AfterShock Comics Announces A Jack The Ripper/Wild West Thriller ‘Cross To Bear’

by Olly MacNamee

I must admit, AfterShock Comics’ new series, Cross to Bear, is a rather intriguing take on an old true crime classic. Writer Marko Stojanović and artist Siniša Banović are taking Jack the Ripper and transporting him to the wild west in their new series announced today. That’s a new one on me, and a rather interesting concept too. Luckily, Stojanović expanded on this, and the ancient organisation tracking him down in the New World:

“The book is about Jack the Ripper fleeing to America in 1889 and heading straight to the Wild West – because his own savagery can avoid detection at the still savage frontier. He is, however, pursued by the Order made up from the descendants of Crusaders knights set on eradicating the unnatural – and what could be more unnatural than the first documented serial killer grabbing all the headlines and causing mass hysteria? Only thing is, these crusaders are far from their usual haunts and they`ll need help from a man who severed his ties with the other at the price of abandoning his own family…

The book deals with many themes – old world meeting the new one, family ties versus all the other ones, nature of power and fear, examination of extremism no matter how just the cause and of course, the danger of becoming a monster yourself as you do battle with monsters. 

I am excited about it coming out because when I was a kid during the 80s in Yugoslavia, there was a special cult of the Westerns, which our dads and grandads used to call cowboy movies. True, we were not behind the iron curtain, unlike the neighboring countries, but from the movies that were shown on national TV, westerns came closest to what we call the action movie. And so when there was a Western on, it was a must. There was a whole ritual about watching it – all the male family members would gather around the still black and white box and share in the semi-mystical experience. Also, about 60 percent of all comics that came out in Yugoslavia at that time were westerns – regardless of whether they were American, Latin American or European, as we got an influx of comics from all sides of the world. Westerns were a big thing back then out here – the public couldn’t get enough! Seeing how I fell in love with the Western from an early age, is it really surprising that I am more than excited for the chance to bring my own take on that mythic genre – to the very country that gave birth to it? Part of the excitement also lies in the fact I got the chance to bring in my own creative team on this book, with my longtime collaborators Sinisa Banovic and Aljosa Tomic, which is not something that happens very often – so you certainly need to celebrate it when it does.”

Jack the Ripper was never caught because no one was looking for him in the Wild West… No one accept The Order. An organization made up of the descendants of Crusaders sworn to eradicate the unnatural, The Order will stop at nothing to fulfill the pledge their forefathers made, even if it means crossing the ocean or a line or two…

Furthermore, Stojanović lets us in on the many inspirations fuelling this series. Or rather he doesn’t:

“There are far too many to number here – but what`s more important, I think, is that they are all here, in this book. I approach writing every one of my scripts, be they for European, Asian or US audiences the same – I give it all I have. While I have an utmost respect for certain well know prose writers, I catch them saving ideas, plots and twists for the next contracted piece while writing the current one. It is easily discernible if you compare their late work with their early one, when they were trying to establish themselves and did not hold back. I treat every book like its my first, and all the inspiration, all the ideas come into the pot. Also, I wanted to avoid predictability – which is one of the hardest things nowadays, since we’ve all seen it all, read it all and therefore know where things are going all the time. Hopefully, I managed to do just that with Cross to Bear, at least to a certain extent… Readers can judge for themselves – and I hope they do, since that would mean they picked up the book to do so.”

Not to be left out of the conversation, artist Siniša Banović explains his approach to the artwork on this project:

“The Cross to Bear series is the first western comic book I worked on, so I had fun studying characters and get used to drawing cowboy hats and other type of stuff we tend to see often. After the character design I’d turn the Marko’s script into thumbnail pages in order to set the basic shapes, and then I would work on interiors and exteriors. Sketching a plan for background ambients may not be a necessity, but I find it much easier to position the characters and viewpoint if I have the broader picture of where the protagonists are. After that I’m working on more detailed layout pages digitally, and then trace these drawings by pencil on paper using light pad. The process ends with inking, so I guess I’m a one third digital artist. It seems that layouts and initial sketches always possess more spontaneity than the final artwork, so I’m going for that kind of aesthetic in inking part.”

Look out for Cross to Bear #1 coming out Wednesday 13th October from AfterShock Comics

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