Ash & Thorn is next exciting new project coming from upstart publisher Ahoy! Comics on April 1st, 2020! Written by author and long-time editor Mariah McCourt, Ash & Thorn is a fantasy-adventure series that also explores power dynamics and social expectations through its elderly woman protagonist, Lottie Thorn. McCourt, along with Soo Lee (art) and Pippa Bowland (colors) bring this new world to life with sharp character and stunning visuals, all wrapped up with a gorgeous Jill Thompson cover.
Early praise for the comic is rightfully high. Just take a look at some of the incredible reviews from comic book legends and join us for a short interview with Mariah!
“Ash & Thorn has an engaging, offbeat heroine, an amusing supporting cast, and a fun premise that suggests life experience counts, especially when demons are about to overrun the world. Come for the company, stay for the adventure. You’ll be glad you did!” — Louise Simonson
“How refreshing to see women of a Certain Age be heroines for a change, says this woman of a Certain Age! You don’t have to be a teenager to battle demons!” — Trina Robbins, author of Gladys Parker: a Life in Comics, a Passion for Fashion, and The Flapper Queens.
“What if the Chosen One isn’t a nubile young girl, a hot young dude, but a mature woman with life experience, some attitude, and no f*#cks given. ASH & THORN answers that question. Very amusing, fun and highly recommended.” — Colleen Doran
Comic Watch: Ash & Thorn is the new project from you at Ahoy Comics and already it has garnered some very high praise from legendary comics creators of the likes of Louise Simonson, Trina Robbins, and Colleen Doran. Does that sort of high praise from comics luminaries make your work easier (because of the validation) or harder (because of the expectations)?
Mariah McCourt: Well, mainly I’m just honored they enjoyed the story and I try not to worry too much about expectations because every reader comes to a story with their own point of view. I can only tell the story I think is worth telling, the best I know how, and hope that readers get something meaningful (and fun!) out of it. But it means a lot to me to have creators like Louise, Trina, and Colleen enjoy the book. Their work means a great to me and the medium in general so I’ll take the praise and try not to freak myself out too much about reception afterwards.
CW: Lottie Thorn, the series protagonist, is… untraditional to say the least. Outside of Ma Hunkle and Rumor [from Tom Taylor’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man run], I can’t think of too many central heroes who are elderly women. There feels like there is something very powerful in defying the archetype here and changing expectations. Can you speak a bit on the decision to create Lottie and the thought process behind it?
MM: Lottie is my love letter to older women, especially the ones I grew up with and shaped who I am. Both of my grandmothers lived into their late 80’s and I was lucky enough to study with artist Myril Adler as a child through high school. She passed away a few years ago at 95, still teaching. Lottie definitely has a lot of those women in her character.
We have a tendency to be obsessed with youth, especially young women, to the point where it feels like we just stop existing after about 25 in a lot of popular narratives. But you have so much of your life left after that (hopefully!). So much to do and learn and be. The longer you live the more stories you have to tell. I wanted to subvert the “chosen one” trope by deliberately focusing on older women instead of teenagers specifically because we don’t seem to value aging (especially aging women) or the strengths it can contain. I wanted to explore who we see as “heroic” and why.
CW: With the introduction of Sarah in this first issue, there seems to be an interesting sub-plot focusing on mentorship brewing. You have spent quite a bit of time as an editor, often on some very high profile books. What role do you see for mentorship in the current comics industry? Are you a Sarah or a Lottie? What mentors have you had and who may you have mentored?
MM: I’ve been very lucky in my career to have worked for and with women like Karen Berger and Shelly Bond, who definitely mentored me when I started out. Without that guidance I wouldn’t be where I am.
I do my best to encourage younger creators whenever I can, whether it’s helping to guide a new project or suggest them for projects when I’m in that position. I’ve taught making comics classes for kids and teens and projects like Womanthology definitely involved a lot of that for me. So many creators have gone on from anthologies like that to become established creators. Younger creators (and readers!) are essential to the industry, both sustaining and growing diverse and inclusive stories and audiences. Being welcoming, encouraging, imparting whatever knowledge I’ve managed to accrue, is important to me. And I hope it’s how others see me in this crazy industry!
CW: Talk to me about the art team. We’ve got the amazing Jill Thompson on covers and rising star Soo Lee on interiors. How did all of this talent come together?
MM: With Jill, I’ve actually known her for years (way back from my Vertigo years) and wanted to work with her for forever. I thought she might dig the concept for ASH & THORN and sent it along. And to my everlasting joy and shock, she wanted to do covers. She has the perfect blend of creepy, funny, and sweet for this book and my favorite image is for issue #3 which gets very weird and she embraced that completely for the cover.
Soo is an artist that editor Sarah Litt suggested and it was immediately clear she’d be perfect for the story with her horror aesthetic, energetic action, and expressive faces. Paired with Pippa Bowland’s colors and the whole thing came to creepy, delicious, life.
CW: What can you tell our readers about the future of Ash & Thorn? How long will it run? Where is it going? Will there be multiple volumes?
MM: This first “season” is 5 issues that tell a mostly self-contained story — BUT there’s a lot more to explore and several more storylines planned. I’d happily write this book forever!
A New Kind of Hero: An Interview with Mariah McCourt
User Review( votes)