Written by Nick Tapalansky
Artwork by Alex Eckman-Lawn
Back Cover by Teresa Marra
Lettering by Thomas Mauer
Archaia Studios Press
Cover price: $3.50; Available Now
The zombie genre has permeated the comic book industry the world over, nearly saturating the market with two-dimensional undead. Big names like Robert Kirkman and even Warren Ellis have gotten into the act, with The Walking Dead, penned by Kirkman, as the ultimate in graphic fiction, the soap opera zombie film that doesn’t end, while Ellis’ Black Gas takes enough narrative turns to give a reader whiplash.
Lucky for us, Nick Tapalansky and Alex Eckman-Lawn deliver a fresh perspective on the instinct-driven flesh eaters with Awakening. Cline Pharmaceutical, a giant corporation, moved into the town of Park Falls and left under mysterious circumstances. Not long after, a plague of murders cuts through the population, escalating the fears and concerns.
Amid the Park Falls Police Department’s ongoing murder investigation, Derrick Peters, a retired detective, and Doctor Daniel Howe, a representative of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, hold their own investigation — studying the victims, remains of the undead, and their own search of the abandoned Cline Pharmaceutical building.
Meanwhile, Derrick’s female rescuer in Issue 2 has some wicked flashbacks, while Derrick’s friend Cynthia, the catalyst for our protagonist’s involvement in this whole affair, takes matters into her own hand by confronting a former Cline constituent.
Tapalansky’s prose echoes with intensely verbose reverb, clogging up his word balloons with fairly trite expressions. Tapalansky’s strength is his ability to set the scenes and pace of the narrative with the deft hand of a brain surgeon. His established moods and blend of noir and horror genres will enrapture many a reader, as his characters continue to evolve with a preternatural sense of self-awareness, exhibiting a wry post-modern sarcasm.
The standout of the series and Issue 3 is Alex Eckman-Lawn’s digital mixed media approach to storytelling, a mash-up of post-photorealism and various computer-aided media. Differentiating between Tapalansky’s set descriptions and where Eckman-Lawn takes off on his own is incredibly difficult, but the artists ability to render people, landscapes, and action all in the abstract actually provides a great deal of legitimacy to Awakening‘s run. The transitions of the book definitely need work, as the color palettes for various scenes are too close to actually differentiate that different things are happening, adding to the confusion of the story, which begs the question of whether it’s an intentional move on the creators’ part.
Awakening may be the indie runaway hit of the year if Tapalansky and Eckman-Lawn continue to use the book as a platform for their abilities in the comics industry. The straight-forward approach to writing zombie horror coupled with the not-so-traditional artwork actually meshes together extremely well. One has to wonder what the pair will accomplish after Awakening ends its run.
Alex Eckman-Lawn’s Deviant Art page: http://theabones.deviantart.com/