Monday, December 3, 2012

Top Notch Interview With Top Cow's Matt Hawkins...

Matt Hawkins, Top Cow President / Chief Operating Officer

Matt Hawkins is one of the most outspoken comics personnel in the business today. I've rarely dabbled in Top Cow...but one thing changed my mind - Think Tank If you've read my reviews here on that book, it's pretty innovative...and came with the intelligence and craftiness that Jon Hickman usually wows with. Hawkins has scribed one of the best and most underrated titles out at present...and I implore you all to check more of the book out. And if you want splendid art to top that off, Rahsan Ekedal's panels weave magic upon magic with each flip of the page and each scene perused.

These two have brought allure, charisma, enthusiasm and genuine grasp to concepts that no doubt keep readers' minds provoked...I urge you guys to dive into the tale of David Loren's life of creating weapons of mass destruction for the military. What happens when curiosity evoked, a baffling conscience and riveting impatience sets in...well, David's a kid in an ant farm...and you'll soon see how intelligence mixed with an insatiable appetite to rebel is never a good combo...

I've had the initial ideas for this for a few years. I know some of the people who work in Think Tanks and for the military doing design work and I've seen a lot of the declassified stuff they do. The most interesting thing I've realized is the technology we use daily and that even the military uses is dated. Much of the cutting edge stuff they develop won't be used for 5-10 years,” Hawkins divulged. 

Buy Think Tank #1

Charged with helping the mechanics and the literal engine of Top Cow to keep running, I was surprised that someone steeped into so much of the organizational/business aspect of things found the time to script something that attractive. I assumed he’d be too busy to be taking on titles, akin to Joe Quesada’s absence on paper as he helps turn the cogs at Marvel. But then I remembered the workmanship and effortless desire of Jim Lee, Geoff Johns and Dan Didio to stick to the ground level at DC and put their names on titles, rather than remain the business-suited bigwig and stalwart in the upper-deck of the spectrum. Hawkins may not have as much help as these guys but to write such a great title and still steward so much responsibility is very admirable. Top Cow surely deserves more plaudits than they get. Matt further ushered us in a bit on how he balanced the acts.

I have some contacts that help me but most of it is just pure Internet research and reading books, etc. My background in science is helpful in that I know what to look for and how to read certain things. A lot of the more interesting things I've uncovered are - after reading a 100-page manual that is God-awful boring, then you find a page or a paragraph that blows your mind,” he expounded. Matt was referring to researching military facilities, weapons and research programs and how sources or footnotes came abound.

He continued, “I get inspired by seeing a lot of this technology in the news. It's scary sometimes when we open ‘Think Tank 5’ in Palestine and deal with a situation that I wrote about 4 weeks before this current flare-up happened. I also scour the science journals to see what the latest, greatest is. Inspiration comes from all sources so it can be something my girlfriend says or something I read on Twitter, who knows?”

He touched a bit on his musical respites also. “I've really gotten into Skrillex and some of this new dubstep movement. It's easy to listen to while writing and gets my heart rate up and helps me focus,” the writer added before regaining his momentum on the book’s discussion.

With USA being viewed as a global superpower, Matt addressed the notions of political messages or those perceived, in the grand scheme of things – “I've tried hard to not come across as either liberal or conservative with this, which fits in with my own personal, moderate stance on things. People can read into it whatever they want but my only "commentary" is – that America is not what Americans think it is,” he relayed. Sometimes he’s eloquent, sometimes he’s not…but he conveys his ideas with precision and that concise delivery is what makes such a cohesive and flowing feel to Think Tank. There’s an intellectual chaos and a streamlined view by David that he’s the man to upset the order and taper the military’s vision with turbulence. 

It relates and appeals to several readers on different levels, who were they layered into such a gritty spot – may actually empathize with David. This leads coherently into – who the hell can put up with such an arrogant prick?  David's best friend has been crucial to his tenure in the book and on this fragile relationship, Matt endeavoured, “ It's a typical dominant/submissive relationship where one tends to abuse the other a bit and the other enables too much. Ultimately, they need each other and have a core friendship and trust that will overshadow everything else. Manish is the closest thing David has to a brother. I've avoided talking about David's family so far, but Manish is the closest thing he has to "family" thus far in the story.”

Now, these ‘smaller’ labels have artists that, while not as polished as the ‘Big 2’, have an unrefined essence and sparkling aura in their coarse and crude pencils…and one illustrator that encompasses all this to deliver the payload is Rahsan, who has wowed me by the issue.
Matt gleamed, “He’s simply amazing! Any artist can make a fight look interesting, but Rahsan can make David and Manish watching TV look interesting...and that's hard to do. His storytelling skills are top notch and I see him improving with each issue which boggles the mind a bit.” 

Matt even offered some advice to the apprentices out there – “Artists - just keep drawing, take some classes and get good feedback from others. Create an online portfolio and don't be annoying. Writers - you need to be reading and writing every day. And if you want to write comic books, read stuff other than comic books. There’s too much derivative stuff out there already.”

He concluded – “I think comics are on an upward swing. There’s been lots of negativity for years but digital, the new ‘52’ and a host of other factors make this an exciting time for comics. Image Comics is on a definite creative upswing with a bunch of awesome new titles.”

Comic Book Nerds Are Hot because---?
Matt Hawkins – “I’m one of them!”

It was great chatting with Matt so now, go buy his book and keep your eyes on Top Cow, IDW and Image etc…for the months to come. Join the revolt!

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