Andrea Molinari and Roberto Molinari explore the possibilities of an afterlife in The Shepherd. Andrea explains that the idea for the story came from a dream, or a nightmare to be exact. When he woke the next day he actually remembered the dream and told his family about it. His son, Roberto, then encouraged him to turn this nightmare into a story. With his encouragement he did just that.
After reading the introduction you can clearly see that the characters in The Shepherd are inspired by Andrea's real life.
The story begins with the main character, Dr. Lawrence Miller, explaining to the reader that they are smack dab in the middle of a ghost story. A ghost story with glowing eyes, raging bulls and hissing snakes. He does take a step back to explain how the story actually begins. The story takes place in Detroit, Michigan and Dr. Lawrence Miller is a professor of Theology at a local college. He has a wife, Margaret, two sons, Val and Ted and a daughter named Alexis. Val is the oldest son, a typical teenager with attitude. As Lawrence is trying to get out the door to give an evening lecture he argues with his son about going to the movies on a school night. Margaret encourages Lawrence to give in and give Val money for the movies. Of course Val does not go to the movies, he goes to a party and ends up overdosing on methamphetamine. Lawrence is angry and is having a very hard time dealing with the situation. Up to this point it all seems typical, as in this sort of thing, unfortunately, happens all the time. Where the story takes an interesting turn is what makes it so great.
Dr. Lawrence Miller is a professor of Theology so he's very well versed in the many religious beliefs in the afterlife. He eventually comes up with the idea to commit suicide in order to help his son, Val. He believes Val has not passed over and is lingering in what most of us refer to as limbo. He thinks Val is there seeking help and Lawrence is going in after him. After Lawrence takes his own life he ends up in this place we call limbo. He is eventually greeted by his father. His father explains a great deal of things about what is happening. He tells Lawrence that they're neither in heaven or hell but in “the Seam”. He explains that the Seam is much like where salt water and freshwater meet, commonly known as brackish water. This part of the story really makes you question whether or not Lawrence is a good guy or just some jerk. He argues with his father about helping him find Val. They're all dead now but they're not in the same place. It seems as though the Seam is much like real life, if you want something you still have to do some work to get it. His father just showed up, but Val is nowhere to be found. His father explains to him that he must be very careful what he does while in the Seam as it can greatly effect how you cross over. He offers to take him right then and there to what one can assume would be heaven. When Lawrence argues and says he's staying in order to help Val, Lawrence's father says he can't stay to help him. This is when Lawrence acts like a stubborn ass and you can't feel sorry for him for whatever happens next. His father gives him the only thing that can help him, a necklace with a staff pendent. Even after he's given the necklace he acts like a complete buffoon, yelling at his father and not appreciating nor understanding what this gift actually was. When held the staff turns into a life size staff that wields power to not only fend off his enemies but to reveal the truth. Trouble is, the staff drains Lawrence of his energy and he has no idea who his enemies actually are.
Having a story take place in this mysterious after world place is very clever. The adventures are endless because no one has ever actually explored it and came back to tell their tale. Molinari did a nice job of keeping some things familiar though. When you're in a strange place you feel a little safer when you can find familiar things.
The story is fun yet raises a lot of questions. Especially questions about the main character. Was Lawrence a hero for trying to help his son who's lost in the Seam, or was he just completely selfish and filled with rage? He did leave behind a wife and two other children to go after the one who already passed away. Or was he a brave man for even attempting to do this? There are no guarantees that there will actually be anything after you pass away so he did take a big risk in taking his own life. This story touches on the idea of being in limbo before crossing over to heaven or hell or possibly being trapped in “the Seam” for eternity. What if Lawrence committed suicide and went directly to hell, as many religions believe will happen, and never even got a chance to help his son? This was a huge gamble for Lawrence. Does this make him brave or a hero for having a great deal of faith and attempting something so dangerous? Lawrence's adventures in the Seam are certainly exciting enough, so maybe he could be classified as a hero in training.
Written by Andrea Lorenzo Molinari and Roberto Xavier Molinari with pencils and inks by Ryan “Score” Showers, colours by Heather Breckel and letters/logo design by Jacob Bascle. Check your local comic shop for availability