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Exclusive Preview: ‘Ashes’ Allows for Mourning in Between Wacky Road Trip Adventures

"Ashes" by Álvaro Ortiz preview pages.

There’s something about a road trip story that allows for infinite adventure while also serving as the perfect vehicle for people to process emotions/thoughts pushed way down deep because regular life feels too busy for introspection. From the tentative friendship developed in Unpregnant (2020) to the emotional romp of “I don’t know how I feel about being a runaway bride?!” in Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour, the last few years have provided a lot of hilarious trips with moments of radical honesty. (Well, the truth comes out by the end of the trip, anyways.)

Now, Álvaro Ortiz’s Ashes will be enjoyed as part of this larger canon of stories as his newly translated work becomes accessible to English readers.

'Ashes' by Álvaro Ortiz.
(Top Shelf Productions)

Originally published nearly a decade ago in Spain, Ortiz’s Ashes follows a trio of characters as they trek to fulfill the wishes of a mutual friend who has passed away. Throughout the story, there’s a steady exploration of ideas like grief, success, and more through this almost disarming illustration style. Almost as interesting in the panel rhythm is how the story is told through a cast of rather unlikable but still realistic characters. Regardless of what you think will happen next, you will always be wrong and challenged in those assumptions.

Exclusive preview: Ashes

Top Shelf Productions allowed us to share an exclusive sneak preview of this newly published story! Except for Japanese manga, most contemporary translated literature comes from traditional fiction, not graphic novels or comics. So, I had to check it out and wasn’t disappointed. The official synopsis reads:

Polly, Moho, and Piter haven’t seen each other in years. Now they’ve piled into a car for a loooong journey to a mysterious cross marked on a map. All their old personality quirks and conflicts are resurrected with new wrinkles as this surreal reunion gets underway. Up ahead are car chases, alcohol, roadside motels, banjo-playing thugs, a ship graveyard, violence, sensual tension, and, of course, a monkey!

Midway through the story, we get to look into the lives of some of the tertiary characters—namely, the two men that resemble the Houston-based blues band ZZ Top and clues as to why they are tracking the main characters on their trip.

"Ashes" by Álvaro Ortiz preview pages.
"Ashes" by Álvaro Ortiz preview pages.
"Ashes" by Álvaro Ortiz preview pages.
"Ashes" by Álvaro Ortiz preview pages.

Ashes is available now on Bookshop and at your local comic book store.

(featured image: Ferran Cornellà, Top Shelf Productions)

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(she/her) Award-winning artist and blogger with experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time watching movies, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Balder's Gate 3, Apex Legends, and CS:GO.