When the entire world is stuck in time and frozen in place, one man has the power to "unfreeze" them - that's the story of the new Image Comics/Top Cow series The Freeze debuting December 5. This tale of survival and morality from writer Dan Wickline and artist Phillip Sevy looks at a world where 99% of the population is gone and those left must survive.
Newsarama talked to both Wickline and Sevy to talk about The Freeze, the inspirations behind it, and how Top Cow was the perfect fit for this story.
Newsarama: So Dan, Philip, how did you guys come together for The Freeze?
Dan Wickline: I had an opportunity to pitch some original projects to Top Cow publisher Matt Hawkins, and he took a liking to The Freeze and put things in motion quickly. A day or two later I was contacted by Elena Salcedo with samples of Phil’s art and it was like looking at the images I had for the series in my head. They put us together and we’ve been cranking this book out ever since.
Philip Sevy: Having worked with Top Cow (who I consider my comics family) before, I knew of Dan, but we hadn’t interacted until I got a call asking if I wanted to draw Dan’s new series, The Freeze. The concept was super cool and I love working with Top Cow, so I hopped on board. Turns out, Dan had just pitched The Freeze to Matt Hawkins two days prior and he had just greenlit the project. It went from an informal pitch to a series overnight, almost. I was really excited to come in on the ground floor to help develop the visual feel and look of the series.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the “Freeze” and how it happened?
Wickline: The Freeze is a science fiction/survival story set in a world where a global event causes all of mankind to freeze in place, except for one man. And he has the power to unfreeze them. The idea came from a desire to do a classic science fiction style story with a modern feel. The thing I love about science fiction is how they could take the current social issue of the time and highlight the problem from all aspects of humanity while draping it in a fantastical world. The Freeze is a basic do-over for humans, but without the laws and social norms that have grown with us over the centuries. A new society is being built around the idea of folks doing things based on what they feel is right and wrong, not just avoiding things that would get them in trouble.
Nrama: You guys have worked with Top Cow in the past, so did this feel like a natural fit for the book?
Wickline: With all of the incredible books Top Cow is doing right now, like the Tithe, Postal, Infinite Dark, Eclipse, and Portal of Earth, this feels like the perfect place for The Freeze. Top Cow has become the home for science fiction that makes you think and we’re happy and honored to be among that group of books.
Sevy: Very much so. Top Cow has really become the place for idea-driven, grounded books - usually with a sci-fi edge. From the beginning, Dan told me “This is a character-driven book, first and foremost.”
Nrama: We're first introduced to protagonist Ray as he's the one that discovers that the world has frozen and stopped, but who is he beyond that?
Wickline: Ray is our Everyman. He is young and still figuring out who he is and what he wants in life when suddenly the entire weight of the world is dropped on his shoulders. That morning he was just a guy who lived with his ailing mother and his dog. He had a crush on a co-worker and his most far-reaching thought was what was on TV that night. He isn’t trying to push his way up the ladder of success or trying to change the world. Now he has to decide who gets to live again and who will stay frozen.
Nrama: Both of you have this pension for sci-fi so what were some of your inspirations you wanted to put in for The Freeze?
Wickline: There’s an old radio program called X-23 that they play on satellite radio occasionally. There series would tell morality tales with twist endings, similar to the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. This to me is classic science fiction and the type of story I want to tell with The Freeze.
Sevy: I’ve had a really fun time just trying to ground this in reality as much as I can. It’s been fun and a challenge. Things have to look like they would if everyone stopped moving today. Then thinking through the visuals of that. I’ve drawn more traffic jams/cars than I had even imagined. It’s been fun to craft a visual world that looks and acts like ours. It allows the differences to really shine through.
Nrama: Philip what can you say about your process with Freeze? On your Instagram you give a lot of behind the scenes shots, especially ones that involve multiples of yourself and crazy reference shots?
Sevy: [Laughs] Dan and I were just talking about this today - we’re gonna dedicate the backmatter of issue three to my crazy process - but the basics are that after reading the script a few times, I draw small, messy thumbnails. From there, I do 3x5 layouts where I figure out composition, perspective, placement, and basic character acting. Then I go to town on reference. I use a mixture of imagination, 3D models, and photos to create my work. Being set in today’s Los Angeles, I work hard to make things look real - to use specific locations as much as I can. For my figures, I take photos of me acting every character out, usually. I throw all these pictures on my page and use them as a base for my pencils. So I often end up with a page of a ton of me talking/arguing/fighting with myself. It looks super ridiculous. I’ve named those scenes "The Council of Phils.” I’m also coloring myself for the first time on a regular book, so I’m getting to do full art which is both exhausting, terrifying, exciting, and a blast.
Nrama: What would you say is the center of the story for The Freeze?
Wickline: Human nature is definitely the center of the story. What caused the event and how, if possible, do they undo it plays a major role. But how the people react going forward is where the drama comes from. How things change with each new person added to the new society. The choices on who to awaken and why. And what are the negative things they bring with them. You can’t tell much about a person from how they look. How many of those awaken have dark secrets that they would normally hide, but in this new world they are free to explore?
Sevy: Me, curled into a ball, crying, every time Dan threatens to set an issue inside Dodger Stadium...
Nrama: How does The Freeze set itself apart from other sci-fi books that Top Cow has in its library?
Wickline: That’s a tough one to answer because I think in some ways Matt, Bryan, Ryan, Zack and I are writing for a similar audience. Those who like Eclipse will like Infinite Dark and will like The Freeze, etc. We’re not covering the same ground or building a cohesive universe, but we are telling stories that would work well together in an anthology. The one difference is that we may be the most grounded of the sci-fi series going on over there. The Freeze takes place now, in Los Angeles and we use real locations and streets. There’re no ships for Phil to design or special suits. The focus with this story is on the right here, right now.