Founded in 2006, Alterna Comics‘ titles have a worldwide distribution. They are available in print and digital formats and in several languages. Alterna is home to the New York Times Best-Selling zombie war series FUBAR as well as the psychological horror thriller THE CHAIR, which has been adapted into a film.

Once predominantly a publisher of graphic novels and digital comics, Alterna expanded their lineup to include single issue titles printed on newsprint. Currently, Alterna publishes over 60 critically-acclaimed titles in multiple genres and formats including THE WICKED RIGHTEOUS, SCRIMSHAW, and CROAK.

Alterna Comics is a small, independent publisher that is making big waves in the comic book world. Recently, Alterna completed a Kickstarter campaign to bring Alterna’s newsprint comics to newsstands around the world. Now, over 300 stores will be a part of the first test market for the distribution of Alterna’s newsprint titles. Alterna’s founder and the writer of THE CHAIR, Peter Simeti, answers our questions about what makes his company stand out and his experiences creating and publishing comics!

READ: Want to hear more from another Alterna creator? Check out our interview with FUBAR and MOTHER RUSSIA creator Jeff McComsey!

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FUBAR by Jeff McComsey. Image courtesy of Alterna Comics.

STARTING ALTERNA

ComicsVerse: How did you first find yourself working in comic books?

Peter Simeti: I worked on a few small projects as an inker, letterer, and colorist.

What do you think are the benefits of the creator-owned model? Would you ever consider moving to a more traditional publisher model?

With a creator-owned story, the creator retains the rights to their work. The traditional publishing model doesn’t work that way. To put it bluntly, I’d never consider switching to a traditional publishing model. It just doesn’t speak to me as a creator and I wouldn’t want to force other creators into that situation.

Alterna
THE WICKED RIGHTEOUS #1 by and Terry Mayo and Lucas Romero. Image courtesy of Alterna Comics.

On your Kickstarter, you stated, “We’re sort of the Island of Misfit Toys in the comics world.” Creatively, what do you think sets Alterna Comics apart from its mainstream counterparts?

We tell stories that are neither too mainstream nor too far off the beaten path. Alterna has a variety of titles and genres with varying age ranges as well. I think we have one of the most well-rounded catalogs of any publisher.

READ: Have you heard about Alterna’s newsstand distribution deal? Click here to learn more about the Alterna comics coming near you!

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SCRIMSHAW #1 by Eric Borden and Dave Mims. Image courtesy of Alterna Comics.

THE CHAIR

Could you please tell our readers what THE CHAIR is about?

Sure. On the surface, THE CHAIR is about one man’s struggle to survive against insurmountable odds. Below the surface, THE CHAIR is an intensely psychological story that deals with themes of mental health, abuse of power, and how the bad choices we make in life almost always come back to haunt us.

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Page from THE CHAIR #1. Image courtesy of Alterna Comics.

How did your original vision for THE CHAIR evolve into the final product? Were there any substantial changes made to the story arc or characters?

I think the biggest change might occur in what is technically issue #4 — so I don’t want to give that away. Hah!

THE CHAIR’s Influences and Themes

THE CHAIR explores issues related to our prison system. Do you think our system is broken?

I don’t think it’s necessarily broken, but it most definitely is being pushed to its limit. Laws are a frightening thing because they’re created by people and people are a product of their time and their education. They’re also products of fear. What was illegal yesterday can be legal today and vice versa. Many people before us lost their lives, their homes, or their loved ones for breaking laws that would be completely irrelevant today.

And the only difference is that they were born in a different time.

To really sit there and think about that, it’s absolutely terrifying.

THE CHAIR puts a lot of focus on isolation and torture. What were your literary or artistic influences when finding the tone for the book?

Probably a mix of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, Edgar Allan Poe, ARKHAM ASYLUM, and the evening news.

READ: See why we love Alterna by taking a look at our THE CHAIR #1 review!

 

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Page from The Chair #2. Image courtesy of Alterna Comics.

THE CHAIR seems to take a lot of influence from 70s horror movies and slashers, while also discussing some fairly weighty socio-political issues. The book does a great job of riding the line between the two. So, how do you balance these two disparate elements?

I think they go hand in hand really. It’s just most horror films tend to focus outward more than inward. I’ve always loved Poe’s writing and his ability to analyze and empathize with even the most evil of his characters. It gives them a sense of humanity and eerie relatability. That feeling that any one of us could become this evil, given the right motivations and the right situation — a lot of that is in THE CHAIR. In your reviews, you had mentioned that the Warden character was very one-dimensional in the first two issues. I think you’ll be surprised once issue 3 rolls around in October.

Beyond Comics

THE CHAIR has also recently become a film, which has been well-received on the festival circuit. How do you think the movie and comic adaptation complement each other?

I think with any film adaptation, there’s always going to be some changes and for the most part I like the changes that helped to flesh out the film version of THE CHAIR. I think that readers will find something new and unexpected in the film and I think viewers will find something new to take away from the graphic novel/comic book when they read it.

READ: For our take on another comic-title-turned-film, check our thoughts on the first JUSTICE LEAGUE trailer!

THE CHAIR movie trailer

What is it like to have your story adapted? What was the process like? 

It’s like making a comic book but much more stressful and far more difficult. This is mostly because on a comic like THE CHAIR, I just had to talk to two other people and make sure they were on the same page. On the film, it was about a hundred people. To make sure that a hundred people are in coordination…that’s pretty difficult. I think I’ll stick to making comics!

What other Alterna titles would fans of THE CHAIR like?

I think fans of THE CHAIR would love TRESPASSER, CROAK, MOTHER RUSSIA, and an upcoming title that comes out in November called DOPPELGANGER.

Peter, thank you for your time! Be sure to check out Peter Simeti’s work and all the great Alterna Comic titles here! Also, THE CHAIR #3 comes out Wednesday, October 25th, 2017. 

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