What if there was a world where you could not go out during the day without specialized protective gear because the sun’s rays were strong enough to burn you alive? The comic series, Eclipse, written by Zack Kaplan with art by Giovanni Timpano, explores such a world where in the near future, people live in nocturnal cities. Under this backdrop, a killer uses the lethal sunlight to burn his victims. When the heiress of a solar power businessman named Cielo Brandt becomes the next target, solar engineer David “Bax” Baxter must keep her safe.
The second volume of the series published by Top Cow was released on August 9th, and series writer Kaplan went on a mini promotional tour in Southern California to do signings. I happened to catch up with him in San Diego at Comickaze Liberty Station where I was fortunate enough to ask him some questions about becoming a comic writer, the series Eclipse, and his future project Port of Earth.
Gary Catig: I read online that you were a screen writer. I don’t know if that was before or after, but what brought you to the medium of comics?
Zack Kaplan: That was before. I went to USC film school and I wrote a lot of screenplays in TV. There was a lot of development, but nothing produced. I grew up on comics, read them my whole life, loved them. Always wanted to do one, ever since right around after college when I found creator owned comics for the first time. Things like [comics written by] Warren Ellis, Brian K Vaughn, Greg Rucka. That inspired me. [I thought] Oh, someone writes these and they don’t have to be super heroes? Ever since then, I wanted to do them and pursued it a long time, and finally got the chance to do one.
GC: Initially, Eclipse started off as a mini-series and it did so well that they turned it into an ongoing. How was the feeling realizing [the shift]? Did you already have an idea in case it became fully fledged?
ZK: I always wanted it to be more than four issues. When I first got the chance to do that, I created it in a way that it could be contained in four issues but left room for more, so when we were lucky enough to do so well to get more, I had ideas of where to go. It was surreal and fantastic thing because it was my first comic. I was very excited and began to map out where to go from there and how to move forward.
GC: Starting with the second volume, you start trying to expand the world a little bit. Initially you’re just kind of isolated to New York City and in the second volume you go a little bit out to West Point. Do you plan on doing that a little bit more further on or do you think you don’t need to based off of the storylines?
ZK: I wanted to expand the world a little bit beyond the city limits of New York City where the story takes place in volume two because there were so many questions about what else is going on. I wanted to answer that question and show not much [more]. [I wondered] Are there other cities in this world post flare that have survived? Possibly, but this story takes place in New York City, and in terms of where the third arc is going and the fourth arc, it is about these characters and these happenings in New York City. A lot of the story is about the past of how New York City survived and what that past has now wrought, and most of the story will continue in New York City.
GC: You kind of touched upon about how you have ideas for your third and fourth arc: is there anything you can reveal? When will the third arc come out?
ZK: Well, we’re working on it now, but Giovanni is also doing a Batman/Shadow combination with DC and Dynamite. That’s very exciting so we gave him a minute to do that. We’re just starting on Eclipse volume three so it should come out at the top of next year at some point. All I can say is if you have read volume two, you know the stories for Bax and Cielo diverge. They go in different directions and volume three reunites them after they have had some different realizations. They find themselves forced to make some very tough decisions about how they are going to proceed and the mysteries continue to unfold in a big way.
GC: Moving on from Eclipse, it was announced during SDCC that you have a new book coming out called Port of Earth. What can you tell us about that?
ZK: Port of Earth explores the idea that Hollywood always sees aliens coming to blow us up or bring total enlightenment. What would happen if aliens came not in war or peace but with a business deal and the business deal is to open up a port here on Earth? It’s a gritty action sci-fi thriller. The aliens in this world don’t always stay in port. They come into the population and cause trouble. It’s up to Earth’s security agents to hunt them down and deport them back to the port.
This series looks at the political ramifications of what would happen to our society if we had aliens in our backyard operating a business. It looks at that and it looks at the experience these agents have on a day-to-day basis. There’s some excitement and fun alien stuff. It’s a very gritty series. Andrea Mutti is the artist. He did Rebels, Star Wars, Batman, Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, Prometheus . . . Really cool style. Vladimir Popov is doing the colors. [They are] Really unique and cool. I’m very excited to share the series with everybody.
The first two volumes of Eclipse are out right now and Port of Earth is expected to be released this November 2017. Both are published by Top Cow Productions.