Testament: The Final Arc(k)

That’s right: the last story arc of my comic series, Testament is underway. The finale was announced at San Diego last week in response to a question about whether the series was being “canceled.”

Fact is, I’ve always had four different places I could have ended the story, and I think the escape from Egypt (bondage) is actually the most dramatic. The final arc – issues 19-22 – will involve a total shift in the conventions of the book. Though the story could theoretically continue someday, it would have to be with all new rules.

I’ve enjoyed writing Testament tremendously, but this series has been a whole lot of work for a whole lot of people. My editors say it’s the most labor-intensive series they’ve been involved with, too.

As a piece of commercial fiction, well, Testament has always represented something of a challenge. I don’t think comics should ever be about just one simple narrative thread. That’s fine for TV or even a movie, but not a form as multi-threaded as comics are by their very nature. That’s why books like Fables are so successful: they take popular mythologies and then turn them on their heads, bending time and even allowing characters to step outside the world of the story and comment on it directly.

Testament plays similar games with Torah stories which, for better and for worse, are less familiar to most comics readers than Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Trouble is, people who are familiar enough with Bible stories to “get” Testament from the get-go also tend to be the kinds of people who don’t like their mythologies messed with quite this way. Meanwhile, people who are unfamiliar with Bible stories tend to shy away from them altogether, under the false impression that they don’t know enough about the primal sagas to appreciate these interpretations. But these are precisely the folks to whom Testament is aimed.

Luckily, the whole series is being collected in four fully annotated volumes. And read in sequence (rather than with big one-month spaces between them) makes the whole narrative a hell of a lot easier to appreciate.

So thanks to everyone for letting me tell this story: the folks at Vertigo who took such pains to hold it all together, Liam Sharp for visualizing the multi-dimensional with a passion and clarity I didn’t believe possible, and most of all, you readers for supporting this most excellent adventure.

Please let me know what you think of the ending when it comes – three or so months from now. I’m already developing the next series, which should find its way to you sometime next year under the Vertigo imprint.