Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: AHOY Comics will soon be releasing the second story arc of your series, Second Coming: Only Begotten Son. What can you share with us about where readers will pick up in the adventures of Sunstar?
Mark Russell: We start off with Sunstar’s origin story. His infancy on his home planet of Zirconia. The planet is dying and his father is the Zirconia’s top scientist (Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.), and he can’t tell anyone, but the planet is going to explode that very night. But, unbeknownst to him, his wife has invited people over for dinner, and he has to spend the evening listening to some guy try to sell him real estate.
Richard Pace: The second series is going to explore more of Sunstar's life, but it's still very much about both our leads. To me, as interesting as Sunstar is, how Jesus starts fitting into the world for his second go around here is still the heart of the series.
BD: Given your previous work together on the series, did you find that there was a shorthand in your creative process when returning for this follow-up series?
MR: A lot of it boils down to trust. I try not to burden Richard with too many details or back-and-forth design discussions, because he needs room for his creativity just as I need mine. Plus, yeah, we already had most of those discussions during the first season.
RP: Well, we have more experience of how we each approach the story. I never have or will make changes to Mark's story, but I feel more comfortable in my additions and changes to how the story is told with a better understanding of how Mark works as a writer.
BD: As with all of AHOY Comics’ releases, this series is sure to be packed with incredible bonus features. What will readers have in store in terms of extra prose stories and/or illustrations?
MR: I honestly don’t know. AHOY’s editorial usually handles all that. Originally, we were going to have a back-up story about a blundering supervillain called My Bad, written by Bryce Ingman with art by Peter Krause, but we all liked it so much we decided it’d be better off being its own thing. So, I don’t know if there’s going to be an extra taking its place and, if so, what that might be.
RP: One of the issues will have a special code to access the secret cow level. :)
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 Second Coming’s story will connect with and impact readers?
MR: I think a lot of readers approach religious and superhero mythology in much the same way I do. As a thought experiment about what’s wrong with the world and what an awful time we’re going to have of fixing it. So, I hope it connects with readers, not by preaching to them, but by joining them in the conversation already taking place in their head.
RP: We've been overwhelmed with the support and popularity of the series with people from various religious communities. Not at all surprised by the subsequent quiet from the people who protested the book before it came out. The occasional person still upset by the idea of the book existing is maintaining their ignorance of what we did in the book.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
MR: Yes, I have a new mini-series coming out next month as part of DC’s Future State line. It’s called Superman vs. Imperious Lex, and it takes place on the planet Lexor, where Lex Luthor is worshiped and Superman is the most hated man on the planet. With art by Steve Pugh, who I worked with both on The Flintstones and Billionaire Island. It’s our third series together, so I think we should get matching jackets or something.
RP: With Second Coming taking up the most of my time, I'll only have the ability to do smaller projects on the side. It's most likely I'll be serializing Gentleman Cthulhu on my Patreon in the new year.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Second Coming?
MR: For the uninitiated, Second Coming is about Jesus Christ returning to Earth and sharing an apartment with a superhero. Jesus is at once appalled by what’s been done with his teachings over the last two thousand years and is determined to set it right, while the superhero (Sunstar) comes to realize just how limited his superpowers are when most of the planet’s real problems require empathy and a different outlook on the world more than the ability to, say, crush a pool ball in your hand.
RP: The best way to learn more is to grab a copy of the first trade collection or the issues on ComiXology.