Zack Kaplan. Writer. Poker Player. Sci-fi Specialist.
Zack Kaplan went “All-In” last year by having readers #FearTheSun with the science fiction series he wrote entitled ECLIPSE, which garnered great success and was an instant hit. This Wednesday, the writer is debuting an all-new title in the genre. Kaplan has teamed up with all-star artist Andrea Mutti for the gritty, new series PORT OF EARTH, available November 8th from Image Comics and Top Cow Productions. And from our advance look at the debut issue, he’s flopped a monster (poker talk) and the chips will be coming his way.
PORT OF EARTH #1
Published: November 8, 2017
Diamond ID: SEP170655
Digital : $3.99
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).
We had the privilege of interviewing the talented writer to discuss his new project, his love for science fiction, and the team he’s assembled to bring this futuristic tale to life. So sit back and get ready to learn more about PORT OF EARTH!
PopCultHQ’s Creator Spotlight:
PopCultHQ: You made a huge impact with your sci-fi debut ECLIPSE from Image/Top Cow. Eight issues in, you wrapped up the second story arc this past summer. Now that you got readers to #FearTheSun, when can we see more from the series? Or is it shelved for now?
Zack Kaplan: Eclipse is simply on hiatus. We’re working on Eclipse #9 as we speak and hoping to get it out as soon as possible, early next year, and hopefully with a lot more story. We still have a lot of fuel in the tank on Eclipse. Fan response has been great, and don’t forget it’s in development for TV. So don’t worry, Eclipse fans, the sun will rise again.
PopCultHQ: Your new title, PORT OF EARTH, is about to release and takes a different approach to science fiction, positing a future where aliens can come-and-go as they please to a special Port off the coast of San Francisco for refueling. Where did the premise for this new title come from? How did this creative team (Andrea Mutti, Vladimir Popov, and Troy Peteri) find their way onto the project?
Zack Kaplan: I’ve always wondered about alien arrival here on Earth, but it seemed so many stories explored a violent introduction. It seemed from human history that when civilizations met, it was usually in trade and business first and foremost, and violence and war came out of cultural tensions over time. So I thought that would be a pretty cool way to imagine alien first contact: through the form of business. And what do we have to offer? We have a water planet. Their ships might run on water. Thus a business deal was born!
I pitched the idea to the supportive and amazing Matt Hawkins at Top Cow, who loved it and immediately got behind it. Top Cow had their eye on Andrea Mutti, we approached him and it was an instant match. His style was perfect, he had experience in sci-fi and he loved alien stories. Andrea had worked with Vladimir before, and I had worked with Troy on Eclipse and love his work. Thus was born our badass creative team.
PopCultHQ: Mystery surrounds the Consortium, this business entity who secured the new Port deal with the people of Earth. Though their prominence (and subsequent impact) in this and future issues is undeniable, they’re not your typical antagonist. Will the Consortium be spotlighted in the series or more as a shadowy cabal?
Zack Kaplan: The Consortium always reigns in the background because they are our partners with the Port. Their presence is felt in every encounter with an alien because it is their rules that demand every alien visitor must be treated with respect and safely returned to Port, even violent alien visitors who have ignored port restrictions and invaded human populated areas.
The first issues introduce the Consortium, but we do come to learn more and more about them as the series goes on. What readers will quickly find is that nothing is shadowy or evil in this series. Every entity is self-motivated and every situation is complex. It’s the nature of business after all.
PopCultHQ: I love in the back of this first issue, there’s a map of the galaxy you’ve envisioned, as well as database files detailing some of the alien races. How vast is this universe you’re creating in PORT OF EARTH?
Zack Kaplan: There are a multitude of aliens, thousands and thousands, and we’re meant to feel overwhelmed by it. The back matter gives a smattering of alien types and planet names as a way to introduce the style and atmosphere of this world, but the story takes place entirely on Earth. Some alien stories posit that once aliens come, humanity suddenly understands the geopolitical makeup of the entire galaxy. Not here! We’re left in the dark, a little planet turned Port in the vastness of the universe, unaware of who is now coming and going on our planet, a species simply trying to protect ourselves and our fate.
PopCultHQ: The debut issue is exhilarating and it left me feeling that there are so many possibilities for where you can take this series. One thing I feel might be coming is it seems like the series and its characters may face moral and ethical dilemmas, battling of races are likely on the horizon, realizing how small we really are in the universe, and possibly even a glimpse into human’s self-preservation. Can we expect issues such as these, those more personal and thought-provoking, to be interwoven into the narrative?
Zack Kaplan: That’s the goal! I think that alien contact will make us feel very, very small, and give us the chance to feel very connected or very fragmented, depending on how we handle it. The story is meant to be grounded and feel as authentic as possible; not a lot of fantasy elements here.
Our first portal into this landscape is the two agents Rice and McIntyre, who are tasked with the responsibility of tracking down alien visitors and deporting them back to Port. The first issue is dominated by this set up, but Issue #2 takes us deeper into these characters, who are facing some
really ethical dilemmas. I like my slow burn stories that suddenly blow up in your face, so these characters are definitely building towards some powerful moments.
PopCultHQ: With ECLIPSE being a dystopian, survivalist-type of series, and PORT OF EARTH more of a cohabitation/coexistence with alien life, science fiction is your gift. What made you enjoy the genre (I’m assuming at an early age) that has led, and driven, you to produce these exciting sci-fi titles?
Zack Kaplan: I always loved science fiction. I love wondering about the future. There are so many possibilities, and when it happens it will seem inevitable, and yet right now, we can’t conceive of the next fifty years. We can’t fathom technological breakthroughs to come, and at the same time, the internet and smart phone seem intrinsic to life. I think moreso, as a teenager, I didn’t fit in anywhere in high school. I was a nerd. I loved video games and Star Trek and Star Wars and comics. And I think science fiction explores our place in the bigger picture, and for anyone who doesn’t feel like they fit in, that exploration is satisfying. So I plan to continue with science fiction for a while.
Special thanks to Zack for taking the time to be interviewed by PopCultHQ. Be sure to hit up your LCS this Wednesday and snag your copy of PORT OF EARTH #1. If you happen to be in or around California, Zack has a number of signing appearances to coincide with the series launch!
11.08.17 – Wednesday 10:00am-1:00pm at The Comic Bug in Culvery City, CA
11.08.17 – Wednesday 5:00pm-8:00pm at The Comic Bug in Mahattan Beach, CA
11.11.17 – Saturday 12:00pm-3:00pm at Collector’s Paradise in Winnetka, CA
11.15.17 – Wednesday 10:00am-1:00pm at Cape and Cowl Comics in Oakland, CA
11.15.17 – Wednesday 4:00pm-7:00pm at Mission: Comics & Art in San Francisco, CA
Writer – Zack Kaplan
Publisher – Image Comics
Publisher – Top Cow Productions