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Released in today’s February solicits is Zenescope’s upcoming horror series The Waking, written by friend of IoM Raven Gregory (Zenescope’s Wonderland Trilogy)  with art by Vic Drujiniu.

IoM was given a rare opportunity to read the series and we loved it so much, we wanted to get the word out to all of our readers, and get more information to whet your appetite, so we spoke to Gregory, not just about The Waking, but about the upcoming conclusion to Escape from Wonderland also!

Fans of horror comics need to check this out!

Check out our previous chats with Raven Gregory here and here!

And read our new interview after the jump!  Beware of VERY minor spoilers for issue #1!


Tell our readers a little about the story for The Waking.

RG: In New York City four detectives investigating two random murders begin to discover clues that the victims of these heinous crimes may actually be returning to avenge their own deaths.  Now, in a race against time they must discover those responsible for the murders and uncover the supernatural source behind the “wakings.”

What prompted you to step out of the Wonderland sandbox (so to speak) and venture into this non-Grimm Fairy Tales related piece right now?

Variant cover for The Waking #2 by J. Scott Campbell.
Variant cover for The Waking #2 by J. Scott Campbell.

RG: THE WAKING is a strange beast in that I wrote it back when I was writing THE GIFT, which was about six years back.  So the guy who wrote it (had one kid and now I have four) was very gung-ho.  Very much wanting to take on the world and kick ass and take names and show my @#$% to anyone willing to take a look.  I was really inexperienced but my enthusiasm was at its peak and it was all about the writing because I didn’t know about all the other shit that goes into getting your work out into the world.

But shit kept happening that would derail production.  Originally Rich Bonk was going to draw the series, then Marlin Shoop, but circumstances would happen and the book just never got done.  So for years I would look at this script and polish it here and there and make changes.  Then Wonderland went really well and Zenescope was willing to try out THE WAKING.  So I polished it again and made changes to it based on the more experienced writer I am today.  So with THE WAKING you kind of get the best of both worlds.  The writer I was and the writer I am today.

What inspired you, as a writer, while working on The Waking?

RG: The catch line says it all.  “Sometimes, the only thing more powerful than love, is hate.” Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but as a father of four kids, one of my biggest fears is losing one of my kids.  There’s just so much danger out there in the world.  Strangers, accidents, drugs, illnesses, serial killers, guns, abuse, kidnappers, pedophiles, domestic violence, mental sickness, just a smorgasbord board of bad shit that you do your best to protect your kids from.  But largely, you can only do so much.  And getting to that place where you can let go and sit back and say okay, I’ve done my part, I have to let my kids be kids and pray to God nothing horrible happens, is a really tough place to get to.  So a lot of the story has to do with that.  With dealing with the fear of losing a child and what that would do to a person.  To a parent.  And I can see that even with all the love, and sorrow, that the anger would drive a person, take them to places they never thought they might go.  It could destroy them or save them.  There’s something about that idea that just grabs me.  That’s the kind of thing that inspires me to tell a story.  A burning need to express the idea in the form of a story.  It’s my version of cheap therapy.

I’m going to avoid spoilers, especially for the later books, and focus primarily on the events of the first issue.  There’s a very steady build up in this issue and, without revealing much past what the solicits already do, we’re dealing with the undead in The Waking. What differentiates this title from other zombie books on the market today?

RG: Before Romero made Night of the Living Dead, EC Comics, W. W. Jacobs (The Monkey’s Paw), Mary Shelly (Frankenstein), Lovecraft, and Poe all did zombie stories that were more focused on these beings who’s soul was not at rest.  Tortured creature with a need for vengeance against those who placed them into their current state of existence.  Or beings forced to do the purpose of someone who had the power to control them to be used as an end to their own means.  In that way, the zombies in THE WAKING are much more similar to their descendants versus their modern day counter parts.  These are people coming back in search of the people responsible for their death’s and nothing will stop them from getting their revenge.  The bigger mystery though is who and what is behind these “wakings” and how the police plan to stop it…or if it even can be stopped.

What attracts you to horror?  I notice most of your work has a heavy horror bent to it.

Variant cover for THE WAKING #1
Variant cover for THE WAKING #1

RG: I think it has a lot to do with the fact that you never feel more alive, never savor life more than when you’re scared.  I get that love and hate are a big part of the human make up but fear makes the world go round.  It’s that desire to be scared and to scare others that really appeals to me.

