The acclaimed series The Wicked + The Divine will end in 2019, but there's good news on the horizon for fans of Kieron Gillen's writing. Kieron teamed up with artist Stephanie Hans to create an all-new Image Comics ongoing series called Die. The dark fantasy story line follows a group of adults who find themselves being pulled into a twisted role-playing game's universe that they escaped back when they were kids. Before the debut issue goes on sale, CBR chatted with Kieron and Stephanie about this upcoming series and asked the creative team why fans should check it out.
CBR: "Goth Jumanji." That description alone is going to make some people immediately add Die to their pull list. Others will undoubtedly check it out because they're big fans of your work. But for the fans who may not be familiar with your work or not immediately won over by that amusing description, what is it about Die that should encourage them to give the first issue a shot?
Kieron Gillen: It is a good one-liner, innit? As you've guessed, it's [more] relevant shorthand than the entirety of the beast. The modern Jumanji being released last year was fun in that it's simultaneously a little like some of the things we're doing, but completely the opposite in tone. This is a dark fantasy story for adults, and I suspect my idea of "Dark Fantasy" reads a lot more like Horror to most people.
For more, [what] I'd do is direct folks at the trailer, which should lure people in. For those who don't click: Teenagers mysteriously disappearing when playing a role-playing game back in the '90s. Two years later, they're found, unable to explain where they've been. It's now 2018. They're adults. And they're about to discover their abductor isn't quite finished with them...
Kieron, this is your first ongoing after the acclaimed The Wicked + The Divine. Stephanie, this is your first ongoing. How anxious are both of you to see the reaction from fans and critics? What have your peers said about the first issue?
Gillen: Obviously, it's nerve-racking. Something entirely new and quite different after something that was a runaway success. We're talking the week leading into the pre-orders, which is always the most anxiety-inducing period. But we're proud of the work, and the response of the people we've seen has been pretty overwhelming.
Who liked it? Well, if you even nose at my Twitter stream you'll see me retweeting folks who've read the first issue and tweeted about it. Let's have a think. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ed Brubaker liked it. Marguerite Bennett ("Emotional evisceration awaits. I cannot recommend this highly enough") and Jen Bartel liked it. Doug Brathwaite. Emma Viceli. Gerry Duggan ("everything I love about comics"). Paul Cornell. Jody Hauser. Al Ewing. Jim Zub. Matt Wilson. Critical Role's Taliesin Jaffe liked it and also has playtested the RPG, which was a time. I've shown various folks in gaming as well, who've dug it, too.
Jamie McKelvie also seems to like it, but that may be just because he knows that WicDiv is nearly over and Stephanie drawing Die means he's finally free of me.
Stephanie Hans: I am currently in a strange place right now. I am anxious but not so much. I have been doing interiors for as long as I have been a comic book artist and I trust myself as a narrator. I am more anxious about being able to always convey Kieron's intentions the right way, or be able to achieve the magic that makes a story meet their intended readers. I always thought that there was some kind of miracle at play in any success. The right story, at the right time. It's a bit like when people experience love at first sight, it's a matter of who those both people are at that exact moment and the circumstances in which they meet.