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Another Trip to 'The Wrong Earth' with 'Dead Ringers'

We chat with Tom Peyer about his latest trip to 'The Wrong Earth' and what else he's cooking at Ahoy Comics.


The Wrong Earth Tom Peyer

Welcome to our Creator Corner, our reoccurring interview series, where we chat with the coolest and most thought-provoking creators in the industry. In this entry, we're conversing with Tom Peyer about The Wrong Earth: Dead Ringers and everything else he has going on at Ahoy Comics.

 

Comics are fun. When we get a creator on the phone and start bombarding them with our obsessively self-reflective perspective, we often hear them come back at us with, "Well, the comic is a lot of fun, too!" Lol. We try not to feel hurt; we frequently treat these funny books as seriously as every other element in our lives. That's just Comic Book Couples Counseling.


However, it's good to be reminded - comics are fun! AHOY Editor-in-Chief Tom Peyer has been trudging through the comic book trenches for decades. He's seen it all and heard it all. Now, as he steers the AHOY ship, he's most excited to have as much fun with the medium as he can.


Tom Peyer is back with another entry in The Wrong Earth saga, illustrated by Jamal Igle and Juan Castro. In Dead Ringers, the savagely severe Dragonfly finds himself, once again, on Earth-Alpha, home of his far cheerier doppelganger, Dragonflyman. Before, he basically ruled the world, taking advantage of Earth-Alpha's unbreakable optimism. Dragonfly is having less fun this time around because he's stuck alongside Dragonflyman, who can't keep his trap shut.


We chat with Tom Peyer about his return to The Wrong Earth, what he gets out of it, and whether or not something much more serious is happening within its meta context. We also discuss the other projects at AHOY, including The Toxic Avenger by Matt Bors and Fred Harper.


This conversation was edited for time and clarity.

 

Tom Peyer Can't Stay Away from The Wrong Earth


Brad: Like Penultimate Man, you're investigating where we are now with superhero comics versus where we've been. The great thing about The Wrong Earth is that it's like The Dark Knight Returns meets Bill Finger and Bob Kane's Batman, or maybe not that version of Batman, but the Silver Age, goofier Batman, or the Adam West Batman.


Tom Peyer: Right. I like to say that we're mashing up the Comics Code era with the post-Comics Code era. Heroes tend to be remarkably liked heroes from their own era. And so you're going to go from Boy Scouts who salute the flag and help people cross the street to gritty vigilantes who want to stick it to the man. So, it's like the odd couple. Can they get along?


Brad: And what do you get out of The Wrong Earth? What itch does it scratch?


Tom Peyer: I guess it's like when your life flashes before your eyes when you're dying. I get to experience all the comic books I've ever read. I get to think seriously about, well, you mentioned the Adam West era, and that's a real pleasure for me. And also I take pleasure in that it's not a nostalgia act. There's a lot of current elements in there, too.


Brad: Yeah, no, that's absolutely true. And with the concept of "The Reader," who is this cosmic entity that's observing and reading everything, he speaks directly to who we are as comic book consumers right now in the "post-Mylar age," or - I don't know where we are right now.


Tom Peyer: Yeah. I think we name ages most effectively when they're over with.


Brad: True.


Tom Peyer: If you give The Reader cause to hate what you're doing, he will keep reading and let you know.


Brad: Where we are with the series now, in Dead Ringers. we have Dragonfly in the reality of Dragonflyman. So, the gritty version of a superhero is trapped in the '50s, "Golly Gee" version of a superhero universe. It's driving the gritty version absolutely mad. And what I like about Wrong Earth: Dead Ringers is that neither version seems to be the right version. There are elements of both that are attractive.


Tom Peyer: I guess every earth is The Wrong Earth when you think about it.


Brad: Sure.


What Lies Below The Wrong Earth


The Wrong Earth Dead Ringers Tom Peyer Boot
Image Credit © 2024 AHOY Comics

Tom Peyer: This is his second time being trapped on Earth-Alpha. The first time he learned to enjoy it, because he was in charge and people thought he was Dragonflyman, the native hero. And he still sort of sneakily operated as his ultra-violent self, but not for public consumption. He got a girlfriend and he was really starting to enjoy living a life with lower stakes. And this is his second time trapped there, and he's trapped there with Dragonflyman, his campy opposite number, and he's enjoying that experience an awful lot less.


Brad: It's one thing to be in that world alone without your mirror, but then when your mirror is there, no thank you.


Tom Peyer: Well, I think part of it is that it's Dragonflyman's planet, and he's making the rules or feeling like he can, but there's a motivation that will be revealed soon. I think you can sort of see in the first issue that Dragonfly is checked out. He's been a vengeful, angry crusader for justice his whole life, and it's starting to look like he doesn't care anymore, and there's a reason for it, which has to do with coming to this planet that you'll see.


