Review: Afterlife Inc - Dying to Tell / Written by: Jon Lock / Illustrated by: Various Artists / Published by: Jon Lock Comics / Release Date: 25th Feb
Imaginative, colourful and eclectic, Afterlife Inc: Dying To Tell reprints the dazzling webcomic created by Jon Lock and an assortment of polished artists. When corporate con-artist Jack Fortune’s life is cut short he finds something of a power-vacuum in the afterlife, spelling opportunity for an entrepreneurial soul. In a world where anything goes the time is ripe for modernisation, and Jack Fortune is just the man to lead the charge.
I met Jon Lock at Thought Bubble last year and frankly when he showed me samples of material from Afterlife Inc. I was surprised that there wasn’t already a publisher attached. Every aspect of this title shows a deftness of hand, from the patient and measured plotting and the thoughtful but varied cast to the rotating artists producing work that is never less than at a professional level. Despite being completely independent the closest parallels that I could draw for Afterlife Inc. are not with the usual British small press strips or even with some of the more polished web-comics being created by the Sweatdrop crowd; more than anything else Afterlife Inc. feels like something that Image or Wildstorm would traditionally have published. There’s a gleeful invention to the character designs based on Lock’s idea that this is an afterlife for creatures of all manner of species and religious designations. By allowing the protagonists from each issue to shape the creation of their own unique afterlife Lock turns the high number of artists into an asset for the series, capturing completely different vibes with each story and letting each artist play to their own strengths.
With an accessible plot, a largely upbeat tone and a surfeit of creativity at play Afterlife Inc. is a world that really deserves a visit. The artists vary from issue to issue but all largely project that Joe Madureira style, bringing manga sensibilities to the kind of layouts normally reserved for the boldest of superheroes. It isn’t often clear to me how comic creators make the leap from self-published to working for the big Western publishers, but Afterlife Inc. shows all the traits that Marvel and DC should be looking for in their fresh blood.