Back in March AfterShock announced Seismic Press, their new imprint of young adult graphic novels, and revealed a slate of new and reissued titles coming from the imprint in late 2021 and 2022. Today the publisher has released a preview of Rainbow Bridge, the first title from Seismic Press, along with more info on the book from its writers, Steve Orlando and Steve Foxe.
Illustrated by Valentina Brancati and Manuel Poppo and lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, here’s how AfterShock describes Rainbow Bridge:
What if you got one last adventure with your best friend?
Andy and Rocket grew up together, with Rocket serving as Andy’s guardian through every one of childhood’s ups and downs. So, when Rocket passes away right before Andy’s 14th birthday, he’s rudderless. He can’t imagine making the transition to high school without Rocket at his side. The day before school starts, when Andy is at his lowest, he visits Rocket’s grave and unexpectedly summons the RAINBOW BRIDGE, a gateway to a fantasy world where pets discover their afterlife. But there’s a dark shadow to this paradise, and without Andy’s help, Rocket’s eternity may be grim…
The first graphic novel from AfterShock’s new YA imprint, Seismic Press, RAINBOW BRIDGE was conceived and written by Steve Orlando (PROJECT PATRON, KILL A MAN, Midnighter) and Steve Foxe (Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Grumpy Cat) with art byValentina Brancati (Les Ravencroft, Ghost Writer). Published in the category standard size of 6.5” x 9.5”, this 120-page OGN will resonate with anyone who has ever had to say goodbye to a beloved pet – or who has greeted growing up with nervousness and anxiety.
AfterShock also unveiled a short Q&A with Steves Orlando and Foxe about the inspiration for the series, writing for a YA audience, and more:
STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXE ON WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT AND WHY THEY ARE EXCITED FOR IT TO COME OUT:
“Rainbow Bridge is about a 14-year-old boy, Andy, whose lifelong canine best friend passes away right before Andy is about to start high school. Andy has relied on Rocket for support ever since he was a toddler and Rocket was a pup, and now he’s not so sure about handling such big life events without Rocket in his life.
When Andy gets overwhelmed and runs off to a spot that was important to the two of them, a dizzyingly colorful splash of light swoops down and carries Andy away to the Forever Fields, the afterlife paradise for animal companions.
It turns out the Rainbow Bridge that pet lovers always talk about when an animal passes away is real, but humans are NOT supposed to cross it—especially humans who are still alive. If the Rainbow Bridge allowed Andy across, it must mean there is powerful unfinished business between him and Rocket. And as Andy soon discovers, animals who linger with unfinished business run the risk of turning into wraiths, vengeful, shadowy spirits that haunt the outskirts of the Forever Fields, driven by unresolved pain and trauma.
Rocket has always been there for Andy. Now it’s Andy’s turn to find his best friend and make sure Rocket gets the afterlife he deserves.”
STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXE ON SOME OF THE INSPIRATIONS BEHIND CREATING THE BOOK:
“Both of us Steves are dog people—Steve Orlando has a corgi, in fact. And being a dog person unfortunately means knowing your best friend is going to leave you before it feels fair. But having animals in your life, whether it’s for 14 years or 14 days, is a friendship and a bond like no other. We wanted to explore that bittersweet fact for sure, but also celebrate the friendship and wonder inherent in having a childhood pet.
Wouldn’t YOU do anything for one last adventure with your best friend?”
STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXE ON THEIR APPROACH TO WRITING COMICS WHEN IT COMES TO THE YOUNG ADULT (YA) AUDIENCE:
“Younger readers are looking for the same thing any reader wants to see: good stories done well. But writing for teens and preteens also means getting to be a little more emotionally forward—these are the years of our lives where everything can feel like the ONLY thing, whether that’s losing a friend or starting a new school or trying to figure out your feelings about another kid in your class.
So we don’t write “down” to younger readers, but we do enjoy getting to go big and bold and hit the emotional beats hard, since our main audience is here for stories that make them think and make them feel something.”
STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXE ON THE FIRST COMIC THEY EVER READ, AND IF THEY HAVE A MOST FAVORITE?”
“The Steve pod will have to split up for this one!
Steve Orlando: The first comic I ever read was West Coast Avengers #16, a Tale of Two Kitties! And perhaps that cat-themed issues ended up being prescient, since here we are launching a pet-themed fantasy epic. As far as my favorite, it was, and likely always will be, Flex Mentallo – an unruly ode to the wonder of imagination, and the deliverance comics can offer outsides hungry for acceptance and community.
Steve Foxe: As a kid of the very late eighties, I grew up with X-Men: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series, so you’d better believe I was grabbing every stray issue of the source material I could find. But I should also give a nod to Garfield, which I would read out loud with a friend on the bus in elementary school, taking turns over who got to be which character. There are so many avenues into comics, it really doesn’t matter where you START, as long as you keep going.
As for a favorite comic for kids, it’s hard to choose—but also hard to beat the pure storytelling genius of classic Scrooge McDuck comics from Carl Barks, and later Don Rosa. Talk about timeless.”
STEVE ORLANDO AND STEVE FOXE ON (3) REASONS WHY COMIC READERS SHOULD PICK THIS BOOK UP:
“Everything else aside, the team of Valentina Brancati on line art, Manual Puppo on colors, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou on lettering blows us away with every single page. The phrase, “an animated movie on the page” gets thrown around a lot…but sometimes it’s true! Anything us Steves thought up has been elevated by their hard work on RAINBOW BRIDGE, and readers are really going to flip for the fun and whimsy of the Forever Fields.
We really poured our dog-loving hearts into the story of Rocket and Andy and the other pets they meet along the way, so we hope other animal lovers will get that same swell of emotion when they pick up RAINBOW BRIDGE. We both spent a lot of time hugging our dogs after writing each chapter.
Finally, we’re just thrilled to be part of the launch of Seismic Press, and to see another publisher make a serious effort to reach younger readers. We love comics for every age range, but getting new readers into sequential storytelling is how we make sure the medium and the market are strong and supported for many years to come.
We hope readers will pick up RAINBOW BRIDGE and the other Seismic titles and share them with younger readers in their life, so that this corner of comics only gets bigger and more inclusive over time.”
Rainbow Bridge is the first writing collaboration for Orlando and Foxe, though it appears it won’t be their last. Last year Orlando took to Twitter to announce a “Big, Raw, Queer Horror” project with Foxe that at the time was slated for release this year as well.
Check out the full preview for Rainbow Bridge below. The book goes on sale in comic shops on Wednesday, August 4th, and arrives in bookstores on Tuesday, August 17th.