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Forget the suicide scene on page two: “Parting Ways” writer Andrew Foley declares his 152-page black-and-white tome a comedy. Well, a dark comedy.
“It’s the quest of the body to find what’s wrong with his life, while the soul has to figure out how to appreciate what he had,” Foley says. “I think it’s funny, anyway. Making light of darkness is sometimes the only way to dealing with some pretty bleak things, without being overwhelmed by them.”
In “Parting Ways,” Peter Orbach commits suicide. When he dies, his soul is carted off to Hell. Hell, appropriately, is a cubicle-riddled landscape filled with aimless workers doomed to spend eternity shuffling papers for a bull-headed boss. Imagine the movie “Office Space” if it were told by Dante.
Meanwhile, back at Orbach’s lifeless body, fate intervenes. His girlfriend finds him dangling from a rope in her studio, and defying the laws of nature… she revives him. Now, Orbach again lives, but as a soulless version. The soulless Orbach doesn’t walk around with a limp hungering for brains – instead, he accomplishes every grand plan Orbach wanted to do while living. Only he doesn’t seem to enjoy any of it.
“Parting Ways is the story of two characters who are different aspects of a single person, each on their own quest. A body without a soul, which has attained everything he ever wanted, has to figure out why he can’t enjoy them. Meanwhile, the soul has to go to Hell and back to understand and appreciate what he had, and gave up,” Foley says. “Even if they manage to make the discoveries necessary to understand the nature of their plights, there’s a major stumbling block for them to do anything about it in the form of the Dis Corporation.”
Yes, Hell is now under corporate management. The Dis Co., named after a city in the Divine Comedy, recently pulled off a hostile takeover of the Inferno. Now under new management, many of Hell’s rules have been changed, the staff in charge of punishing (or “rehabilitating,” as the corporation would have it) damned souls has been cut back, leaving its employees struggling to meet arbitrarily-imposed quotas.
“Parting Ways” is Foley’s first comic, and he teams up with Scott Mooney (“Diaries of a Moon-Man”) on pencils and Nick Craine (“X-Statix”) on inks. The book will be available in early August from Speakeasy Comics, is 152-pages and retails for $12.99. Speakeasy Comics and Foley have provided CBR with a 24-page preview, available here.
“I first got the idea about ten years ago, and the first couple pages have been the same ever since,” Foley says, happy to see his book finally reaching the printed page. “Elements of the book have changed as time went on… the ending changed several times, depending on my mood.”
“It’s a tricky book to try and explain, but it’s basically about a bunch of people that are unhappy, and they don’t understand why they are unhappy,” Foley says, pausing. “There is an element of satire on the corporate approach to life. It breaks down to, if that’s the lifestyle you have to live, you might be better off without a soul.”
“Some people recognize what it means to be happy,” Foley says. “If you know what it will take to be happy, and yet you don’t make any changes to be happy, then why? The book delves into that. And hopefully, while we’re doing that, the reader is enjoying the balance of a serious subtext with dark humor.”