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It's the right time to discuss THE WRONG EARTH: DEAD RINGERS with Tom Peyer and Jamal Igle

Over the better part of a decade, AHOY Comics has grown to encompass dozens of different titles. Interviews Editor, Andrew Irvin, is joined today by Tom Peyer and Jamal Igle to reflect on their latest installment of the comic that started everything off in 2018 - The Wrong Earth. Join us for a chat on the background behind the newest tales of The Wrong Earth: Dead Ringers.

 

COMIC BOOK YETI: Tom, Jamal - welcome to the Yeti Cave. I’m happy to have the chance to learn a bit more about your latest release with AHOY Comics, The Wrong Earth: Dead Ringers. How’s everything going back in the States?



TOM PEYER: Swell as always. You know the States. Never a problem. 


JAMAL IGLE: All good on my end as well. I just finished my teaching for the second year at New York’s School of the Visual Arts, corrupting.. I mean educating the next generation of comic book artists.



CBY: Glad to hear you two are keeping things in order! I don’t always get to interview a writer/artist duo, and you’ve both had storied careers in the comics industry for decades. I know you both spent some of your early days at DC, but when did you initially cross paths, and how did the conversation around this collaboration begin?



JI: I only knew Tom and his work as a fan initially, but we had common friends in Stuart Moore, Frank Cammuso and Mark Waid. Which is weird because people always assume that I already know everybody. How it started was because of a muffin.

Okay, let me backtrack a bit. There’s a pie shop in my neighborhood that I occasionally frequent and so does the aforementioned Stuart Moore, and I happened to be walking in one day as Stuart was leaving and mentioned that Tom had a project that he was interested in talking to me about. The rest is history.


TP: That’s the story right there. Over the years I have saved roughly one zillion dollars on conventions and travel just by knowing Stuart, who is the greatest networker of all time, the Networking Elemental. He knows everyone. And recommending Jamal for this shows how good his taste is. 

I shudder to think of how much worse The Wrong Earth would have been without Jamal. Besides the plainly evident energy he puts into his work, the ideas he contributed were really key. Using dragonflies, for example. I was going to use dogs, which would have been a joke on top of a joke. Just awful. 



CBY: Credit to Stuart for connecting the dots, it seems! Tom, I’ll note that The Wrong Earth: Dead Ringers is a project where you’ve got both creative and editorial hands on the wheel, which you and Jamal created back with the initial release of The Wrong Earth #1 in 2018. There’s a brief recap at the start of issue #1, but as the latest narrative arc amongst the various limited series offerings you’ve created since, what else might readers like to know if they’re jumping in now without having digested the previous installments?



TP: The series is sort of a distillation of superhero comics from the start until now. We’ll have the upstanding, flag-saluting, code-approved mythos of the first 45 years or so butting up against the gritty, stick-it-to-the-man, I’m-the-best-there-is-at-what-I-do world of the last 40. So we have Earth-Alpha, which is a sunny place where not much happens that’s all that bad, and Earth-Omega, where life is cheap and the authorities are on the take. The crusading Dragonflyman hails from the former, and Dragonfly is the ultraviolent product of the latter. 


JI: So now everyone is back on Earth- Alpha, land of sunshine, Tommy guns and gumdrops. However, not all is groovy in Fortune City as the guys have to figure out how to co-exist on a single world. 



CBY: Thanks for summing it up, guys. While The Wrong Earth represents a creative partnership between the two of you, you’ve brought on a variety of other creatives and production personnel to bring this title to market, including Juan Castro (inking), Lee Loughridge (colors), and Rob Steen (lettering) on your main story. You’ve also included a couple additional stories following the main feature, written by James Finn Garner and Bryce Ingman, with illustrations by Shannon Wheeler and Joe Orsak, respectively, as well as an alternative cover by Felipe Sobreiro, design work from John J. Hill, logo design from Todd Klein, and production support from Rob Steen. Can you share a bit about how everyone got involved in this title?



