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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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The Strangers: Prey at Night Official Site is Live and Waiting

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It was just last week that we shared the all-new trailer and poster for the upcoming sequel to writer-director Bryan Bertino’s home-invasion thriller The Strangers.

If that trailer for The Strangers: Prey at Night wasn’t interactive enough for you then you’re in luck – the film’s official site has just gone live.

The site starts off playing the film’s trailer but you can click that shite off asap and get to the other goodies.

From there the site tells you that “They’re only Strangers until you tell them your name” and then asks you for your name, your email address, and your phone number.

Yeah. Right.

That’s how they get you.

Truthfully, I’m not brave enough to put my info on the site. Not that I’m scared of, you know, a knock at the door late at night or anything… Just… I don’t feel like it is all.

If you are brave enough to give the site your info, make sure to hit us up and let us know how it goes in the comments below or on social media! If you can… Moo-haha.

Visit the site HERE.

The Stranger: Prey at Night is directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) from a script by Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai. It stars Martin Henderson, Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, and Lewis Pullman.

The film hits March 9, 2018.

Synopsis:
A family’s road trip takes a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it mysteriously deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive. Johannes Roberts directs this horror film inspired by the 2008 smash hit THE STRANGERS.

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Exclusive: Patrick Brice on Creep 2

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Patrick Brice blipped onto our radar a couple of years back with his audacious horror film debut, Creep. He directed the film, plus he cowrote and co-starred in it with Mark Duplass (interview) (Baghead, Manson Family Vacation). Creep introduced Aaron, an affable serial killer who lures people to his remote cabin by placing ads promising a fun filmmaking experience… while you could see where the story was going in terms of plot, what made it so striking was the way in which it was written and directed. There’s a massive amount of dread throughout.

Brice is back for Creep 2 (review), and we caught up with him to ask about it.

Dread Central: It must have been hard to try to top Creep. Or did you already have a sequel in mind?

Patrick Brice: It’s funny, but when we made the first movie, we had no idea we would eventually be making a sequel. So we didn’t necessarily set ourselves up for an easy road that way. It ended up being something we had to reverse engineer a bit. And we had actually came up with maybe three or four other ideas for Creep 2 before we landed on the one that we ended up shooting. Including a feature length screenplay that I had written but I shelved because it didn’t feel right. And so, it was a combination of things in that we didn’t want to make a sequel until we knew there was an audience for it. Once we realized the first Creep had caught on in the way it did, that was when the idea of making one did started to come up a little bit. Then it wasn’t until we landed on the idea we landed on, sort of the approach we ended up taking, that things started to feel right and it started to make sense with going forward to making one.

DC: Is you audience mainly horror fans? Because it seems serial killer stories are mainstream now, what with “Hannibal” having been on network TV and now we have “Mindhunter” on Netflix.

PB: I’d say a lot of horror fans, and, I think people with masochistic tendencies as well. I think it’s a pretty dark endeavour for an audience to be brought into with that movie. I think because of the sort of minimalist approach, when you’re watching it, especially when you’re watching it alone, it demands a different kind of attention than a normal movie. Because the Creep is only two characters, if you’re an audience member, you essentially become the third character in the movie, bearing witness to it. So I’m grateful that people are willing to engage with this type of material in that way. I’m also just surprised by it because I think it’s a challenging film on some level. I think it’s a rewarding film. And I think if you’re willing to give in to the conceit of it and willing to take the ride, it is a rewarding experience, but I also completely understand anyone who’s not willing to do that, just because it is such a specific thing. And so going into a sequel, there was a certain amount of confidence that we had associated with a lot of the decisions we were making that would have felt strange and odd with the traditional movie being make in a traditional way, but because we were doing it this way and kind of replicating at least the production style of how we made the first one, we were willing to take that leap a little bit more than we would normally do.

DC: Would you consider dropping the found footage format if you do another Creep movie?

