with.
AIPT: Many folks are struggling to keep their creative juices flowing right now, do you have any tricks or means of getting your creativity flowing?
MM: Spending time with my daughter is always very inspiring to me. She’s five and has the most outrageous imagination right now. So I listen to her stories and do projects with her and it always makes me want to create more. I also generally have several things I’m working on at a time and if I get stuck on one thing I go do something else for a break. If I’m stuck with writing I’ll go draw some hedgehogs, or if a painting isn’t working I’ll go make some felt foods for my kiddo to play with.
AIPT: What did you want to be when you were little?
MM: An artist and storyteller. Which I am!
AIPT: What comics are you reading right now?
MM: I’m hooked on Lore Olympus which is currently on hiatus and it’s killing me. I’ve mostly been reading prose lately, a lot of romance novels and escapist things.