Green Wake Volume 1 was released this week and collects the first 5 issues of the on-going series from Shadowline, an imprint of Image Comics. I recently got a chance to talk with Green Wake's writer and co-creator Kurtis Wiebe, and asked about the origins of Green Wake and where it's headed. Included in the interview are exclusive details regarding the upcoming story arc and we also have a new piece of artwork that you won't see anywhere else.

For readers who aren't familiar with you, can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your career in the comic industry?

Kurtis Wiebe: I’m a Canadian writer that’s survived 32 winters from hell to bring you this monstrous little booked called Green Wake. I was first published in 2009 with a supernatural action booked called Beautiful Creatures through Red 5 Comics. It was about a group of college girls living in a fictional English town that discover they’re host to the spirits of reborn mythological creatures. It was a sort of Buffy meets Monster Squad series that, while receiving decent critical reviews, never made much of a splash.

I kept pitching for a year and managed to land two series at the same time with Image Comics: Intrepids and Green Wake.

Congratulations on Green Wake being picked up as a regular series by Shadowline. Can you give us some hints as to what we can expect from Green Wake in the near future?

KW: The first arc was all about Morley’s journey, a story of unimaginable loss with the death of his wife and being caught up in the bizarre little world called Green Wake. While he dealt with his own personal struggles, the series of murders somehow led him to realizations about his own past, and in that, he’s able to uncover the suspect while saving his soul at the same time.

What comes next is the consequences of Morley’s journey and the direct effect is has on how Green Wake works. In the first arc we established rules to the creepy town, and while a lot of those rules will remain the same, Green Wake itself is the focus of the remaining story. It has a full history, and we will explain everything before this series ends.

The second arc is called Lost Children, and I’m drawing on some very real historical events from where I live. Out of it, I’m tackling a new type of character not seen before in Green Wake: children. Their story is a very sad one, and as a result, all of the familiar oddness and horror will return. Everything people loved about the series will be constant throughout, but we’re also experimenting with new visuals and storytelling devices.

And there’s blood, pustules, and mutilation.

We know that Green Wake has received a great response from critics, but I wanted to know a bit about the average reader. What kinds of comments are you regularly hearing from fans? What do they like the most? What questions do you receive frequently?

KW: I’ve had fans send me emails with a simple thank you for doing something new and different. That’s been the overwhelming response. I can’t think of anything else on the shelf that could be compared in terms of the world or story, and I’m really proud of that. At conventions, fans are so kind and supportive, and to see how excited they are about the series, that’s exactly what makes this all worth doing.

Green Wake was a deeply personal story for me, and it took a lot out of me on an emotional level. I was working through some serious hardship in my life, and Morley’s arc was my own arc and through this story I was able come to perspective on my situation. To know that others have felt a connection with it, felt emotions and impact from the finale, god that felt good.

What would you say are your biggest influences on Green Wake?

KW: Well, as I mentioned, all of the emotional influence was from my experiences. I’d ended a long term relationship and it was never really a question if I’d write about it. It was only a question of how. Guilt, loss, and sadness are heavy themes in Green Wake, and I think because we’ve all suffered through such devastating moments, it resonated with readers.

Apart from the emotional influence, there were some narrative influences that I think are fairly obvious. City of Lost Children by Jean-Pierre Jeunet was a movie Riley and I talked about from day one, the look and feel of the town was an element we both loved. It was a mix of that and Dark City as far as design, but Dark City was also an inspiration to the sort of noir, mystery angle, if somewhat toned down.

Strangely enough, we also talked about Spirited Away, and if you think about it you can see some similarities in the otherworldly vibe.

And, of course, Twin Peaks. That show really connected with both of us and we’d stumbled across it at the same time, entirely by accident. My girlfriend had wanted to watch it with me and so when we finally sat down to the series, Riley mentioned he’d just purchased it himself. It was the idea of a town slightly outside reality, filled with quiet horrors and piled high with a complex, ancient history.

What are some of your favorite horror movies and TV shows?

KW: I just revisited Carnivale in the last two weeks and I was reminded of why I loved it so much. I’m not sure I’d classify it as horror, but there are some very terrifying ideas and scenes in that series. I adore the slow burn reveals of the mythology and mystery, it’s too bad that viewers grew impatient and didn’t give Knauf the time he needed to tell the complete story.

Most of the horror movies I love are more psychological and atmosphere scary over gore. I thought the Spanish horror film Rec was near perfect in its execution and I’ve said on a few occasions it’s one of the scariest movies I’ve seen. The finale in the dark still makes me squirm in my seat.

I’m also a pretty rabid zombie fan (see what I did there?) and I think 28 Days Later is still in my top ten favourite films of all time. For me, again, it’s about that feeling of helplessness and isolation. Being cut off and entirely at the mercy of the outside world, it’s frightening. I think that’s why John Hillcoat’s film adaptation of McCarthy’s The Road scared the shit out of me.

I really love the art style of Green Wake and think that it matches up perfectly with the unusual world. Is this something you and Riley work on closely together? What is the process like for the two of you to get your vision on the page?

KW: This series is entirely a full collaboration between Riley and me. We built the world together and as the series went on, met on a weekly basis to refine, define and create Green Wake. Until recently, Riley lived in the same town as I did, so it was an easy opportunity to work together in a really close way. Most of the reviews have mentioned how tightly the art and writing work together, and that’s a total product of the tight vision we’ve crafted for the series.

