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Follically Challenged Productions Presents:


By Brandon Jerwa and Eric Trautmann

I realize the absence of new ANYTHING GOES material has probably been one of the greatest tragedies of the early 21st century, but I’m going to throw myself on the mercy of the readers and claim madness. San Diego Comic-Con (my usual excuse for slow summer work output) has come and gone, but the missus and I made things even more insane by purchasing our first house! We had to start packing almost as soon as we got off the plane, and things didn’t grow less hectic as we got closer to the Big Day.

I’m still surrounded by cardboard boxes, but at least those boxes are in my house, y’know? It’s a great feeling once the tumult settles down, but changing my residence to a more permanent situation has literally been one of the craziest times of my life. It’s nice to be back in action as per usual.

In other news, Eric Trautmann and I recently collaborated with artist David Messina and colorist Mirco Pierfederici on a short story called WIDE AWAKE: BEHIND THE WALL OF SLEEP for Image’s PopGun Vol. II anthology. We’d love it if you’d pick up a copy, but we’re also willing to share something special for free…specifically, a directors’ commentary for the story. Enjoy the commentary below the page!


ERIC: I wasn't completely sold on the title of the story -- "Behind the Wall of Sleep" -- until fairly late in the process. I thought the quirkier tone of the story called for something a bit less "dramatic," but Jerwa convinced me otherwise.

...though, actually, I forget how he managed that. Hm.

BRANDON: I can be very persuasive when I need to be. I won’t go into specifics, but it involves Patron Silver tequila, two Malaysian strippers, a car battery and jumper cables.

ERIC: Ah. Now I remember.

BRANDON: “Behind the Wall of Sleep” was the title of two songs, one by Black Sabbath, the other by the Smithereens. I’m not a huge fan of either band or anything -- they’re fine, don’t get me wrong -- but I’ve always loved that phrase and had hoped to use it at some point. It was actually presented as a title for the whole franchise, but Wide Awake won out on the end, and I’m glad it did. We kept my initial suggestion as the story title. In retrospect, the whole combination of the two might be a little unwieldy, but who cares?

ERIC: A lot of what WIDE AWAKE became started back in my Microsoft days. My team was working on developing a story bible (and, it was hoped, comics and novels) for a supernatural horror-action title that ultimately never shipped.

A scene -- involving a young girl sitting in bed having a conversation with a creepy Santa Claus figure, that then morphs into the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and so on -- popped into my head, as a possible intro for a comic.

When the game was killed, I shelved the notion and moved on, but the scene stuck with me. When we sat down to work on THIS version, the scene came back, and informed a lot of our early discussions on Amanda, and her unique problems. And, of course, we ended up not using the scene, but it made for an interesting initial "talking" point.

Maybe someday...

BRANDON: Yeah, that’ll be in the series. Once we find someone to publish a series, anyway.

ERIC: I love the monsters on this page. The frog-squid thing in panel 2? LOVE it. All from the diseased imaginings of David Messina.

It scares me that this stuff just pops into his head.


Brandon Jerwa

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