Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your comic book series, Artemis and the Assassin, through AfterShock! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you share with us about the premise of this series?
Stephanie Phillips: Artemis & the Assassin follows a time-traveling assassin named Maya to WWII, where she intends to kill Virginia Hall, a real-life spy responsible for aiding the allies against the Nazis; however, the mission goes awry when Virginia fights back, and both women are sent hurtling headlong through time. Along with Maya and Virginia trying to kill one another, they will now face many different threats from all over time and space, along with more assassins looking to finish the job that Maya started. It’s a wild, pulpy adventure that has been a lot of fun to work on!
BD: As with your previous series, The Butcher of Paris (Dark Horse Comics), Artemis and the Assassin is rooted in history. What (or who) were some of your creative influences for this new project, and what kind(s) of research did you take on when approaching the story?
SP: It’s definitely no secret that I like historical fiction. Having a time travel story really allows me to go all over the place, making the scenarios and obstacles for these characters rather endless. While Maya is a completely fictitious character, Virginia Hall is literally one of the most decorated spies in US history. I loved the idea of putting her in a scenario with Maya and watching the chaos ensue. The two women are both really strong characters, with disparate personalities. Overcoming their personal hang-ups about the other (like the fact that Maya tried to kill Virginia…) will be integral to them surviving this adventure.
The majority of the research I did was on Virginia Hall, but she is ultimately a character in the story. In reality, a time-traveling assassin didn’t try to kill her (I think.), so we don’t really have record of how she would have reacted. This story is definitely way more playful than Butcher of Paris and takes a lot of inspiration from pulps and Westerns.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in working with artists Meghan Hetrick, Francesca Fantini, and Lauren Affe, and Phil Hester in bringing this story to life?
SP: This book is really unique from some of my other projects, because the world building is far more extensive. While there are some places and characters rooted in reality, Maya and her world are completely fictitious. It involved a lot more collaboration with the art team to design Maya and bring her to life. Couple that with a lot of historical references as we move through time, and it’s definitely no small task for the art team. But, Meghan, Francesca, and Lauren have done an incredible job of telling this story, and I love the ability to work with such talented people. They have all made this world look better than I could have ever imagined.
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 Artemis and the Assassin’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
SP: I have always been really influenced by pulp heroes, like Doc Savage and The Shadow. My intention was to create two strong, unique, pulpy female action heroes that could pay homage to my personal influences, while creating a world and story all their own for modern readers. Comics are fun, and this female-led adventure was incredibly fun to create. We have that sense of wonder reminds readers why we have all been driven towards this medium in the first place.
BD: What makes AfterShock the perfect home for this new series?
SP: AfterShock is always open to trying something new and unusual. They are a really supportive group of people who also believe in how much fun storytelling and comics can be. That’s the kind of mindset and support we wanted from a publisher for this book, and it’s been a great fit!
BD: Are there any additional projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
SP: Butcher of Paris from Dark Horse is currently on shelves. Issue #4 comes out in March, and the TPB arrives in July. Last week, I also announced a new series with artist Craig Cermak for Top Cow/Image Comics. A Man Among Ye is a high-seas pirate adventure featuring the legend of Anne Bonny. More announcements coming soon!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Artemis and the Assassin?
SP: Feel free to yell questions about me about the series on Twitter (@Steph_Smash). The entire team hopes you grab a copy of issue #1 on stands March 18.