Brad: So for you, from a meta-perspective, is The Wrong Earth just a good time? Or, are you saying something, using this series, about where we are as an industry?


Tom Peyer: Well, not so much about the industry, probably, just more about how things you're not anticipating can really mess up your life. I want to be a little mysterious about it.


Brad: Sure, understandable. And what I've liked about - what I'll call the meta-comics over at Ahoy is that they have a point of view, and they're very playful, but they're ultimately...I feel like they're mostly optimistic.


Tom Peyer: Yeah, you'd say that. Ever since adolescence, it's probably the easiest reflex to be pessimistic, and it's also, I think, very satisfying to the ego to think that you're going to be the last generation ever to live. And so there's definitely space for optimism, even though the world is telling you all the time that there isn't.


Brad: Well, yeah, and let's look at Justice Warriors from Matt Bors and Ben Clarkson. It's hard to find the optimism in Justice Warriors.


Tom Peyer: There isn't.


Brad: Yeah.


Tom Peyer: You can stop looking.


Brad: So, how are you feeling about the industry, the market, and your place within it?


Tom Peyer: Well, I think this is going to be a big year for Ahoy. We're really excited about The Toxic Avenger and about Babs, our series from Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows.


Brad: Yeah, I want to talk about that too.


Tom Peyer: It is a very funny, and again, very satirical and political comedy. A sword and sorcery comedy, and I hope that's big for us because it's really funny and really good. And so we've got a couple of launches that people might notice, and very optimistic about that.


The Wrong Earth, The Toxic Avenger, and Beyond


the wrong earth toxic avenger Tom Peyer
Image Credit © 2024 AHOY Comics

Brad: And your mood right now standing atop of Ahoy, you're feeling very comfortable with where you are and where you're going and where the comics industry is right now and where it's going?


Tom Peyer: I am the last person anybody should talk to about business. A lot of people I know, who are on the creative side, get real pleasure out of talking about the state of the industry, and stuff like that, but to me, it's just not a subject that I warm to. All I really know about the state of the industry is it's been dying for 60 years and as have I, so I feel pretty much in tune with it.


Brad: Yeah, sure.


Tom Peyer: But it really has. I know in the '70s it was dying. It was totally dying in 1994, it was going to go away forever, 30 years ago. So it just seems to be so far unkillable, which I'm very happy about.


Brad: Yeah, I entered the comic book world in the early-90s, and that was the point when everything was golden, and then a few years later, it had blown up and comics were dead. I've been hearing this conversation for decades, I'm exhausted by it. I'm sure you are. Comics just keep on coming, and no matter how they're delivered, they will be delivered.


Tom Peyer: Exactly. I got into this to think about spaceships and monsters, not about grown up stuff.


Brad: Let's talk Toxic Avenger, a property that means a lot to me. How did that end up at Ahoy?


Tom Peyer: Matt Bors, who's writing it, has always wanted to write it, and so he actually made the initial contact with Lloyd Kaufman, whom he met at a Troma convention, and he sort of started the wheels rolling a little.


Brad: Oh, man.


Tom Peyer: He wanted to do it with us, so we were just really happy that we got to make this happen, and Troma seemed happy enough, so we'll see. I think it's going to be great. We have Fred Harper drawing it ,who has previously drawn Snelson. Oh, and that one about the drunken spaceman, Highball. And he's just so good. His drawing is just absolutely impossible to fault, and it's got a surreal bizarreness and a beauty also, which a lot of people don't have.


Brad: Anyone who has read Justice Warriors knows that Matt Bors is the perfect person to write a Toxic Avenger comic.


Tom Peyer: He's such a smart and gifted satirical writer, and I still go back and read the old political cartoons that he did at The Nib, which was his own publication.


Brad: RIP.


Tom Peyer: He's a Go-getter. Honestly, if it were up to me, I would just lay back and wait for other people to do things, but not Matt.


Brad: So with something like Toxic Avenger coming to Ahoy, it just felt like a natural fit?


Tom Peyer: It felt that way. It felt that way because the main part of our philosophy is that we're not allowed to take ourselves seriously or entirely seriously. We can take ourselves a little seriously, depending on the project, but not entirely ever, and we like stories. Toxic is a great vehicle for that. Matt has written some of it already and it's got, if you think it makes corporations look great, you don't know Matt's work.


Brad: Yeah, no. There's the new Toxic Avenger movie that Lisa and I caught at Fantastic Fest last year in Austin, Texas. And the only thing I cared about in a remake of the Toxic Avenger was, is it still as angry as the last one? Are we going for corporations? Are we attacking capitalism with the same gusto? And the remake certainly does, and again, having read Justice Warriors, I know the comic book will, too.


Tom Peyer: Yeah, absolutely. No Chamber of Commerce will be offering this as a brochure.

 

The Wrong Earth: Dead Ringers is now available wherever rad comic books are sold.

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