This post-modern revamp of the classic tale will brim with hellish apparitions like the original, but they will take the form of out-there celebrities and oddballs and the narrative themes will focus more on contemporary philosophical issues such as internet culture and personal identity to the silliness of vanity and pretension. Thompson and Nadler took inspiration from Dante’s original and augmented it to reflect a hellscape consistent with a human race that no longer sanctifies biblical tropes nor fears sin — in fact, they say they want to present a Hell which would reflect a humanity where classical conceptions of sin are so insignificant that what was once considered grounds for damnation has now become rote. Modernism, rather than religion, seems to be the fuel for this update to what is now one of the most prototypical and influential of stories.
In addition to the updated themes, the protagonist has also been modified to focus on the strength and love of mothers. The protagonist is dedicated to her family and the resolve she wields to make it through Hell is powered by her devotion and duty to her family, rather than to God. Thompson, Nadler, and Charles all have strong relationships with their mothers and wanted to craft a protagonist who’d pay homage to their own nurturers and for whom it would make sense to travel through Hell. They say they want to create a deeply personal hero and story while drawing inspiration from Dante’s text, but simultaneously want to push the literary and conceptual boundaries of the comic book format.
The team is working closely together to create distinctly surreal and experimental panel layouts that will complement the individuality of the plot and reflect their desire to create a comic that stands out on the shelf, both literarily and visually.
With a strong sense of tradition and historical influence combined with particularly modern themes and a close-to-home protagonist, “Her Infernal Descent” looks like a strong start to a rich partnership between Thompson and Nadler and AfterShock. We’ve attached a press release with an interview, and pages of colored and uncolored art below:
Writers: Lonnie Nadler & Zac Thompson
Artist: Kyle Charles
Colorist: Jordan Boyd
Letterer: Ryan Ferrier
Cover A: Kyle Charles w/ Jordan Boyd
Cover B: Robert Hack
A tale of loss told in five parts. Any good mom would march through the inferno of HELL to get her family back.
Unable to cope with the burden of grief, a middle-aged mom descends the nine circles of hell to retrieve her forsaken family. Guided by the ghosts of William Blake and Agatha Christie, this no-nonsense mother journeys deep into a bizarre underworld filled with celebrity sinners, surreal landscapes, and absurd tasks. “Her Infernal Descent” is a retelling of Dante’s Inferno that updates the themes for a modern audience.
From the writers of the break-out hit “The Dregs,” and the artist of “Roche Limit,” this is HELL like you’ve never seen before.
QUOTES FROM LONNIE NADLER AND ZAC THOMPSON:
On what the project is about and why they’re excited about it-
LONNIE– “The short and easy answer is that ‘Her Infernal Descent’ is about a middle-aged mother who ventures through the nine circles of hell in attempt to get her family back. However, looking below the surface reveals that it’s about a lot more than that. It’s partially a response to Dante’s Inferno, rewriting it and exploring and updating the famous nine circles of hell for a modern audience. We really took a deep dive into Dante’s work and thought about how we could make this hellish landscape of sin relevant in a world where traditional, biblical sins have become commonplace. I dare say they’re even somewhat pleasurable for most people. This allows us to dive into things like online dating, the foodie lifestyle, self-obsession, sexual ideologies, politics, literacy, and so on. We’re really excited about getting to create our own version of hell and we promise it’s like nothing people have ever seen before. It’s not just eternal fires and rotting bodies, but there’s a much weirder spin on this underworld as the series moves forward. But probably the biggest reason we’re excited about the book is that it’s an extremely personal story for Zac, Kyle, and I in that it’s a tribute to our amazing mothers who have played a big role in our lives. I lost my mom a few years ago and writing this has been a cathartic experience that’s helped me come to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today without her influence.”Continued below
ZAC– “I grew up being raised by only my mother after my father suffered a massive stroke when I was seven. Throughout my life I’ve been inspired by her strength to raise myself and my two brothers single handedly. ‘Her Infernal Descent’ came from thinking about a character like that in a world like Diablo. Lonnie and I both have strong relationships to our mothers, so we thought what better tribute than sending a middle aged mom into something horrific and harrowing. We both knew that we wanted that central character to be unlike anything people have seen before and in putting the project together we knew we had to model the book off of Dante’s Inferno. We consumed the epic poem and found ways to twist the familiar story within the context of our modern world while bringing our own set of unique influences. It’s deeply personal and completely surreal. I couldn’t be more proud of this insane book and I’m so excited to share it with people.”
