Hamish Steele Reveals DeadEndia: Divine Order Cover: Exclusive

Earlier this year Netflix revealed that the second season of Dead End: Paranormal Park—the long-in-the-works adaptation of Hamish Steele’s supernatural comic series DeadEndiawould be its last, leaving the story of Barney, Norma, and their friends at Phoenix Parks unfinished. But now fans will see at least one version of that story come to a close with the release of the final DeadEndia graphic novel.

io9 is proud to exclusively reveal the first look at the final cover for The Divine Order, the climactic entry in the DeadEndia series. Written and illustrated by Steele themselves, The Divine Order will see Barney, Norma, Pugsley and all their friends face the gravest threats any young adults can face: complications in their love lives. Oh, and a little thing like the potential end of the universe as they know it. Two equally important things! Check out the full cover below.

Image for article titled Hamish Steele Talks Bringing an End to DeadEndia

Image: Hamish Steele/Union Square & Co.

To learn about Steele’s process on bringing DeadEndia to an end—especially in the wake of Paranormal Park’s cut-short conclusion—io9 recently spoke to the author over email to find out how the show’s evolution influenced his original work on the series, and the enduring importance of focusing its story on a young trans hero at a time trans people face repeated threats to their livelihoods around the world.

James Whitbrook, io9: What has it been like for you as a creative to be returning to DeadEndia after Dead End ultimately wrapped up at Netflix?

Hamish Steele: It doesn’t feel like a return really, just a continuation. I have been working on DeadEndia and Dead End simultaneously for over ten years. So if anything, the new book feels more like closure to a huge chapter of my life. It’s sad but also I’m at peace with it all. Obviously, I’d have loved to have made more of the show and I’m definitely open to making more DeadEndia books in the future or things set in the same world… but for now I’m happy to get to finish it in book form, at least. Not everyone gets that chance.

io9: What lessons do you think you learned from your time creating Dead End that you brought to finishing out theDeadEndia trilogy? Were there any story threads you decided to change based on things the audience had responded to inDead End?

Steele: I think book fans tend to be a little quieter on the internet than show fans. And of course, Netflix gave us a much bigger platform so there were many more of them. So it was a lot clearer to me what people liked about the series. I was quite happy to see how balanced all the fan art and cosplay was – people seem to like the lead four characters in pretty equal measure. But in the books, those characters were never as balanced in terms of screen time as in the show. If you read book one for example, Courtney is not really the focus in any way. They’re not even in half the chapters. But Courtney was so popular in the tv show that I made sure book 3 gave that character some good closure. They’re kind of the heart of the whole series, in some ways.

When writing Book 3, I definitely found writing the character voices a lot easier. I could hear the actors in my head whenever I was writing. But genuinely, Book 3 is the ending I always imagined when I started the series all those years ago.

io9: We’re both from the UK, and as you’re very aware, the public and political landscape around trans people’s livelihoods, and trans people in media, feels like it’s more repressive and aggressive than it has been in a very, very long time—not just here but across the world. As a queer person, what’s it meant to you to see the reaction to Barney and the excitement around his own relationship with his gender identity—and not just what that meant in the animated show space when Dead End first came out, but now that you’re returning to the version of the character you original envisioned him as in DeadEndia right now?

Steele: When I first created Barney in 2011-2012, I genuinely didn’t think much of him being trans. I wanted the cast to reflect my friend group and it was sort of a no brainer that this character was trans. It just made sense and it wasn’t never meant to be the most interesting or important part of him. DeadEndia began as a webcomic on Tumblr so genuinely, he wasn’t even particularly unique in that landscape.

Then when the Netflix show was pitched in 2018, it really felt like a character like Barney was way overdue. We received no pushback from the company. I’d prepared myself for the worst, having had bad experiences trying to push for queer representation in other shows I’d developed, but it was a breeze. I naively believed the show would release in a world even more accepting then the one we’d pitched the show in.

But by the time the show came out in 2021, it was so obvious how wrong I’d been. I’m sick and tired of being patient with transphobes at this point. I used to want to educate them, but every day seeing the absolute worst bigotry trend worldwide makes it clear they’re not interesting in learning. And in this climate, I think Barney feels more important than he was ever meant to be. I’ve had countless messages and conversations with readers who’ve told me he saved their life or helped them talk about being trans with their family. And I also love talking to cis and straight fans who love Barney. It’s a good reminder that the hate you see online is coming from a tiny, noisy, lonely, sad minority who want to make everyone as miserable as they are.

I think when it comes to wrapping up Barney’s storyline in Book 3, the most radical thing you can do is just see him winning. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the book doesn’t delve into any trans angst or dysphoria or anything. Seeing a trans character win, grow old, live happily ever after… that is sadly still uncommon in media and is a reality that many transphobes try to deny is possible.

i09: You’ve got multiple other projects in the works at the moment, like Croc and Roll’s webtoon rollout, and you’ve previously alluded to more potential TV work in your future. What sort of stories are you looking to tell next?

Steele: Yeah! Croc and Roll has been a fun return to my web comic roots. Similarly, before DeadEndia, I used to make a lot comedy for adults like my book Pantheon. I have a few book and show pitches in that space I can’t wait to share. But after DeadEndia wraps, I am jumping headfirst into my next series of graphic novels which are for a similar age group. I can’t say much but it’s going to once again feature a diverse cast in a world of monsters but in some ways, it couldn’t be more different. It will also be the first series I start since I got my autism diagnosis, and I’ll be exploring the concept of an autistic superhero. So watch out for that in the coming years!

DeadEndia: The Divine Order will hit shelves on April 23, 2024—find out how to pre-order here and here.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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