EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Joshua Fialkov Stops By To Talk Top Cow’s ‘Echoes’!

Top Cow has teamed up with Joshua Hale Fialkov, and Rahsan Ekedal to present “ECHOES”. This sharply written story takes you inside the head of Brian Cohn, a man dealing with Schizophrenia among a multitude of other issues. The third installment of this five issue series is scheduled to hit shelves on the 23rd of this month.

WARNING: The Following Interview Contains Spoilers

Johnny_Trouble:“Josh, thanks for agreeing to talk to us here at Bloody-Disgusting about the five-issue series of Echoes.

In the series, you portray the world through the eyes of Brian Cohn, a schizophrenic, who has to deal with a father dying of Alzheimer’s, a child on the way, and a myriad of demons from his past. As a result, the stresses in his life wreak havoc upon his mental condition and his grip on reality. Throughout the storyline you turn Brian’s world into a complex compilation of problems that are commonplace, as well as some that are extraordinary, making him relatable as well as alien in a sense. With this being said, where did you come up with the idea for the series as well as Brian’s character?

Joshua Fialkov:“Pretty much step one in anything I work on, intentionally or not, is some aspect of my own personality or life that’s hanging on me. The book came to me pretty much right alongside the deicison to have a kid. And suddenly, my relationship with my father was that much more important to me, because, y’know, I want to be the best father I possibly can, but, I’m moody and sullen and a little bit crazy. And, well, so’s my dad (although far less crazy than me.) And as I get older and it becomes more and more clear that I’m becoming my father, and it’s only a hop step and a jump to ECHOES from there. “

Johnny_Trouble:“Why did you choose Monroeville for the location of the story?

Joshua Fialkov:“It’s where I grew up. It’s sort of that perfect suburb. Not too fancy, not too poor, but with pockets of both, and for me, it represents that middle ground. Lots of my friends from high school are still there, and I know that when I go back, while there’s a feeling of nostalgia, there’s also a feeling of claustrophobia. Being in a place where everyone doesn’t just know you, but knows what you did when you were eight years old, or, even worse, what your parents did when THEY were eight years old is far more frightening than comforting to me.

So the idea was a place that was both small enough to be claustrophobic and big enough that a killer could plausibly stalk the streets. Plus, I feel like I have a duty to restore the cities horror cred after the Dawn of the Dead remake so unceremoniously dumped the city. “

Johnny_Trouble:“Something that I noticed, and I always appreciate is that throughout the story there are numerous little details you have included: Brian’s use of Clozapine and Cymbalta, his address is a real residence, Detective Neville has the real Municipality of Monroeville’s phone number on his business card, Echolalia’s presence in both Schizophrenics and Alzheimer’s patients, ect. How much research and preparation did it take to ensure the accuracy of these details, and why did you choose to incorporate them the way you did?

Joshua Fialkov:“Realism is key when you’re asking your readers to take what is ultimately a huge logistical jump. Part of the success of the book, for me, is nobody says, “Why didn’t he just go to the police?” which, obviously, is what any sane person would do. I think the detail work in the book, as well as Rahsan’s amazing illustrations make it clear that he’s NOT a sane person, and can’t possibly make rational decisions. In fact, I don’t know that he makes a single rational decision until it’s far too late. “

Johnny_Trouble:“It isn’t uncommon for serial killers to collect some sort of personal item from their victims to remember the murder. In the story, the victims’ body parts have been sewn into little dolls. Where did you get the idea for the dolls?

Joshua Fialkov:“I was working a while back on a New Orleans based crime book with a Voodoo angle. I ended up scrapping it after I read Kody Chamberlain’s amazing series Sweets, cause, y’know, there’s no way I could do something that protrayed New Orleans as vibrantly as an actual native, especially one as talented as Kody, could. During that research in to the darker aspects, I came across the sort of higher end vodou dolls, made out of flesh and bone of animals. Which in and of itself is pretty gross, but, the thought of a serial killer doing the same was just too haunting to get rid of. While working on the concept of Echoes, the idea of the killer actually MAKING an echo of the victim seemed too good to pass up. “

Johnny_Trouble:“Detective Neville is a character that starts out seeming like a good cop who is out to solve problems. As the story develops, not only do you show his true intentions, you show readers how his occupation allows him to deny the rights of others as well as the ability to manipulate the justice system. Is this an underlying social commentary on the amount of power police officers have in this country, or was there some other message you were trying to portray?

Joshua Fialkov:“I’m Public Enemy and NWA all rolled into one, right? I don’t think so, really, I have the same authoritarial anxiety as most creative types, but, mine comes less from the position of power and more of the fact that people are scum bags, and a good percentage of them are trying to fuck you anyway they can.

Ultimately though, the police other than Neville, aren’t corrupt or evil, I think they’re just doing their job, and because of the inevitability of the set up, Brian’s hosed either way. “

Johnny_Trouble:“How did you and Rahsan Ekedal team up for this series?

Joshua Fialkov:“We’d worked together a bit in the past on a book for Dark Horse called The Cleaners, which unfortunately did not set the world on fire. Between then and now, Rahsan and I had stayed in touch, and I watched him evolved from a competent creator to a true master of the medium. Once I saw the work he was doing in the Creepy anthology, I knew it was time for us to put the band back together.“

Johnny_Trouble:“Were there any significant challenges that you came across when developing the storyline for Echoes?

Joshua Fialkov:“The ending was really the only point of contention, because it’s sort of a non-ending. I mean, everything is certainly wrapped up, but, it’s so fucking bleak. And that’s less coming from Top Cow and more coming from me. I always write downer endings, but usually they’re at least presented as ‘wins.’ Here, the only person who wins is, well, the one person who absolutely deserves not to.

Especially now as we’re developing the movie, it becomes really clear that benefit of comics. That ending is one of them, for me. We can do whatever we want, and we can leave things open ended and bleak, because our readers are just more select and, therefore, more sophisticated than the average summer blockbuster theater goer. “

Johnny_Trouble:“What projects can we expect to see from you in the near future?

Joshua Fialkov:“Up next is a new graphic novel called HELLTOWN with artist Steve Bryant that’ll be syndicated on the MTV Geek site, alongside brand new PUNKS comics with my co-creator (and Sweets creator) Kody Chamberlain. Along with those, I’ve got a graphic novel series over at Oni Press with co-writer and illustrator Tony Fleecs that hasn’t been quite announced yet. And then there’s a creator owned ongoing series with Brent Peeples that’s in the early stages, but I hope will make it out by year’s end.“

“ECHOES” has the attention to detail that Fialkov has shown us before with his book “TUMOR”. Not only does Fialkov provide a complex story, but he also seamlessly integrates facts within the fiction, making the world he creates one that is multi-dimensional. The series will run through April of this year and is available in local comic shops and is available at Top Cow’sonline store.