Ever wake up in the morning with a killer hangover, alone in unfamiliar surroundings with absolutely no memory of how you got there? Don’t worry, you’re not alone…and thankfully, it could be worse, especially if this unusual place is called Green Wake.
“The Intrepids” writer Kurtis J. Wiebe and “Cowboy Ninja Viking” illustrator Riley Rossmo are the architects of “Green Wake,” a brand new miniseries from Image Comics’ Shadowline imprint launching this April. The five-issue series introduces readers to the mysterious world of Green Wake, a town where newcomers arrive without any memory of how they first got there. What’s worse, there is no apparent way of leaving Green Wake, either. The story is told through from the perspective of Morley Mack, a longtime Green Wake resident who takes it upon himself to guide newcomers through the paces of this enigmatic community. But when an unprecedented series of murders strikes Green Wake, Morley sets out to decipher the killer’s identity and their motivations.
Wiebe spoke with CBR News in an exclusive interview about “Green Wake,” why he describes it as “Twin Peaks” meets “The Dark Tower,” the transmedia storytelling he’s implementing through an accompanying blog and much more.
CBR News: Kurtis, what can you tell us about “Green Wake?”
Kurtis Wiebe: “Green Wake,” we’re billing it as “Twin Peaks” meets “The Dark Tower.” It’s a horror mystery book and it takes place in the town of Green Wake, a place where people arrive with no idea of how they got there, and there’s supposedly no way of getting out of it. The main character, Morley Mack, has been there for some time. Early on in the first issue, you’ll see an event that happened earlier in his life where his wife dies in a car accident. We kind of gloss right over that and skip straight to Green Wake, where there’s a bunch of mutilation murders happening — which does not happen. Nobody gets murdered here.
Tell us more about Morley Mack. Who is he? What do we need to know about this man?
One element we’ll see very early on the first issue is that Morley, when he came to Green Wake, he didn’t have anyone there to tell him what was going on or what Green Wake really was. He basically showed up, woke up there, and was left to his own devices. He’s taken it on himself to be the unofficial welcomer for new people to Green Wake, helping people get a basic understanding of what they’ve fallen into. We see that early on in the first issue as well with a newcomer named Carl. People who come to Green Wake arrive in a rowboat; it washes on the shore, they’re unconscious, Morley takes them in and gives them a guided tour to help them understand exactly what they’ve fallen into.
Sounds like Carl might have an important role to play in this, too.
Yes, the newcomer, Carl, arrives almost immediately after the murders in Green Wake start happening, and that causes Morley — who plays kind of a Sam Spade role in this series — to take it on himself to find out what’s happening. When he finds this first body, him and his friend Krieger, another side character, they find out that Carl has come to town and Morley is very suspicious — these events almost seem linked, just by the timing of it. He takes Carl in and has quite a few questions for this new arrival.
When people come to Green Wake, they don’t know how they got there. What do they know? Do they have memories of their lives from beforehand?
Oh, they sure do. They basically remember up until the point before they woke up, so the events leading to it they certainly remember. But they don’t remember how they woke up in this new place. Their full memories and lives before are definitely remembered, which is actually a major plot element to the story. You’ll also notice that in a lot of the visual style, frogs and toads are very much a symbol of the story. That’s a major plot element as well. Some of the people in Green Wake start taking on frog or toad-like features, and that’s a mystery that’s resolved throughout the series. There are definitely answers for that.
We’re definitely trying to build Green Wake as a character. It’s a character in the book. We’ve had a lot of influences on this one.Â Riley and I are actually good friends and we’ve talked for hours and hours and hours about this story, and we really want to build a mythology of what Green Wake is. We have tons and tons of pages of material that detail the history and how the town works and all of these things. It’s something we’re going to reveal slowly, what Green Wake is and why it’s there, but it’s all tied into the murders that are happening and it’s all tied into why Morley is there and why he can’t leave. We’re actually being very subtle about Green Wake and it’s origin, because we actually have ideas for further stories, kind of like “Lost.” We won’t get that convoluted, but [the mystery] is always going to be a presence. It’s also like in “Twin Peaks,” the supernatural element that’s always underlining the story.
