When it comes to moody, creepy comics, few do it better than the "Echoes" team of Joshua Hale Fialkov and Rahsan Ekedal.
Their previous collaboration for Top Cow's Minotaur Press imprint was well-received, so the pair hopes their next endeavor for the Cow's 2011 Pilot Season proves just as successful. "The Test" features a group of characters waking up with no memory of their past lives, but charged with the daunting task of repopulating a post-apocalyptic Earth. Prior to Saturday's official Pilot Season announcements at Top Cow's "We Create...Excitement" panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Comic Book Resources scored the exclusive first interview with Fialkov about the "Test" survivors, the series' film and television predecessors, and what exactly the title relates to.
"Ah, that would be telling," Fialkov teased. "I think that survival itself is a test. That was the core idea that [Top Cow President] Matt Hawkins and I discussed on the book. That we, as a people, are constantly setting up challenges and hurdles for ourselves, and that wouldn't stop. I mean, if there was a global plague that wiped out everyone but a handful, that handful, despite all reason, would pick themselves up and try to start it up again. That's both a terrifying and inspirational thought. That's where the book comes from, for me."
That might be where Fialkov is coming from, but where exactly are the people waking up coming from? The writer wouldn't say exactly but did give a few hints.
"They're each there for a very specific reason, and if we win Pilot Season, there'll be a lot of room to tell those stories," Fialkov said, "but we really focus on our main characters just getting the ground underneath their feet."
The premise of a group of characters waking up in a place without any memory of how they got there has been seen in movies like "Saw" and "Cube," a favorite of Fialkov's.
"I love 'Cube,'" the writer enthused. "That movie is amazing beyond words. I also love 'Lost.' What I wanted to do was to channel all of that into something a bit more digestible. We're constantly reminded of what's going on so we can never get too turned in on ourselves. So we have a contained set-up that both drives the story forward and serves as the biggest obstacle for our characters. What I look forward to is two years into the story when they finally triumph over that hurdle. So, y'know, vote!"
Fialkov knows the pressure is on as only one of the eight Pilot Season comics will get invited to the big dance. Nevertheless, he didn't change up his writing style to fit the format.
"I think that in this market, all first issues are make-it or break-it affairs," Fialkov said. "You really have to put everything in there up front so that there's no confusion or doubt from your readers. They have to read what's next; otherwise, you can't survive."
Of course, Fialkov and Ekedal have a lot more planned for "The Test" beyond the first Pilot Season issue, hoping fans give them the chance to roll out their epic.
"I have ideas just bursting out of my head for where the book goes and all the cool things I've always wanted to try as a storyteller," Fialkov said. "Plus, having an ongoing series with Rahsan is a big personal goal for me. It feels like playing jazz music when I work with him, as we riff on each other's strengths to tell the best story possible."