Zack Kaplan Zack Kaplan

Q&A Today: Zack Kaplan

It’s not every day that we get to enjoy seeing writer Zack Kaplan chime in on ECLIPSE and all things indie comics, so let’s do this, with relish.

Q:  What can you share with us about ECLIPSE without giving too much away?

ZK: ECLIPSE is a story that takes place in a world where the sun will burn you alive if you go outside. The first arc focused on a killer trying to murder the daughter of a solar industrialist and the blue-collar solar engineer who stepped in to stop him. The second arc, issues 5-8, follows the same characters as they deal with the fall out of the first arc’s events and try to solve the greater mystery at play. The entire series is a character-driven, grounded sci-fi story with a unique spin on the post-apocalyptic city and our relationship with the sun.

Q:  Cielo is a fascinating protagonist.  What was your inspiration for the creation of this character?

ZK: Our hero, Bax, lost his family during this solar cataclysmic event, and so we find him very emotionally withdrawn and cynical. It made sense that in saving a young girl, Cielo, who would be the same age as his daughter, he would be emotionally challenged. Plus, Cielo gave me an opportunity to see how a generation born without safe sunlight would see the world. But in this second arc, she has gone from the heroine in danger, to a protagonist on the hunt for answers. It’s been really awesome to delve into her character, because what would a teenager girl do after a killer tried to burn her alive. How would she face the mysteries before her?

Q:  How similar are you to Bax in real life?

ZK:  Oh I’m nothing like Bax. He’s practically the exact opposite of me. Bax is a strong, silent type who doesn’t like people. I like to talk and connect with people. Bax is cynical, while I’m pretty optimistic. Bax is courageous and doesn’t worry about things; I think things through. Bax is isolated and disconnected. But ironically, I wrote Bax at a moment in my life when I was trying to combat cynicism and isolation, when I was working a graveyard shift and quite disconnected from friends, family and society. So I can relate a great deal to Bax even though we are very different characters.

Q:  When did you first begin writing graphic literature?

ZK:  ECLIPSE is my first comic. I’ve been a comic reader since I was a teenager, and I’ve wanted to write since then, too. I went to USC film school for writing, and I’ve pursued mainly film and TV, but ECLIPSE is my first experience in the comic book medium. It’s been a fascinating transition writing for the panels, and I’ve already learned so much.

Q:  Which comics did you most enjoy reading during your formative teenage years?

ZK:  I read Spider-Man, X-Men, GI JOE, a little Spawn, some Frank Miller, but I don’t think I really got it. I don’t think I appreciated them. So I stayed away from comics in college, and when I came back in my early 20s, I found Warren Ellis, Greg Rucka and Brian K Vaughn. I realized that the medium could be anything! That was when I fell in love with comics and decided I wanted to make them.

Q:  What are your thoughts on today’s market for indie comics and the general state of the industry?

ZK:  Honestly, I’m too new to the business side to have that kind of opinion. I think there are a lot of great comics out there, whether superhero or creator-owned or pure indie content, and I’m excited to make more comics of my own.

Q:  Beyond ECLIPSE, have you got other irons in the fire?

ZK:  I do. But nothing that can be announced yet.

Q:  It’s widely known that writers are often reading when they’re not writing, so we do have to ask you, which books have you already enjoyed reading this year and/or which books are you looking forward to reading this year?

ZK:  I read everything, a ton of Image Comics, some other publishers to produce creator-owned. Love the sci-fi lane, love Remender, Lemire, Rucka, Brubaker, Fraction, Kirkman, Vaughan, Hickman, Hardman, Liu, De Connick, and all the other great ones I’m forgetting.

Q:  You mentioned Remender.  Which of his works have you found to be most satisfying, and why?

ZK:  Where to begin! I think they are all so good. I mean, on the whole, how does the guy produce so many amazing, quality series simultaneously. I love the world of Tokyo Ghost and Low, and I love the fast pace of Black Science, but I think I find Deadly Class to be one of my favorites, because the characters constantly surprise me in wonderful ways, and that’s hard to do; and he detours with very character-driven scenes and yet it’s very intrinsic to the story-telling. Deadly Class is a great series!

Q:  Do you get to enjoy any gameplay, either casually or competitively?  If so, which games?

ZK:  I play 1 to 2 video games a year. I used to be a massive gamer back in the 90s, but I don’t have time for many games nowadays. The last game that got me hard was Horizon: Zero Dawn. Sucked me in for about 100 hours, but I love open world games like that. I play poker weekly. I love my poker.

Q:  How long have you been playing poker?

ZK:  Been playing since I was a kid, but didn’t find Texas No Limit Hold Em until it aired on ESPN in 2003. That was it. I was hooked. Got some friends together and started playing. Slowly the game got bigger, more professional. Upgraded to a felt table. Nice Copag cards. Better and better chips. And now, the home game has been going for 14 years! I love poker; it’s truly such a great game, because it’s this beautiful mix of advanced strategy and the need to just accept life and fate and luck as it comes. To be a good poker player, you need all of the strategy, but you also need acceptance. See how deep I got there!

Q:  Giovanni Timpano sure can illustrate a story.  How did you two join forces?

ZK:  Top Cow had their eye on him, and they presented him to me with a few other options for the ECLIPSE artist. I was immediately impressed with him and offered him the gig. I had to wait 5 months for his availability, and it was the best decision I made for the book. We’ve really developed quite a great working relationship. I can’t wait to do more ECLIPSE and other content with him as well!

Q:  Got any big plans for the summertime?

ZK:  I’m going deep on cons. Comicpalooza. Heroes Con. Denver Con. Comic Con San Diego. And lining up more now. That and writing some comics.

Q:  What are you looking forward to most at the comicbook conventions?

ZK:  I love the fans and comic book readers. The parties are fun and meeting new creators is cool, but I love people and love talking to people and love it when a fan comes up and geeks out with me about the book. I also really love the whole vibe of a comic con. Everyone is there to celebrate geekdom in various forms; whether it’s cosplay or buying awesome art or cool merchandise. They are exhausting, but I actually have a ton of fun on the floor! And man, I got a ton this year: Comicpalooza, Heroes Con, Denver Con, San Diego Con just up until July! Can’t wait!

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