Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your comic book series, Ash & Thorn, through AHOY Comics! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the series’ premise?
Mariah McCourt: Retired art teacher Lottie Thorn wakes up one day to find that everything she assumed about life and retirement was wrong. For one thing, retirement is a bit repetitive. For another, the world is about to end and she’s the only one who can stop it. To say she’s not prepared would be an understatement.
BD: What inspired you to tell this story alongside artist Soo Lee and cover artist Jill Thompson, and how would you describe your shared creative process?
MM: Soo was brought into the project by editor Sarah Litt because of her fantastically energetic style and ability to capture emotional nuance in every character panel. It’s been fantastic to develop this world with her, especially the humor and quirks of Lottie and Peruvia’s relationship. I’ve known Jill since my Vertigo days and, while it might sound cliche, having her do covers for this series is an absolute dream come true. There’s no one like Jill and no one could convey all the different tones of the story the way she does in a single image.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Ash & Thorn’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
MM: I’ve wanted to tell a story about older women for awhile now, especially one that subverts some specific genre fiction tropes. It’s unfortunately rare to seem older women as main, point-of-view characters. And by older I mean “over the age of 25” a lot of the time. It’s like we become invisible. Now, I’m just about to be 41 which isn’t old, but it feels that way sometimes because we just don’t seem to exist in a lot of media. So, I thought of all the older women I’ve known in my life, how important they’ve been to me, and decided I wanted to tell a story that featured them in an unusual role: the hero. We don’t just stop learning and growing and doing things at 40 or 50 or 60. We matter and have stories to tell and experience at every age. And there’s value in the stories of older folks for a lot of reasons.
BD: What makes AHOY Comics the perfect home for this series?
MM: First, that they were onboard with this story the second I pitched it! They immediately got what it was subverting and why. Their tone of “funny Vertigo” is my favorite kind of genre mashup, and they’ve been so supportive the whole way.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
MM: Not yet! But I do have a Patreon (MonsterTeaTime) where I regularly share writing and art that I’m doing on my own.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Ash & Thorn?
MM: Don’t underestimate little old ladies; they will definitely surprise you. Stress baking can get VERY WEIRD if an apocalypse is nigh. The world is hungry.