For most boys growing up, their father has the enviable spot of being a standard to live up to. He helps raise you, mentor you, but also acts as a measuring stick for everything in life. But for Brian Cohn, being his father is the last thing he wants to be.
In the upcoming miniseries Echoes, the long-suffering schizophrenic Brian Cohn finds his medicated and regimented life pulled apart when his estranged father – who is on his deathbed – confesses to being a serial killer. With Kohn experiencing the earlier stages of the same mental illnesses his father has and him about to have a son of his own, discovering this horrifying new side of his father makes him question himself and how much he might have inherited.
First glimpsed in Top Cow’s October collection of first issues from upcoming series Top Cow First Look, the black & white five issue miniseries Echoes is shaping up for a solo debut this month. Echoes is released as part of the publisher’s re-minted Minotaur Press line of titles, showing off an “independent comics”-style with black & white printing and subject matter outside of the stereotypical Top Cow fare. Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov has made his name with challenging works outside the superhero mainstream on titles like Elk’s Run and Tumor, and this collaboration with artist Rahsan Ekedal on Echoes sees him going down a path instigated by his own father issues as he raises a newborn child with his wife.
Newsarama: The idea of a son coming to the full realization of his father's past, and that he's connected to him by genetics and a history of mental illness for them both, is pretty harrowing. Can you lay out for us what Brian is going through here?
Joshua Hale Fialkov: Well, I think it's something that everyone goes through as they get older. I know that I've certainly started the winding road to becoming my father, in more ways than my barrel chest and graying beard. To take the idea and that combination of tentativeness and confusion over seeing your genetic legacy, so to speak, being visited upon you. For Brian, he's lived with the legacy of his father's illness and abuse his whole life, and now he's been given something considerably... heavier to cope with.
Nrama: How does a story like Echoes come to you, Joshua?
Fialkov: A lot of it came from impending fatherhood. I started on the book around the time my wife and I decided to have a child. Suddenly, every bit of neurosis I had was delivered onto the unborn fetus that would become my daughter. My own parents were pretty wonderful, but, at the same time, I know that things they did unintentionally (I'd hope) had a profound effect on the man I became. So, you sort of extrapolate that idea out to the premise of a thriller, and there ya go.
Nrama: As film watchers and book readers we've seen a pretty astounding array of serial killers. How would you describe Brian's father?
Fialkov: I spent a lot of time researching sociopaths and mental illness, to paint a picture of our killer that's as true to life as possible. That being said, the creepy imagery of the flesh dolls was something that came on well before I did the research. I like the idea of a killer who's trying to preserve and make his victims stay precious and perfect forever. That metaphor certainly carries over to Brian's concerns about having a kid, and not screwing her up the way his father screwed him up.
Nrama: His father's past isn't the only thing weighing Brian down – he's also on medication to help him stay in control. Can you tell us about Brian's condition and his schedule of taking medication?
Fialkov: I had some ace support in getting all of that stuff as true to life as possible. My father is actually a psychiatrist with an expertise in truly damaged people. The biggest liberty is probably the dosage watch, which is something that someone far less functional than Brian would use, but, having him be a slave to a wristwatch, and consequently hung up by the schedule and timing of his medication to stay in control and coherent is just such a great device, that I had to take the liberty. Brian's a fairly standard schizophrenic treated with a cocktail of drugs to keep him normal. Now, that being said, even the most in control, well-medicated schizophrenic, when put through personal trauma will begin to regress and lose control.
Nrama: Due to Brian's inherited medical condition and his father's past, Brian looks to himself when new murders akin to his father's start happened. What can that be like for a person?
Fialkov: I hope I never have to find out first hand!
Nrama: Echoes is coming out as the flagship book in Top Cow's relaunch of their Minotaur Press line. You've done work with Top Cow in the past, but what's it like to be part of their push for more unique titles like Echoes and Last Mortal?
Fialkov: It's exciting. You know, the direct market has a history of being uninterested in work that's in this vein. My aspiration with most of my work is to do traditional genre thrillers, but with unconventional execution. Finding an appropriate home that's supportive of work like that is tough. There's only a handful of publishers even capable of producing quality work that also have sound business plans and amazing people, Top Cow, of course, is one of them. Their commitment to quality and to finding new voices is really commendable, and I'm honored to be a part of the process.
Nrama: For Echoes and all of the Minotaur Press line, Top Cow is publishing them in B&W with greytones – a big shift from what some might think of as Top Cow's art style. What's that like for you?
Fialkov: I love black and white, and Rahsan Ekedal's work looks simply splendid that way. We both share a love for the classic Warren horror magazines from the 70's, and Echoes is definitely in that mode, so it's more than appropriate. Plus, again, when you're doing work that's so outside the box, keeping costs under control is a big deal, and b+w saves a bundle in labor cost.
Nrama: Before I let you go, anything else you can tell us about the book?
Fialkov: It's a five issue miniseries to start, but, I have a plan for how the series continues, should we be so lucky as to get a chance to do a volume 2. The first issue drops in December! More information about the book can be found on the production blog at http://www.echoesthecomic.com or on our twitter feed @echoescomic!Click the button to leave a comment