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.
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!
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