Before Joshua Fialkov was penning the pages of DC’s hit I, Vampire series, he wrote a little series for Image Comics alongside Rahsan Ekedal called Echoes. This book is horrifying, and scares you in ways you couldn’t imagine. Brilliant artist, Rahsan Ekedal, offered BD an exclusive look behind the scenes of Echoes. After the jump, Ekedal takes you through the entire creative process, from full scripted pages, to layouts, to final lettered pages, plus some insightful commentary that you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re looking to get into the comics industry, either as a writer or artist, you’ve just struck gold my friend.
Echoes follows the story of Brian Cohn as he battles with schizophrenia. Unfortunately for Brian, the meds don’t solve all his issues as he discovers that he has inherited his father’s serial killer instincts. It’s an intense ride down a blazing road of insanity that will remain ingrained in your mind long after you’ve read the final page. The trade is available in stores now, and it comes highly recommended. Read on for the skinny
Pages 7 and 8 from the first issue are still one of my favorite little scenes from the series. On this page, Josh set me the challenge of conveying a very common moment in horror films – a dark, threatening figure appears behind the hero, then disappears right before the hero turns around. This a ‘scare’ moment in film, something that (hopefully) makes the audience jump a little. However, on the page, it’s a lot harder to actually surprise the reader. I could have simply placed Brian in the foreground of the panels, and had the dark figure pass behind him in the background. But I found that there was no scare, no shock in simply replicating that sort of cinematic shot. When I reversed the “camera”, and placed the shadowy figure in the foreground with Brian framed by the dark doorway, I found that it forced the eye to see Brian first, then the dark figure second, providing that little moment of “cinematic” shock for the reader.
I also like page 8 because it’s where I began to introduce the darkness as a character. Taking some inspiration from Edvard Munch, of course, I gave all of the shadows throughout Echoes quite a bit of texture. They literally are a visual stand-in for Brian’s mental health. They are tumultous, volatile, and may or may not contain horrors lurking just out of sight. In this scene, Brian’s paranoia makes him believe there may be a person or something sitting there in the darkness. And that delusion is only broken by the violence of his watch alarm, expressed by Troy Peteri’s brilliant lettering and the little Kirby-esque explosion in the final panel.
These 32-panel double-page spreads became one of the hallmarks of the series, and I this one from issue 4 is my favorite, and I think probably Josh’s favorite as well. It’s all about memory versus truth. Brian (in his therapist’s office, revealed in the following pages) is recalling his father showing him an old print of the 1903 Alice in Wonderland silent film, while explaining his rough philosophy of life to his young son. Through the filter of Brian’s suspicions (that his father may have been a serial killer), and possibly distorted memory, this father-son moment becomes threatening and even terrifying. To help convey that, I went through the 1903 film frame by frame, picking the most intense images, and then twisting them just slightly to be even more threatening and disturbing. It’s how Brian remembers it. But is it truth?