Getting a small press comic noticed is tough enough, but when the publishing schedule gets interrupted, it's even tougher.
The creators of Awakening, the critically acclaimed detective/zombie comic from Archaia, have been struggling to get their comic noticed again after the restructuring efforts at the publishing company halted distribution. Along the way, Awakening has picked up some fiercely loyal fans who are rooting for the "little comic that could," which has just been released in a hardcover collection.
"The first thing everybody notices is the ridiculously beautiful art," said series writer Nick Tapalansky, describing the response from Awakening's fans. "[Artist] Alex [Eckman-Lawn] brings the story to life in a way that I don’t think anybody else could. Once we’ve got ‘em hooked though, two words seem to do the trick: 'Zombie Noir.' The book isn’t a mass-uprising, run-and-gun survival book. It’s a noir, a murder mystery, with one major addition – the question of whether or not zombies are really walking among the citizens of Park Falls. We slow the zombie mythos down and instead get to explore the characters and the city as the weeks turn to months and the death toll rises."
"But if I’m honest I have to admit that Nick’s story is what seals the deal," Eckman-Lawn said. "Just saying the word 'zombie' to people garners a wide variety of reactions, but it’s the new look that Nick is providing that really hooks people. Of course I’d like to believe that these people wouldn’t bother with the book if they thought it was ugly..."
The first three issues of the series were released in 2007, and the comic was nominated for four British Eagle Awards, including Favorite Newcomer Writer and Favorite New Comic Book. But when Archaia underwent its restructring in 2008, Awakening was put on hiatus.
Now, the comic has returned with a hardcover collection, and the creators are hoping to reward those readers who give the book a chance, as well as attracting some new readers. During the month of October, the two creators will do four signings, and every person who has an Awakening book signed will get a free Awakening print and a link for an exclusive online preview of the completed chapter of Awakening Vol. 2, which is due out next summer. The preview will be distributed at midnight on the night before Halloween.
"The whole idea for the Halloween Tour started as a way to try to give something fun to readers to thank them for supporting the book," Tapalansky explained. "By whetting peoples appetites with the first chapter [of Volume 2] now, we’re hoping to reassure people that the wait for this volume won’t be nearly as long as it was for the last and give them an idea of just how dark it’s about to get in Park Falls."
The "Tour" kicks off with this weekend's Baltimore Comic-Con, where Tapalansky and Eckman-Lawn will be appearing in Artist's Alley (at table #60 listed under Archaia Comics). Everybody who comes by and picks up a book or brings one to be signed gets the exclusive print and can sign up with their email address to receive access to the first chapter of Volume 2.
After that, Tapalansky will appear at Upstate Comics in Lagraingeville, NY, on Oct. 17 from 1 to 5 p.m., then Eckman-Lawn will join him for two more signings at Brave New World Comics in Philadelphia on Oct. 24, and Jim Hanley's Universe in New York on Oct. 28.
But even people who can't make it to the signings are being offered a chance to view the free online preview.Exclusive first look at the Print
ENLARGE IMAGE"It was important that anybody who’s supported the book get something and, since we can’t mail out single prints to the thousands of people who have the book (sorry, not enough stamps) that’s where the first chapter of Volume Two comes into play," Tapalansky said. "By offering it to anybody with the book, everybody wins. All folks have to do is take a picture of themselves with their copy of the book and email it to AwakeningComic@gmail.com by 11:59pm EST on October 30th, 2009. At midnight on Halloween morning we’ll be emailing out the link and login info for folks to get access to the preview."
"One of the things we wanted to make sure to do, a big part of the reason we’re doing this promotion at all, is to thank people who have supported us so far," said Eckman-Lawn, "so we want to make sure that everyone who has the book gets something cool."
"Bonus points to folks who take a picture with the book in front of their local comic shop and send along the shop’s info," Tapalansky added. "We’ll happily pimp those shops out who support the book, and the Halloween Signing Tour, on our blogs."
Archaia announced the promotion in late September, and the response from fans has already surprised the creators. "I’ve been totally floored. Seems like people are down with the idea," Eckman-Lawn said. "Good to know people are still excited, and looking forward to more, you know?"
As for next summer's Volume 2, Tapalansky gave Newsarama a few spoilers (Spoilers Ahead!) for what comes next:
"Volume Two opens with our cast at a crossroads. We now know, officially, that zombies of a sort are responsible for the recent rash of murders and missing persons in Park Falls and, further, that the city is not alone in its suffering," Tapalansky said. "What we don’t know, however, is what’s causing the slow but increasing instances of what have now been termed ‘awakenings.’ While Derrick investigates a new series of murders similar to those which led to his early retirement from the PFPD, Dr. Daniel Howe must make hard decisions as to how to proceed in understanding and resolving the spreading crisis. Meanwhile, Sandra attempts to reconcile a dark secret from her past and reclaim her faith in the face of what she believes to be nothing short of the end of the world."