On how the experience has been working with AfterShock Comics-
LONNIE– “It’s been overwhelmingly positive, in all honesty. We feel so fortunate to be working with such a young but growing company and to be part of their roster of amazing talent. Mike Marts has been welcoming since day one, and empowered us to tell the stories we want to tell with little interference. It’s a bit odd because we’ve been big fans of so many books that Mike has worked on over his insane career, and that he puts so much trust in us as young writers is incredibly motivating. Lee Kramer and the rest of the gang have also been amazing to work with. There’s a real sense of kindness and care at the company, and that’s a big part of why we’re thrilled to be working with them on a multi-book deal.”
ZAC– “Mike and the team at AfterShock have been incredibly nurturing from day one. Lonnie and I don’t exactly create the most conventional comic books and AfterShock actually saw this as a strength. We’ve been fortunate that they’ve encouraged us to take risks and try something new with ‘Her Infernal Descent.’ Not only that, but they’ve been incredibly supportive in every part of the process – answering all of our insane questions along the way. Mike and Lee have made our comics better and guided us toward hitting our own personal goals with the project. It’s been a dream come true.”
On why “Her Infernal Descent” should be added to readers pull lists-
LONNIE– “Every issue we’ll be experimenting with format and structure. We’ve set some strict rules for ourselves here with only using 9 panel grids and 5 panel pages, which we only break when absolutely necessary. Kyle is doing some of the best work of his career and adopted or strict rules in really unique ways. We’re all trying hard to deliver comics that not only have an engaging plot, but use the comic book format to compliment the story. It’s the kind of stuff Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman pushed for in the late 80s, and we’re just trying to capture even the slightest spark of those works that inspired us. So if you miss that old Vertigo stuff, we think you’ll really love what we have in store.”
ZAC– “For people who loved ‘The Dregs,’ ‘Her Infernal Descent’ is an expansion on that weird fiction tone. This book is a love letter to literature as well as a meditation on loss. It’s an immersive and experimental journey through hell that should be unlike any other book on the stands. We’ve gone out of our way to meticulously design every page with Kyle into something that is uniquely strange. He’s bringing himself to the page in a very real way, some of his work here is absolutely mind blowing. This book is Lonnie and I at our most experimental without any limitations and Kyle is responding with pages that up the ante in every way. So much of ‘Her Infernal Descent’ is born out of testing limits – our own limits as storytellers and the limits of the comic book medium.”Continued below
On how it feels to be the first writers that AfterShock Comics have signed a multi-book deal with:
ZAC– Honestly, we’re a little floored. This is an incredible opportunity for new writers such as ourselves. From the get go, AfterShock has been really receptive to Lonnie and I’s strange voice as storytellers. They only want to help us champion our insane and challenging ideas we’ve brought to the table. The next few books we have in the pipeline with them are all very different and couldn’t have a home anywhere else. We’re thrilled to develop a strong body of work within the publisher and know that readers will be able to find our work at AfterShock for the next two years.”
LONNIE– “As Zac said, we couldn’t be more excited about this. We’ve been pinching ourselves every few weeks because 2017 was such a remarkable year for us. AfterShock put their faith in us and encourage us at every turn, and we couldn’t ask for more. We’re just so happy to be part of the family and to get acquainted with the ever-growing AfterShock readership. We promise, we have exciting things in the works.”