There’s a lot of humor in the first issue of the book, and a good number of light hearted moments, and some decent time spent getting to know the main cast.  Was that intentional, getting to know the characters before we get to the horror of the story?

RG: That was a large part of it yes.  I wanted to have all the characters really fleshed out in the first issue.  The humor in the book reveals alot about these people and who they are and how they react to strange and unusual situations.  Some use humor, while others are more serious or emotional, so that when the shit hits the fan you can really run through the whole spectrum of the characters dynamic and take them from one extreme to the next.  I think that’s what really seperates a great story from a good one and that what I was aiming for.  Whether or not I did it we’ll have to wait and see what the fans think.

I have to ask … the previews for the books we read contain a considerable amount of nudity, which, though hinted at, is usually covered up in regular Zenescope titles.  Is this going to remain in the final book, or will all of it be obscured with fog/water/hair, etc?

RG: The folks at Zenescope were kind enough to give me free reign on the series and not censor any of the material.  It’s a dark story and what’s there is there.  I don’t think we went overboard with anything when looked at in that context.  There might be one or two risque scenes in the whole book and both are anything but superficial and actually drive the story forward.

Kinda on the same topic, who inspired the nymphomaniac wife?  Can I get her number?

RG: That just kind of came about from my time before I became a writer.  When you work with another person on a daily basis, you talk about things.  You see how similar and different your life is from everyone elses.  Things you think are normal aren’t normal for other people and vice versa.  So, keeping with that train of thought, the narrator has an incredibly hot wife who he loves dearly but can’t stand that all she ever wants is sex.  It’s not really a major part of the book but it’s one of the things that make these characters feel real for me and hopefully make them feel real for the reader.

Are you planning more tales from within The Waking’s universe, or is this a done-in-one tale?

RG: Nope.  It’s one story.  Four issues.  And that’s it.  The ending, while leaving room for interpretation, is pretty definitive.

How does The Waking fit into the recently announced plans for Zenescope’s expanding line in 2010?

RG: It’s one of five books being launched in 2010 as Zenescope expands and starts trying out some more diverse genres.  Merc, Scifi Anthology, and Agon are our new Science fiction and fantasy stories.  While Dante’s Inferno is more of a psychological horror story written by the EIC of Zenescope, Ralph Tedesco.  The WAKING is more mystery horror and our new Grimm spin off NEVERLAND, written by the president of Zenescope, Joe Brusha, is more action adventure kind of horror.  There’s something for everybody.

The book reads very much like a dark, Hollywood movie, with similar pacing.  Have there been talks maybe about translating The Waking into a motion picture?

RG: We’ll see.  With me, Hollywood is never the ends to the means.  It’s more the icing.  If it happens, that’s fine.  But my first and foremost concern is telling the best story I possibly can.

All four issues of The Waking were complete before the first one even goes to press.  Was that intentional, for scheduling reasons?  Will this series be monthly/bi-monthly?  When can fans get their hands on the first issue?

RG: I haven’t done creator owned since THE GIFT and I decided early on when I stepped back into the squared circle I wanted to do it right.  No books shipping late.  Best interiors.  Best covers.  Etc.  So the first two issues both ship in Feb.  With issue three in March and issue four in April.

Escape From Wonderland is rapidly approaching its conclusion.  Where are you in writing the finale?  Is it done for you, and just awaiting art/publication? With it’s bi-monthly schedule, I think we’re still about 8 months out from seeing the end of the story.


RG: I’m writing the final issue as we speak.  We just wrapped up the pencils on issue three and should be done with the whole series by Feb.

There was quite a large reveal in Escape From Wonderland #2 during the flight scene.  What can you tell us about what it means for the Wonderland mythos in general?

RG: Are we talking about the Lovecraft nod?  Kinda leaving that open for later.  Not saying exactly what but if I ever get nogstalgic it’s there for me to play with.

The cover for Escape from Wonderland #3 shows Alice Liddle crawling from her grave. Symbolic?  Literal?

RG: Again, I don’t want to spoil it for you but it’s definitely NOT symbolic.

What can you tell fans about what’s coming up in the remaining issues of Escape from Wonderland?

RG: No one is going to see the ending coming.  And we’ve (my co-creators Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco) discussed alot of endings.  Between pleasing the fans and staying true to the flow and mood of the story I think we’ve really nailed exactly how to put a close to the tale of Calie Liddle.

Thanks for the time!  Loved The Waking, and looking forward to our readers getting the chance to read it for themselves!

RG: Thanks man.

Make sure you pick up issues one AND two of The Waking in February 2010!