Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Earlier this month Stephanie Phillips launched her new book, DESCENDENT at Aftershock. It immediately caught my attention and I had to get it. With a book rooted in conspiracy theories and a description of "Nation Treasure" meets "X-Files", I knew I had to check it out. What I got, was a highly entertaining book by a writer I hadn't read before. I'm now a Stephanie Phillips fan.
She's a great writer that has a clear love of comics and is using the medium to bring new and diverse books like DEVIL WITHIN (Black Mask Studios) and KICKING ICE (Ominous Press). She is definitely someone to keep your eye on for the foreseeable future. Not only is she a great writer but teaches technical writing at the University of Buffalo.
After reading DESCENDENT, I had to learn more so I immediately reahed out to her and she was kind enough to do this interview with me. Hope you guys enjoy, and go check out DESCENDENT.
COMIC LOUNGE: What first got you into comics?
STEPHANIE PHILLIPS: Batman anything. Whether it was cartoon or comics, I wanted anything with the Bat--symbol on it. It took me a while to realize there were other comics besides Batman out there, but I eventually got there.
CL: Were there any specific comics that inspired you to write comic books?
SP: I don’t think there is a specific comic I could look to, but I do appreciate the works of creators, both comics and otherwise, like Garth Ennis, Stephen King, Denis Villeneuve, Bruce Springsteen, and Bernie Wrightson, who inspire me to tell stories and feed my creativity.
I am also really lucky that I have some awesome comics creators in my corner who inspire and support me on a daily basis: Cully Hamner, Dave Johnson, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Mike Perkins have always helped as friends and mentors as I grow in the field.
CL: You've written a few books for indie publishers. For those not familiar can you tell us about some of your past work?
SP: I did a miniseries with Black Mask Studios called DEVIL WITHIN that is about a possession that took place in the Philippines. The story wrapped up at the beginning of May and features artwork from Maan House, colors from Dee Cunniffe, and letters by Troy Peteri. I have also worked on a graphic novel called KICKING ICE about girls playing ice hockey. The project was in support of the National Women’s Hockey League and features art from Jamie Jones. In 2018 I was also selected as a Top Cow Talent Hunt winner, and I have been working on a creator-owned project with them that will release later this year.
CL: You just launched DESCENDENT over at Aftershock. Can you tell us a little bit about the story and what inspired it?
SP: The story explores some unexplained events from American history and ties them to fictitious conspiracy theories. It’s a little like National Treasure meets X-Files. The idea started with the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh Junior, which has a lot of conspiracy theories surrounding the kidnapping and death of the child. Some people believe that Lindbergh Sr. actually helped to orchestrate the death of his own son. Using this event as the starting point, the book seeks to explore some of these mysteries in present-day America. Also, there are cults and monsters.
CL: One of the major draws to the book is conspiracy theories. Would you say that you're a fan of conspiracy theories as well?
SP: I’m a fan of the unexplained. While this often invites conspiracy theories, I am not particularly a conspiracy theorist. I do think that our current political climate invites a lot of interesting conspiracy speculations, so I thought it would be interesting to tie unexplained historical events and conspiracy theories together. It was a lot of fun to learn about while working on this book.
CL: The main character, David was one of my favorite parts of the book. Was there any specific characters you drew inspiration from when coming up with David?
SP: Myself! While I am not a conspiracy theorist, I have that similar annoying habit of not taking much seriously. We both seem to have a hard time growing up and we share a lot of musical interests. Unlike David, however, I am absolutely law abiding. I even stop at red lights in Grand Theft Auto, so there will be no breaking into air force bases for me.
CL: How long do you see the series running for?
SP: The current arc is five issues, though I have plenty more story to tell from there.
CL: Are there any other projects you're currently working on that you can talk about?
SP: I’m working on a creator-owned project with Top Cow/Image Comics about pirates. They will be showing off some work from that book at SDCC this year and releasing the series by the end of 2019. I am working on a few other books that will be out in 2019, but I can’t currently talk about them. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @steph_smash where I’ll post about future releases.
CL: Besides writing you also teach at the University of Buffalo. Can you share some of the advice you give your students when it comes to writing?
SP: Read. Read as much as you can, as often as you can, and anything you can get your hands on.