BP: Completely. I think that down the road that would be a nice surprise and a nice way to inject sort of a new form into the story telling. One of the things that’s been fun with Creep 2 and thinking about other Creep movies is giving in to that sort of style completely and letting that be something that informs the character. A huge thing with cracking the second movie was creating the character of Sara that Desiree Akhavan (interview) plays and giving her her own specific needs and motivations for being there, which then hopefully justifies the camera being on. That is the big challenge with found footage movies. It’s something that Jason Blum says that all the time, ‘don’t make a found footage movie unless the story dictates it.’ And so we knew we wanted to do it this way and so it was really delving into character and sort of the more emotional side of things to justify that.

DC: One of the intriguing things about Aaron is that he has no backstory. But it seems eventually audiences demand origin stories and prequels. Will you reveal how Aaron got started someday?

PB: It’s something that’s emerging, having made the second one. We have him tell two long monologues. And it’s detailed, it’s very specific, it makes sense as far as the character goes, but there is still this layer of knowing that this guy is a pathological liar and none of this could be true. And so the hope with that was to have this be a story that convinces Sara, the other character in the film, that it’s true but the audience once again, existing on this other level where they know what this guy’s capable of, they also know he’s a total liar and it may or may not be real.

DC: Do you see yourself ramping up the horror if there are more Creep sequels?

PB: I still think there’s a lot of places to go in terms of the horror aspect of it. I think we only scratched the surface with the second one. I think it made sense we sort of upped the blood and gore with the second movie but also, like you said, kept things pretty much in the space of just uncomfortable tension for eighty minutes. I think that’s something that always going to be our ultimate goal with these movies and that’s sort of the trademark of these movies. What’s nice about knowing that there’s other places things can go whether it be, further into the slasher genre, further into the supernatural, we’ve got some options and we’ve left a lot of doors open in terms of having other avenues to explore.

DC: Any horror stories on the horizon apart from Creep 2?

PB: Yes, actually. I’m going to be directing a few episodes of “Room 104” on HBO and at least two of them are horror based. I’m really excited about that, because I get a chance to delve into more pure classical horror than I’ve been able to do with Creep movies.

Written by Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass with Brice directing, Creep 2 stars Duplass, who reprises his role from the first film, and Desiree Akhavan.

Synopsis:
CREEP 2 stars Desiree Akhavan as Sara, a video artist whose primary focus is creating intimacy with lonely men. After finding an ad online for “video work,” she thinks she may have found the subject of her dreams. She drives to a remote house in the forest and meets a man claiming to be a serial killer (Mark Duplass). Unable to resist the chance to create a truly shocking piece of art, she agrees to spend the day with him. However, as the day goes on, she discovers she may have dug herself into a hole she can’t escape.

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Exclusive: Director Dennis Bartok and Lead Shauna MacDonald Talk Nails

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With writer and director Dennis Bartok’s feature film Nails having bowed Friday on VOD via Dark Sky Films, here’s a bit of our interview with the flick’s filmmaker, Cinelicious Pics Head of Distribution and General Manager of the American Cinematheque Bartok (he wears many hats), as well as the film’s star, Shauna MacDonald (of The Descent series).

Nails revolves around “…track star Dana Milgrom (MacDonald), who, having survived a near-death car accident, finds herself almost completely paralyzed and trapped inside her own body, and while recovering, she becomes convinced that some evil presence exists inside her hospital room and is intent on killing her,” and was executive produced by Joseph Kaufman (Assault on Precinct 13) and produced by Brendan McCarthy (Cherry Tree, The Hallow).

