Horror haunts Oni Press this November with the release of THE AWAKENING, the first volume of a new horror trilogy by writer Neal Shaffer and artist Luca Genovese. THE AWAKENING is a 104-page graphic novel that is equal parts mystery and supernatural horror.

This volume’s story center on a young school girl named Francesca who has just enrolled in a prestigious boarding school. Unfortunately, things go horribly wrong when shortly after her arrival, she finds one of her classmates brutally murdered, sending her into deep shock, and a coma. Even worse, following this tragic incident, Francesca begins to have visions of which girl will be slain next, and she is unable to tell anyone about it. Is this a new horror being visited on the hallowed institution, or is it something much more, going to the core of the school itself, to an evil that defies description?

“I have a deep respect and love of the horror genre,” explains THE AWAKENING’s writer, Neal Shaffer. “The problem with most modern horror stories is that they rely on cheap shocks and jolts to scare the audience.

“This book serves as my tribute to the giallo – a particular Italian form of horror exemplified by the works of filmmakers such as Dario Argento and Mario & Lamberto Bava. And the thing that distinguishes these Italian works is that they are more about a sustained mood and atmosphere than a quick edit and loud shriek. “

“The problem is how to build a genuinely spooky atmosphere in the pages of a comic book?” asks Oni Press’s James Lucas Jones. “Well… if it is the Italian giallo genre you’re after, it helps to find an artist who fully understands and appreciates the genre. Why not try an Italian?”

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Enter Luca Genovese. Luca is the creator of Italian comic book sensation, ZERO ZÉLO. At a recent San Diego Comic-Con, Neal was fortuitously introduced to Luca by his publisher, Michele Foschini of Italy’s Indypress Comics.

“I am proud to have brought these two together, and am LOVING the process of putting this book together for Oni,” says Michele Foschini. In keeping with the international inspiration and spirit of the book, Indypress Comics will be simultaneously releasing the book in Italy when it comes out in November.

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Longtime Oni readers will remember Neal Shaffer’s other graphic novels, ONE PLUS ONE and LAST EXIT BEFORE TOLL. Both were shining examples of the comic medium being used to its full potential to create stark moods and deep emotional undercurrents in their narratives.

When asked what the future holds with this trilogy, Shaffer isn’t giving too much away. He does coyly hint, “Horror comes from not knowing, and bad horror (in my mind, bad stories period) comes when you say too much.”

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THE AWAKENING is a welcome addition to the growing list of OniGNs-original graphic novels from veteran comic publisher Oni Press that explore a variety of themes and genres. It joins books from critically acclaimed creators like Steve Rolston, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Andi Watson, Scott Morse, Antony Johnston, and Ande Parks & Eduardo Barretto.

THE AWAKENING arrives in stores Nov 10, 2004. It contains 104 page black-and-white pages in a digest-sized volume for $9.95 with an ISBN of 1-932664-00-9.

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