by Vince Brusio
Imagine making a profit from the apocalypse. If the apocalypse were done the right way, it could happen. Rather than an act of God laying waste to everything like it’s written in certain religious texts, what if that act of God were further compounded by a nutcase and a corporation devoid of any morals or conscience? Well, that hypothetical is now in four-color. Now you get to see how a solar catastrophe takes on a whole new dimension in Zack Kaplan’s Eclipse Volume 1 TP (DEC160754) from Image Comics, which is now available to purchase from your local comic shop.
Vince Brusio: What sparked the idea to write a book about a catastrophe which burns people alive? Do you consider humanity just a virus with shoes? Did you lose at fantasy football? Why the cataclysm?
Zack Kaplan: Actually, I don’t believe humanity is a virus at all! I like to write stories about the best in people, but you usually have to confront characters with some pretty terrible things to find that pure heroic state. You have to look at people in the darkest of times. So yeah, instead of your ordinary run-of-the-mill apocalypse, I said let’s also take away the sunlight. No, even better, let’s have sunlight transform into deadly immolating rays that melt people alive. How would humanity survive without sunlight? It probably would be pretty tough. And then I threw in a shadowy company that’s taken control of one of the only surviving cities, as well as a serial killer that’s using sunlight to burn his victims. Put all of that together, and well, it’s very easy for people in this world to want to disconnect and look out for themselves, and that’s a good recipe to explore the subconscious human drive to connection and help others.
Vince Brusio: Who are the main characters s in this story? Who should we cheer? Who should we hate? Who has to be watched because he/she secretly wants to push people into a microwave oven?
Zack Kaplan: Well, our protagonist is David Baxter, a blue-collar solar engineer called an Iceman, who wears a protective suit out into the day’s sunlight to make repairs. “Bax” is a former NY firefighter who was a hero during the solar catastrophe, but in doing so, he lost his family and he’s transformed into a recluse who isn’t interested in connecting to others. But we’re cheering for him to shed his isolation and find redemption because he’s drafted to team up with police detective James Everly and help the cops navigate the dayscape to catch this killer. The killer’s next target is Cielo Brandt, the spoiled and rebellious daughter of a wealthy solar industrialist, and a girl in desperate need of some connection herself. Her rather absent father, Nick Brandt, is the guy we aren’t sure if we can trust. His company Solarity pretty much runs the city, and he’s clearly hiding something. And of course, finally, we should probably hate our villain, the killer, because he’s clever, ruthless and kind of a monster.
Vince Brusio: Describe the production of this book with artist Giovanni Timpano. How did you two play off each other as you gave birth to Eclipse? Describe the tug of war. Or was it perfect synchronicity, comparable to an outdoor brunch with tea and Stella Doro Breakfast Treats?
Zack Kaplan: Our meeting was right out of a romantic comedy! I was the new guy, he was the bad boy who wasn’t available at first, but I waited five months for him to see me, and when we first talked, it was love at first sight. We both loved sci-fi, loved world-building and we were really driven perfectionists. The communication was up and down at first, hijinks ensured, but then we clicked. Since then, it has been some real synchronicity. We’ve actually used that same birthing metaphor since Eclipse is our baby. I lean on Gio to be more involved in laying out the panels, and we spend ample time exploring story. The key to an effective collaboration is really putting ego aside and never entering a conversation in order to push your vision through, but rather seeking to marry your vision to your partners. It helps for both to be passionate about the idea and both to pour their hearts into it. Giovanni is an amazing talent and his art brings Eclipse to life.
Vince Brusio: If we were to look at this story in a social/political context, what connections would you make? Or would you rather this story exist in its own vacuum?
Zack Kaplan: I’m not sure any story can or should exist in a vacuum, but at the same time, I prefer to let people draw their own social/political conclusions from a story like this. But there is a connection that I will draw attention to, the connection between humanity and our environment. For most of human history, we’ve had a positive relationship with the sun. It’s been a maternal life-giving force for millennia. But recently, say the past 50 years, the sun has slowly become more dangerous, and now when we go out into sunlight, we find ourselves more and more concerned by its rays. And I think it we are not careful, our connection to the sun, to our water, to our land, to the most surprising parts of our planet, might just grow more antagonistic. Now, I’m not getting political, but I am talking about how we think and feel about our planet. I think it’s worth thinking about.
Vince Brusio: If you were to go armchair warrior on social media to brag about a favorite scene/scenes in this TP collection, what would we see? Would this scene best illustrate the meat and potatoes of Eclipse?
Zack Kaplan: I mean, the story is about sunlight burning people alive. #sunkills. So, any of the many scenes in which we get to see sunlight obliterate someone into a scorched corpse is pretty awesome. There are so many great ones! And at the end of the first issue, we meet our killer, and he’s got a shocking secret that just might blow you away. That’s a very Eclipse moment, in terms of meat and potatoes: the killer’s arrival and reveal at the end of Issue #1. But I would say my favorite scene is the climax when Bax faces off against the killer, because it doesn’t just assault the character with an impossible choice, and pit him against an enemy with whom he’s clearly outmatched, and put the girl in tremendous peril, but it also takes place in a landscape where sunlight rays are literally shining past them left and right, threatening to burn them alive at the slightest wrong move. But you’ll just have to read to the end of the trade paperback to see what I mean.
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.