My scripts can be fairly loose, where I’ll let Riley run wild with his imagination, especially when it comes to a lot of the design. Most of the monsters in the series are from Riley’s mind, with a minor influence on my end about their origin, which affects the design to some degree.

There are also really great moments where he’ll interpret my script in a really innovate way, so he still catches me off guard even now. The absorption scene in Issue #5 is a perfect example of that, Riley adapted it quite literally whereas I’d conceived it in more spiritual terms. I can’t argue with the final version that hit the page. It’s disgusting and gorgeous at the same time.

Is the story of Green Wake completely mapped out? Have you created a story bible that details characters and their outcomes? Now that this has been picked up as an ongoing series, has your plans for the book changed at all?

KW: The first five issues saw very little change, even after we were asked to make it an ongoing series. We’d always hoped for a longer stint on the series, but promised ourselves and the readers resolution for the five issues we’d signed up for.

The full story isn’t mapped out, but we both know where it’s going and actually know what happens on the very last page of the entire series. I’ve been fairly loose in the details leading up to that point because I want the series to come about organically. I still have notes about what needs to happen to get from point A to B, but I’m allowing myself the freedom to have a lot of morbid fun in the meantime.

Do you have a definite end date in mind or do you always have new stories you can tell to keep the series running?

KW: We know roughly how many issues this story will be, but we’re not advertising that number openly because you just never know. Maybe it won’t be as long, or maybe it will take off and we can flesh this beast out in a much larger way. We’re hoping the sales increase and the readership grows so we can continue doing this story because it’s a huge passion project for the both of us.

Do you always plan on having Morley Mack as the central character or will the book shift to focus on different characters within Green Wake?

KW: At the end of the first volume, we hint that Morley is back for the next arc. So, as a Daily Dead exclusive, I’m revealing that, yes, Morley makes a return. Why he’s back, what that means to Green Wake as a whole, it’s the major focus for the remainder of the series. His legacy is tied directly into the mythology of Green Wake; his journey is far from over.

Are there plans to take Green Wake into other forms of media? It may be too early yet, but have you considered or been approached regarding turning this into a movie/TV show. Is that something you'd be interested in long term?

KW: I’d love to see this adapted in some form. We haven’t been approached by any interested studios, but truthfully, I just don’t think it’s hit a larger radar yet. I was honoured to meet Guillermo Del Toro at FanExpo this August in Toronto and super lucky to hand him an exclusive early copy of the Volume 1 trade paperback. Who knows, nothing may come of it, but what an opportunity!

I think it would make an excellent HBO-type series, and I definitely would be interested in playing a role in that. That is long term thinking, but I like to plan ahead a few years, so I’m always pushing my work in as many mediums as possible.

We've previously seen the Green Wake journal entries on blogspot. Do you plan to continue to use social media to add to the Green Wake story? Is a Twitter/Facebook component possible?

KW: Writing the Green Wake journal was a lot of fun, and sadly I had to stop doing it because my time restrictions dictated I make time for more important things. I was working WAY too much, as I had my day job and two comics going at the same time. Eighty hour work weeks can only last so long before you have to trim the fat, so to speak.

I’d like to revisit the blog, but I’d like to approach it in a more professional way. The blogsite looked cheap, which was sort of the appeal I was going for in a way. I wanted it to look like some average guy talking about his grandfather’s journal leading up to the release. A sort of mockumentary in blog form. That said, it wasn’t readily available and so I’m pretty sure there were very few readers. At least now I have the time to do it.

I understand that the success of Green Wake has allowed you to make this a full time career. What advice do you have for other writers who are trying to make a full time living of it?

KW: It wasn’t just Green Wake, I’d actually been offered a freelancing gig with Day 21 Studios. They’re a great company with some fantastic material and they gave me an opportunity that allowed for me to focus full time on what I love doing. The best part about it is that even writing for them has been fun and engaging.

What I can tell other writers is bust your ass until you make it. If you have the talent but are hitting a hard wall with getting your work picked up or paid for, you’ve got to keep going. I questioned myself all the time, and there were points I just felt like it was pointless (shortly after Beautiful Creatures, truthfully).

I hit rock bottom, got all my shit together and made the biggest push for my writing I had ever done. I bought a ticket to Emerald City Comicon in Seattle and brought the Intrepids pitch with me. Now I’m writing full time with two critically acclaimed series under my belt.

It’s not as simple as ‘never give up’, I realize. There are a lot of other things you have to do, but it’s the most straightforward, logical advice I can give.

Is there anything else you'd like to say to our Daily Dead readers?

KW: Green Wake is a psychological horror series with a deep, involved mystery filled to the rafters with sick monsters, bloody murders and fucked up imagery. If you liked Twin Peaks, Dark City or Seven, I think this comic series will love you hard.

On top of that, we’re working with Daily Dead to get exclusive art and interviews available only on this website so you get the full inside scoop on what’s coming up for our series before anyone else.


I'd like to thank Kurtis for taking the time out to talk with me and hope that our readers enjoy Green Wake as much as I have. We're going to be covering plenty of Green Wake news once the series picks back up, but to hold you over until then, here is a piece of artwork from the upcoming story arc. Also, if you're interested in learning more about Green Wake, we have a free digital version of the first issue: