Wasteland (comics)

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Publication information
PublisherOni Press
FormatOngoing series
Publication dateJuly 2006–April 2015
No. of issues60
Creative team
Created byAntony Johnston
Christopher Mitten
Written byAntony Johnston
Artist(s)Christopher Mitten
Ben Templesmith

Wasteland is a monthly comic book series written by Antony Johnston, drawn by Christopher Mitten with covers by Ben Templesmith, and published by Oni Press. It debuted in July 2006 and ended in April 2015.[1]

The series is set one hundred years after the Big Wet, an unspecified disaster that destroyed modern society and, it is assumed, changed the world's coastlines. The story takes place somewhere in America, now a barren desert and dustbowl without modern technology. The seas are poisonous, and subsistence farming with small amounts of livestock appears to be the norm.

The book also has theme music, composed and performed by Johnston, which can be downloaded from the official website.


Each issue of Wasteland is 32 pages long (with the exception of issue #1, which was a special double length premiere) and contains 22 pages of comic story, one episode of the prose serial travelogue Walking The Dust, a letters column and preview page for the following issue. The remainder of the pages are taken up by ads, normally for other series from Oni Press and/or by Wasteland's creators.

The letters column sometimes contains pieces of submitted fan art, and Johnston himself often answers the letters.

The Big Wet[edit]

The most-seen explanation for the apocalypse comes from the Sunner religion, a sect that worships Mother Sun and Father Moon. According to their legend, the Big Wet was a retribution on the people of A-Ree-Yass-I for shunning the 'gifts' Mother Sun and Father Moon offered them. It seems as though this mythic place's name is a play on words by the author, and a linguistic contraction in-world, for "Area 1/I" (or perhaps "Area SI" = Area 51)—a military base/lab where the bomb was created.


Thus far, the comic has established two distinct storylines. The first follows a scavenger named Michael who roams the wasteland, trading what he can salvage. His life changes forever when he finds a machine that talks in a forgotten language, supposedly giving directions to the fabled land of A-Ree-Yass-I, where mankind's downfall began. Michael tries to trade the machine at a small town of Sunners called Providence, and his fate becomes intertwined with the town's sheriff, Abi.

The second storyline follows the political machinations of a large city known as Newbegin, where the city's leader Marcus (aka Lord Founder) is oppressing the Sunner population, most of whom are slaves.

Sunner beliefs[edit]

Sunners have been shown to hold the following beliefs:

  • They worship 'Mother Sun' and 'Father Moon'
  • They cremate their dead in the open air
  • They are pacifists (though they appear to make exceptions for non-human creatures)
  • Fires are considered a form of tribute to their gods


Many words and phrases from our own time have changed to fit the world of Wasteland, and writer Antony Johnston has stated in interviews that the comic's language is carefully constructed.

For example, many epithets involving animals have become solely references to goats – "Son of a goat", "Goatshit", "I'll be a goat's uncle", and so on. No reference has yet been made in the book to Christ or Jesus; although God is mentioned in "Walking the Dust" text pieces, and issue 14 (set 55 years after the big wet) there is a priest who wears a cross, carries a bible, and refers to himself as a member of the "Cross Chain" religion. The names of places and cities are new or changed ("Providence" is almost certainly not Providence, Rhode Island due to its non-coastal location, and one as yet unseen prominent city is referred to as "Wosh-Tun"). Although the book clearly states it is set "Somewhere in America", no character has yet named the country as such, instead referring to their location simply as "the country" or even "the world". It is therefore assumed that place names have been lost and/or forgotten.

Based on the geographic descriptions in the "Walking the Dust" essays, accompanying the first 15 issues, it's likely that "Wosh-Tun" is Washington, DC. It's mentioned that east of Wosh-Tun lies the Black Water that separates the main land from the East Reach. The East Reach is connected by a landbridge to the mainland, which lies north of Wosh-Tun. It's possible that the Black Water is Chesapeake Bay and the East Reach is Delaware. West of Wosh-Tun lie the Suntop Peaks, which stretch far to the south, ending in a large peninsula. This could be a reference to the Allegheny Mountains and Florida.

Some words have the suffix "-age" added to them.


Oni are releasing trade paperback collections on an ongoing basis.

# Title ISBN Release date Collected material
1 Cities In Dust ISBN 978-1-932664-59-1 March, 2007 Wasteland #1–6
2 Shades of God ISBN 978-1-932664-90-4 December, 2007 Wasteland #8–13
3 Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos ISBN 978-1-934964-08-8 December 2008 Wasteland #15–19
4 Dog Tribe ISBN 978-1-934964-17-0 June 2009 Wasteland #21–24
5 Tales of the Uninvited ISBN 978-1-934964-29-3 November 18, 2009 Wasteland #7, 14, 20, 25
6 The Enemy Within ISBN 978-1-934964-30-9 November 16, 2011 Wasteland #26–31
7 Under the God ISBN 978-1-934964-94-1 September 19, 2012 Wasteland #33–38
8 Lost in the Ozone ISBN 978-1-620100-13-4 July 16, 2013 Wasteland #40–44
9 A Thousand Lies ISBN 978-1-620101-18-6 March 19, 2014 Wasteland #46–51
10 Last Exit for the Lost ISBN 978-1-620101-31-5 June 18, 2014 Wasteland #32, 39, 45, 52
11 Floodland ISBN 978-1620101483 August 11, 2015 Wasteland #53–60
  • Issue #7 'Children of the Sun' and Issue #14 'Death Walks Behind You', #20, #25, #32, #39, #45 and #52 were stand alone stories.

The series was afflicted by serious delays after issue #26. Issue #27, originally planned for July 2009 was delayed to January 2010, mainly due to Johnston's involvement with Dead Space, Dead Space: Extraction and other projects.[2]

As of July 2009, Oni are also releasing hardcover collections.

# Title ISBN Release date Collected material
1 The Apocalyptic Edition: Volume 1 ISBN 978-1-934964-19-4 July, 2009 Wasteland #1–13
2 The Apocalyptic Edition: Volume 2 ISBN 978-1-934964-46-0 October, 2010 Wasteland #14–25
3 The Apocalyptic Edition: Volume 3 ISBN 978-1-620100-93-6 September, 2013 Wasteland #26–39
4 The Apocalyptic Edition: Volume 4 ISBN 978-1-620101-70-4 October, 2014 Wasteland #40–52
5 The Apocalyptic Edition: Volume 5 ISBN 978-1620102763 October, 2015 Wasteland #53–60



External links[edit]

  • [1] – author's website