Writer Peter Milligan (OUT OF BODY, Shade the Changing Man, X-Force) and artist Piotr Kowalski (JOIN THE FUTURE, Sex) are shaking things up with God of Tremors, a one shot from Aftershock due this August. It’s the story of Aubrey, a 19th century boy whose epilepsy is mistaken as possession by a demon – but a grotesque pagan effigy nearby may have more to reveal about his illness. It’s “a singular tale of nightmarish terror and creeping enlightenment told against a backdrop of ignorance and brutality.”
According to Milligan, “It’s a story of dark secrets, shameful longings and terrifying changes. A Gothic tale of isolation and horror. Aubrey is a young man living in a straight-laced, 19th century English Victorian world, whose father is a vicar, renowned for his fiery speeches against the evils of new scientific ideas. When Aubrey has his first epileptic seizure it begins a harrowing series of ‘exorcisms’, as both Aubrey and his father are convinced his condition is the work of the devil. Hidden away in his father’s country estate, Aubrey’s only release is walking in the wild woods that surround the house. It’s deep in these woods that Aubrey discovers an ancient stone pagan effigy that slowly changes his and all his family’s lives.
Of the genesis of God of Tremors, he says, “I’m really excited about this book because it’s been brewing in my head for a little while and last year it really came into focus and begged to be written. Though set many years ago it’s an incredibly personal story for me and I think addresses many issues that the modern audience will relate to.”
Milligan, the legendary writer behind X-Force, Shade the Changing Man and countless other comics classics, drew upon several literary influences – but also his own epilepsy. “I’ve always liked the story by the great short story writer Saki, called ‘Sredni Vashtar.’ It’s about a sickly child who invents a religion around a pet pole cat. It has trademark Saki mix of Edwardian decency and horror. ‘God of Tremors’ is very different but I liked the idea of a boy whose life has suddenly been changed by his epilepsy finding a strange and brutal deity who might take the place of his father’s god.
“The personal comes from the epilepsy. I’m epileptic and for a few years it’s been well-controlled by drugs and I’ve been free of any major seizures. Last year my neurologist tweaked my medication – for reasons I won’t go into here – which resulted in two quick-fire and nasty seizures, one of which put in me in hospital. It was during this time, with that strange proximity to seizures, that ‘God of Tremors,’ for so long lying incomplete in my subconscious, came fully into focus.”
“This book works on a few levels,” he continues. “Yes, it’s a character-driven story about a young guy trying to make sense of a world after the shock of becoming epileptic—but it’s also a dark and brooding talk dripping with Gothic menace, a story that I think will really appeal to a lot of people. I haven’t mentioned the artwork, and I should. Piotr Kowalski brings an unnerving, paranoid intensity to the story, perfectly capturing the stultifying world and a young man’s attempts to escape from it. There is horror lying out in the woods: but perhaps the real horror lurks at home, and the twisted morality of Aubrey’s father and his world.”
Aftershock sent along a few preview pages, and Kowalski’s art is definitely on point here – as does the incentive cover by Michael Gaydos.
GOD OF TREMORS / $6.99 / 48 pages / Color / On sale 8.18.21
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Colorist: Brad Simpson
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover: Piotr Kowalski w/ Brad Simpson
Incentive Cover: Michael Gaydos