For the better part of a decade now, Raven Gregory has been contributing to the pool of independent horror comics. Shortly after his debut story THE GIFT was published by Image Comics, Gregory made his was to Zenescope Comics, where he quickly ascended to the position of Executive Editor. His new four issue limited series THE WAKING is available for order from December Previews.
How did you get into comics? How did you get hooked up with Zenescope Comics specifically?
Around 2000 I decided to try and break into comics. I wrote every person I could about finding out how to get into the business. The only person who wrote me back was an editor over at Top Cow, Renae Geerlings. I'm not sure what she saw in me but she kinda took me under her wing and helped me out with producing THE GIFT. THE GIFT was picked up by Image Comics and while running the convention circuit I met Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco, the guys behind Zenescope. I was a big fan of their Grimm Fairy Tales and they were fans of THE GIFT. A few years later I heard they were doing FINAL DESTINATION, which I desperately wanted to write but they already had a writer assigned to the series. But they asked me if I'd be interested in writing the first issue of their new Se7en series, which I very much was. It's been magically delicious fairy tale magic ever since.
Zenescope is probably best known for its flagship title, Grimm Fairy Tales, which presents twisted, sexy re-tellings of well-known fairy tales. How would you describe Zenescope Comics to someone new to the company?
Innovative fresh publishing company most well known for its reinterpretation of classic fairy tales told in darker new inventive ways for the modern day reader. Or in short...where the cool kids are.:)
THE WAKING is a bit of a departure for Zenescope considering how grounded the comic is in a distilled type of reality. Is that indicative of a general change in direction for the company?
In 2010 we are definitely broadening our horizons genre wise and launching a few new series (Sci-Fi Anthology, Merc, Agon, The Waking, Neverland, Dante's Inferno) that we hope will have the fans talking for some time to come.
You've spoken in the past about how personal your stories tend to get. Do you see writing as a cathartic exercise as well as a creative one? That seems to be the case with many horror writers.
Absolutely. I think those kinds of stories resonate much more deeply with the reader whether it's apparent or not exactly what the writer is trying to work through. There's something about the emotion of dealing with something and using the story as a means of expression that really brings out the best in a writer.
THE WAKING is six years in the making. In what ways have you grown or changed as a writer through the process of creating this story?
THE WAKING is a strange beast in that I wrote it back when I was writing THE GIFT, which was about eight years back. So the guy who wrote it (had one kid and now I have four) was very gung-ho. Very much wanting to take on the world and kick ass and take names and show my @#$% to anyone willing to take a look. I was really inexperienced but my enthusiasm was at its peak and it was all about the writing because I didn't know about all the other shit that goes into getting your work out into the world. But something would always happen to derail the production so the side benifit to that was that I had much more time to polish and really make sure the book was what it needed to be. So with this book you get a piece of the writer I was then and the more experience writer I am now. Hopefully the best of both worlds.
Please tell us about your artist on THE WAKING, Vic Drujiniu.
We worked together previously on Grimm Fairy Tales #30, Tales From Wonderland: Alice one shot, Tales From Wonderland: Hatter Part Two and I just love his work so much. He just has a great sense of story telling and his attention to detail is just breath taking. He's already finished all four issues and is really going places. The colorist is Mark Roberts who has done some work with Vic in the past as well as a few Zenescope books as well. He has a really great sense of setting the mood with his colors and turns in some of the most beautiful pages.
Would you say there's a particular house style for the art at Zenescope Comics? Is there are particular "look" you guys are going for?
Not really. I think the only house style we might have is that we try and keep things fresh and different. It's not so much a style but a group of talented individuals that we are fortunate enough to be able to work with to bring readers cool new stories month in and month out.
What kind of research did you do on police procedures for THE WAKING?
A lot of online research. I also have some friends who work in various police and medical divisions who were kind enough to share their knowledge with me. As it stands right now there is only one major falsehood in the story "procedure wise" and I actually left it in to see if anyone would catch it.
In addition to writing for Zenescope, you are also the Executive Editor for the company. What kinds of day-to-day duties does that entail?
I proof all the books before they go to the printer. I also review all scripts initially and provide any notes that I feel are necessary. I also oversee all the wonderland titles in each stage of the production process as well as handle online promotions and various PR duties. I also do staff writing when necessary and write all the various wonderland series.
THE WAKING has a pretty definitive ending, but is there any chance of continuing it in some way afterwards?
Never say never but it's pretty doubtful. I think what needed to be said was said storywise and anything else just doesn't have the intellectual meat to keep me interested in coming back. But I will say this, the more and more I am asked this question, the more and more I begin to actually think of what I would do if I were to continue the series. Not that I am that is:)
Is there anything else you'd like to tell us? This is your chance to lay it all out.
The Waking #1 and #2 will be in stores in Feb and I think readers are really going to dig a new take on the whole zombie mythos.
Any websites, blogs, etc where we can find out more about you and your work?
RG: You can find me on the zenescope message board, twitter, and facebook.