What mystery lies on the other side of the afterlife?
That’s the question that Brandon Chen, Fred Packard, and Anderson Carman seek to answer in The Oblivion Trials, available now in comic shops everywhere.
After his own abrupt death, Kiko finds himself whisked to an ethereal world into the boat of Charon, a deity that presents him with a choice that will decide his eternal fate. In this new world of terrifying creatures, Kiko must face monsters from his greatest nightmares as he searches for the fabled Light.
After an exciting debut, the creative team sat down to answer some of our burning questions in anticipation of The Oblivion Trials #2
The Oblivion Trials is written by Brandon Chen and Fred Packard with art by Anderson Carman. How did this team come together?
Fred: Brandon and I met on Instagram back when I was writing my Skylin series (also published by Source Point Press) and he had interest in breaking into western comics. Brandon, at the time, wrote a few novels and was beginning to dabble in Webtoons. He created a one-shot story set in our Skylin universe and I was thoroughly impressed with his writing abilities. We decided to work on a story together and he brought in Anderson, an artist he met through social media. While we were putting this series together Brandon became a full time writer working on various Webtoon series and this is Anderson’s first published comic book series! It’s been a blast working with both of them and something that helped us all through the pandemic.
Brendan, you’ve been writing scrolling webcomics like God Game, The Mad Gate, and more for years now. What made you want to make the jump from scrolling comics to a traditional format?
Brandon: I think Webtoons are quite unique in that they feel like you’re watching a screenplay, because you’re witnessing one panel at a time. However, there are also limitations to this digital-focused medium. For one, the “episodes” are shorter than traditional comic chapters. There are also different story-telling and art tactics, such as utilizing splash pages or superimposing characters over panels that can really make traditional comics tell certain scenes with stronger impact than scrolling comics.
Though, this isn’t my first time writing comics for printed format. Before I ever started vertical webcomics, I was actually writing primarily for the manga space, which is black and white and optimized for print. Now, it feels like writing for American comics is the fusion between my experience with manga and Webtoons, creating colored comics optimized for print. At the end of the day, my goals are to create intellectual property that can span across many mediums, whether they be American Comics, vertical Webtoons, Manga or others!
Why does this story work better in a traditional format, rather than the scrolling format? How is the writing process different?
Brandon: I wouldn’t say this story couldn’t be translated to a Webtoon format. However, the way The Oblivion Trials is currently written is optimized for longer chapters and not episodic. To create a Webtoon would require a longer overall story arc with shorter episodes. I think Anderson’s talent in creating this psychedelic environment in The Oblivion Trials allows for really interesting panels that would pop out on the page. With the story arc of The Oblivion Trials being on the shorter side, it didn’t make sense to really have it be a vertical Webtoon.
The writing process, when thinking about writing for traditional comics vs vertical Webtoons, usually the biggest factor is thinking about flow on a page. Writing for Webtoons is similar to writing for screenplays; the reader is only seeing one “screen” or panel at a time. But for printed traditional comics, the reader is seeing multiple panels at once on a page. Thus, I think panel composition is really something that a writer needs to think more heavily about when writing for print.
The Oblivion Trials asks the question “What mystery lies on the other side of the afterlife?” What brought you to that question? What sort of research inspired your depiction of the afterlife.
Fred: It’s fascinating that there are so many cultures with varying beliefs on what happens to you after you die. So we asked ourselves the question, what if all Gods were real and all belief systems existed and were true in their own way?
We were able to take bits and pieces from different cultures’ afterlife scenarios and play with them, and we got to explore and mix and match things to create our unique universe.
We stripped that down and created a “Hunger Games” style scenario set in Oblivion, the limbo between our world and the actual afterlife.
The afterlife in The Oblivion Trials is clearly influenced by Greek mythology but there’s a psychedelic tilt to it as well. Can you elaborate on the worldbuilding process?
Anderson: The world of Oblivion is very eclectic. Yes, it is rooted in Greek mythology, but more than anything it is meant to be simply unnatural. I wanted it to feel familiar to the characters, but also just slightly askew. The flora and fauna embody this idea by being mostly recognizable but with a few oddities like three-eyed skulls and walking trees. The colors of Oblivion are pushed to feel psychedelic and other-worldly. The vibrancy of the hues would never be seen in our world, and it serves to add to that queasy sense of unease that our characters are experiencing.
The Oblivion Trials #2 will be in comic book stores everywhere Jul. 27 and is available for pre-order now with Previews code: MAY221748.