TP: Juan was the inker Jamal wanted, and he was right. Rob letters and produces nearly every AHOY comic; we’d fall apart without him. Lee joined the team pretty recently; he’s The Wrong Earth’s Cousin Oliver. Todd and John did their work at the very beginning, and it's held up beautifully. We always have illustrated prose stories or poems or humor pieces in the back of our books; if you’re going to spend on an AHOY Comic, we don’t want the experience to go by too fast. We want you for your whole lunch hour. 



CBY: Clearly The Wrong Earth has proved fertile ground as a space in which to stage your narratives. Can you tell us a bit about forthcoming plans for additional aspects of Dead Ringers without giving too much away, and given the rather open-ended multidimensional characteristics of your narrative world, do you anticipate a denouement for these characters in a culminating edition, or will it remain an open-ended title to return to whenever you can both agree on a compelling adventure to bring to the page?



JI: I’m always up for more Wrong Earth as long as my schedule is clear and Tom and I can bring the same enthusiasm to it each time.


TP: What Jamal said. And I can’t tease any Dead Ringers spoilers, because what’s about to happen is too big!



CBY: I suppose our readers will just have to indulge their curiosity! As both of you have extensive experience with a variety of comic publishers, can you tell me a bit more about how AHOY Comics sets itself apart from others in the industry? Tom, as Editor-in-Chief at AHOY, what sort of creative and editorial decisions have you been afforded that make the role more appealing than being part of a larger industry apparatus like those you’ve contributed to in previous years? Jamal, as a creator who gets hired out on other projects, as well, what sort of freedom is afforded by working with Tom on your own project?



TP: DC and Marvel do shared universes beautifully; no one will ever beat them at that game, so we took another, often more humorous approach. And it has advantages. No AHOY writer will ever have to interrupt or distort their story to accommodate a crossover. I’ll never tell them that they can’t send their characters to Las Vegas because we put an impenetrable dome over it in another comic. The story you’re reading is the whole world. And entertainment is the prime directive, always. 


JI: Pretty much everything involved with the series is something I either had a hand in either directly creating or influencing, so that’s a big deal for me. It’s also given me the opportunity to experiment in ways that working on other projects would not have afforded me in the same way. 



CBY: There’s clearly a lot of meta-cognition of tropes from various other superhero comics injected into The Wrong Earth narrative. You even take a few swings at AHOY’s catalog for good measure. Having both worked on mainstream superhero titles, what conventions of the genre are your favorite targets for lampooning and re-framing when you have free rein to build a story?



TP: The characters, their feelings, the assumptions they go on. It’s always so rich in comics from every period. I mentioned “I’m the best there is at what I do,” Wolverine’s catchphrase. I love it because, in real life, people who talk about themselves that way always turn out to be pretty bad at what they do. Watch out for it. 

And I have affection for a particular Silver Age Superman panel, where he’s in flight, leading a parade, and holding a big American flag on a pole, and Perry White is for some reason dressed as a soldier and riding a horse in the parade, and his horse is about to buck him, and Superman thinks, “Perry’s in a jam! I’ve got to help him, but I can’t drop this flag without desecrating it!” That’s an Earth-Alpha moment if I ever saw one. 

But the Silver Age wasn’t all silliness. There was some really extreme drama. One of my first comics, Superman v1 #137, ends with the villain realizing that his criminal parents never loved him, they were just manipulating him into doing evil, so he kills them, and himself. I was six years old when I read that, and I was like, whoa. 


JI: For me the overall silliness of the Superhero genre, especially considering my love of Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Captain America and Batman as characters. Growing up in the late 70’s-early 80’s, I was surrounded by superhero media that looked amateurish in some respects to what we have now but there was a charm to it all that I adore, particularly the comics. Then as a teenager in the 80’s when Frank Miller’s Dark Knight came out and Killing Joke, etc, there was a seismic shift in what people thought superheroes were supposed to be about. So I think I’ve been letting all of that percolate in my brain for this long and everything I think about what comics were, what they are, and what they can be goes into how I tell this story.


CBY: There's clearly a huge wellspring to draw from between your joint experience. As for novel devices in your comic, the mirror mechanics provide a huge amount of narrative and visual freedom to play with - when you are discussing the various iterations of Earth to depict, what goes into creating unified, cohesive distinctions between the worlds these characters inhabit? What sort of methods do you both use to anchor the action within the worlds where it takes place at any given time?



