One day, for no reason, the Animals woke up. They started thinking. They started talking. They started taking REVENGE. The world is plunged into chaos as the newly-intelligent Animals fight humanity, and simply fight each other, for their own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. In the midst of the turmoil is Jesse, an 11-year-old girl, and her dog, Sandor, who is devoted to her and her protection.
Animosity Volume 2 (9781935002741, $14.99) collects issues 5-8 issues of the best-selling series, plus the special one-shot issue THE WORLD OF ANIMOSITY. Check out our interview with comic creators Marguerite Bennett and Rafael de Latorre as we explore the making behind the series.
Ashley Kronsberg: For those who aren’t familiar, could you give us a quick overview of Animosity? What sparked the idea to create this unique series?
Marguerite Bennett: It would be my pleasure! ANIMOSITY begins when one day, for reasons unknown, the animals start thinking, start talking, and start taking revenge. Cows rebel in their slaughterhouses, hens murder their roosters, the orca in SeaWorld splashes from the tank, all fins and splash and terrible jaws, slams down his flips, and says to his trainer, “Jessica, I can’t deny my feelings any longer! WILL YOU MARRY ME?” The world explodes into over-the-top, blackly comic chaos.
In New York City, in the midst of these brutal, bombastic, outrageous landscape, is a young girl named Jesse, and the Bloodhound she raised from a puppy. At the moment her dog “wakes,” he turns to her—the human who has cared for him, saved him, raised him, protected him, and been as a mother to him—and tells her, with utter purity and sincerity, that he loves her. Smiling, uncomprehending, and tells him she loves him, too.
When disaster strikes, Jesse’s parents are out of the picture. This dog who was Jesse’s child must now become her father and protector, and sets out to guide her on the journey to her estranged brother, who lives on the West Coast. His life expectancy is far less than hers, and he knows he has to get the girl to her brother before he himself dies and leaves her stranded in this vicious new world. Now they must navigate clashes between the United States government and the rise of the Animilitary, the devastating food crisis, population explosions, monsters, mayhem, and every other peril on this mad road trip.
ANIMOSITY is a dystopia, a black comedy, and a coming-of-age story, all in one.
Ashley Kronsberg: In volume 1, readers get to see The Wake and the immediate aftermath. How did you two go about creating this scene? Did it go through many iterations, or did you both instinctually know how you wanted it to come alive on the page?
Marguerite Bennett: Rafael was so brilliantly patient with me—I sent him multiple documents on how those experimental double page spreads could play out, allowing us to see a whole scope of the world in three beats. The first beat was the breath before the Wake occurred, the second was the moment every animal in the world “came online,” as it were, and the third was the unbridled pandemonium that followed.
To the structure, there were tables and charts! A little key at the bottom to show what went where and how the sequences matched up! I really feel like those three double page spreads sold the series to the audience in a way I never could. Rafael was so patient with me, and he captures all the little emotions and intimacies so beautifully. I’m so delighted to have our entire team—Rafael, Rob, Marshall, and of course Mike—helping bring this mad, mad, mad, mad, mad, mad, mad world to life.
Rafael de Latorre: Marguerite’s script already gave me a clear idea of what to do, and the double-spreads sequence she wrote was such a clever way to show all of that happening at the same time. I tried to get the right tone for each scene since there’s a wide variety with some funny, dark and emotional moments. And of course, Rob’s colors adds a lot to communicate that.
Ashley Kronsberg: There is a unique sense of humanity given to the animals in this series, both in how they speak and how they are drawn, naturally allowing for connections to be made between how humans can treat each other in modern society. Are these connections you both consciously think about when scripting/drawing Animosity?
Marguerite Bennett: Thank you so kindly! And yes, very much so. Rafael is so intuitive and helps to highlight this emotionality in places where words fail. Simultaneous, I never want the story to be an allegory—no animals are ever meant to represent any community of humans. ANIMOSITY is an adventure story, but it is one about parenthood, empathy, and horror.
One of the central tenets of ANIMOSITY is the series is like a joke that gets taken too far. “What if your dog could talk? What if cats had thumbs? What if we could understand what animals are saying?” We embrace the absurdity of the premise, and then push it into a place of hard realism until it’s 1.) funny 2.) not funny anymore 3.) probably funny again 4.) oh crap that hurt.
In the universe of ANIMOSITY, we are living out that punch line. It’s just that the punch line is the end of the world.
Who and what are you, then, in the new world being born?
Rafael de Latorre: I try to find a balance when drawing the animals. They need to have some human traits to convey the emotions, but I try not to make them too cartoonish or humorous, because they still have to fit with the way I draw the human characters. It’s a challenge but also very fun to find ways that these animal can express themselves.
Ashley Kronsberg: In volume 2, we see a lot of juxtaposition between humans needing to sacrifice their humanity and animals needing to sacrifice their primal nature in order to survive and benefit one another. What is the importance of sacrificing these innate characteristics?
Marguerite Bennett: They’re all hoping to be strong enough to survive the world, without letting it destroy not only themselves, what that element that makes them themselves, if that makes sense. Not only their lives are at stake, or even the lives of their loved ones, as Sandor the Bloodhound adores Jesse, his adopted human child, more than all life on Earth that ever was or ever will be.
Each of the companions fears the loss of their humanity, as it were—their sense of identity, or the thing they value most about themselves—their kindness, in Jesse’s case; their compassion, in Beth’s; their integrity, in Pallas’s. What makes you, you? What separates us from animals, or animals from us? How much of yourself would you have to lose to become a beast? How much would you have to gain to become some new creature entirely?
Ashley Kronsberg: Finally, if you two had to pick a favorite character, who would it be and why?
Marguerite Bennett: Ohhh, I adore Sandor. Sandor the Bloodhound’s name arose because Sandor Clegane the alcoholic Hound was my favorite character in A Song of Ice and Fire when I read the books in high school, and I elected to have Jesse’s dad be a fantasy fan and name his dog after that ill-made not-quite-knight.
In ANIMOSITY, our canine Sandor is so brutal and so sincere. His entire mission in life is to give up the one thing that gives his own life any meaning. He loves Jesse as his own daughter, his child—loves her more than the sky and stars and the hope of life everlasting. But he’s brutal, and clumsy in his earnestness. He’s done so much damage to keep Jesse safe, lies to her that it is a kind, gentle world out there and not one just as ugly and vicious as he is. Sandor is preparing to give her up, to give her over to the care of her brother as his own life comes to an end—and that journey of love and loss cuts me to the quick.
You’d never think a sad dog road trip would find an audience, but the readers who have made Sandor and Jesse’s journey possible—they are my real favorites, in the end. (Thank you, all of you.)
Rafael de Latorre: Oh, it’s difficult to pick only one. But if I have to choose I gotta say Sandor. He has this determination to protect Jesse and you feel how much he cares for her, and for me that’s something that draws you a lot to the character. Also, he’s really badass.