Rideshares have become synonymous with modern-day life and they can, depending on your driver, be a total lifesaver or complete hell. On that latter point, writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Jason Loo have come together to create a ComiXology original story about the terrifying concept of a rideshare being your final journey to the afterlife. To celebrate the strange, silly, and very enjoyable Afterlift, we got a look at some exclusive pages from the new comic and did a quick-fire Q&A with the creative team!
Nerdist: Can you take us through how this very ambitious concept came to be?
JASON LOO: Chip approached me about Afterlift right when I was wrapping up my comic series The Pitiful Human-Lizard. He also warned me that I’ll be drawing lots of cars, something I was never comfortable drawing until I accepted the job. After tons of practice, I’ve been able to draw cars driving along busy streets, cars launching onto buildings, and cars upside-down.
Designing everything else related to the afterlife was another level of challenge. I was borrowing elements from a lot of different interpretations and smushing it all together. The demons in the comic were really fun to design. I took some inspiration from Indonesian demon masks, like the ones I was entranced by that hung all over my uncle and aunt’s house when I was a kid.
CHIP ZDARSKY: Like most people, I stare at the ceiling at four in the morning, sweating, as I think about what happens after we die (I figured it out eventually but I don’t feel comfortable telling you, sorry). One night I started thinking less about the destination and more about the journey, the classic idea of Charon and the River Styx, and what the modern idea of that would be. Seemed to me that it would be a rideshare kind of scenario, and that spawned Afterlift.
I’ve known Jason for well over a decade, starting with when he was a co-op student in my old studio! Since then he’s turned into one of the best storytellers around with his amazing comic The Pitiful Human Lizard, and I knew he’d be perfect for this book. He’s an incredibly dedicated artist and wickedly fast! I think people are going to fall in love with his work here if they haven’t seen his art before now.
Joining me and Jason is Paris Alleyne on color, who is phenomenal! All the trippy afterlife stuff looks amazing thanks to him! And we have Aditya Bidikar doing the lettering, who I just worked with on White Trees for Image Comics, and he’s just the best at intuiting what’s needed for each project and page. Allison O’Toole is our super sharp and diligent editor and she only made me cry three times with her notes!
How did the experience of creating a comic for ComiXology originals differ from the process of creating one for the direct market?
JL: Page layouts had to be limited to a format that’s friendly to the digital interface, so I couldn’t get too crazy or experimental with trippy panel designs. But I treated every panel like a cinematic experience with lots of wide shots.
CZ: Yeah, Jason really had to give things a lot more thought with the visuals to best suit the medium. I felt like I was throwing him grenades in the script that he had to safely detonate! But ComiXology has been a dream to work with, supportive on every level. The really fun part is the turnaround time since it’s straight to digital, so we can produce an issue and have it in peoples’ hands almost immediately!
What’s the panel or page turn you’re most excited for readers to experience?
JL: Flashback scenes where you get to know a bit more about our main characters. Also the entire last half of issue 4.
CZ: It feels like a bit of a cheat to say this as it means you have to read the ENTIRE thing, but the last page of issue five, our last issue, felt very satisfying,
If you end up in Hell, what will the reason be?
JL: For stealing Simpsons action figures from a department store when I was eight.
CZ: For turning in Jason to the department store security.
What’s your worst rideshare story?
JL: This one driver rear-ended another car on the highway. Luckily traffic was already moving super slow, so we didn’t hold up even more traffic.
CZ: Oh jeez, I’ve had some scary ones in terms of unsafe driving, but nothing that really stands out as the worst. The most memorable was a late-night ride where I decided to save some money and made it a shared trip. So I got into the car and the interior was all decked out with jewels and lights and fuzzy handcuffs hanging from the rear-view mirror. The driver was this wild-haired old woman who kept trying to set me up with the other passenger. Apparently they were actively discussing if I’d be cute or not before they picked me up? And I passed? Barely? It could have been super creepy but we just ended up singing along to the Elton John playing and I had a really great trip home.
Afterlift #1 hits ComiXology on October 30, with the other four issues coming out monthly.
Header Image: ComiXology