If you haven’t picked up Boom Studios‘ The Returning, well I don’t exactly know what the hell you are waiting for… The book, which follows Beth, a teenaged girl that has literally died and come back to life, gives us not only an interesting take on NDEs ( Near Death Experiences) but also a very original tale of a world unraveling at the hands of those who come back. The book is on the shelves now and it just so happens that HorrorFix was allowed a little pow-wow time with the creative team to ask a few questions… enjoy!!!
HF: How was the creative team for The Returning assembled? Had the two of you worked together previously?
JS: No, Andrea and I had never worked together before. We have wanted to for several years though, so were thrilled to partner with BOOM! on THE RETURNING.
AM: When two artists have the same passion it can be easy! I love Jason’s books, and when I talked with him about this project in NYC, he was very enthusiastic about working on it! It’s our first time working together.
HF: Going into this project, what was it about it that appealed the most to each of you?
JS: It was different than anything I’d done before, and I’m always looking for new challenges. It’s a very high concept idea and I love the science of Near Death Experiences, and I believe we came up with a totally new twist on the concept. Someone asked me recently if it’s like Flatliners and, no, it’s nothing like Flatliners. This is what I love about this book—it takes expectations and totally flips them around.
AM: Starting with the NDE’s experiences, we can develop a solid story about people, about fear, faith and love, of course. I love the gritty and realistic touch in this series, like in the same TV shows that I love.
HF: We get a pretty disturbing view of the afterlife in The Returning? What inspired the artistic take on Beth’s NDE?
JS: This is a dark vision on Near Death Experiences, but it’s not really about Afterlife. And we wanted it to be realistically bleak and twisted.
AM: At the beginning there was another main character, but Jason, with a really great touch, moved the focus onto this much more “normal” character, Beth–a simple girl that could be your neighbor, one of us. We changed the perspective so it’s not just the classic cool hero that fights.
HF: You touch upon some heady theological concepts in this first issue. Was this intentional?
JS: Yes, there is a big theological theme in the series, and we will build on this. It’s subtle though. Story comes first, then the ideas.
AM: Of course a little bit, but this is not a series about faith. We touch on the question but there is much more. I think that the afterlife is an interesting question, one that’s not simply fiction for a comic or a movie. I find it interesting!
HF: Beth is an interesting choice for a protagonist. In what sometimes feels like a male dominated industry, what made her character seem like the logical choice to push the story forward?
JS: Beth is fairly innocent when the book begins. That was the idea—to take this very likable, innocent character and thrust her into the darkness.
AM: Yes, Beth is more original and gives us the freedom to play with a “strange hero,” but…will she be a hero? 😉 The hope is to leave it to the readers and push them to say “I can understand this girl!”
HF: There seems to be an undercurrent of prejudice in the world of the Changers. Are there any plans to further introduce us to the backstory and show us how society has changed in this world?
JS: Yep there will be a lot about how society has changed, a lot of world building. The first issue is like the pilot of a TV show, where we hint at a lot of things that will be dealt with more thoroughly in the forthcoming issues.
AM: The changers are the main characters of course. They could be anyone, anywhere, and they can change lots of things in the real world. The problem is…what is the “real” world here?
HF: For Andrea, there are definite horror influences here in the look of the book. What did you bring with you as far as influences when approaching the artwork for The Returning?
AM: So my intention with this book, graphically, is to give the readers a high level of tension and restlessness. There are no gore scenes or super bloody head explosions, but there is definitely a lot of tension. The pages looks gritty, rougher, and disturbing. Maybe far from my other stuff but, I think, very fitting for the tone and the climax of the story.
HF: Finally, what can you tell us about what you have in store for us in the upcoming issues?
JS: No! Ha, seriously, there are lots of twists so we’re being tight lipped about it. But I will say that we are going to put poor Beth through a lot in this series, and she won’t be the same when we’re through with her.
AM: Lots of twists guys! Nothing is what it seems!
We wanna thank Jason Starr and Andrea Mutti for their time and obviously for their work on such a great book.