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Post-Game: ‘Ash & Thorn’ (with Mariah McCourt)

Comic Books

Post-Game: ‘Ash & Thorn’ (with Mariah McCourt)

A new series emphasizing the stories behind your favorite comic titles/arcs.

Welcome to another edition of Post-Game. As the title suggests, we’re aping a little NFL-inspired post-game coverage for the realm of comics, allowing a slew of creators to come in and examine their work after the fact. Through this rare instance of hindsight, we can all gain a better appreciation for our favorite stories and series and better grasp the truly nuanced creative process. And unlike with football, we promise no (excessively) wacky graphics or needlessly bulky suits.

For more from the series, check out more entries here.

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Creative Team: Written by Mariah McCourt, art by Soo Lee, coloring by Pippa Bowland, and lettering by Rob Steen.
Story Arc: The first four issues (or so).
Original Release Date: June to August 2020
Synopsis: Described as a cross between Buffy and Golden Girls, Ash & Thorn follows Lottie Thorn and Lady Peruvia Ashlington-Voss, two geriatric monster fighters on a rough and tumble adventure to stop any nasty Big Bads that might cross their path.
AIPT’s Thoughts: From Alex McDonald’s review of issue #4, “Ash & Thorn is still a fantastic series. It feels like Soo Lee’s art gets better each issue, but it might just be that the plot gets more exciting every month that Lee is given more to play with. Honestly at this stage the only negative things are entirely subjective to the series itself. But if a septuagenarian’s quest to save the world isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll likely know by now.”

Post-Game: ‘Ash & Thorn’ (with Mariah McCourt)

Courtesy of Ahoy Comics.

How do you feel now that this story’s been told? Is there a sense of relief, or are there any uneasy feelings? Was its creation/development a “good” experience overall?

Well, the story isn’t fully told! We’ve done a first season and that story is told but there are more. So, really I’m excited that people are enjoying this one and hoping to get to tell more. The development was an incredibly easy, incredibly fun, time. Everyone was so supportive, Soo is a great collaborative partner, and I just feel really lucky.

Are you the type of artist/writer to go back and think about what worked or didn’t with a story or the overall volume? Is that process helpful at all?

Sometimes. I usually try to let the story breathe for a while before going back and remind myself that you’re never 100% happy with everything you did because that’s the nature of being a creative person, we’re always striving to do things “better” or finding things we wish we’d done a different way. It can be helpful as you move forward, reminding you what you love about the characters, what you want to avoid in the future, that kind of thing. Once a story is out there, it’s out there, though, so there’s only so much you’re going to be able to do. Moving forward and learning is generally the best use of your time.

Post-Game: ‘Ash & Thorn’ (with Mariah McCourt)

From issue #1. Courtesy of Ahoy Comics.

How do you think the overall storyline or larger aesthetic/visual identity played out now that you’re looking at it as a wholly completed project? Has that shifted at all?

It hasn’t shifted much, really. Soo nailed the visual aesthetics from the get-go and the story was outlined pretty heavily beforehand. I think a lot of it played out better than I thought it would, little hints here and there that build, and the subversion of tropes is a lot more fun than I was even hoping for. You never know how that will all read until it’s done and I think everything balances each other, humor and horror, very well.

What kind of feedback have you received? Has any of that helped shape some of your thoughts on the larger series/story?

Extremely positive feedback, which is lovely and unexpected. You never know how audiences will react to something. You hope, of course, but when you’re working with quirky mixed genre stuff you know going in that there will be people who won’t be into it. Honestly the feedback so far seems like we’re giving people something to enjoy and escape into and should keep it up! So now we’re just itching to do more.

What, if anything, surprised you about how the story or visual narrative plays out in hindsight? Is there some reaction or emotion now associated with the series that you might not have felt during the actual creative process?

I think the reaction to the baking/home arts element is the most surprising. When we started we thought the recipes and baking angle would be fun and an unusual addition but it’s resonated so much more because of the pandemic. Baking, art, crafts and that kind of thing is part of the story and the character of Lottie in particular, so people responding to that by making the recipes and sharing them is, for me, extremely rewarding and emotional. I didn’t expect that!

ash & thorn

From issue #2. Courtesy of Ahoy Comics.

Now that it’s finished, how would you describe the series/story to someone (what’s your best elevator pitch)? Did that change at all from before publication?

MM: Nope, still very much Buffy meets Golden Girls, little old ladies saving the world. The only thing that’s changed, I hope, is that readers are getting more out of it than just a quirky concept.

Did you have any goals going into the project? Did you “complete” those in some way?

The whole project was kind of a dream goal so, yes, all of them! Getting to tell this story at all was an unexpected joy. Getting to write about older women, supernatural weirdness, baking, psychological horror, tropes and stories and herorism all together? Life goal, really.

Is there anything you might do differently in writing/illustrating/coloring/etc.? Some things you wish had played out differently?

There are a few places I wish I’d written more cleverly for Soo’s amazing art but overall, no, I’m pretty happy with it. Which is a lot for me to say.

Inversely, what do you think are the highlights of the story? What are the points in which you excelled as you’re looking at the whole project from a distance?

I think we hit the tone of horror/humor really well and Soo and Pippa absolutely nailed the aesthetics, balancing all these weird elements into a visual world that makes sense even as it maintains its absurdity.

Do you have any final thoughts or observations on the story/series?

We’re not done yet!

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