Eclipse's Zack Kaplan on his new Top Cow sci-fi series, Port of Earth

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Nov 6, 2017

Rarely do first-time comic writers strike gold their initial time out, but Zack Kaplan is one of those rare success stories. It does happen, but at about the same frequency as Haley's Comet appearing in the sky.

Kaplan's near-future sci-fi title Eclipse, from Top Cow, burned up the charts when it was first released back in the fall of 2016, telling a scorching tale of a serial killer who uses the sun's lethal rays as a diabolical killing device after a mysterious solar event has altered the planet. It features a brilliant story by Kaplan, along with absorbing art by Giovanni Timpano. I highly recommend it if you're not already familiar with its glowing saga.

Kaplan's upcoming series, Port of Earth, expands on the idea of aliens arriving to make a business deal with our planet to install a remote fueling station for their spaceships in exchange for life-altering tech and secret knowledge. What could possibly go wrong?!

Here's the official solicitation synopsis:

Imagine if aliens came to Earth not in war or peace, but with a business deal: open up a spaceport here on Earth in exchange for advanced technology. But when our alien visitors break Port restrictions and wreak havoc in our cities, it falls to the newly formed Earth Security Agents to hunt down and safely deport the dangerous rogue aliens back to the Port of Earth. A gritty sci-fi action thriller from new comic book writer ZACK KAPLAN (ECLIPSE) and ANDREA MUTTI (Rebels, Star Wars, Batman Eternal, Prometheus).

SYFY WIRE had an exclusive chat with Kaplan at this past fall's Rose City Comic Con in Portland where he talked about the shining success of Eclipse, the potential TV adaptation deal he's working on, and his latest project with Top Cow, Port of Earth.

Tell us about the fantastic response from Eclipse and your reaction to it.

Zack Kaplan: Eclipse has been a crazy ride. It's a world where the sun will burn you alive if you go outside. It asks the question what if the sunlight turned deadly. Everyone has to work at night and sleep during the day. We focus on New York City as a surviving city. There's a killer on the loose and he's using sunlight to burn his victims.

Where did that wild, SPF-requiring idea originate from?

I actually came up with the idea when I was working a graveyard shift. I'd drive home at sunrise and there was just sun and empty streets and there was something very surreal about being out when the sun was dominating and everybody was in hiding. That made me start to think about our relationship with the sun. If you read the series there's a lot of themes of disconnection. I was leading a very disconnected life working a graveyard shift. It was a passion project of mine and I pitched this idea for years when I first came up with it. I had a background in film and TV and I thought that was a possibility, but I always came back to the idea of it in a comic.

How did it arrive at Image Comics and has Hollywood come calling?

I finally pitched it to Matt Hawkins at Top Cow, and he said, "Let's do it." Initially it was slated to only be four issues, and when the first issue came out it blew up. Everybody was really excited about it, so it became an ongoing series. It's been a ride! Giovanni Timpano is the artist. He's an Italian illustrator who did a lot of projects for Dynamite on Justice Inc. and The Shadow, but he never created his own world, and he kills this. He pours his heart and soul into it. The arc is fantastic. The creative team's been great. Top Cow has been super supportive. It's in development for TV, that came rather early in the series release, and we just got a chance to announce that at San Diego Comic Con. We're hoping for some more news on that front very soon and that's very exciting.

When did the recent compilation of Eclipse come out and will there be more?

Volume 1 of the first four-issue arc came out in February and Volume 2 just arrived in August. This is an ongoing series and so we took a little bit of a break while Giovanni draws Batman vs The Shadow for Dynamite. So we'll be back around March of next year.

How have you handled the the accolades and compliments for your first book, Eclipse?

It's been amazing. It's very surreal. Online and at conventions and the reviews have been great and people have been really digging it. I feel the pressure a little bit. I'm super excited, but I need to keep the standard up. I need my next project to be great, and I need Volume 3 of Eclipse to be great.

Can you tell us about your new sci-fi series from Image/Top Cow, Port of Earth?

The premise is that Hollywood always has aliens coming to blow us up or bring enlightenment, but what if they didn't come for war or peace, what if they came with a business deal? And the business deal is to open up a port here on Earth. Aliens are supposed to come and refuel their ships and go, but sometimes they come into human populated areas and sometimes they cause trouble. It falls onto Earth security agents to hunt them down and deport them. So the story focuses on two agents, and it's against the backdrop of this deal with aliens that's slowly going wrong. It poses the question of not only what would happen if we made a deal with aliens, but would we really be in control of that business deal?

What was the genesis of the idea?

I was reading historical stuff about Europeans coming to the New World. When Europeans came over it was a slow burn, they didn't come with a huge army. It's always the way it's been through history. And everyone thinks about aliens coming with giant ships, and it got me thinking about this whole other possibility that hasn't been explored yet. Life in general is all what can I do for you, and what can you do for me. This symbiotic relationship exists, and even animals make mutually beneficial arrangements. Life seems to do that, so I think it's very possible, so it's fun to put that out there.

Port of Earth will be an ongoing series. Andrea Mutti is the artist, and he is killer. He's been doing comics for twenty years, and he's done everything from Batman to X-Men, Star Wars, and Aliens. He's got a really cool style. Vladimir Popov is the colorist. Really cool colors, wait until you see them. I don't want to give too much away of where it's gonna go, but it will be four-issue arcs like Eclipse, but it will be serialized.

What other projects do you have coming up for 2018?

If you're excited about Eclipse and Port of Earth, there will be much more coming. I don't think I'm gonna be sleeping too much to bring you all these great things, but stay tuned.

Check out our exclusive 4-page preview of Port of Earth #1 in the gallery below, and tell us if this new sci-fi series from Top Cow might earn a prime spot on your pull list when it arrives Wednesday, Nov. 8.