Bartok, who previously wrote and produced the 2006 feature anthology film Trapped Ashes, said of his approach to the narrative of Nails, “It’s very ‘anti-flight.’ Most horror movies are built around the idea that you are running away from something. The Halloween and Friday the 13th movies, there’s a mysterious creature that’s trying to track you down, or conversely you are walking into some horrible haunted house that nobody in their right mind would ever go into, for example, The Woman in Black, which is a really terrifying film. But from the very first moment Daniel Radcliffe’s character goes up to the front of that house, the audience says, ‘Turn around! Get the hell out of there! You are going to die!’ And of course he walks in. So I was really fascinated by a narrative in which the lead character was physically trapped in one space, and actually trapped in her own body. So I thought a lot about narratives like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Sea Inside and Hitchcock’s Rear Window, where the protagonist is physically handicapped and forced to confront that, so both as a writer and as a filmmaker and for Shauna it was a huge challenge, in that how do you make that (type of story) kinetic and compelling, and how do you build suspense when the lead character is trapped in the bed for eighty percent of the story?”

MacDonald said of the script’s appeal, which is a departure in ways from the action-packed The Descent films for which she’s most known, “Oddly, I don’t want to be labeled a horror girl, although the older I get, the cooler I think that sounds. Certainly in the UK they like to fit you in the box of low-budget horror films, and every year after The Descent (films) I get scripts to read, and some of them would say, ‘OK, the lead actress is tied to a stained mattress in her underwear,’ and I would be like, ‘Next!’ and for me, I knew it would be a massive acting challenge to play the lead (as it was written) in Nails, someone who is bed-ridden and paranoid and can’t speak. Her physical journey and her emotional journey is what attracted me to the role.”

“I think it’s important also that she has self-doubt,” MacDonald continues of her role, “and that she thinks she may be having a mental breakdown. No one else is seeing the things she is seeing or experiencing what she is experiencing, so I thought upon that a lot, and also I thought, as a mother of three girls myself, that the character’s connection with her daughter in the script was really heart-wrenching, and I love mother/daughter stories.”

Filmmaker Bartok added, “I thought very much about the bond between a mother and her daughter while writing it, and the sacrifice a parent would make in order to protect their child, and that was one of the main themes from the very beginning. When I set out to make the film I knew that there were two things that I needed to make it work. One was that I needed to make it scary, and to really unnerve people, and to build that suspense and a rising tension throughout, and the second thing was, that I’d really need someone amazing to play the character of Dana, because she’s in nearly every scene of the film, and we experience the story entirely through her perception. And if we hadn’t cast someone with Shauna’s acting gifts, the film would have fallen flat.”

In regards to casting the film’s antagonist, the gaunt, towering and ghostly figure of ‘Nails,’ Bartok states of actor British Richard Foster-King, of which he’d been introduced to via an audition tape for an entirely different movie, “Richard had done these beautiful movements (in that tape), as if he was swimming in the air and elongating his arms, and I think he had even crawled along the floor at one point. And as soon as I saw that tape, I said, ‘That’s it. That’s Eric Nillson. That’s Nails!’ And the producers, because they wanted to keep the budget as low as possible, had wanted to hire local actors out of Dublin, and I would look at those tapes, and they were OK, but I felt we really needed to get Richard. So bit by bit I kept saying, ‘No,’ to these other suggestions, and finally I was able to convince them to bring Richard in from London.”

As for the evolution of the character, which itself possesses some of the nuanced tragedy of Universal’s classic monsters, Bartok stated, “It was really fascinating because we had reached out to several gothic, surreal artists who had been recommended to me by various friends, and asked them to submit concept designs, and the one that we liked the best, and they were all actually excellent, was by a French photographic artist named Nihil, who takes photographs and then manipulates them digitally. So Nihil did an amazingly creepy concept, which provided the blueprint as to how we approached the character’s design. There were several steps in getting it onto the screen, though. Maybe seventy-five percent of it came from Richard’s physicality and his on screen presence, and the rest could only be achieved digitally, and we brought in an incredibly gifted visual effects artist named Eli Dorsey, who had worked on Ted Geoghegan’s film We Are Still Here. And Eli created the milky white eyes, and the dentures which kind of sit outside the palate, and the ghostly pallor. But primarily, I think its Richard’s performance which makes the character, an evil tormenting character who is also tormented, so very haunting.”

Nails also stars Ross Noble, Steve Wall, and Charlotte Bradley. You can watch the film on iTunes.

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