AfterShock Comics Announces New Pagan Horror Series ‘The Vineyard’

by Olly MacNamee

Today, AfterShock Comics announces its latest new series, The Vineyard, by writer Brian Hawkins, artist Sami Kivelä, colourist Jason Wordie and letterer Taylor Esposito.

“THE VINEYARD is a family-owned winery that sows and reaps by the blessing of the great god of wine and revelry, Dionysus. However, the Vines family’s patron god requires complete devotion in the form of four sacrificial killings a year before each harvest. This has been done in unfettered obeisance. But all of that changed when the family’s patriarch, Didache Vines, was in a horrible accident that left him paralyzed and in a wheelchair.  

Now, the sacrificial and murderous duties of the Vines family have fallen to wife and matriarch, Maranatha Vines. With harvest season fast approaching and the family short of their annual sacrificial killings, Maranatha’s struggle with her conscience puts all of her family – husband, son and daughter – in jeopardy.

Written by Brian Hawkins (Black Cotton, Believe in the Name, Don’t Ever Blink) and illustrated by Sami Kivelä (THE HEATHENS, UNDONE BY BLOOD, Abbott), THE VINEYARD is what happens when family values and otherworldly obligations collide.”

Hawkins elaborates even further on this new title and why he’s excited for it:

“The Vineyard is about a family, the Vines, who own a winery that is successful and continues to flourish because of their patron god, the god of wine himself, Dionysus. However, the family’s blessings come from their annual sacrifice – each year they are required by Dionysus to sacrifice (kill) four people as part of a ritualistic practice. Normally, the patriarch of the family and the most devout, Didache Vines, carries out the offerings for the family. But when this story begins, Didache is no longer able to because of an accident that he was in a year prior that left him paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. So, his wife and the matriarch of the family, Maranatha, is left to take on the murderous duties. However, she struggles with it greatly and her inability puts the family – son, estranged daughter, herself, and husband in jeopardy.

Ah man, I’m excited for this to come out because the story captures some of the best elements of horror – in my opinion. Horror is at its best when it’s focused in one place or area, dealing with a specific group of characters, and there’s something very personal and emotional at stake. The Vineyard has all of that, and it revolves around someone we usually don’t see a lot of stories about in comics, movies, or TV – Dionysus, the god of wine. And it’s a darker take on the god as well, and dark is always better and more fun! But wait, I would be doing a disservice to everything that I just said if I didn’t also add that the art for this book and what Sami Kivelä has done to bring this story to life and tell it is just incredible. Add in the magic of Jason Wordie on colors and Taylor Esposito’s lettering touch and it’s something that you don’t wanna miss. I’m amazed by it existing in the world right now, haha.”

Hawkins also discussed the inspirations and influences behind the book:

“Well, to start, I’m a Stephen King guy, love his stories and the feel/mood of them. I’m also a fan of Joe Hill, his son. Horns is one of my favorites – it’s so dark, and it takes you down into a hole that you want to go down into, but also you want to come back up because it’s not right down there – however, to do so – you have to scrape and scratch at the dark and dank around you. But also, Midnight Mass and The Haunting of Hill House. Mike Flanagan is pure genius at what he does with horror. Oh, gotta add Nailbiter. I’m a huge fan of that comic book series and how titular the characters feel – I wanted The Vineyard’s characters to feel that way.” 

He also gives three reasons to buy it:

“Just three reasons? Okay ummm… It’s good horror – dark and eerie, but on a very intimate level. You’re going to be able to relate to the characters and the family dynamic. At the end of the day, it’s about relationships, and in real life, we are all dealing with the dynamics of our own relationships, be it with family, friends, or colleagues. Another reason is because of the art. I can’t stress enough how gorgeous this book is – scenes and settings, the characters – oh, Sami is so good at drawing characters and bringing them to life! One more reason, right? While this is a horror book and within its DNA there’s influence from other stories that I’m fond of and admire, The Vineyard is definitely its own thing – unique – and it really embodies what indie comics/creator-owned comics is all about, storytelling that is about “reading dangerously,” if I can borrow that line from AfterShock – seems fitting!”

As for what he hopes readers will take away?

“A love for horror and how well it captures the human condition. The Vineyard, like I said, is about relationships, but it is also about how we perceive our world and our beliefs; how we sometimes, especially within family, put our beliefs onto others with an expectation. What happens when that expectation isn’t met? We all have a belief, even if that belief is in nothing, and belief isn’t just about religion – it is ideology, socially, politically, etc. Belief as a whole gives shape to our world, and we are always interacting with it. I’m hoping that readers will enjoy looking into the mirror that this story casts on who we are as human beings.”

The Vineyard #1 will be out Wednesday

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