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Exclusive: Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy Talk The Wake Issue #2

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Exclusive: Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy Talk The Wake Issue #2 Issue #2 of the sci-fi horror series The Wake releases on June 26th from writer Scott Snyder and artist Sean Murphy. We recently had a chance to talk with the duo about the upcoming release and why horror fans will want to pick it up.

AMANDA DYAR: Hello, guys. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. First off, could I have you both introduce yourselves and just tell our readers a little bit about yourselves.

SCOTT SNYDER: I write comics mostly for DC. In terms of horror comics, I write two series. One is American Vampire I started a few years ago about a new breed of vampires that is born in the American West in the 1980s that has totally different etiology than the Dracula species that we all know. The series I am going to talk about today is brand-new called The Wake, and it is about a discovery made at the bottom of the ocean. A creature is found down there, and it explains a lot of mystery that is evolutionary. It explains a lot of myth and folklore of the sea and is kind of a terrifying beast that has all these implications that once they find it, there are all these terrible things that happen. So it is sort of a haunted house story at the bottom of the ocean.

SEAN MURPHY: My name is Sean Murphy and I live in Brooklyn. I’ve been working professionally in comics for about 10 years. The books I’m most known for are Off Road, Joe the Barbarian, American Vampire, Hellblazer, and of course The Wake. Last year I wrote and drew a graphic novel called Punk Rock Jesus, which I’m probably most proud of.

AMANDA: Issue 2 of 10 of The Wake releases on June 26th. Scott, can you tell us a little bit about that and what inspirations you drew from when writing the series?

SCOTT: Yeah, that is a good question. My inspiration really has to do with that I have always sort of been fascinated by discoveries in the ocean, shipwrecks, and when I was a kid I was sort of obsessed with the Titanic and the finding of that ship. Just everything the sea covers with all of the mysteries down there and there are things that are still vastly unexplored, because it is such a deadly environment at the depths of the ocean. So, it is sort of a place that I have wanted to do a big story about. I wanted to create a horror and science fiction type of story. It really became about kind of creating this creature, this kind of discovery that could be made, and it wouldn’t be a creature like something from the Black Lagoon since we have seen that story. Instead it would be a creature that is found that opens up this entire new set of mysteries about where we came from and what else is down there. All kinds of big story elements come into play. You will see from the opening pages of Issue 1 that it has a whole component that takes place 200 years in the future as well as after this kind of horrifying event. That is part of the mystery of the book, and it has a really broad scope. So, if you like science fiction, then there is a lot of that in here. And if you like movies, like Aliens, The Thing, and The Abyss, then there is a lot of that in its DNA as well.

AMANDA: Sean, how did you go about visualizing the story, and what inspirations did you draw from in the process?

SEAN: What drives the artwork most of all is the script and all the details Scott provides me. I’m a big fan of underwater/deep sea documentaries, so it’s been a blast putting it all onto the page. Whenever I’m out of ideas, I’ll hit Google or Flickr to find even more references that will inspire the art. Scott’s also great at including pictures in his scripts, and that’s probably been the biggest help. I pretty much use whatever he gives me.

AMANDA: Our main character is Lee Archer, who has an almost child-like enthusiasm about the ocean and the mysteries it contains. I wanted to know, Scott, did you base her off anyone in particular, or where did the idea come from for her character?

SCOTT Well, I really love characters who are outsiders. My inspiration for her was that I really wanted to create a character who has a kind of history with the creature that she doesn’t want to talk about. At the same time, that is probably the only person who can understand what it is saying. So she is a marine biologist and specializes in the mythology of aquatic animals and recording and studying vocalizations. The creature that they find is just saying something over and over again. And she goes down there to try and discover what they thing is saying. And in that way, I kind of wanted to have someone that could hold two kind of keys to the mystery of the creature itself. One is personal and has to do with something that happened to her. And the other is scientific and has to do with the actual translation and deciphering of this big mystery that hovers around what this thing is trying to tell us.

AMANDA: Sean, you have stated before that you drew her off an idea of a older version of Emma Watson. Can you tell us a little more about that and why you saw Lee in that way?

SEAN: My wife is a big Harry Potter fan, and something about Emma Watson’s face seemed to fit the character of Lee Archer for me (in the later movies, of course). Big brown eyes, blonde hair, a pretty face but one that’s also a bit dark from time to time. There’s something about her that hides something under the surface, I think. I suggested the idea to Scott and my editor, and without hesitation they both said, “Yes!”

AMANDA: You both collaborate well together, obviously. I got a preview of the upcoming issue, and it is amazing. I know you both work from an outline, but can you give us an example of a time you both came up with something for The Wake series that was just in the moment?

SCOTT: Oh sure, we do that all the time. He is one of the best collaborators to work with, and he is also one of my very close friends. It is really a blast working with him on it. One example would be in Issue 1, when you get to the rig itself at the bottom of the ocean, I was basically saying to him, “This is the part where you go down in a elevator shaft and ride it down. And the elevator shaft gets kind of damaged, and they can’t ride it back up.” And he was basically the one suggesting, “What if they get to this thing, and it’s really a submarine?” And I was like, “Great, man, go for it! That was actually much better than what I had.” So he will come up with things like that, and when he designs the submarine, I will go back and forth, and say, “If it’s a sub, let’s make it look something like an underwater bus.” We go back and forth with everything all the time. He really is a true collaborator, and because we are good friends, we talk almost every two days. It is a joy to get to work with him.

