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Ben Stenbeck talks relationships, endings for new 'Our Bones Dust' TPB

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Ben Stenbeck talks relationships, endings for new ‘Our Bones Dust’ TPB

The ‘Our Bones Dust’ TPB is available this week.

Last fall, we spoke with writer-artist Ben Stenbeck about Our Bones Dust. The resulting story, released via Image Comics, was a compelling entry to the post-apocalyptic canon, as an AI “archaeologist” and feral boy built a potent relationship that also spoke volumes about ideas of family and community, the value of shared knowledge, how the past informs the future, and even mankind’s tenacity and future. Now, as Our Bones Dust is collected in a trade paperback form, we reconnected with Stenbeck for a kind of “post-game wrap-up.” Our chat includes how he viewed the book’s impact with audiences, the ultimate themes and messaging, the relationships at this book’s core, and even some of his future plans.

The Our Bones Dust TPB is available in bookstores starting today (June 25).

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Ben Stenbeck talks relationships, endings for new 'Our Bones Dust' TPB

Courtesy of Image Comics.

AIPT: What did you make of the reception to Our Bones Dust? Did it “land” the way you’d intended with readers/the audience?

Ben Stenbeck: Yes, I think it did. I was a little bit surprised by how well it was received. It’s a bit of an odd premise of an AI being studying a post apocalyptic Earth, looking out for a feral child being chased by cannibals. I was expecting a bit of a “love/hate” reaction but it seemed like more of a “love/ really like” reaction from what I saw.

AIPT: This was your first solo outing. Did you learn anything through this process? What about things you might want to avoid for the future?

BS: I learnt that if I trust my instincts it seems to work. Now that it’s out in the world, and it’s sort of been validated, I think that will make the next project a little easier to go into.

AIPT: I feel like this story really nailed a balance between joyous and hopeful and dark and unsettling. Was that important for you or part of some larger bit of messaging?

BS: It was really important to me. An earlier version of this was just going to be all darkness. So I abandoned it because I didn’t want to read that book. Once I started thinking about ways to make it hopeful and funny it turned into the story i wanted to read. So then I had to make it.

Our Bones Dust

Courtesy of Image Comics.

AIPT: I was struck by the relationship between the child and Attis. Why was that so important and what do you think went into forming and shaping it?

BS: Thank you, To me that’s the center of the book. That’s the “hope” in it. I loved the idea of the kid as this force of nature created by its environment and completely beyond anyone’s control. And Attis comes along and tries to help but sort of makes things worse, but maybe better.

AIPT: Is there anything that surprised you about how the story ended up? Does it feel or read differently to you now that it’s all together and assembled into one giant experience?

BS: For the most part it’s the story I set out to make. Plenty of details changed as I was making it, but on the whole I think it’s what I wanted to make. Beyond what I did, it’s all been elevated by the amazing colours of Dave Stewart and Rus Wooton’s lettering. I loved seeing the pages come in from them and having it all come alive.

Our Bones Dust

Courtesy of Image Comics.

AIPT: Do you have a favorite page or moment that sums up the story at-large?

BS: Without spoiling anything, I think for me it’s the moment Attis and the kid first interact with each other. That’s one of the few bits of the story that were there from the very beginning. At one point, I planned to end the story on that moment.

AIPT: What’s next for you, and does it involve even more from Our Bones Dust?

BS: Unfortunately, there’s no Our Bones Dust on the horizon right now, I tried to wrap it up in one book that can stand on its own. I have ideas for a follow-up, but for now I have too many other things to do. In October, there’s a horror story I wrote drawn by Matt Smith in the Headless Horseman Halloween Annual from Dark Horse. I’m wrapping up art on a three-issue series written by Mike Mignola, and then I start work writing and drawing my first book in the new Lands Unknown Universe, which is the same universe as Mignola’s Bowling with Corpses book coming out toward the end of the year.

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