A Conversation with Stuart Moore
AHOY Comics has burst onto the scene and is quickly becoming known as the comic company that’s a welcome breath of fresh air. And comic shops are increasing their orders for AHOY titles, so they must be doing something right. I caught up with Stuart Moore, who’s an integral part of the AHOY team to learn more.
STUART MOORE: Well, I got involved because Tom Peyer called me up. Initially he asked if I would edit his titles, High Heaven and Wrong Earth. The company evolved a bit differently, with each of us basically editing our own titles and providing backup for each other as needed. Tom is editor-in-chief, and he’s also editor of all the books that AREN’T written by him or me.
When we lost a crucial member of the initial team—Sven Larsen, who’s currently doing great things at Marvel—I stepped into the Publishing Ops position on a freelance basis. Wrong Earth has been quite a hit—AHOY has just gone to a second printing on issue #2—so we’ve all been scrambling to deal with success. Which is nerve-wracking, but a hell of a lot better than scrambling to deal with failure.
EC: What do you think is the secret sauce for a new comic company to thrive, or just survive, in today’s difficult publishing landscape?
SM: I think every new company has to find its own way, its own voice. For AHOY, it’s a combination of engaging lead stories and a wealth of backup features—giving the reader as much value as possible for their $3.99. Tom is also very determined that every book have elements of humor to it.
This is just my guess, but I suspect AHOY is appealing somewhat to lapsed comic readers—without pandering overtly to nostalgia or fanboy trivia. If you have fond memories of the early Vertigo titles or of 1963 (the comic, not the year), you’ll probably want to check out these books. Whatever we’re doing, it seems to be working so far.
Also, of course, we’re hoping to attract cat fans.
SM: Thank you! Ginger was pretty fully formed from the start. I created it specifically for June Brigman, my co-creator, and she got the characters down right away. As books go, it takes a while to produce—you can see how much work goes into every panel. But it’s a remarkably smooth process.
EC: Is Captain Ginger only for cat people or can anyone enjoy it?
SM: I hope anyone can enjoy it! If you’re interested in the future of humanity, you may find it interesting. If you’ve got an annoying boss or annoying people working for you, I think you’ll see something familiar in the way the cats work together—or DON’T work together, sometimes. They’re very independent creatures.
SM: Generally good things! Dogs seem to like it, too.
EC: Hah! And I think the back-up stories and extra features in AHOY are delightful. What do you think? Are you involved with that process?
SM: As I said, I think that’s a crucial part of the company’s appeal. I’m involved at a distance; I don’t acquire those stories, but I help choose which ones appear in my books. We’re really trying to use a range of text stories in each issue—keep them tonally consistent with the book itself, but give the reader a meal with different courses. If that makes any sense.
I do commission some of the spot art that accompanies the text stories. That allows me to work with people I couldn’t otherwise fit into the company. I love that.
EC: All the AHOY Comics are so different from one another. It’s as if AHOY Comics is the Anti-Shared Universe Publisher. How’s that working for you, and why is Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror the second book you are writing for?
SM: Poe was Tom Peyer’s brainchild. I wanted in, and I had an idea that was a little off from the others: I wanted to adapt a Jules Verne story, “From the Earth to the Moon,” in a modern context. It turned out—and I swear I didn’t know this at the start—that Poe is actually mentioned within the story! So it fit nicely. I brought in Ryan Kelly to do the art, and he totally outdid himself. It’s gorgeous.
EC: Will you have more stories in future issues of Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror?
SM: That’s the only one for now. But if the anthology continues beyond its initial run, I’d love to do more.
EC: What’s next on the horizon for AHOY Comics?
SM: All the books are designed in “seasons”—four to six issues to begin with. We’re preparing the second wave of titles now, which will be all new, and then some of the original books will return after that. We’re in this for the long haul—I’ve got schedules stretching more than a year in advance.
And I have another project of my own that’s so weird and fun, I wish I could tell you about it now. The art will floor you—it’s that good. But we’ll all have to wait!
EC: What a tease. Can’t wait, Stuart. And thanks so much.