Afterword: An Interview With Stephen Carey


Released at Arcade Con, I was very impressed with Afterworld (created by Robert and Stephen Carey). ComicCity Fest sees a re-release in colour (colours by Darren Brown). I ask writer Stephen Carey about the new version and the creation of the book with his brother.

As brothers, you’ve been been collaborating with Rob for quite a while. Does that mean you kind of know what to write or draw for each other? Do you share the same tastes?

Yea, we both have similar tastes for the most part, we can differ at times. We both know what the other likes and dislikes and the creative process has always been a smooth one. After a number of projects together, I’m always confident in what Robert wants to do with the script. When I write something, I know he’s going to take it in the right direction and it’s going to be awesome.

What was the inspiration behind Afterworld?

I like stories about people going from their own normal world into a bizzare alternate one. So I wanted to do something along those lines. Then I had the basic idea of doing a story about where people go when they die. When creating this world, I was influenced by a lot of post-apocalyptic stories and games I’m a fan of. I like the tone and atmosphere of that kind of stuff. Stories where people are desperately trying to survive in a very harsh environment. At times, those stories can have a dark sense of humour too, which I like. These kinds of things were the starting point. Then when I started really thinking about what kind of people and places you could have in a place like Afterworld, it opened it up to all kinds of possibilities. So I started looking at historical stuff, horror, crime, all kinds of things. The idea became this thing where you could have a large variety of people and places influenced by many different sources. Instead of having a world where everywhere was relatively similar, it became much more varied. And you’ll see more of that variety later on.

I’d describe Afterworld as a kind of sci-fi gangster book. Lost, well a better version of Lost, meets Good Fellas. How would you describe it to people?

Sci-fi gangster is a good way to describe it initially. But that’s just the start of it as some of the areas in Afterworld will have a vastly different tone to others which will lead to different types of stories. But the one common objective in all areas is “die as little as possible.” I sometimes describe it as, “survival horror set in the afterlife.”
I liked the image on the inside cover of something that appears later in the story (I’m trying hard to spoil). It really made me think “Huh, this is going to be a bit odd”

That was Robert’s idea to put that image on the inside cover and I thought it was a great one. It highlights the fact that in Afterworld you will see all kinds of random things at any given time. It shows something that’s completely out of its normal environment and hints to some degree at the chaotic nature of this world.

The Afterworld seems to be a pretty dangerous place and populated by, well, a bunch of (swear word removed).

It is a very dangerous world where at any moment you can suddenly find yourself fighting for your life. No one’s ever really safe just in less danger. Because Afterworld is such a harsh place, it’s made a lot of the people a certain way. Some people have seen so many horrific things they’re just not affected by much anymore and that can make them seem cold. They have become used to this brutal world. Especially people who have been there for many years. It’s a place full of horrible people for sure, but also people who might not be necessarily bad they’re just doing what they feel they must do to survive. They’re desperate.

I liked the idea that it is full of everyone (and everything) that ever died. It kind of opens it up to interesting possibilities.

When you start thinking about everyone and everything that’s ever died, there’s a lot you can do with that. You have the past and present coexisting which is a fun idea to work with. People have asked me if I will ever include any historical figures and it’s an idea I’ve played around with. Then there’s all kinds of extinct animals that would be scattered around and that has lead to some interesting ideas. Because of all the elements that come with the concept of Afterworld, you will see some pretty unusual things as the story progresses.
You’ve already released a black and white version but you have a colour version (colours by Darren Brown) coming out. When I reviewed it (and when artist Barry Keegan reviewed it in his better review), didn’t think it necessarily needed colour. What was your thinking in deciding to do another version in colour?

Although I think it’s great in black and white, I felt that colour would really add something to it. Especially in the scenes with blood and gore, colour really helps it stand out a bit more. It can make some things have more of an effect. And when I seen Darren Brown’s colours, I knew it was a great decision. He did a fantastic job. His colours with Robert’s art are amazing together.

What are the plans in relation to future issues? You threw in a few hints of what to expect with the story but you have a nice mystery going.

You are going to see new arrivals trying to find their place in Afterworld. They’ll have to decide exactly where they want to fit in. In upcoming issues you will learn more about how Afterworld works and you will find out more about the consequences of dying in this world. I think people are going to be really surprised by what’s coming up!