AMANDA: Well, I will admit this right off the bat–I can’t swim in the ocean. I watched way too many Jaws movies as a kid, so I was always terrified of it. The ocean itself is terrifying being that you have no idea of what lurks below. Scott, how did you bring these types of terror to the surface in the series?

SCOTT: I am really scared of the ocean, too. I just went on vacation with my wife to the Bahamas for our one vacation of the year. And I would briefly get in to my knees and that’s it. (laughter) So I have always been really scared of the ocean; I admit it. Part of bringing the terror to the surface was keeping a lot of it concealed. We wanted it to be something where you see the creature and it’s scary, but the stuff that is really scary about it is the stuff you haven’t seen yet. It’s not just the teeth and the claws–the things that could actually get you. Those are pretty scary, but it is actually the stuff we start to reveal in Issue 2 and the ways it can kind of come after us. Also, the kind of secrets it carries. A lot of the time I sort of feel the scariest stuff is the unseen stuff that you kind of withhold until the very end. It is the mystery of not knowing that is the scariest thing.

AMANDA: Sean–I just want to tell you that the water you illustrated is incredible. Was the detail of the water important to you?

SEAN: Thanks! I’m trying hard to make the water into its own character, rather than allowing the colorist to simply fill everything in with blue. Some artists drop the ball when it comes to drawing water (I’m sure I have in the past), so working on The Wake has forced me to work to find a lot of creative solutions on how to draw different kinds of water, whether it’s a smooth, reflective surface or a tidal wave crushing a building. And Matt Hollingsworth is a total pro and bringing it all together.

AMANDA: Well, it is an amazing series. I am assuming y’all have talked about the possibility of going beyond 10 issues?

SCOTT: It just depends; if you guys like it enough, then we would love to return to it someday. It just depends on if people love it as much as we do. It is one of the favorite things I have ever worked on, and I am really proud of it. I am honored to get to work with Sean, and we would get back together to work on it in a heartbeat I am sure. That is, only if people want more of it.

AMANDA: Thank you both for taking the time to talk with us. Do either of you have any last words?

SCOTT: Last words sounds so scary. (laughter) Mostly I would say thanks to everyone who is giving us a try. I know there are a lot of comics that come out nowadays, and for us The Wake is something that is very personal and special to us. I told Sean the idea for the series almost three years ago when we were first becoming friends and working on the other series American Vampire. So it was a project that we held onto together and wanted to do as a team for a long time until we both could do it. It is personal to us. It is a horror and sci-fi series so it has a lot of scary adventure kind of moments, but deep down it is almost about something that is personal to both of us, too. It explores a lot of questions about why we are the way we are and stuff like that, too. We have invested a lot into it in regards to our own personal interest, and we really, really appreciate anyone taking a look at it. It means a lot to us.

To learn more, visit the official DC Comics and Vertigo websites.

Check out a special peek inside The Wake Issue #2 below!

About The Wake Issue #2
They call it the “Ghost Rig.” A secret, underwater oil rig filled with roughnecks and scientists on the brink of an incredible discovery. But when things go horribly wrong, this scientific safe haven will turn into a house of horrors at the bottom of the ocean! Part Two of the incredible new series by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy!

The Wake Issue 2

The Wake Issue 2

The Wake Issue 2

The Wake Issue 2

The Wake Issue 2

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House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn Announced for Arcades

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Aside from various ports, the House of the Dead franchise has been dormant since the release of Overkill on the Wii back in 2009, so the news of a brand new entry in the series is a huge deal for us horror gamers. So we couldn’t be happier to learn that Sega have officially announced House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn, which will take the franchise back to its arcade roots. According to Gematsu, the game will be undergoing preliminary location testing at Sega’s Tokyo headquarters from January 19 to 21, before launching in Japanese arcades at a later date.

House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn will be powered by Unreal Engine 4, and will be capable of featuring more onscreen enemies than all previous House of the Dead games. The arcade cabinet will include air cannons, vibrating seat, and motion sensitive lights in an effort to create a full immersive experience, although there are currently no details on the game’s plot.

The House of the Dead franchise remains hugely popular around the world (even Uwe Boll couldn’t destroy its reputation), so it’s probably safe to assume that Scarlet Dawn will probably be making its way to US arcades at some point in the near future, with a console release also looking likely.

You can stay updated with House of the Dead: Scarlett Dawn on its official website, although you might want to learn Japanese first.

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Dread Central UK Enjoys a Box of IT

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One of the best things about writing for Dread Central is the cool gifts companies send us in exchange for covering their releases.

With Stephen King’s It now being available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK, Warner Bros. were kind enough to send me an It-themed gift box absolutely free of charge. I collected this beautiful piece of merchandise from Organic Marketing’s London headquarters, and it is quite possibly my favorite thing in the world. And that’s not an exaggeration.

Inside this beautiful box were four Pennywise-themed cupcakes, a Pennywise Vinyl Pop figure in its original packaging, a laminated flyer, and of course, a copy of the film on Blu-ray. As you can see from the images below, a red balloon, just like the one held by Pennywise in the film, was attached to the box, although I’m sorry to say that it has now been burst (and I’m keeping the remains).

It, which now has the honor of being the highest-grossing R-rated horror film of all time, was directed by Andy Muschietti and stars Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, and Finn Wolfhard. With the film now being available on home video in the UK, you shouldn’t waste any time ordering your copy, especially since we gave it a perfect score in our review.

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Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

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Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.

***

Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!

 

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