Denver Pop Culture Con 2019: AfterShock CCO Joe Pruett On Shock Volume II, Killer Groove, And Insane Cyphers

by Brendan M. Allen

Joe Pruett is the Chief Creative Officer of AfterShock Comics. A noted comic book editor, publisher and writer with over 25 years of experience, Joe has been nominated for numerous Eisner and Harvey awards for his work on such projects as Negative Burn at Caliber Comics. He is also known for his work at Marvel, where he wrote for X-Men Unlimited, Wolverine, and Cable.

Brendan Allen: I’m here at Denver Pop Culture Con 2019 with Joe Pruett, CCO of AfterShock Comics, who has graciously agreed to give us a few minutes to chat about some of the new and exciting projects AfterShock has planned for us. I am pretty familiar with your catalogue, and I love so many of the books that you guys are putting out. What are some of the upcoming projects that you’re excited about?

Joe Pruett: There are a few things. On my end of the spectrum, Shock Volume II Hardcover Anthology comes out at the end of this month. Shock Volume I came out last May with Neil Gaiman, Bill Willingham, (Brian) Azarello, and Charles Vess and a bunch of other great creative teams. This year, the new volume has a cover by Tim Bradstreet and we have original stories by RL Stine, creator of Goosebumps, Garth Ennis, Cullen Bunn, Marguerite Bennett, myself, and a bunch of other top creators. We’re also very excited to have the first Bob Burden story in over a decade. 

BA: One of the things that really stuck out for me from the NYCC 2018 panel was how proud you were of the first book. The quality of the pieces that got included, the production… You were very specific that you wanted Shock to be, like, a library edition, super deluxe volume. It’s a beautiful book. Shock Volume II is getting the same treatment, I assume?

JP: Of course. It’s a pretty spectacular 160 page volume. I am very thrilled with it. I think I like the second one even more than the first, and I love the first.

BA: Okay, now I want to talk a little bit about something that I think is super cool. When The Beyonders came out back in August, I was able to review the first issue for, and I was thinking how cool it was that Paul Jenkins included that cyphertext riddle in the book. You guys offered up a prize for the first hundred readers to crack the code, and you haven’t given away a single prize to date?

JP: No, we haven’t. You had a great educated guess earlier. I sent a text to Paul Jenkins, and I can read you his response here. I sent him your guess, “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.” He goes, “Not even close.”

BA: Damn. Thought I had it. So, that book has been out about ten months, and not one reader has stepped up. That’s impressive. Apparently Paul Jenkins either just put complete gibberish in the thing, just let his dog walk all the keyboard, or it’s just that good of a cypher.

JP: I guess so. Paul is very meticulous, and he’s very proud of his puzzle, and especially that no one’s solved it yet, which might actually mean it’s TOO hard. We’ll see.

BA: And then you guys have a new Cullen Bunn joint coming up soon?

JP: Right. Knights Temporal, which is kind of a redemption journey about a knight named Auguste, who follows a vile sort of necromancer into a haunted forest. No one who enters this forest ever leaves. Cullen’s also bringing back Dark Ark with a second arc.

BA: A second Dark Ark arc?

JP: A second dark arc of Dark Ark.

BA: Got it.

JP: We’re offering a few promotions for retailers with that one. I mean, we usually do a few retailer incentive covers, but for Dark Ark, we’re also doing a lenticular cover, and if you’ve seen the Babyteeth lenticular cover, you know we know how to do those right.

BA: Yeah, that Babyteeth cover is something else. Tell me a little about this new Killer Groove series.

JP: We’ve got the 70’s music scene, you know, hitmen… It’s a crime story, based on a true story.

BA: Right. Earlier, you were joking that Killer Groove is  based on your life story?

JP: Yeah. I always tell people who come up looking for things, when they see like Insexts, which is an erotic, Victorian age moster story, and I say, “That’s based on a true story,” and they just go, “Oh. Okay.” And then I just sit and laugh. I entertain myself.

BA: So many things that actually DO claim to be “based on a true story” are so far removed from the actual facts of the story, they may as well be fiction, so I guess it works on the inverse as well.

JP: No.

BA: Fair. Well, thank you again for taking this time out with us. Always a pleasure.

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