Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire have rapidly become some of the top names in comics. Snyder is best known for his Batman work, and his exploration of horror comics with American Vampire and Wytches, while Lemire has done everything from the tender future-set coming of age comic Sweet Tooth to turning a ’90s anti-hero into a modern musing on the cost of violence with Bloodshot. They’ve been friends for years, though, and now with A.D. After Death are teaming up for the first time on a collaborative book. (They previously worked together less directly on a storyline in which the Snyder-penned Swamp Thing crossed over with the Lemiere-scripted Animal Man.)
A.D. After Death follows Jonah, a man who in some ways has been waiting to die in a world where death has been eradicated. The book is a mix of illustrated prose as Jonah remembers his childhood and comics as Jonah explores the far-flung future, where only a few mountain cities remain while the rest is a miasma of death. We talked to Snyder and Lemire about finding the time to collaborate, the fear of death, and what you get when life stretches ever onward.
So how’d this all start, collaboration-wise? How’d you even find the time?
Scott Snyder: This started with a story I told Jeff a few years ago. I wanted to do about a cure for death. It’d involve a guy who’d never really found his place in life, because he had this crippling fear of death, and then he got a golden ticket. He’s invited into this mysterious test trial, and the second part takes place 800 years in the future, a totally different landscape. Jeff encouraged me to expand it. We’ve been friends a long time, and it just grew and grew, and we structured it around the idea of doing a full book. Jeff encouraged me to do part prose, part comics, and the final product is something I couldn’t be prouder of.
What made you hit on the concept of exploring a world where death has been conquered?
Snyder: I think for me, just the prospect of escaping the fear of how fast everything goes and the gravity of all of it, it’s been a huge driving force for Batman and Wytches. A lot of the book depends much on the sense of things grinding to a halt. An observation from the man who invents the cure is that humanity is in its old age, and when you’re old, you’re aware of how fragile you are. Life is precious. So you can be myopic or choose to be brave. With current events, it seems to be in the air that sense of either we’ll go through a transformative moment, or we’ll retreat to our separate territories. That’s one of the big underpinnings of the story.
How much of the science did you look into?
Snyder: I looked at a lot of it! I read a book on immortality, and tried to read a bunch of articles. My wife helped me translate; she’s a doctor, so anything remotely scientific I lean on her for. She was great on being a guide to some of the heavier genetic material with gene editing and young blood. In some ways it feels like we’re very close. There’s all sorts of regenerative capabilities out there, but none of them have been applicable to us. Yet. But it seems so close to our grasp, and what a leap it would be between a generation of people who would extend life and the billions who came before, this tremendous separation. The research only made it seem even more tangible.
Jeff Lemire: For me, this was a joy. I didn’t have to be the writer this time! [Laughs.] I just had to worry about what went on the page, but I didn’t have to the research.