At this year’s Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, WA, the list of publishers and creators attending the event’s 15th anniversary was massive! One such writer made what she called a “ghosting” appearance at the con, as she didn’t have a table at ECCC 2017 but was on hand for a surprise appearance, signings, and to support others at the event.
Marguerite Bennett has taken the world by storm with her mad skills and wildly creative mind. From titles such as A-FORCE and ANGELA: ASGARD’S ASSASSIN (Marvel), DC’s BOMBSHELLS and the new BATWOMAN: REBIRTH, to Archie Comics’ JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS, and Dynamite’s RED SONJA. In late 2015, Bennett dropped her first title with AfterShock Comics entitled inSEXts with the incredible artistic stylings of Ariela Kristantina. Fast forward to late 2016, the gifted writer debuted the breakout sensation ANIMOSITY with the red-hot indie publisher.
PopCultHQ was surprised with an unplanned, unexpected interview with the red-hot writer and there was no way we were going to miss this opportunity. So sit back and hear from Marguerite (by far, the more talented writer with the surname Bennett between the two of us, and no, we are not related) on her current projects, working with AfterShock, and what 2017 has in store for comic fans everywhere!
PopCultHQ: ANIMOSITY is one of the biggest titles right now at AfterShock Comics. What’s the reception been like when traveling to cons or at signing appearances? How are people responding?
Marguerite Bennett: It’s been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone’s been very supportive of the book. I was so concerned at the beginning because you know it’s a violent series. It’s a series in which the animals one day “wake up” and they come online and they have human-level intelligence. So it’s just so violent. It’s this massive social and religious, and just interpersonal uprising. There’s animal cruelty, there’s people dying, animals dying, so it’s one of those things like, you know that whole website DoesTheDogDie.com? I had so many people hit me up immediately with questions like, “Do any animals die in this series?” and I’m like, “(pausing) Yes.” And I was so concerned that it would turn off readers. But there’s been so much interest in it and honestly, people came back around on it. They were really supportive, really engaged, it’s just been overwhelmingly positive. I honestly haven’t had anyone come up and say, “Well, I didn’t like this issue” or “I felt this issue was soft” but everyone has been like, “I thought this one was even better than the last one.” And that’s all you can really hope for as a writer and it’s been so delightful.
PopCultHQ: So definitely a change of pace from inSEXts, your other title with AfterShock, which got me thinking… you’ve worked on inSEXts with AfterShock, but what is it about this publisher, that made you say, “I want to continue with AfterShock“? We’ve been seeing so many well-known creators in the industry who are either hopping on board with AfterShock or now doing multiple titles: Garth Ennis (DREAMING EAGLES, JIMMY’S BASTARDS) coming back, Adam Glass (ROUGH RIDERS, ROUGH RIDERS: RIDERS ON THE STORM) on his second series. Now here you are with your second title with them. What is it about AfterShock that had you decide to release a second title with them?
Bennett: Oh goodness! You know, from the very beginning…I knew Mike Marts and he helped start my career. He helped me come in with DC, he almost single-handedly brought me into Marvel, and then it was the chance to do this creator-owned project and have him editing me again I just jumped at the opportunity, frankly. Also the fact that he was, as far as the pitches of the creator-owned, he said, “What pitch couldn’t you do somewhere else?” and this is sort of no-holds-barred. It’s actually funny, and he gets tickled by this story, I sent them like three pitches and inSEXts was tacked on at the end because I was convinced that even that was too outrageous for this new company, and they were like, “Actually, this is the one we want.” <laughs>
PopCultHQ: Oh wow! Nice! <chuckles>
Bennett: Yeah! But honestly, with my other work, I’m very proud of the other stuff I do with superheroes or properties like JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS through Archie [Comics] but it’s this level of heroism or superheroism, or just a lighter, brighter story in some ways. But there were parts of my interests and parts of my personality I didn’t get to explore or express through the work that I had so sometimes that can be sort of constraining. AfterShock was where I could come and just be messy and let off steam, just have fun, and do some outrageous and shocking things. They just gave me such support and such freedom. They’ve made me so happy, they take such good care of me and I just love everyone.
PopCultHQ: So in being able to “get messy” and creative, how do your co-creators respond to that messiness, like Ariela Kristantina on inSEXts or your team on ANIMOSITY? By the way, Rafael de Latorre is amazing in this series.
Bennett: Yeah, he’s phenomenal, he’s just delightful. And honestly, even down to the variant artists. He just turns in some of the most fantastic art. I’ll give him some of the most troubling or bizarre designs like the war bison or the wolves and coyotes, the reverse bear trap, just every single thing that I give him, every time he’s taken it and made it ten times better. Or like Juan Doe on ANIMOSITY: THE RISE, I have a print of that cover in my bedroom because it’s so simply beautiful. And Ariela is a delight. The subject matter for inSEXts is so ghastly and so sexual, it’s like, “Can I pull this off in a way that’s feasible?” We went through a number of proposed artists and was like, “This isn’t quite right” but Ariela brings this level of sincerity and tenderness and true artistry to it. I mean, there is no one that could have pulled off this series like Ariela.
PopCultHQ: What else can we can expect from you coming up here in 2017 from you? We know ANIMOSITY has already had a one-shot (ANIMOSITY: THE RISE), but is there anything else planned for ANIMOSITY or with Ariela on inSEXts? I understand that sometimes creators can’t speak on certain projects but is there anything you can talk about that we can look forward to?
Bennett: Well, we are fully green-lit and ongoing. So there bunch more inSEXts and a bunch more ANIMOSITY coming out. One of the wonderful things about both of these stories, but in particular ANIMOSITY, is that the story can just run forever. With ANIMOSITY, the world is just so massive and there’s so intricate stories to be told, so I’ll run until they stop me essentially.
PopCultHQ: So how far ahead on these series right now? I know you’re working on multiple titles with multiple publishers and trying to juggle all of that. Are you only like two issues ahead, or have six done…
Bennett: …Oh, I have plot for days. I know the whole story, and even in the first issue, originally issues one and two were just going to be one issue and Mike was like, “You can slow this down and we can expand this a bit” so a lot of the issues were originally designed to be one-shots so we can breathe a bit so we can let the story expand consequently as we go. So I can’t really give an answer to have much story I have done beyond “I’ve got stories for days!”
PopCultHQ: I gotcha! Is there anything you have coming up in 2017, like appearances or signings or anything, that you’d like people to know? I know it’s not always easy to find out that info online, like I didn’t know you were going to be here but wanted to meet you at some point
Bennett: Oh thanks! I did a bit too much travelling last year so I’ll just be “ghosting” at a couple of shows this year. I will be walking the floor at C2E2, so if folks see me, feel free to come up and chat, but I won’t be tabling. I will be at San Diego Comic Con this year as a guest, so that’s going to be really nice. So this will just be like a soft year and next year I’ll be back at doing the shows. I’ve got DC BOMBSHELLS and the relaunch of BATWOMAN in Rebirth, at Archie I have JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS, and there will be another new title released this year.
PopCultHQ: Wonderful! Thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate it!
Bennett: Thank you!
It was truly an honor and privilege to sit and speak with Marguerite at Emerald City Comicon. A special thanks to AfterShock Comics, and especially to Stephan Nilson, AfterShock’s Publishing Operations Manager who “Rocks the party that rocks the body,” for making this interview possible for PopCultHQ while in Seattle. Everyone at ECCC Booth #1212 was extremely gracious, helpful, and surprisingly humble. Admire the heck out of each and every one at Team AfterShock!
To see more from Marguerite Bennett, be sure to follow her online!
*** images courtesy of AfterShock Comics