Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson are already well-established in the horror realm, exploring the depths of cannibal depravity in The Dregs, charting new boundaries of the flesh in Come Into Me and now returning Marvel’s Cable to his techno-organic body-horror roots. Her Infernal Descent, their upcoming AfterShock series with artist Kyle Charles, colorist Dee Cunniffe and letterer Ryan Ferrier, eschews their trademark grotesquerie for a much more relatable pain: grief. In the pages of this five-issue mini-series, middle-aged mother Lynn descends into Hell to search for her forsaken family, where she finds herself guided through damnation by celebrity lost souls and subjected to unusual torments. Her Infernal Descent displays a—dare we say it—kinder side to Nadler and Thompson, so Paste invited the duo to bare their hearts with a suitably spooky and mournful playlist to accompany the book, the first issue of which hits shelves April 18th.
“The End,” The Doors
Apocalypse Now is a big source of inspiration for the journey that Lynn, our protagonist, goes through in Her Infernal Descent. I shamefully only saw the film for the first time last year and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. That opening scene with the helicopters is so famous and I’d heard about it so many times but seeing how it works in connection to the rest of the film is another thing altogether. The lyrics are also perfect for where Lynn finds herself in the first issue.
“The Departure,” Max Richter
Nadler: Zac and I are Max Richter fanatics. He’s one of the great composers of our time and is able to evoke very haunting moods like no one else. We listen to his music very often when we write, and his soundtrack for The Leftovers perfectly captures the somber, existential and spiritual aspects of our book. Put it on, and give in to wonder.
“I Get Overwhelmed,” Dark Rooms
Nadler: Not unlike David Lowery’s ?A Ghost Story, ours is a tale of loss, history and how death is so much bigger than all of us. I think for anyone who’s experienced loss of any sort, it’s hard not to be affected by a track like this.
“All Along The Watchtower,” The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Nadler: The first line of the song really says it all. Plus, you might see Jimi hiding in the pages of the book…
Nadler: I recently watched Twin Peaks: The Return and we absolutely loved those musical interludes that Lynch included. There were some aspects of Twin Peaks that made their way into Her Infernal Descent, and that dreamy, nightmarish tone that Chromatics does so well just feels right for a mom going into the bowels of hell.
“Heaven and Hell,” Black Sabbath
Nadler: Zac and I are trying hard to do something new and interesting with Hell and how it works in tandem with Heaven. Neither of us are religious people so it’s been interesting to navigate a world that’s so steeped in religious iconography and history. I think that heavy-metal attitude of using these images in a sacrilegious way speaks to the nature of the book. Not that we’re out to offend anyone or take religion down, but it’s a matter of recontextualizing things for a modern world.
“Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” Burt Bacharach
Zac Thompson: This one has some real story significance for Lynn in the book. We don’t want to spoil anything but it plays a role in the second issue of the series. It’s a devastating reveal that comes full circle in issue #4.
“You Want It Darker,” Leonard Cohen
Thompson: We both absolutely love the work of Leonard Cohen. His smooth gravel voice is the perfect company on the journey to Hell. This song in particular hits many of the themes we’re toying with in the book. Plus Cohen is featured in the first issue!
“Spring 1,” Recomposed by Max Richter from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons
Thompson: This recomposition of Vivaldi by Max Richter is a beautiful and invigorating celebration of spring. The first issue of the series begins with the morning light of spring and what better way to wallow in sorrow than to be surrounding by vivid beauty?
“Flight From The City,” Jóhann Jóhannsson
Thompson: We’re both massive fans of Johann. After his tragic passing last month we couldn’t help but feature his music as we worked on the series. This song in particular speaks to a journey from the known to the unknown. A wild leap into something uncertain and daring.
“Well I Wonder,” The Smiths
Thompson: The Smiths make sadness beautiful. At its core, this book is about the unpredictable nature and relentless force of grief. It’s about hoarsely crying until your lungs and voice box feels raw wondering where your loved ones disappeared to.
Thompson: “Helicopter” feels like letting go of what you held dear and praying that you’ll end up somewhere better. It’s a meandering, dreamlike song about moving on. It feels perfect for journeying into Hell. Listen to it as Lynn and Blake walk through the suburbs in issue #1.
“The Black Angel’s Death Song,” The Velvet Underground
Nadler: Surprise! Another song with images of death and the afterlife. This is really a track about the choices we make in our lives, living with regrets, and whether or not we’re able to overcome them. Lynn faces this struggle throughout the series, and as the angels and demons watch her grapple, she must decide whether or not she’s strong enough to keep moving or if she wants to just give up and give in. Pick up issue #1 on April 18th to find out.