After more than a year, A.D. from writer Scott Snyder and artist Jeff Lemire is finally coming to comic shops in November.
A graphic novel in three oversized parts, the story centers on a world where medical science discovers a cure for death. Years after the discovery, one man starts to question everything, leading him on a mind-bending journey that will bring him face-to-face with his past and his own mortality.
The story was originally designed as a one-shot to be released in 2015, but as the pair worked on it, the book grew.
"The reason I'm so proud of it, and excited by it is that coming into the project, like Jeff said, I think when we started I was thinking we'd just do something very small. It would be 30-40 pages," Snyder told ComicBook.com. "Knowing Jeff, and knowing his work, and the way in which I think he goes into projects that he's working on alone with such passion. I was envious, I think, of the fact that he has that place where he's in full control. For me that place used to be prose, before I got into comics. It was really expressing some of those feelings to him and getting his encouragement in return to make this project something more ambitious, something more personal than I think we initially thought it would be that pushed me to transform it and let it grow and be what it is now, which is something way beyond anything I thought it would be. Something beyond what I thought I was capable of. So I'm extremely grateful and very proud of it for those reasons."
The project blends comics, art, and prose to make a unique story that explores a variety of different tones and themes.
"It follows one man who lives in this small community in the mountains where this cure was initially found. It sort of circles around this mystery he discovers both about himself and about the nature of the place up there. It has this kind of big, suspenseful plot about what he'd actually find if he actually leaves and comes down here and sees what's below, and what's left of the world he used to know," Snyder explained. "It has this kind of big, speculative science fiction adventure story to it. The challenge of it, or the thing I love about it is that that sort of high concept, big bombast propulsive story is wedded to these prose sections, and also within the comics, this very meditative, kind of exploratory type of story telling that is autobiographical and memoirish. It's almost two types of storytelling that are at opposite ends of the spectrum. That was the real joy of this thing, and also the challenge of it."
While Snyder is best known for his serialized comics (particularly Batman and Wytches), Lemire has a long history with graphic novels and indie fare. It would seem at first glance like a strange decision, then, to have Lemire doing only the art in this issue -- but the relationsihp works well for the pair, who have been friends for nearly a decade.
"It's kind of a unique collaboration, because Scott's definitely taking the lead on the story, and he's generating it," Lemire told ComicBook.com. "I'm a sounding board for that. More than me co-writing, it's just him having someone to bounce his ideas off, and troubleshoot things. The bulk of the narrative, the plotting, the writing, that stuff, that's all him. It does free me up to really focus on my art, which is something I haven't been able to do in the past, because anything I've done in the past, I've also been writing. I've never really had a project like this, where I can focus on the one discipline, and really try to improve my craft. So that's been really interesting and really good for me I think."
"The blending of prose and art went hand in hand with this guiding principle of the book, which was that if we were going to work together, and Jeff is easily one of my best friends, then I'd have to make something that was worth his participation. How fiercely independent and how fiercely passionate he is about his work was a huge inspiration for me going into this, where I wanted to say that I'm making something uncompromising in that way. And so everything good about it is his credit," Snyder said. "Anything you don't like is my fault."
"I agree," joked Lemire.
The series is also Snyder's first big foray into epic science fiction storytelling. While obviously there have been science fiction themes in many of his previous works, Snyder's non-superhero stuff has typically tended toward horror. Lemire, on the other hand, has worked on a successful science fiction graphic novel already in the form of Descender, but, as Lemire notes, science fiction is a big space.
"Descender's really a space opera and that kind of, where as I would say AD is science fiction itself, but it's completely different. It's much more grounded, secular fiction," Lemire explained. "I think probably close to Sweet Tooth and The Wake than it is Descender. I think we've both kind of delved into this sort of science fiction in the past with more grounded secular fiction with those two projects. If anything it's an extension of those rather than the space dust that I've been doing with Descender."
For Snyder, the science fiction trappings are nice, but it's the deeply personal aspects of A.D. that speak to him the most.
"Here, the whole north star of it was to try to do a story that would be different from anything we've done, more personal for me than anything I'd done," Snyder told us. "There's a lot of autobiography in it, even though that sounds insane when it's 800 years in the future in one part and a cure for death. A lot of the prose material and the more sort of confessional material about the ways in which the main character, Jonah Cook, sort of struggles with a crippling fear of death growing up and his adult life, a lot of that is taken from embarrassing things in my life."
A.D.: After Death Book One is currently available for pre-order through Diamond Comics Distributors. It will be available in stores on November 23, but Final Order Cutoff is October 10, so if you want a copy in your hands next month, make sure to reach out to your retailer this week.