Whether you'd describe it as confidence, swagger, temerity, or, quite simply, "balls," it takes a healthy amount to say that your comic book "redefined the zombie genre," given the crowded and acclaimed field that encompasses.
But that's exactly how Zenescope describes the original volume of The Waking in their advertisements for the new series, Dreams End. Debuting in late April, the four-issue sequel picks up where the first one left off, in a world where murders are scarce due to a very practical reason — if you kill someone, that person will rise from the grave and kill you.
Newsarama talked via email with The Waking: Dreams End writer and Zenescope executive editor Raven Gregory about why he felt compelled to write a sequel, insights into the main characters and the personal experiences that have inspired the story.
Newsarama: Raven, the original Waking was years in the making, debuting in 2010 and originating back when you were writing The Gift many years back. Why is now the right time for a sequel?
Raven Gregory: When I wrote the first series I felt very strongly that I had told the story that I needed to tell. The end of the first series laid out the ground work of what the eventuality of everything that came before would lead to. It was very cut and dry to me. People can’t kill other people anymore. End of story. But for years following the first series fans would come up to me at shows and asked me what happens next. It became the most asked question of all questions I’m asked at these events. And I kept giving them the same answer. That’s it. That’s the end of the story.
Then one year, a year or so back at Heroes Con a fan made a point to mention that murders wouldn’t just stop overnight. That there would still be "wakings" occurring, and what about those stories? And from there the initial seed that would become this next series was planted. What if someone figured out how to beat the "wakings" and what would that mean for the world at large?
Nrama: Looking at the two series side by side, do you view the new series as a direct continuation as the other? Or are they more like two separate stories with characters and themes in common?
Gregory: It’s very much a continuation of the first series. At the end of the last series Vanessa Pelegrano is in a very unique place and this series follows through with how she fits into this new world.
Nrama: Back in 2009, in an interview with Newsarama about the original series, you discussed different personal fears that helped to shape that story. How much has your current mindset influenced the sequel?
Gregory: It’s funny, really. The mindset I was in when I wrote the original story was very much that of a parent living in a world that, when you get down to it, you really have no control over. You do your best for your kids but there’s no guaranteed that something terrible won’t happen. You see it on the news every day. So there I am, a new dad, dealing with these fears of what I would do if something ever happened to one of my children and how I would react. Would I be able to let go? Would I ever be able to move on? These are real fears I felt that I think all parents feel on some level. So the irony of removing that underlying fear and replacing it with a new one is some very bittersweet irony. Now there is this sense of the older I get the more I want to make things right. That there is this constant search for redemption for the mistakes we’ve made in the past even as the ever-looming shadow of the end waits in the distant or not so distant future.
I’m lucky in that way that whatever story I seem to be writing at the time I am able to draw on these deep personal issues and see them played out in a story with characters also dealing with the same problems.
Nrama: Vanessa Pelegrano looks to be at the center of the new series. What do you like about the character — and what makes her worth rooting for as she tries to avoid her seemingly inevitable fate?
Gregory: She’s broken and I’m hugely attracted to broken damaged characters because they feel real to me. But as broken as she is, as far down the pit of self-despair and self-loathing she goes, she never really gives up hope. She’s still fighting to survive even though she lives with this constant sense of what is inevitably eventually going to come her way.
Nrama: There's also a serial killer character introduced in issue #1. When writing a character like that, how do you approach it to make him seem "real" and not just a faceless force of evil?
Gregory: Developing the villain of the series was a very nice added treat. I didn’t just want some crazy character who murdered people for no reason. He has a reason that readers will "get," if not sympathize with. The bottom line for him is how far would you go to hold on to those you love? It’s this view point that is the tipping point that drives him to commit these horrible acts that drive the story forward.
Nrama: Novo Malgapo is illustrating the series. Visually, why was he the right fit for the story?
Gregory: I’ve worked with Novo quite a few times before on Grimm Fairy Tales: Myths and Legends, and The Theater and there is something about his art that just grabs you and pulls you into the story. He also knows how to capture the grittiness of the Waking universe in a way that I think the fans are really going to enjoy.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!