Let’s talk about what it’s like to live in Green Wake. It’s rather startling to think of waking up in this place where you have no idea how you got there and no idea how to get out. What’s going on through the minds of the people that live here? Are they used to it? Are they adjusted to it? Are they itching to get out?
It varies. There’s a thread that connects every single person to Green Wake. They’re all there for very similar reasons, but I can’t go into too many details why. The people that live there are escaping something; Green Wake has all forms of escapism there. It’s kind of like a Red Light district: it’s got everything from drugs and booze and all of those things, they’re all very prevalent there. People are also very guarded. They don’t really associate with one another. Morley and Krieger walk down the streets quite often and they barely see anyone. People don’t want to make connections with other people. In some ways, it’s very much the same thing where we’ll go out, drink with people, party and escape our problems — they do the same thing — but it’s very obvious that the people here aren’t dealing with their issues so well. [Laughs] They’re all very hurt people.
Going back to what you said earlier, that “Green Wake” is like “Twin Peaks” meets “The Dark Tower.” Can you elaborate on that?
We were trying to capture a theme or a tone for the story, and “Twin Peaks” has elements that can be a bit soap opera-y or campy with its humor. But we liked this underlying feeling of dread and foreboding throughout the whole story, that no matter how quirky or weird it gets, there’s always this unsettling feeling while watching the entire series. We really wanted to have that element that Green Wake is this place where people go to, they have their day-to-day lives, but there’s just something that’s not right about them. There’s something else behind the scenes that might be manipulating the story a little bit. And “The Dark Tower” was an influence as far as having human characters, but there’s also a monstrous element that’s slowly revealed — like Morley’s partner, Krieger, who has these toad-like features. He looks a lot less human than Morley does. There are elements of weirdness and creepiness where it’s a human world but there are also bizarre, almost supernatural things happening here.
Genre-wise, how would you classify “Green Wake?”
This is a horror mystery book. I think the horror definitely takes the forefront of it. There are some grisly things happening in the book. In the first preview pages, you see that a man has his lips torn off. There’s a lot of that kind of horrific aspect in here, plus the foreboding sense that there’s something going on behind the scenes throughout the five issue run. The mystery element comes from, who is murdering these people and why? Green Wake doesn’t have a history of ever killing anyone. Why is it happening all of the sudden? What’s the reason? We establish a suspect from the first five pages — her name is Ariel, and she’s also a recent migrant to Green Wake. She’s like everybody else, just wanting to be left alone. Then, one day, it’s assumed that she’s started killing people, and the clues that are revealed throughout the story strongly indicate that she’s behind it. They’re trying to figure out why.
“Green Wake” isn’t out until April, but there’s an interesting online component to the book that’s already available. Tell us more about that.
We wanted to make a blog that somehow ties all of the story elements and the mysteries of “Green Wake” in a separate way from the main storyline. It’s like an extra features thing where I’m writing and Riley is providing photos, which are his wife’s great grandfather’s photos from World War I. There are some fantastic photos in there, and he’s done some photo manipulation in them. We’re coming up with this idea where the person writing the blog is Morley’s grandson, and he’s going through his grandfather’s old stuff that he got when he died. It’s Morley’s journal about Green Wake, and he’s going through it a post at a time, talking about his grandfather’s journal while putting in his own personal feelings and showing photos that may be attached to what he’s talking about. We’re building Green Wake as a character more through these blogs. It’s something where if there’s room in the trade paperback or in one of the [issues], we’ll put this out there and it’ll be an interesting tie-in.
Kurtis J. Wiebe and Riley Rossmo’s “Green Wake” premieres in April 2011. You can visit the mysterious town right now through the official “What Is Green Wake?” blog!