Past the Last Mountain debuted this summer from a Kickstarter campaign. It is a geopolitical fantasy comic by writer Paul Allor and artist Louie Joyce. The story follows Kate the faun, Willa the dragon, and Simon the young troll boy, who find themselves on the run from the United States Government. Past the Last Mountain brings to life emotions many of us are readily feeling in today’s political climate. It is easily one of the best comics I’ve read this year and melds mythical creatures with relevant topics. Bonus: the story features over twenty diverse artists!
I had a chat with writer Paul Allor about the comic. Read on to see what he had to say!
Rogues Portal: Past the Last Mountain is a wonderful and compelling ride. Where did the idea for Part the Last Mountain come from?
Paul Allor: Oh, wow. It’s been a good five years now, so I’m a little fuzzy. But I think the kernel of Past the Last Mountain was the idea of fantasy creatures co-existing with a very real and grounded modern world. No magic, no mysticism, just modern society and bureaucracy — plus dragons. A geopolitical fantasy.
It went through a lot of changes in its early development. At one point I wanted the creatures to all speak in a made-up foreign language that we would never translate. I’m… glad I decided not to do that.
RP: Why the use of mythical creatures and humans as opposed to just humans or just mythical creatures?
PA: Well, this particular story wouldn’t really work with just one or the other. And bouncing them off each other was a lot of fun. I also think of it as being many, many groups, not just two. Humans have a different agenda from the fantasy creatures, yes, but the dragons also have a different agenda from fauns, from goblins, from trolls, from centaurs…
RP: It is obvious you have some current politic undertones in your story. Were you trying to relate to our current political climate or more historical situations?
PA: There are definitely some obvious touchstones, but I didn’t want there to be any one thing you could point to as the story’s real-life precedent. And a lot of the current undertones were completely unplanned. The world just kind of came closer to the themes of our story, as we developed it. Unfortunately.
RP: Were any of your main characters like Simon or Kate inspired by anyone specific?
PA: Nah. Now that I think about it, I don’t really tend to base characters off of anyone specific. As soon as I’m done with this interview I’ll think of 20 examples where I did, though.
RP: The mini-stories are an interesting way to tell more of the story. What made you want to do this?
PA: We kind of fell backwards into it, at first. We had one two-page short that we wanted to include in the trade paperback. And since it felt weird to just have the one, we decided to have three or four shorts instead. Then it kind of just kept growing until it’s basically half the book.
The shorts take place 40 years before the mini-series, during a war between the humans and fantasy creatures. My hope with them was that even if some of the individual stories feel fragmentary of vignette-y, all of them as a whole feel like they tell the story of the war — or at least a very bird’s-eye overview of it.
RP: The number and diversity of artists you collaborated with is impressive. Were they friends or people you had been wanting to work with for a while?
PA: A little bit of both, really! And yeah, it’s an amazing lineup. I’m incredibly proud of it.
RP: You leave the story a bit hanging. Are there plans for another volume?
PA: Probably not. I tend to like somewhat ambiguous endings, so I get this question on every creator-owned book I write, ha. I actually would love to do more Past the Last Mountain stories, but it wouldn’t be these characters — it would just be a brand-new story set in the same world.
RP: This was a Kickstarter project, so how do people purchase this if they want to read it but didn’t back it?
PA: If you’re a digital reader you can buy the mini-series on Comixology. There’s no way to get the full book yet, but we plan on putting it on Comixology and selling the print trades through the mail. We don’t have that set up yet, since we wanted to give backers some exclusivity first. But watch this space!
RP: You also write some other great comics. Can you enlighten us on your other titles?
PA: Sure! I’m probably best known for my work on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles books for IDW. I’m also currently writing a Clue mini-series over there. On the creator-owned side, my books include Tet, a war-torn romance with artist Paul Tucker; Strange Nation, an offbeat sci-fi story with Juan Romera; and the just announced Monstro Mechanica, which is coming out this December from AfterShock comics. I co-created it with artist Chris Evenhuis, and it’s a swashbuckling meditation on identity, starring Leonardo da Vinci, his female apprentice and their robot bodyguard. It’s going to be freaking great.
RP: Those all sound wonderful. Can’t wait to check them out! Anything else you like us to know about the story in general?
PA: Did I mention the dragons?
Thanks again to Paul for taking the time to chat with us and make sure you check out Past the Last Mountain on Comixology!