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Merwan Chabane digs into 'Aster Of Pan: The Source'

Comic Books

Merwan Chabane digs into ‘Aster Of Pan: The Source’

The anticipated sequel to ‘Aster of Pan’ is wrapping up crowdfunding this week.

Back in late 2019, French writer-artist Merwan Chabane unveiled Aster of Pan. In the titular “post-apocalyptic society,” a young outcast named Aster is the only hope for her society against the threat of the “technologically advanced Federation of Fortuna.” Equally foreboding and irreverent — conflicts are seemingly addressed via a game called Celestial Mechanics that’s basically futuristic dodgeball — Aster of Pan was a creative achievement and a deeply compelling story for a world teetering on its own slightly silly apocalypse.

Now, Merwan is adding to the history and lore of Pan with a sequel, Aster Of Pan: The Source. The book launched several weeks ago with a BackerKit campaign that quickly raised some $71,000 of a #7,500 goal. (Magnetic Press, who is releasing Aster Of Pan: The Source, also recently launched their The Planet of the Apes RPG through Kickstarter.) As for the story itself, Aster Of Pan: The Source begins mere days after book one, and sees Aster and the crew “taking refuge from the weather during their long walk back to Pan, only to stumble upon The Source — a small community tasked with sheltering what little bits of knowledge could be recovered from before The Collapse.” What should be a moment of tenuous celebration is complicated by the pursuing agents of Fortuna and a “diskette that could be the key to political power throughout the region.”

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If you’d like to contribute to the final hours of the BackerKit for Aster Of Pan: The Source, head here. The campaign, which runs through the evening of Friday, May 17, features several tiers and incentives, including various hardcover editions, die-cut bookmarks, and a variant cover by Peach Momoko. In the lead up to the campaign, Merwan was kind enough to answer a few questions via email, including why he opted for a sequel, some of his favorite characters, and even a future for Aster of Pan. In the meantime, stay tuned for more info on the final release of Aster Of Pan: The Source.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been translated from French.

AIPT: Why did you decide to do another Aster of Pan book?

Merwan Chabane: Usually when I finish a story, I know I need to move on. With [Aster of Pan], it was very different. I finished the first volume and immediately saw images of factories and power stations. It was clear that the journey was not over and the success of the book confirmed my decision to continue.

AIPT: Similarly, how did you think the first book was received, and did that response influence how you made the follow-up?

MC: Certain reactions gave me ideas for a follow-up. For example, there were a lot of questions about Aster’s tail. Overall, I know that if I only want to please my readers, I’d take the risk of repeating myself and ultimately disappointing them by using the same ingredients. So in the end, I had to find a new balance myself for writing Aster of Pan: The Source.

AIPT: Can people read this book without having read the first? What should people know before starting The Source?

MC: I asked myself and readers the same question. With the summary and the map at the beginning, it works very well as a standalone book. Of course, if you read both, it’s always better! Though before starting Aster of Pan: The Source, people should know that this story is POP-post apocalyptic!

Aster of Pan

Courtesy of Magnetic Press.

AIPT: Can you tease some big moments or important ideas for the story itself?

MC: The most important takeaway, I would say, is the brainwave weapons used by Fortunate. But the hidden theme, which for me is the most important, is a story of fatherhood.

AIPT: The book begins just a couple days after the first — why was that the best start?

MC: I feel that it allows us to contrast Volume 1 and immediately announce that things had not gone as planned.

AIPT: Was this second book easier to do than the first? Do you feel like you know this world and these characters really well?

MC: This second book was difficult for reasons other than volume one. I didn’t even know if I would be able to finish it, while volume two I didn’t know how I would be able to finish it… but I think it turned out very well and readers will very much enjoy Volume 2.

AIPT: How do you think this book is different from the first (in terms of how the story feels, things you focus on, or maybe how you wrote and drew it all)?

MC: The first book benefited from a breath and a very direct energy. In the second, the energy is more indecisive, the choices for the protagonists change all the time. I wanted Aster of Pan: The Source to read like a story where the doors keep slamming. The biggest difference is that we go from a very open world to a closed world.

Merwan Chabane digs into 'Aster Of Pan: The Source'

Courtesy of Magnetic Press.

AIPT: The first book came out in November 2019, and a lot has changed since then. Do you touch on some of the last few years (COVID, global politics, etc.) in the story?

MC: Sometimes I tell myself that my vision of the characters locked in a factory was a foreshadowing of confinement. The fact that the people of Pan are lost in the face of their alliance also seems very in tune with the times.

AIPT: Do you have a favorite page or panel in this second book?

MC: The sequences that I prefer are the first in the rain and the last in the room of statues. I also really like Aster’s shamanic scene.

AIPT: Aside from Pan, there’s great characters like Juba and Eddy. How do they grow or develop in this second book?

MC: What’s good about Juba is that he’s really very talented, but he also tends to get himself into impossible situations. In volume one, this was already the case with his stories of the heart and in the rest I will let you discover… Eddy is the dad who has a lot of ideas about life but who doesn’t take action so it’s funny to portray him with his children…

Aster of Pan

Courtesy of Magnetic Press.

AIPT: Did you have any new or specific influences/inspirations in creating even more of this world and story?

MC: This world is infinite but not the evolution of the characters — I can’t imagine an endless series around Aster.

AIPT: What’s next for Aster and Pan? Could we see a third book at some point?

MC: I think there should be a third and final volume. I have a lot of ideas but they still need to be implemented. The world is vast but paradoxically the possibilities are reduced for the characters if we want their story to end strong.

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