Berger Books announces four new titles for 2018

Published by Dark Horse Comics, the first titles in the creator-owned imprint edited by former Vertigo chief Karen Berger will include the works of Anthony Bourdain, David Aja, Ann Nocenti, Mat Johnson, Warren Pleece and more.

Earlier this year Dark Horse Comics announced that former Vertigo founding editor Karen Berger would head up her own imprint for the publisher, called Berger Books. Today Vulture revealed the first four titles from the imprint, all due out in 2018.

“Dark Horse has been at the frontline of independent, creator-owned comics for decades,” Berger said earlier this year. “It’s great to be working with a company that has such a rich history of publishing scores of many incredible books by some of the best writers and artists in comics. I’m very fired up about being back in the game in a big way, and to be producing this new line with top, diverse creative talent and exciting, original new voices.”

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Smash Pages Q&A: Marguerite Bennett on AfterShock’s ‘InSeXts’

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To say Marguerite Bennett is an up and coming writer would be somewhat of an understatement. Not many people at this early stage of their career could convince someone to let her take the reins of a creator owned-project much less a project that DC and Marvel would not touch with a ten foot pole–due to subject matter. InSeXts is an erotic horror story about a pair of Victorian era lovers who go on a vengeful killing spree.  Luckily for Bennett Mike Marts, the Aftershock editor-in-chief, like what he saw in greenlit the project.

Then another fortunate development, Bennett agreed to talk to me about the new series.

Tim O’Shea: InSeXts is an erotic horror story about a pair of Victorian era lovers who go on a vengeful killing spree. Was that the initial pitch you gave AfterShock Editor-in-Chief Mike Marts, or did it evolve to that over time?

Marguerite Bennett: This was the original pitch, yes! I was astonished and delighted and maybe a little bit horrified that of the stories I submitted, this was the one that was approved, because now the whole world would know the awful things I like to read and write about in my downtime, haha.

The story actually began as a 12-page one-shot in the IN THE DARK: A HORROR ANTHOLOGY edited by the magnificent Rachel Deering (drawn and colored, at the time, by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer and Doug Garbark), but I had always had great plans for my lethal ladies. I’ve been thrilled that I’m finally able to continue their story and give them the space to breathe and evolve and commit a LOT of murder.

Am I correct in thinking this is not a creator owned project that Marvel or DC could or would touch with a 10 foot pole. Why do think AfterShock is willing to take the risk?

Hahaha, no, I can’t say many companies would’ve touched it–the brutality and sexuality and time period and relative absence of traditional heroes certainly set a ghastly tone. AfterShock has been wonderful to work with, though, and have given me such freedom. Mike Marts is kind of my comics dad (sorry, Mike) and brought me in to DC and then to Marvel a year later, and I work very hard to make sure the scripts I send him are up to scratch. He can tell you, I actually took a script back because I decided there weren’t enough “Holy #$%&” moments and gutted the whole thing and rebuilt it until I felt it was worthy. I work very hard to make sure that there is nothing like this story and it can be a suitable feather in AfterShock’s hat for all the support they’ve given me in its creation. For everything I’ve seen in my relationship with them, they’re committed to making sure there is nothing like their books on the market. I’ve been very happy.

What can you tell readers about the lead characters as well as some of the supporting cast?

The main protagonists are Lady and Mariah, our titular lovers. Lady is high-strung and anxious, Mariah younger but more mature. Lady, having been caged by her life for so long, takes deadly risks, while Mariah is more calculated, more inclined to wait for her revenge. Both of them are devoted to one another, and long for a family of their own above all else. Beyond that, they are aided by Dr. William Taylor, their beloved friend, and hunted by a variety of foes, from human abusers to Old World horrors to surprising villainesses. One villainess has been shockingly fun to write–Sylvia, Lady’s sister-in-law, a female misogynist who despises everything Lady is and will do anything to see her put in her place.

What creative risks are you able to take with an ambitious artist like Ariela Kristantina especially when teamed with a colorist like Bryan Valenza?

Oh my goodness God, I love Ariela and Bryan to pieces. Ariela takes these horrifying things and adds such loveliness and elegance to them–sincere tenderness that, in the hands of another artist, would be lacking, would turn the entire story into some low pornography. Bryan’s textures are rich and subtle, with soft warmth that suddenly gets slashed through by some hypersaturated neons in moments of outrage and violence. Together, the beauty of their artwork highlights the ghastliness of our story–I couldn’t be happier with any other team.