JI: For me, sometimes it’s about finding symmetry, either in particular characters or how I layout the story. Also in playing with how characters are drawn. I’m not on the level of J.H. Williams with that sort of thing but I try to find ways to draw each character a bit differently.


TP: Jamal is being too modest here. Earth-Alpha and Earth-Omega are production designed within an inch of their lives, thanks to him. My job is easier. “Oh, let’s not have sound effects on Earth-Omega. They’re for babies.”



CBY: If you have to play by the rules, it helps if you're the ones writing the rulebook! To follow up on the creative process, what sort of scripting/artistic feedback process do you find works best for the two of you in collaborating? What specificity goes into the script before you start passing things over to Jamal, Tom - and Jamal, what does your visual ideation and drafting process look like, technically speaking, on your way to finished artwork ready for print layouts?



TP: I write a full script, pages broken into panels. Jamal can challenge what I give him; the main thing is, I don’t want to do an incomplete job and leave him holding the bag. Although I kind of did that on Dead Ringers #3. You’ll see.  


JI: I tend to be exceedingly methodical. After I receive the script, the first thing is to find appropriate reference for what’s taking place, then I thumbnail the entire issue in a day, working quickly to get ideas down for how much space I’ll require, pacing, etc. Once the thumbnails are approved by Tom, I layout the entire story, which usually takes about a week. After that I pencil the pages and send them to Juan Castro to ink them from the blue line scans.



CBY: I’ve mentioned both of your professional experience and pedigree of publications, but diving a bit deeper, I note a lot of reference back to some of the Silver Age camp, particularly marked on the DC side of the spectrum. What are the most common reference points for your work as you guide the further development of this narrative world and the characters within? What sort of shared influences do you often touch upon when discussing this title with others involved in its production?



JI: Tom is a few years older but we grew up with a lot of the same comics , cartoons, films and T.V. shows. I’m a 70’s-80’s kid, so it’s not hard for Tom to relate something to me and I already know what he’s asking for. We also have very similar senses of humor as well, so that helps.


TP: Yeah, we both know the comic book universes pre-Dark Knight and post. Comics is a community, so certain ideas will be so prevalent in their time, it’s almost a herd mentality. So if you’re making fun of a Silver Age Batman riff, I can guarantee that the joke also applies to Giant-Man and the Fly and pretty much every superhero title of the period. Same for the comics universes after, say, Watchmen.



CBY: Tropes can certainly be grouped by how they phase in and out of popularity, it seems. As always, I like to offer creators an opportunity to make mention of other creative work unrelated to the title at-hand that our readers should check out. What comics, films, books, music, etc. are catching your attention lately and inspiring you?



TP: A few friends and I recently watched Jarrett, a 1973 TV movie starring Glenn (Pa Kent) Ford and Yvonne (Batgirl) Craig. It’s not good—in fact, it’s quite bad—but it’s short, and fast-paced, and there’s a comics twist near the end that will drop your jaw. It just left Tubi, alas, but there’s a slightly blurrier file on YouTube. It’s rare for me to recommend an unauthorized stream, but I can’t imagine any media company actually caring if they own this. 


JI: I’ve been catching up on some television shows like Resident Alien, Loudermilk, and Delicious in Dungeon. I also love documentaries about weird things like cults and reality shows. I also watch a lot of professional wrestling, both old and new.



CBY: Tom and Jamal, thanks for the recommendations, and it’s been a pleasure having you visit the Yeti Cave today! If you’ve got links you’d like to share to portfolios, publications, and social media, please feel free to include them for our readers here!



TP: We’re at comicsahoy.com, @ahoy_comics on Instagram, @ahoycomicmags on Twitter, ComicsAHOY on Facebook, and @ahoycomicmags.bsky.social. Whew! And you can find me @tompeyer.bluesky.social


JI: You can find everything at JamalIgle.com. That will take you to my portfolio, appearance schedule and my social media.


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