AfterShock Comics launches its new YA imprint with Steve Orlando, Steve Foxe, and Valentina Brancati's dark fantasy pet adventure.
Sometimes dead is better? No way. Forget that moody Stephen King trauma. We don't need another Pet Sematary in the world. We need Rainbow Bridge.
The new graphic novel (set for release on 8/4/21) from AfterShock Comics is scheduled to launch their new Young Adult imprint, Seismic Press, and we're positively buzzing over it. Rainbow Bridge is written by Steve Orlando and Steve Foxe and illustrated by Valentina Brancati. So, you're talking about three folks who've had a hand in producing some of the best Steven Universe comics, our much-adored Midnighter & Apollo mini-series, and Les Ravenroft (a comic so good, you'll want to score the French edition now - don't worry if you don't speak the language).
Here's the gist: young Andy is lost without his pup, Rocket. They were besties, and facing the everyday problems of life seems all the more unbearable now that the beloved friend is no longer around to lend comfort. Before Andy begins a new year at school, he pays a visit to Rocket's grave. The action accidentally summons the Rainbow Bridge and the grand afterlife for pets that lurks beyond it. There is joy to be had, but Andy and Rocket must also fend against the dark forces mounting at the gate.
Take a peek at the gallery below. Brancati's pages are irresistible. They're bright, cartoony, and filled with emotion. The acting on display is top-tier. You already get who these characters are without one featured word. Phenomenal.
RAINBOW BRIDGE OGN / $16.99 / 120 pages / Color / On Sale 8.04.21
Writers: Steve Orlando & Steve Foxe
Artist: Valentina Brancati
Color Artist: Manuel Poppo
Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover: Valentina Brancati w/ Manuel Poppo
What if you got one last adventure with your best friend?
Andy and Rocket grew up together, with Rocket serving as Andy’s guardian through every one of childhood's ups and downs. So, when Rocket passes away right before Andy’s 14th birthday, he's rudderless. He can't imagine making the transition to high school without Rocket at his side. The day before school starts, when Andy is at his lowest, he visits Rocket’s grave and unexpectedly summons the RAINBOW BRIDGE, a gateway to a fantasy world where pets discover their afterlife. But there’s a dark shadow to this paradise, and without Andy’s help, Rocket’s eternity may be grim…
The first graphic novel from AfterShock’s new YA imprint, Seismic Press, RAINBOW BRIDGE was conceived and written by Steve Orlando (PROJECT PATRON, KILL A MAN, Midnighter) and Steve Foxe (Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Grumpy Cat) with art byValentina Brancati (Les Ravencroft, Ghost Writer). Published in the category standard size of 6.5” x 9.5”, this 120-page OGN will resonate with anyone who has ever had to say goodbye to a beloved pet – or who has greeted growing up with nervousness and anxiety.
STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXES ON SOME OF THE INSPIRATIONS BEHIND CREATING THE BOOK:
“Both of us Steves are dog people—Steve Orlando has a corgi, in fact. And being a dog person unfortunately means knowing your best friend is going to leave you before it feels fair. But having animals in your life, whether it’s for 14 years or 14 days, is a friendship and a bond like no other. We wanted to explore that bittersweet fact for sure, but also celebrate the friendship and wonder inherent in having a childhood pet.
Wouldn’t YOU do anything for one last adventure with your best friend?”
STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXE ON THEIR APPROACH TO WRITING COMICS WHEN IT COMES TO THE YOUNG ADULT (YA) AUDIENCE:
“Younger readers are looking for the same thing any reader wants to see: good stories done well. But writing for teens and preteens also means getting to be a little more emotionally forward—these are the years of our lives where everything can feel like the ONLY thing, whether that’s losing a friend or starting a new school or trying to figure out your feelings about another kid in your class.
So we don’t write “down” to younger readers, but we do enjoy getting to go big and bold and hit the emotional beats hard, since our main audience is here for stories that make them think and make them feel something.”
STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXE ON THE FIRST COMIC THEY EVER READ, AND IF THEY HAVE A MOST FAVORITE?”
“The Steve pod will have to split up for this one!
Steve Orlando: The first comic I ever read was West Coast Avengers #16, a Tale of Two Kitties! And perhaps that cat-themed issues ended up being prescient, since here we are launching a pet-themed fantasy epic. As far as my favorite, it was, and likely always will be, Flex Mentallo - an unruly ode to the wonder of imagination, and the deliverance comics can offer outsides hungry for acceptance and community.
Steve Foxe: As a kid of the very late eighties, I grew up with X-Men: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series, so you’d better believe I was grabbing every stray issue of the source material I could find. But I should also give a nod to Garfield, which I would read out loud with a friend on the bus in elementary school, taking turns over who got to be which character. There are so many avenues into comics, it really doesn’t matter where you START, as long as you keep going.
As for a favorite comic for kids, it’s hard to choose—but also hard to beat the pure storytelling genius of classic Scrooge McDuck comics from Carl Barks, and later Don Rosa. Talk about timeless.”
STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXE ON (3) REASONS WHY COMIC READERS SHOULD PICK THIS BOOK UP:
“Everything else aside, the team of Valentina Brancati on line art, Manual Puppo on colors, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou on lettering blows us away with every single page. The phrase, “an animated movie on the page” gets thrown around a lot...but sometimes it’s true! Anything us Steves thought up has been elevated by their hard work on RAINBOW BRIDGE, and readers are really going to flip for the fun and whimsy of the Forever Fields.
We really poured our dog-loving hearts into the story of Rocket and Andy and the other pets they meet along the way, so we hope other animal lovers will get that same swell of emotion when they pick up RAINBOW BRIDGE. We both spent a lot of time hugging our dogs after writing each chapter.
Finally, we’re just thrilled to be part of the launch of Seismic Press, and to see another publisher make a serious effort to reach younger readers. We love comics for every age range, but getting new readers into sequential storytelling is how we make sure the medium and the market are strong and supported for many years to come.
We hope readers will pick up RAINBOW BRIDGE and the other Seismic titles and share them with younger readers in their life, so that this corner of comics only gets bigger and more inclusive over time.”