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Interview with Nick Tapalansky

By Thomm Quackenbush

A man can't even go into a simple bookstore to buy a simple issue of a trashy comic without getting waylaid by art and zombies, not always in that order. Never has this been more evident than in the discovery of Awakening, written by Nick Tapalansky, who was not raised by wolves or from the dead. In fact, he manages a secret identity as a mild mannered employee at the bookstore where I found the comics, which certainly saves on the footwork.

  1. keep your undead hands to yourself! What do you intend to do with zombies that is different?
    I guess the most obvious is playing with the Romero-esque mythos that's become the norm and in a lot of ways flipping it on its head. There's no mass uprising, the people being killed by the zombies are staying dead, and those that are turning seem to do so at random. It's a pretty intense mystery story for the first half of the series.
  2. What, if anything, do you have nightmares about and why?
    Truthfully, most of my nightmares revolve around real life crap - I think I've got way too high of a comfort level with horror/supernatural hoo-ha to pee myself over it once I fall asleep.

    But there IS that weird shadow on the closet every night...
  3. Which is scarier, slow movie zombie or fast moving ones? Why?
    In groups: slower. Solo: faster. If it's a group of speeders you just know you're done for, there's no getting out of it. Sit down and be a meal. If it's one slow guy you can taunt him, do a little dance, maybe tap his shoulder from the other side and watch him amble around like a goon.

    Switch all that around and you've got scary because both scenarios give you hope for survival. A mob of slow pokes? Well, they're not fast - if you can weave through most of them you'll be okay. One fast guy? Well, it IS only one...
  4. What comics do you consider inspirations or favorites?
    Jeff Smith's Bone is huge for me and reading it early on helped me really start to grasp sequential story telling. Ditto for Todd Dezago's Spider-Man work (and his current book, Perhapanauts). Brian K. Vaughan's work is always inspiring, James Robinson's Starman is a must read, and the list goes on and on.
  5. Why should we buy your comics instead of a poison dart frog? Because we really are torn.
    If you had to pick between the two, I'd say go with the frog and wait for the first hardcover, coming in June. That frog would really help fill the void for the next few months.
  6. A zombie has bitten your loved one. It is a superficial wound, but he or she is likely infected. What do you do?
    I've actually had this discussion with loved ones. Kill 'em. Sorry buddy, you're not turning our hidey-hole into a slaughter fest.
  7. You work in a bookstore, in addition to being the author of this comic. What's that like? How does that inform your writing or vice versa? Most importantly, do you recommend bookstores as a stronghold against the legions of the undead?
    Truthfully, like any "people watching" activity, it's hugely informative. Cynthia was actually inspired by a customer - true story.

    As for a stronghold... Eh, probably not. Too many entrances/exits and no real way to fortify them.
  8. How long do you think you will survive when the zombie apocalypse comes? In researching and writing this comic, have you picked up any survival tips you could pass on to our readers?
    Wow, you sound so sure this thing is coming...that's gonna suck. But, when it does, I think I'll do okay. I once took an online quiz that tested for this sort of thing and didn't score too well though, so who's to say. My girlfriend at the time said it's because I'd never fired a gun before - low and behold, she takes the test and BAM, she's a survivor. Why? Because she'd fired a gat when she was like, 7. Sounds fishy to me.
  9. How exactly did you get your comic published? You talk of just running into Archaia Studio Press at Wizard World, but it was actually voodoo and bribery, right?
    You forgot blackmail. That was important. Nobody ever wants to see pictures like that of comic publishers, not even the people who took them (rest their souls).
  10. You've made it to the "TFAW Top 20 Hottest Comics" list and have been interviewed by Wizard Magazine. Do you feel that you have made it as a writer? If not, what would that take?
    You forgot being able to Google yourself for 10,000 hits. That's awesome.

    Seriously though, I definitely feel like I've made it to a certain level - I'm happy to introduce myself as a writer now. To say I've "made it" though almost makes me feel like I've gone as far as I could or would want to and that's certainly not the case. I've got TONS more to do.
  11. My friends were once going to make a zombie themed porn called "Dawn Does the Dead." Can you see any legitimate reason this wouldn't be a cult classic? You'd buy copies as bar mitzvah gifts, right?
    Forget bar mitzvah gifts, I'd buy a ton and give them on all eight crazy nights of Hanukkah.
  12. What is the coolest zombie origin you've ever heard?
    I'm a big fan of the classic, voodoo zombie - bury someone alive and then CONVINCE them that they're dead, thus making them your zombie slave. That's some intensely fucked up shit there - forget rotting corpses, you just bamboozled some rube and now they get you drinks with umbrellas. That's a victory.
  13. I have been told that one can drink your essence and become you. A great idea or the greatest idea?
    Clearly the greatest. I understand I taste of sushi and pizza with a splash of V8 fruit juice - what's not to like?
  14. You talk a good game of The Monarch from Venture Brothers being your archnemesis, but what superpower do you bring to the table that will end his reign of lepidopterous terror?
    A bug zapper, a tape gun, and a hot chick: tools of the trade.
  15. It has taken about five years since you got the idea for Awakening. What is the biggest change that has occurred in your vision since that time?
    Well, when it first popped up it was shorter, slightly more action oriented, had a female lead, and was only six issues long. The base premise was similar as were the thematic conflicts but everything superficially was different. That version didn't survive long though.
  16. What has been the best part of this experience for you?
    Having someone come up to me at a convention two weeks after the book hit shops and swearing because they didn't know I'd be there. He then asked if I'd be there the next day because he'd left his copy of issue 1 at home and thought the book "fuckin' rocked!" Sure enough, day two of the show and he comes back to the table and throws the first issue down asking me to sign it. That was the first time anything like that had happened and it was so damn cool.
  17. What is the weirdest reaction you have had from a fan so far?
    Somebody telling me I was too wordy... but it worked. They just thought all the words might get in the way of the art later in the series.

    Those crazy kids don't like words with their pictures!
  18. Do you have a plan for what you are going to write after Awakening is finished?
    Well, I have a project that I'm editing right now for the very talented Mark Holmes called RIDER that we're close to having an exciting announcement about, Alex and I have at least two other projects in various stages of development right now, and there are a few other projects flitting around inside my head fighting for dominance. First one to punch the other in the throat gets out first.


Xen is not a zombie and swears he has no plans of using Awakening as one of his blue prints for the apocalypse.

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