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Covering the End of the World - Part 2

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Newcomers Nick Tapalansky and Alex Eckman-Lawn have blown comicdom away with their startling Eagle Award nominated debut series, Awakening, from Archaia Studios Press.  A 10-issue series chronicling a wholly different kind of zombie apocalypse, and sporting page after page of frame-worthy artwork, the first half of the story is now complete with a hardcover collection soon to hit shelves in June.

To commemorate the event, Broken Frontier sat down with both creators for a look back at the early installments, the experience of bringing a comic to life, and a sneak peek at the future.

Part 1 of this interview can be read here.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Alex, you’ve mentioned in past interviews that your technique adapts with each and every page as you attack them, depending on the mood and story sensibilities particular to the moment.  This brought about a pleasantly wide range of styles for a single title to showcase.  Can you tell us what techniques you used, and if there were any approaches you couldn’t take (for lack of time, finances, or forethought) that you dearly wished you could?

ALEX ECKMAN-LAWN: I’m flattered you use the word "attack" for how I make my pages. Makes me sound like a ferocious beast. By the way, that’s not so far from the truth…ladies.

The techniques I used were mostly a mix of drawing with heavily textured brushes that I’ve made myself, photo collage from photos I’ve taken (residents of Philadelphia and the surrounding area may recognize a few pieces of buildings) and a mess of scanned ink and paint. I really wish I could have had time to do more drawings and scanning and I’ve really wanted to get back into doing some more finished painting! I’m hoping that I’ll get to do a bit more traditional work for the book, but that’s mostly for me. Hopefully, if I’m doing things right, you’ll never be quite sure how much is digital.

BF: And here we are with a hardcover release of the first half of the series.  How do you feel knowing the comic will soon have a packaging worthy of coffee tables everywhere?

NICK TAPALANSKY: Excited as all hell. The book works great in the serialized format since it’s written with the noir serial in mind but collected it’s just a great read. The cover that Alex put together for it is amazing and the 10-pages of supplemental material should make readers really happy, especially if they’ve been wondering what goes on between those time gaps within and between issues. Go pre-order your copy at your LCS stat! Or, you can always order online at Things From Another World.

AE-L: I am so excited!! I can finally fool my friends into thinking I’ve made something of myself. Also, I’m looking forward to reading the issues back to back. I think it’ll be a really different and exciting experience than reading them one at a time. Plus, as Nick said, we’re doing a fair amount of extra stuff for the hardcover that I think will add to the story/book as a whole. I’m hoping we can get the book into a lot more people’s hands this way as well. Get excited everyone; we’re coming to book stores!

BF: What can readers expect in the second half of the series?

NT: Since issues 4 & 5 have sadly not hit stores yet I don’t want to give away too much, but since they’re slated to ship on 4/30 I think it’s safe to mention a few things. The end of issue #5 left our cast with another new problem to consider, something that might be even more dangerous and horrifying than the attacks haunting the town: the living. What happens when, in the wake of what seems to be an escalating march towards the end of life as we know it is coupled with the horrors perpetrated by those still living within?

AE-L: Things are looking bad for the city of Park Falls especially with prom coming up next week! Will Derrick be able to find a date in time? Can Daniel get his dad’s car repaired before he sees the scratch? Is Sandra really going out with him? Will Father Peter learn the true meaning of Christmas in time to make things right with the orphans? All the loose ends are tying up in the last 5 issues of Awakening, so you better not miss it.

BF: Can you both tell us what about Awakening makes you happiest?  What part of the work makes you smile more so than any other.

NT: Definitely hearing from the readers – talking to folks at cons, online, at shops, wherever. Nothing made me smile more than the first time, back in Chicago last year, a guy came up to me so excited that I was at that show and wanting to bring his copy of issue #1 back to be signed the next day. Just hearing that would’ve been great but he actually showed up the next day, issue in hand talking about how much he’d loved it. The issue had been on racks for two weeks, barely – that made me happier than anything.

AE-L: This is going to sound a little lame but most things about the book make me pretty happy. I do miss sleeping at times, but it’s a really good feeling when you finish a page that you’re really proud of. I hope everyone out there who reads the book gets even a hint of a tingle of that feeling when they read it!

BF: Do either of you have plans to branch out into other mediums besides comics?  What would be the first alternate medium you’d try if was entirely up to you?

NT: I’m definitely in the middle of trying to put some projects together in other mediums – a novel for sure, who knows what else. Given the time and opportunity I’d love to work on a screenplay. I write very visually which is why the comic medium was such a draw for me. I’d love to give screenwriting a try.

AE-L: Oh I’ve got plans alright! I’m actually right now working on album artwork for a couple of metal bands. I really love music (yes, and metal. If anyone wants to geek out about metal with me at a convention, don’t hesitate. Seriously…), and as it serves as a big inspiration for my art, I think it only seems fitting to make art to support music.

Also, I’d love to work in concept art. That’s kind of a far off dream, but I have so so so much respect for those dudes that do like concept and character design for movies and videogames. Conceptart.org melts my butter.

Also, I’m a huge nerd and love animation. This list is getting embarrassingly long though…

NT: Animation! Yeah, throw my especially charming and stylish hat in the ring for that. I’d love to write something for animation, maybe a series of some kind. I’ve got a few ideas kicking around there…

BF: Alex, what would you say is the single most rewarding aspect of working on a sequential comic series?  The one thing you’d never trade back and feel a lesser man without?

AE-L: Haha! That’s some pretty intense phrasing. I’d probably miss my piles of diamonds most.  Maybe the gold-encrusted toilet. It’s hard to imagine starting my day without a refreshing dip in my water tower filled with gold coins.  Tough choice….

Honestly, it’s a pretty big honor to be a part of something I’ve loved since I was a little kid. I still can’t believe I’m actually doing what I was dreaming of when I was drawing comics in the attic at six years old (by the way, my 8-part super hero epic called "The Shadow" still holds up to even very close scrutiny). I share a profession with Jack Kirby, Dave McKean, and Mike Mignola. I should be careful with this, since I don’t want to invite comparisons that I cannot possibly stand up to, but I’m trying to say I’m a part of something huge and great that’s packed full of people I respect.

And of course, there’s the diamonds.

BF: And what’s in the works beyond Awakening for both of you?  As creators, where do you go from here?

NT: Well, we definitely have heaps of projects to do together, probably more than we’ll ever have time to get to. Hopefully we’ll get nice and rich soon so we can focus solely on our books together – hear that world? Buy our books and make us rich! The hardcover would be an excellent start…

Other than those, I have one project that’s almost ready to be announced but I can’t talk about just yet, another being pitched around with my buddy Mark Holmes and plenty of others in the early building stages.

AE-L: Yeah, Nick and I have some stuff in the pipes, and I’ve got a short coming out in a Gestalt Comics compilation in the next few months. Its part of a book called Character Sketches: Flinch, so keep an eye out. Also, I’ve been working on book covers for Scholastic, art for bands, and anything else I can manage to squeeze in! Hopefully there are big things coming soon. And yeah, it’d really help me out if you could all buy our book and make us rich.

###

To order the hardcover (collecting issues #1-5), give the Previews order code "APR08 3552" to your local comics shop retailer and tell them you want a copy!  Or order online at Things From Another World.

And don’t forget to vote  for Awakening in the Eagle Awards.  The book is currently up for:

Favourite New Writer: Nick Tapalansky

Favourite Letterer: Thomas Mauer

Favourite Full Colour Comic Book - American: AWAKENING

Favourite New Comic Book: AWAKENING

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