Afterlife Inc. Review
It Is Very Rare That You Find A Graphic Novel Or Indeed Piece Of Literature That Has Something New To Say, But I Believe That Afterlife Inc. Is It...
Title: Afterlife Inc. A Company You Can Believe In
Subtitle: Dying To Tell: Tales From The Afterlife
Publisher: Jon Lock
Written By: Jon Lock
Art and Design by: Ash Jackson, Jack Tempest, Del Borovic, Will Tempest, Roy Huteson Stewart, Jerry Gaylord and Michael Stock
Letters By: Shawn Depasquale
The first thing that hits you when you pick up this graphic novel is that it is extremely well put together for a self-published work. This is not a criticism of self published graphic novels, but many tend to miss out on certain aspects of the process dependent on the expertise of the team involved and their passion for the different aspects that go into a publication. One thing is for sure: Jon Lock’s Afterlife Inc. is the whole package. Everything from the front cover to the bonus illustrations, seasonal comic, character profiles and of course the artwork, lettering and writing scream professionalism, passion and promise.
This debut graphic novel introduces us to the world of Afterlife Inc.: a company set up after a suggested ‘calamity’ which set the afterlife into upheaval. Under the leadership of its visionary CEO, Jack Fortune; a con-artist in life turned businessman in death, Afterlife Inc. has turned death into a new chance, a continuation of life and a 21st Century business. But, as heaven comes to grips with the new management, Jack Fortune and his team of angels, souls and otherworldly creatures must fight to keep their new society in order and business intact.
The novel is split into eight chapters or stories, which ‘can be enjoyed in the order printed or in any order imaginable’. Each unique story delves farther into the wonderful concept of Afterlife Inc. each containing brilliant characterization and surprisingly poignant conclusions. While there is a healthy mix of action and adventure in the story-lines; including one themed around Jack The Ripper and Sherlock Holmes and another around Alice In Wonderland; it is the emotions and pathos of these stories which ultimately deal with death, loss and the hope of another chance which truly effect the readers.
The writing itself is gorgeous. Dealing with film noir stylings one minute; Victorian literature the next and always explaining the ethos of this non-denominational ‘heaven’ (or ‘hell’ dependent on what the soul believes they deserve) in an easy to understand fashion. At no point does Jon Lock talk down to us with his use of literary, political, religious and even technological philosophies. And that is refreshing.
This literary style variation is met with a more obvious artistic style variation, with each story employing a separate artist. This not only creates a different theme and atmosphere to each story, but it also firmly establishes Afterlife Inc. as a professional comic; not needing the trappings of one artist as it is strong enough to get its message across no matter who is drawing for it. That being said the art is of a great quality. The piece that stands out most for me would be ‘Silver Screen’ by Roy Huteson Stewart which plays on the film noir style wonderfully, whilst also challenging conventional narrative art with his use of montage, shadows and scenery to replace the traditional human figure. ‘Elementary’ by Del Borovic borrows stylistically from 19th Century etchings and newspaper illustrations suitable for a story starring the world’s greatest detective. This story must also be praised for having one of the most poignant and tear-jerking endings for any student or admirer of literature as well as the introduction of a heartfelt cameo in the sequel story ‘From Now On’.
While many characters are only touched upon in the series, including Elizabeth, Nuriel, Anahel and Temperance Jones; the inclusion of character descriptions at the end of the novel allow for a great introduction to the main protagonists we can expect in future issues. This also allows for a further display of differing artworks and pin-ups, packing this issue full of everything you could want from an introductory volume. I personally cannot wait to hear more from Temperance Jones: a stereotypical ‘angel’ of hell with a hideous appearance... who heads the afterlife’s first trade union!
The inclusion of a non-denomicational Festive comic at the end of the volume makes for a nice bonus for readers whilst also hitting home the theme of religious ambiguity which I admire most about this book. While a lot of the imagery stems from Western notions of Heaven and Hell, with angels, demons and even the almost Dantean level-system; Lock is always clever enough to not mention the gods who came before the ‘calamity’ making the book not only accessible to a wide audience but also challenging of the fact that we all in fact worship the same deity but in different ways. Indeed, even the souls of aliens, artificial intelligence and otherworldly creatures reside in this afterlife, painting us all as equals.
It is very rare that you find a graphic novel or indeed piece of literature that has something new to say, but I believe that Afterlife Inc. is it. It has taken the popular comic book format and used it to present us with a great piece of writing and storytelling in an accessible way. Essentially, this is what comic books are all about.
Anastasia is a Freelance Illustrator, Writer and Actress based in Wales, UK.
Love it or hate it, leave your comments below !
comments powered by Disqus